Featured Book: “Life Inside My Mind: 31 Authors Share Their Personal Struggles”

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If you’ve ever dealt with (or are currently dealing with) OCD, ADHD, depression, Alzheimer’s, and other mental health disorders, you are not alone. That is the overarching message of Life Inside My Mind: 31 Authors Share Their Personal Struggles. This book includes essays from various writers about their experiences with personal conflicts. Each essay is from a different author, so the writing style varies, and one author even incorporates free verse to tell her story.

Some of the authors included are as follows:

  • Amber Benson (who portrayed the character Tara on Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
  • Jessica Burkhart (author of Wild Hearts)
  • Scott Neumyer (a popular journalist)
  • Sara Zarr (author of Story of a Girl).

It can be comforting to read about others who have struggled, gotten help, and learned how to cope. However, some of the stories depicted could be hard to read about for someone who is currently experiencing a similar situation- so be aware of this book’s heavy nature.

Several of Life Inside My Mind‘s lessons can be summed up in this passage from Amber Benson:

As much as your friends love you and want to be there for you, it’s not their job to fix you. Ignoring the problem, or pretending “you’ve got it under control,” will only make things worse. A therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist knows that they’re doing (they went to school for a long time in order to do this), and they know how to help you get back on track . . .

Whether we like it or not, the stress of of being a human being can be overwhelming, and having a safe space to talk about our problems, assess whether our brains are working correctly, make sure there’s nothing chemically out of line . . . well, I think that’s super important. I know I need that safe space in my life if I’m going to be a productive member of society.

Getting help when you need it- whatever that looks like for you- is encouraged by all of the authors in this book. They’ve been there themselves, and many of them are still figuring it all out. Pick up Life Inside My Mind when you need to know that you’re not alone in your struggles.

 

 

Featured Book: “Should I Go To Grad School?”

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The purpose of this book is to provide a broad, unempirical look at how a variety of people in the arts, academia, social sciences, and humanities have personally engaged with the problem of grad school.

Should I Go to Grad School? contains 41 different essays about people’s experiences, grad school statistics, and advice. While the book does not address STEM majors, it does contain wisdom for students in the humanities. Whether you’ve always wanted to go to grad school or are just considering it as an option, there is probably a story in this book that you can relate to.

Many of the authors tell their stories, answering questions like, “How did they get the job they wanted?” and “Why did they choose the grad school option?” There are inspiring stories sprinkled among solely practical ones.

Eben Klemm, a fellow at MIT, gives this advice:

Would my life be more or less complete, would I be better or worse, richer or poorer, doing more or less good if I had gone to grad school? Yes to all of the above. Anything can become a serious, almost academic pursuit if you care to work at it deeply and honestly (or dishonestly) within a community of similar individuals who choose to care about it as much as you do. You just have to find them. The important thing is to be sure of the questions that you are willing to pursue forever, and to determine the best ways and institutions that will allow you to do so. Other people are waiting for you.

Art, English, History, and Sociology majors: pick up this book if you’re thinking about expanding your education. There’s no one right answer for everybody- but out of these 41 different experiences, at least one may be able to help you.

Featured Book: “Everybody Writes”

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Because the written word is so ubiquitous in the social media age, good writing is hard to find and yet more important than ever. It’s easy to lose someone’s attention in all of the noise- but you don’t want to do that when you’re writing for your job! In Everybody Writes, content creator and marketer Ann Handley advises readers on how to make their writing simpler and smarter. Generally, Handley focuses on shorter pieces- articles, Tweets, etc.- but her suggestions can also be applied to other kinds of writing. This book encourages you to approach writing as a work out, something you do each day to make you better at it overall.

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Handley starts out by defining what “content” means and how we can publish better content. She then goes on to provide general writing tips, ideas for better productivity, and how to make a great “lead” in to your story. While the book is divided into 6 parts, it’s short and direct with its message.

