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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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 email@example.com. 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.
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.
“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.”
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?
Here’s a list of books that just might fill the Educated void:
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
If you have, for one reason or another, found yourself with some time on your hands… one thing you might be interested in is some of the electronic resources that Mead has for learning a new language.
Many people are familiar with the fact that library patrons can access Rosetta Stone and Transparent Language (and even a few through Gale Courses!), but did you know that Kanopy also has video courses – and, since they’re part of the Great Courses series, they don’t count towards your 10-video monthly limit! Kanopy’s Great Courses aren’t always the easiest to search through, but here are the current offerings for language courses:
One of my favorite things to do is to visit museums. Needless to say, I can’t do that these days while in quarantine. So here are some museums that are doing virtual tours that I paired with a documentary on Hoopla or Kanopy.
Now that you have watched all the cat videos ever created you may have some spare time on your hands. Consider spending some of that time searching for information about your family. Here are some resources to help you get started.
Ancestry Library Edition– This is a great place to get started on your search. You can type in names and locations and Ancestry will search birth, marriage and death records, census records, and military records. Normally you would only be able to access this inside of the library, but Ancestry is temporarily allowing you to use this in your home. You will need to sign in with your Mead Library Card.
Heritage Quest-“Powered by” (but not owned by) Ancestry.com. This partnership has dramatically expanded its half-dozen collections to a sort of “Ancestry.com lite,” including the complete US census, military and immigration records, and city directories. Click Search and scroll all the way to the bottom to unlock more US records as well as selected foreign databases.
Newspaper Archive– From here you can look at Sheboygan Press articles from 1909-1976. Type a name into the search field and then narrow your search to a location. I found out my great-uncle won a marble contest at Mapledale School. You can find more than just the Sheboygan Press. They have papers from all over the United States and the rest of the world. You will need to sign in with your Mead Library Card.
UW Digital Collections– Features a large section of digitized books from Sheboygan County, including military records, city histories, and city and county directories from 1875-1920. Go to “Browse Sheboygan County Historical Documents” from this link to see the list of items.
FamilySearch– More than 2,200 online collections (and growing) make this the internet’s largest home to free genealogy data, with recent updates spotlighting Italy, South America and US vital records. You can share and record your finds in family trees and a “Memories Gallery,” and get research help from the wiki.
Perhaps you are saying that you already know about all these resources. Did you know that with your library card you can read Family Tree Magazine online through RBDigital?
Welcome back to Mead’s blog! This week I figured I would talk about Gale courses. Gale courses are online classes that can either give you accreditation for your career or give you new skills for your personal growth. I wanted to share with everyone some of the courses I’m considering enrolling in.
Way back, in the long-ago of my childhood, I wanted to be a comic book artist. I stopped practicing, though, and eventually, that dream was left behind. Recently, I’ve decided I want to work on improving my rusty drawing skills, but I don’t expect DC will be hiring me. The next session start date is April 15th.