Posted in Biography & Memoir, DIY & How To, Nonfiction

Write Your Story

Pandemic journaling has become a bit of a fad these days. There’s no reason that you just have to write about your life during the pandemic, though! You could draw. Perhaps write about how nature is reacting to people running around less. (I for one recently found out that I had raccoons living in the storm drain near my home during a particularly hard rain.) Or maybe dive into Bullet Journaling to get more organized. I’ve included the description from the publishers for each of the listed books.

Creative Journal Writing: The Art and Heart of Reflection by Stephanie Dowrick

“In this exceptionally positive and encouraging book, Dr Stephanie Dowrick frees the journal writer she believes is in virtually everyone, showing through stories and highly engaging examples that a genuine sense of possibility can be revived on every page.

Creative journal writing goes way beyond just recording events on paper. Without needing any rigid formula to gain success, it is the companion that supports but does not judge. It can be a place of unparalleled discovery and a creative playground where the everyday rules no longer count. Proven benefits of journal writing include reduced stress and anxiety, increased self-awareness, sharpened mental skills, genuine psychological insight, creative inspiration and motivation, strengthened ability to cope during difficult times, and overall physical and emotional well-being.

Combining a rich choice of ideas with wonderful stories, quotes, and her refreshingly intimate thoughts gained through a lifetime of professional and creative writing, Dowrick’s insights and confidence in the process make journal writing irresistible. She also makes your own experiences and life far more enchanting. Included in Creative Journal Writing are:

True stories of how people have used journal writing to transform their lives;

· inspirational instructions, guidelines, and quotes;
· key principles, practical suggestions, and helpful hints;
· 125 starter topics, designed to help even the most reluctant journal writer;
· more than forty powerful exercises;
· and much more!”

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Posted in Nonfiction, Science

Epidemiology: Containing What Ails Us

Epidemiology has been pushed to the forefront of conversations since the coronavirus pandemic began. Epidemiologists identify emerging diseases, how they spread, and how best to prevent people from getting ill. For my blog post this week, I’ve found some books that cover how epidemiologists work and about past pandemics. As with my other list posts, I’ve included a summary of the book from its publisher.

Epidemiology: A Very Short Introduction by Rodolfo Saracci

“Epidemiology plays an all-important role in many areas of medicine, from discovering the relationship between tobacco smoking and lung cancer, to documenting the impact of diet, the environment, and exercise on general health, to tracking the origin and spread of new epidemics such as Swine Flu. It is truly a vital field, central to the health of society, but it is often poorly understood, largely due to misrepresentations in the media. In this Very Short Introduction, an internationally recognized authority on epidemiology, Dr. Rodolfo Saracci, provides a wealth of information on this key field, dispelling some of the myths surrounding the study of epidemiology, and explaining what epidemiology is and how vital it is to the discovery, control, and prevention of disease in world populations. Dr. Saracci provides a general explanation of the principles behind clinical trials, and explains the nature of basic statistics concerning disease. He also looks at the ethical and political issues related to obtaining and using information concerning patients, and trials involving placebos.”

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Posted in Adult, Contemporary, Fiction, Mystery, Nonfiction, Romance, Thrillers

6 Books Made to be Read in a Hammock

The summer run of books are frequently called “beach reads,” but hammocks are really where it’s at. You don’t have to leave your backyard to enjoy a hammock; it’s typically shaded; and you never get sand in weird places. From real life secrets to a snarky send up of #girlboss wellness culture to a rom-com in a book, here are 6 titles perfect for reading while stretched out in a hammock with a cold drink in reach on a lazy summer day.

The Jetsetters by Amanda Eyre Ward

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Posted in Adult, Nonfiction, Science

It’s alive!

My last blog post inspired me to write up a post about science books. I’ve tracked down a list of new or upcoming books on topics ranging from pandemics to mycology. I’ve included the publisher’s description of the book under each listing.

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COVID-19: The Pandemic That Never Should Have Happened and How to Stop the Next One by Debora Mackenzie

“Over the last 30 years of epidemics and pandemics, we learned nearly every lesson needed to stop this coronavirus outbreak in its tracks. We heeded almost none of them. The result is a pandemic on a scale never before seen in our lifetimes. In this captivating, authoritative, and eye-opening book, science journalist Debora MacKenzie lays out the full story of how and why it happened: the previous viruses that should have prepared us, the shocking public health failures that paved the way, the failure to contain the outbreak, and most importantly, what we must do to prevent future pandemics.