For Handley, “show, don’t tell” is a major part of good content:

Good content- and good writing- doesn’t preach or hard sell. Instead, it shows how your product or service lives in the world, explaining in human terms how it adds value to people’s lives, eases troubles, shoulders burdens, and meets needs.

By thinking about your audience and writing for their needs, you can create worthy content for your job, business, or blog.

Everybody Writes is available in the library. If you’d like to check out other books on writing, try these:

Book Review: “The Terminal Man” by Michael Crichton

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If you’ve been watching popular movies for the last few years, you’ll know that the Jurassic Park franchise continues to inspire and terrify millions of viewers. But did you know that the Jurassic Park movies were based on books by Michael Crichton?

Michael Crichton was a Harvard Medical School graduate who started writing books (and later directing films) instead of practicing medicine. Due to his scientific background, many of his books include detailed accounts of medical procedures and the science behind genetics, psychological disorders, and new technology. While not as popular as the Jurassic Park series, Crichton’s 1972 novel, The Terminal Man, is still a great example of Crichton’s medical knowledge and his writing expertise.

The Terminal Man is the curious story of Harry Benson, a man who suffers from intense seizures where he attacks others and mental delusions as the result of an accident. Benson is taken to a hospital for a new “stage three” procedure, where eager Doctor Ellis will perform surgery to implant a computer in Benson. This computer is expected to calm Benson’s seizures. However, there is great concern from his psychiatrist, Doctor Ross, that Benson will not be cured and may in fact grow more violent and mentally ill than before. To complicate things even further, Benson’s specific delusions are that computers and technology are actively trying to take over mankind- yet he agrees to having a computer placed in his body.

The “stage three” procedure is described in detail, but Crichton’s writing makes it easy to read and understand even if you’re not a Harvard Medical School student. Crichton also writes from the the third person omniscient point of view, so you can catch a glimpse of several characters’ motivations and worries throughout. It’s a fast-paced read, and the sense of dread surrounding Benson’s odd situation will keep you turning each page until the end. What will happen to Benson? Could his violence have an agenda? What are the philosophical implications of making a computer’s terminal out of a man? Will the new technology help or hurt others?

If you’re interested in this science fiction thriller, you can check it out from the library. View our catalog to see if it’s available!

Featured Books About Personality Types

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Chances are you know someone who can rattle off their Enneagram number, their Myers-Briggs letters, their Hogwarts house, and maybe even their astrological sign. Many people have a fascination with personality types, quizzes, and theories since they can often learn more about themselves and other people by identifying different personalities. We’ve compiled a few lists of the best personality-based books that the library has to offer. If you’re interested in learning more about the way you think, feel, and act, check out one of these books!

List of Enneagram-Based Books:

  1. Mirror for the Soul: A Christian Guide to the Enneagram by Alice Fryling
  2. The Enneagram Advantage: Putting the 9 Personality Types to Work in the Office by Helen Palmer
  3. The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective by Richard Rohr
  4. The Path Between Us: An Enneagram Journey to Healthy Relationships by Suzanne Stabile
  5. The Road Back To You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile

 

List of Myers-Briggs Based Books:

  1. Gifts Differing: Understanding Personality Type by Isabel Briggs and Peter Myers
  2. Type Talk at Work by Otto Kroeger
  3. Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type by Paul Tiegger and Barbara Barron-Tiegger

 

Other Books About Personality:

  1. The Normal Personality: A New Way of Thinking About People by Steven Reiss
  2. Personality: What Makes You The Way You Are by Daniel Nettle
  3. 10 Best College Majors For Your Personality by Laurence Shatkin
  4. Personal Intelligence: The Power of Personality and How It Shapes Our Lives by John D. Mayer
  5. Personality Theories: A Global View by Eric Shiraey

 

 

Book Review: “Brief Answers To The Big Questions” by Stephen Hawking

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Published after the death of the famous, accomplished scientist Stephen Hawking, Brief Answers to the Big Questions is Hawking’s final words on the state of the earth and space. Throughout his career, Hawking was noted for his theories about black holes, time, and the universe. A film about his life called The Theory of Everything was released in 2014; star Eddie Redmayne provides the foreword for Brief Answers to the Big Questions. Like many others, Redmayne was both intimidated and awed by Hawking- who, in spite of his attempts to make science available to the general layperson, was still a formidable genius set apart from others. This side of Hawking definitely comes to light in Brief Answers to the Big Questions. In fact, I think Hawking unfortunately had a lower view of humanity which affected how he perceived the past, present, and future.

