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Shelf Renewal Blog - Booklist Online

Shelf Renewal

A Booklist Blog
Nobody puts backlist in a corner—readers'-advisory experts Karen Kleckner Keefe and Rebecca Vnuk bring attention to older titles by featuring "dusty books" and offering read-alikes for what’s hot on the holds list.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014 3:17 pm
There Was a Farmer Had a Book…
Posted by: Karen Kleckner Keefe

Happy Earth Day! Such yummy things come from our friend Mother Earth. Thank goodness someone else is willing to dig them up! Read about these hearty souls.

Friday, April 18, 2014 9:50 am
Web Crush of the Week: Bookgasm
Posted by: Rebecca Vnuk


We mentioned this week’s Web Crush of the Week, Bookgasm, on our original site way back in 2009 and wanted to revisit it.



I’m sad that they no longer link to their ”About Us” page, because it used to say, “Hey, have you read the new Nora Roberts? Are you a member of Oprah’s Book Club?  Do you enjoy stories about the struggles of the disenfranchised in our society?  If you answered “no” to all those questions, we’d like to welcome you to BOOKGASM, the site dedicated to READING MATERIAL TO GET EXCITED ABOUT.”

But their Facebook page still gives you an idea of what to expect: “ features daily reviews and news on reading material to get excited about. That includes all kinds of genre fiction, from horror and sci-fi to mystery and suspense. It also includes graphic novels, trashy paperbacks, cheap magazines and other things that much of America pretends to be ashamed of, for no good reason.”

We love them for their snarky sense of humor and their willingness to embrace books that most mainstream book blogs won’t even walk alongside of.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014 1:19 pm
Smart Protagonists, Stupid Choices
Posted by: Karen Kleckner Keefe

you should have known You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz is one of the few “non-franchise” books on this week’s NYT bestseller list. A judgmental therapist discovers that she really should have double checked that her husband hadn’t built them a glass house before throwing stones about other people’s marriages. Big, big, embarrassing stones. Fans of domestic deception may enjoy these suspenseful stories.  

Friday, April 4, 2014 4:37 pm
Web Crush: Whichbook
Posted by: Karen Kleckner Keefe

whichbookFrom the site:

Everyone has their favorite writers who can be trusted to deliver the goods. But there are thousands of books out there. One of those might satisfy you even more, but how can you tell? Whichbook enables you to search for a book that up to now may only have existed in your own mind! Move the sliders to express what you’re looking for and see what comes up. Scroll down to see all the books which match your chosen sliders or click Find similar to see books which match the specific title most closely. If you don’t fancy any of the books offered, change your choices and try again – there are millions of different individual permutations possible.

If you know you want a particular genre – crime, say, or fantasy – there are lots of websites to give you information. But what are the things readers long to know and are unable to find out? Whichbook offers choices which are not available anywhere else – mood, emotion, plot shape, type of main character, country the book is set in.

Every title on whichbook has been read by one of a changing team of 70 people who are drawn from libraries and literature organisations and come together to share training to create the entries. The ratings and comments are created by real readers who care about books.

In choosing titles for the site, we concentrate on the books people won’t find by themselves and go for the widest range possible. Books must be fiction or poetry, written or translated into English and published in the last 10 years. We don’t include the biggest bestsellers as everyone knows about them already (though sometimes we’ll have added a book before it became a bestseller!)

Monday, March 24, 2014 4:42 pm
Sister Act
Posted by: Karen Kleckner Keefe

frozenWhen it comes to sisterhood, Disney’s come a long way since Cinderella. Frozen, the studio’s latest fairy tale adaptation features two sisters who would (eventually) do anything for one another. Grown up fans who want to discover more unforgetable sets of sisters, might enjoy:  

Wednesday, March 19, 2014 2:50 pm
Dusty Book: Frost on My Moustache by Tim Moore
Posted by: Karen Kleckner Keefe

This book deserves a second look right now for three reasons. 1. It is funny, smart and good. 2. Chelsea Handler’s Uganda Be Kidding Me has brought the saucy travelogue back into vogue. 3. Moustaches.