Debora MacKenzie has been reporting on emerging diseases for more than three decades, and she draws on that experience to explain how COVID-19 went from a potentially manageable outbreak to a global pandemic. Offering a compelling history of the most significant recent outbreaks, including SARS, MERS, H1N1, Zika, and Ebola, she gives a crash course in Epidemiology 101–how viruses spread and how pandemics end–and outlines the lessons we failed to learn from each past crisis. In vivid detail, she takes us through the arrival and spread of COVID-19, making clear the steps that governments knew they could have taken to prevent or at least prepare for this. Looking forward, MacKenzie makes a bold, optimistic argument: this pandemic might finally galvanize the world to take viruses seriously. Fighting this pandemic and preventing the next one will take political action of all kinds, globally, from governments, the scientific community, and individuals–but it is possible.”

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Posted in Adult, Contemporary, Fiction, Graphic Novels & Memoirs, Mystery, Nonfiction

Popular This Week … in the UK

It’s easy to keep your pulse on what’s popular here in the US. But have you ever wondered what the folks across the pond are reading? Here’s a peek at 4 of this week’s best selling books in Britain.

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy

Beloved in Britain for his heartwarming illustrations, this collection of Mackesy’s ink drawings is full of hope and inspiration for an uncertain world.

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Posted in Adult, Biography & Memoir, eBooks & eAudio, Graphic Novels & Memoirs, Horror, Science, Science Fiction

A Dive into the Reading Pile

My social life has taken a pretty sharp decline since I’ve gone into quarantine. Being home more has given me a bit of a push to reevaluate my reading pile. I’ve sifted through the books that have piled up around my home to find some that I thought others might be interested in as well.

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A Planet of Viruses by Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer was one of the authors that I read for a few classes at university. He’s a writer that can take relatively dry science topics, like evolution, and make them engaging for every degree of reader. Near the end of my undergraduate education, I found an interest in virus-host coevolution and tried to find books on viruses. I stupidly didn’t take a microbiology class due to initially thinking microbes were boring. I need to note that this particular book has been in my pile for a few years, but it has taken on new relevance.

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Posted in DIY & How To, eBooks & eAudio

Eat Your Veggies

I’m not what most would call a “healthy” person. For years, I was told that my palate would change as I got older. Well, here we are, and I still can’t eat peas without turning my nose up. Honestly, it’s tough for me to stand a vast number of vegetables. In the last couple of months, I swear it has nothing to do with me gaining weight during the quarantine, I’ve decided to try to eat healthier. Vegetarian cookbooks seemed like a good idea to get me to eat more veggies. As with my other quarantine posts, I’ve included the book’s description under each of the book’s listing.

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The Forest Feast by Erin Gleeson (Hoopla/Monarch)

“Erin Gleeson made her dream a reality when she left New York City and moved into a tiny cabin in a California forest in order to be closer to nature. The natural beauty of her surroundings and the abundance of local produce serve as the inspiration for The Forest Feast, based on her popular blog. Most of the book’s 100 wholly vegetarian recipes call for only three or four ingredients and require very few steps, resulting in dishes that are fresh, wholesome, delicious, and stunning. Among the delightful recipes are eggplant tacos with brie and cilantro, rosemary shortbread, and blackberry negroni. Vibrant photographs, complemented by Erin’s own fanciful watercolor illustrations and hand lettering, showcase the rustic simplicity of the dishes. Part cookbook, part art book, The Forest Feast will be as comfortable in the kitchen as on the coffee table.”

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Posted in Adult, Film, Nonfiction

Anti-Racist Resources on Kanopy

Ask most people and they will tell you they are not racist. Perhaps you’ve seen this Angela Davis quote floating around social media lately: “In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist.” But what do we mean when we say “anti-racist”? Anti-racism is acknowledging the oppression of people of color while engaging in the active fight against that oppression. We’ve all watched anti-racist action over the past week take the shape of world-wide protests against the continued disproportionate abuse of black bodies by American law enforcement officials. It’s harrowing, inspiring, confusing, emotional, and polarizing. The protests are already proving invaluable to drive change for equality among lawmakers.
 
So, maybe you’re not ready to join in a public protest. Maybe you have questions about what it means to be an anti-racist ally in the fight against oppression. The good news is, educating yourself is an important facet of anti-racism. If you’re not ready to dive into the work of Ibram X. Kendi, or Robin DiAngelo, fear not. Once again, my favorite video-streaming service, Kanopy, is here with the goods. A curated collection of movies and series related to Black Lives Matter is linked on the Kanopy home page. It’s a fabulous list, but it’s also overwhelming. Below, I listed four films and series that will help you start or continue your journey towards anti-racist allyship.