There are 10 questions asked of Hawking in this book:

  1. Is there a God?
  2. How did it all begin?
  3. Is there other intelligent life in the universe?
  4. Can we predict the future?
  5. What is inside a black hole?
  6. Is time travel possible?
  7. Will we survive on earth?
  8. Should we colonise space?
  9. Will artificial intelligence outsmart us?
  10. How do we shape the future?

 

I won’t give away Hawking’s answers, but many of them can actually be found in Hawking’s other books, like A Brief History of TimeIn general, Hawking does take a more negative view of how humans will handle some of these big questions. For example, in regards to surviving on earth, Hawking muses:

We can be an ignorant, unthinking lot. When we have reached similar crises [global warming and climate destruction] in our history, there has usually been somewhere else to colonise . . .  But now there is no new world. No Utopia around the corner. We are running out of space and the only places to go to are other worlds.

Yet Hawking believes that, if more people become interested in science and space travel, humans may be able to find a new way of sustainable living.

To leave Earth demands a concerted global approach- everyone should join in. We need to rekindle the excitement of the early days of space travel in the 1960s. The technology is almost within our grasp. It is time to explore other solar systems. Spreading out may be the only thing that saves us from ourselves.

Overall, Hawking answers each question by explaining his research and that of others. He gives his opinion as a well-learned scientist without allowing for theological implications, since he believes that they are unnecessary. This can obviously be frustrating for Christians and other religious people.

Still, the special thing about Hawking’s writing is his ability to make large, abstract concepts make sense to people who are not scientists. I may not fully grasp every aspect of Hawking’s work, but I do understand Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle because of Hawking. Hawking made “the big questions” more accessible to people, and for that (along with his scientific discoveries and his inspirational life journey), he will certainly be missed.

 

*Read Brief Answers to Big Questions for an overview of Hawking’s theories and philosophy. It is available here at the library.

International Mountain Day (December 11th)

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Did you know that December 11th is International Mountain Day? At the library, we have several books and movies that feature rugged peaks and those who climb them. Check out the list below:

 

Jon Krakauer, mountaineer and nature writer, describes the 1996 tragedy on Mount Everest. Krakauer was one of the few who survived the dangerous summit, and he describes the events with a personal, empathetic voice. Krakauer’s experiences with other climbing expeditions lends well to this book, as he can describe maneuvers and mountain tricks with accuracy.

 

Have you ever wondered how mountains interact with the world around them? This eVideo, which you can view right from our website, shows the interesting process that mountains undergo as they adjust to the elements. The Films On Demand description expands:

Examining Earth’s mountain-building processes in detail, this program also studies the weathering, erosion, and mass wasting by which mountains are worn down. Viewers gain insight into the basic factors that underlie volcanic activity, the various types of geological faults, and the tectonic processes in which oceanic and lithospheric plates collide, separate, or slip past each other, resulting in dramatic physical changes. Eye-catching graphics as well as live-action footage from the Alps, Andes, Cascades, Rockies, and Himalayas help illustrate concepts.

 

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In this eBook, Japanese author Koji Uno presents two stories: “In the Storehouse” and “Love of Mountains.” The first story does not have to do with mountains, but the second story describes the author’s trips to the Shimo Shuwa town and the Shinano mountains. The author is not as impressed with these mountains as he expected, but he enjoys the weather and the company he meets in the area.

 

John Muir is an essential writer when it comes to nature- particularly the beautiful topography of California. Muir wrote about the American landscape in the late 1800s and early 1900s, describing land that may look vastly different now. He was a conservationist whose work helped protect the nature around us; in fact, Muir Woods National Monument in San Francisco was named for him.