Subtitled “The Arctic Exploits of a Lord and Loafer,” journalist Moore’s Frost on My Moustache is quick-witted attempt to retrace Lord Dufferin’s 1850s yacht trek  into the Arctic Circle. Filled with the fascinating tidbits of exotic travel and a critical reading of a crazy millionaire’s quixotic trip into the tundra, Moore is a delightful and self-depracating tour guide. Ill-suited to the trip, Moore is detailed in explaining the difficulties of frigid pleasure seeking. (There’s a joke about a blown (tire) seal that you could wait your whole life for the perfect opportunity to tell.) Moore also appears to go a little crazy about midway through the telling. Which, though understandable, does make the reader think, “Um, Tim? Are you ok, dude? You know, nobody’s making you do this. You could just go home, buddy.” Apparent Arctic madness aside, a uniquely-voiced travelogue for those with strong constitutions.

Monday, March 17, 2014 10:25 am
PLA Top 5 program – Slides and Handout
Posted by: Rebecca Vnuk

For three Public Library Association conferences in a row, I’ve been joined by a panel of rock star reader’s advisors for a program we like to call “The Top 5″. This is where we take five fiction genres (or this year, nonfiction categories!) and give a quick-and-dirty list of books and authors you should know about, even if you don’t read in that area.

The idea is explored further in this article I wrote for Public Libraries, but the gist is basically the notion that no one has time to read everything in our collections, even if we wanted to. But patrons expect us to be knowledgeable about every book and author.  So the best way to get around this is by knowing a little bit of good stuff about a lot of your collection.

Here are links to this year’s handouts: TOP FIVE NONFIC PLA 2014 HANDOUT, and to the slideshow: TOP FIVE NONFIC PLA 2014 SLIDES.

If you’re interested in the handouts from 2012, you can find them here.

The handouts from the 2010 program are back at the old Shelfrenewal site.

We certainly hope we’ll be on the PLA roster again in 2016!  Let me know if there are some specific genres you’d like to see!

Monday, March 3, 2014 10:46 am
The Kids Are All Right…The Parents, Not So Much
Posted by: Karen Kleckner Keefe

all joypar•ent noun \ˈper-ənt\ : a person who is a father or mother : a person who has a child

Yes, it’s a noun people. Or, at least, it used to be. Books like Jennifer Senior’s bestselling All Joy and No Fun explore how we’ve managed to take literally the most natural thing on earth and complicate the heck out of it. For frazzled parents who want more permission to keep it real, recommend:

Friday, February 28, 2014 8:00 am
Web Crush of the Week:
Posted by: Rebecca Vnuk features book reviews in a variety of genres, interviews ranging from bestselling authors to debut writers, polls, contests and more. Content is updated weekly.  I like to simply browse around this site – it can be a great way to come across something you didn’t even know you were looking for! Take a look at the feature spotlights – they have tons of book lists and sections you can use for display or bookmark ideas. Features include New in Paperback, Books into Movies, and spotlights in genres such as Mystery, Thriller, Romantic Suspense, Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction and Literary Fiction.

Monday, February 24, 2014 9:37 am
The Future Could Be Funny, People
Posted by: Karen Kleckner Keefe

martianIt’s rare enough to see a debut novel on the New York Times Bestseller List. But a Science Fiction debut? Wow! This is why Andy Weir’s clever thriller, The Martian is worth a look. Astronaut Mark Watney is left for dead when his crew leaves Mars after a disasterous dust storm. Not only is he not dead, he’s literally the only person left on the planet and pretty sure that nobody’s coming back for him. His industrious attempts at survival are at turns heroic and harrowing. Mark’s wry perspective on his future makes this page-turner more than just a futuristic thriller. This is a call-in-sick, lie-to-the-kids, eat-meals-in-your-bed, genre-defying great read.

For science fiction fans who enjoy a little levity with their light sabers, recommend:  

  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  • In the Garden of Iden by Kage Baker
  • Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  • Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

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