Shelfish: The Blog of Answers

Juan Felipe Herrera Named Poet Laureate

The Library of Congress has appointed Juan Felipe Herrera as the 21st Poet Laureate of the United States. Herrera is the son of migrant farm workers from Mexico, and has a wide range of poetry from his reflections on his Mexican-American background to experimental works. The new Poet Laureate is the author of 28 books of poetry, novels for young adults, and collections for children, according to the Library of Congress. Previously, Herrera was the Poet Laureate of California, and he is the first Hispanic poet to serve in the position, the New York Times reports. 

Find some of Herrera's work here

27 Seriously Underrated Books

Recently, the online magazine, BuzzFeed asked its readers to offer suggestion of great, underrated books. The list contains many international best sellers, a couple of books adapted into movies, and even a Nobel Prize winner or two, so I'm not sure what qualifies as "underrated." Still, there are a lot of great suggestions such as The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein, Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill, A Long Fatal Love Chase by Louisa May Alcott, Little, Big by John Crowley, The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks, Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn, The Piano Teacher by Elfriede Jelinek. And they're all available at Eisenhower!

Famous Authors' Favorite Books

Flynn sitting among booksMental_Floss magazine recently published a list of Famous Authors' Favorite Books. Ray Bradbury (one of my favorites) placed Moby Dick and the collected essays of George Bernard Shaw among his favorites. George R.R. Martin recommended Station Eleven as one he "won't soon forget." Gillian Flynn said that her "comfort food" books - the ones she turned to when she's cranky were Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None and Norman Mailer's Executioner's Song.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

“Did anyone really know their child? Your child was a little stranger, constantly changing, disappearing and reintroducing himself to you. New personality traits could appear overnight.”

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty takes place on the Pirriwee Peninsula in Australia and centers on the children and their parents from the Pirriwee Public School. This is a small beach town which at first may seem rather quiet and uneventful. It is not.  The story follows three women, each at a crossroads. There is Madeline who tells it like it is in both humorous and biting ways. Celeste appears to have it all, beauty, wealth, and twin boys.  But beneath the surface things are not as they appear. Jane is a young single mother with a kindergarten son Ziggy, and their arrival in the beach community really stirs things up!

This book is funny, serious, and thought-provoking. There are some dark moments hidden through little lies and silence. We are privy to the thoughts and comments of numerous people in the novel. At the end of each chapter Moriarty offers us bits and pieces of comments, gossip and observations. It is fascinating to see how the rumor mill keeps churning through innuendo, the misreading of a situation and pure conjecture. There is a trivia night at the school where the women dress like Audrey Hepburn and the men dress like Elvis. The caterer is late, someone put too much alcohol in the delicious pink cocktails and the grapevine is running wild! Then something unexpected happens and all their lives will be changed forever. I have also read The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty and she can certainly put a new spin on an ordinary situation and surprise the reader in the most interesting ways. I recommend both Big Little Lies and The Husband’s Secret.

Find Big Little Lies in the library

- Dawn, Reference Intern

The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins

“A tiding of magpies: One for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl, four for a boy, five for silver, six for gold, seven for a secret never to be told” Rear Window meets Gone Girl. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins is voyeuristic like Rear Window, with an unreliable narrator like Gone Girl; this psychological thriller is a page turner!

Every day, as Rachel takes the train to London, she looks at the same suburban house where she watches a couple out on their deck. She names this couple Jason and Jess and fantasizes about what their life together is like. One day she sees something out of the ordinary and feels compelled to report it to the police, becoming embroiled in the investigation. The story is told through three different points of view, which is always helpful in unraveling a mystery. However, Rachel tells you from the beginning that she likes to have a few drinks and sometimes she has memory loss. She is also suffering from depression.  
The beginning of the book is slow and steady like a train ride. Rachel is on the train every day and she leaves a trail of clues for us to follow. When Rachel witnesses something unusual, the book picks up speed like a train that starts moving faster, making fewer stops. When Rachel inserts herself into the police investigation, the train picks up speed again.  Once you have all the clues and can solve the mystery, it’s as if the train is unrelenting and will not even stop at the station. For a quick read with twists and turns, I recommend The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins.
- Dawn, Reference Intern

Academy Awards Contest 2015

Look for Academy Award Contest entry forms at the Answers Desk. Check off your selections from this year’s nominees. Entries with the most correct answers will be eligible to win prizes. In the event of a tie, prizes will be awarded by means of a random drawing. One entry per person please. Entries will be accepted at the library Answers Desk until 5:00 pm on Saturday, February 21st.

Reading Can Make You a Better Person

little boy reading with glasses on.Do you know someone lacking empathy? Think that they can't change? A new study offers hope for grinches and grumps. Researchers from the University of Toronto suggest that reading fiction can make people more empathetic. The authors of the study wrote that literature can enhance a reader's empathy, or ability to understand someone elses' point-of-view.

So buy your grumpy sister or curmudgeonly neighbor a "chick lit" novel so that you can have a better day. The study specifically suggested "chick lit" and romance as being effective.

Shadow Puppets of Siew Lian Lim

When at the library this month, be sure to stop in the lobby for a few moments to take in the display of Southeast Asian shadow puppets created by artist Siew Lian Lim. With her use of recycled materials such as soda cans and ramen noodle packages, Lim recontextualizes characters from her home country of Malaysia into representations of modern gluttony and waste. For a gallery of Lim's puppets, visit the library's facebook page.

Winter Documentary Film Series

Keep warm every Friday afternoon this January with our Documentary Film Series, a collection of movies that are just as moving, funny, and engaging as the best Hollywood blockbusters but with the added benefit of being totally true. 
Friday, January 2nd, 12:00 pm
Take an enlightening look at the careers of veteran Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield and Mets up-and-comer R.A. Dickey, the only two knuckleball pitchers in the Major Leagues.
The Buena Vista Social Club
Friday, January 9th, 12:00 pm
Wim Wenders profiles a group of legendary Cuban musicians, brought out of retirement to record a new album that leads to a performance at Carnegie Hall.
Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles
Friday, January 16th, 12:00 pm
A detective story unfurls as one man searches for the meaning of hundreds of cryptic messages appearing in the streets across the United States and South America.
Exporting Raymond
Friday, January 23rd, 12:00 pm
Take an inside look at Phil Rosenthal’s hilariously exasperating experiences making a Russian-language version of the hit sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond.
Standing in the Shadows of Motown 
Friday, January 30th, 12:00 pm
Discover the unknown Detroit musicians who played on more number ones hits than The Beach Boys, The Rolling Stones, Elvis, and The Beatles combined.