I am Not Your Negro (2017; Directed by Raoul Peck)

James Baldwin died in 1987, but his words still ring true 30 years later. Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, this Oscar-nominated documentary examines Baldwin’s last and unfinished book project by connecting the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s to the present-day Black Lives Matter movement. James Baldwin is one of the finest minds of the 20th century and watching him speak is hypnotic. Baldwin is a really important and moving author, so getting your hands on his work is beyond worthwhile. Take a look at his work available through Monarch HERE. Reading The Fire Next Time and Go Tell It On the Mountain were pivotal moments in my own anti-racist journey when I was going through college. Don’t have internet access? Get a copy of I am Not Your Negro on DVD HERE

America After Ferguson (2014; directed by Max Schindler and featuring Gwen Ifill)

I love Gwen Ifill. She is one of the smartest people working in news broadcasting today, so I was pleased to see America After Ferguson, which she hosts and moderates, available on Kanopy. This is a great starting point for people who are curious about Black Lives Matter but don’t know where to begin gathering information. 

Peace Officer: The Militarized State of American Police (2015; directed by Brad Barber and Scott Christopherson)

This film centers around the life and work of retired law enforcement official William “Dub” Lawrence, the founder of modern SWAT teams. His son would eventually be shot to death by a SWAT team 30 years after their inception. Lawrence’s subsequent investigation into the incident and others like it leads him to believe the death of his son, and so many other SWAT victims, were preventable. Watch this if you want to learn more about the alarming militarization of American police and why it has created a deadly disconnect between law enforcement and our citizenry.

Copwatch: An Organization Dedicated to Filming the Police (2017; directed by Camilla Hall)

Who polices the police? This documentary examines the reactionary formation of WeCopWatch, which sprang-to hot on the heels of the unjust deaths of Freddie Gray and Michael Brown. Director Camilla Hall describes her film as “a plea for humanity. A plea to look out for each other; to look out for your neighbor. To not walk by when something terrible is happening to somebody else and taking that active decision to look out for one another.” Watch this to get a deeper sense of the sorrow and anger people feel on a national level while trying to hold law enforcement officers accountable. 

Honestly, these picks will probably make you uncomfortable. They will probably bum you out. Racism and inequality SHOULD make you feel uncomfortable. Learning anti-racism is an ongoing, fraught process. You’ll make mistakes and sometimes feel like garbage and that is okay. I would love to hear which Kanopy-curated BLM material you have been watching, whether you have found it enlightening, and why or why not. Feel free to reach out to me at publicservices@meadpl.org. And remember, we are always here to help you find the high-quality literature, articles, and other media you will require on your anti-racist journey.

Posted in Adult, DIY & How To, eBooks & eAudio

The Seed Waits for Its Garden

The weather is finally starting to warm up. That means soon that we’ll be able to start growing gardens! I haven’t ever planted a proper vegetable garden before, so I found some books that sounded helpful. I’ve included the book’s description under each title.

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The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Midwest (Monarch/Libby/Hoopla)

“There is nothing more regionally specific than vegetable gardening—what to plant, when to plant it, and when to harvest are decisions based on climate, weather, and first frost. The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Midwest, by regional expert Michael VanderBrug, focuses on the unique eccentricities of the Midwest gardening calendar. The month-by-month format makes it perfect for beginners and accessible to everyone—gardeners can start gardening the month they pick it up. Perfect for home gardeners in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.”

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Posted in Adult, Award Winners, eBooks & eAudio, Graphic Novels & Memoirs, Nonfiction

Read-alikes for Educated

Have you been waiting on the holds list to read Educated by Tara Westover and just want a book to pass the time?  Or have you just finished Educated and now you’re wondering what you could possibly read that could ever compare?

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Here’s a list of books that just might fill the Educated void:

Estranged by Jessica Berger Gross

This memoir follows Jessica’s journey as a young woman who is abused, both physically and emotionally, by her father.  Later in her life, she decides to break away and cut all ties with her dysfunctional family to finally create a life for herself.  Though she struggles to overcome the trauma and pain that has internally built up throughout her childhood, Jessica works her way down an inspiring path to happiness.
This book is currently available right away in Audiobook format on Hoopla

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