 

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Annie Dillard explores how nature can reflect and awaken our spirituality in these essays. For instance, in “Total Eclipse,” Dillard writes about experiencing an eclipse on a mountain top, and how the surreal moment impacted her life. Dillard is great for those who want a voice for the feelings you get and the lessons you learn from spending time outside.

 

 

 

 

Featured Book: “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running”

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Haruki Murakami is a world-renowned Japanese author. He just recently debuted a new book, Killing Commentadore, and is well-known for his previous books such as 1Q84, Sputnik Sweetheart, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, etc. Typically, you’d expect a Murakami book to be strange yet familiar, and to feature characters who experience loneliness, isolation, intrigue, and great epiphanies about love and human understanding. However, if you pick up What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, you’ll get a glimpse at the man behind the famous fiction- a man who is not just a writer, but an avid runner.

Murakami explains that everything he knows about writing, he learned from running. He goes on to encourage writers to nourish two disciplines: focus and endurance. Both of these apply to running as well.

Murakami also reflects on aging and the life lessons he’s picked up along the way. On the art of self-acceptance, he writes:

This is my body, with all its limits and quirks. Just as with my face, even if I don’t like it it’s the only one I get, so I’ve got to make do. As I’ve grown older, I’ve naturally come to terms with this. You open the fridge and can make a nice- actually even a pretty smart- meal with the leftovers. All that’s left is an apple, an onion, cheese, and eggs, but you don’t complain. You make do with what you have. As you age you learn even to be happy with what you have. That’s one of the few good points of growing older.

Even while realizing that his aging body may not be as fast or as sturdy as he may wish, Murakami keeps running throughout, averaging a marathon a year (!). He keeps his eyes on his goals and steadily moves forward. This book documents in particular his goal of running in the New York Marathon, a prestigious race. The reader can keep pace with Murakami as he describes each rung of his journey, along with anecdotes and scattered reflections along the way.

If you’re interested in What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, check it out from the library! It’s only 179 pages long, counting the Afterword- it’s a quick read that still accurately describes a long process.

Top 5 Travel Books For Fall Break

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With fall break comes much-needed time away from school and (hopefully) some beautiful weather! If you find yourself with some free time this break, you may want to pick back up the tried-and-true habit of “reading for fun.” We’ve compiled a list of the best travel books in the library, so that you can read on the go this break (or travel to fun places through the world of literacy, even if you’re still in your dorm)!

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On The Road by Jack Kerouac.

A cult classic, On The Road features two young friends and their experiences in a changing America.

 

To Shake the Sleeping Self by Jedidiah Jenkins.

This brand new travel memoir describes the author’s journey from Oregon to Patagonia, via bike. Jenkins originally documented his story through Instagram.

 

My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem.

From following campaign trails to roadtrips with her father, Gloria Steinem has traveled near and far. She tells her stories in this inspiring autobiography.

 

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Wild by Cheryl Strayed.

Cheryl Strayed needed a change after several tumultuous life events- so she hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. Edgy and honest, Wild shows Strayed’s journey through ups and downs.

 

Blue Highways: A Journey Into America by William Least Heat-Moon.

Ever wanted to drive down America’s many backroads? William Least Heat-Moon not only traveled these paths, but he also wrote about how he did it and the people he met along the way.

 

Take off on your trip with one of these great travel books! Or stay at home and dream of faraway places- that’s what books are for.

Featured Graphic Novel: “Audubon, On The Wings Of The World”

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Audubon, On the Wings of the World” is a fantastic graphic novel about a bird-obsessed man who goes on a journey to illustrate and document different species of birds. Audubon is truly passionate about birds, so much so that he makes the heart-wrenching decision to leave his wife and kids to travel across the southern United States to learn more about birds. As he travels, he creates amazing depictions of the many different feathered creatures.

While this graphic novel has been praised for its detailed and gorgeous artwork, the story itself has been criticized as being rather dark. The antagonists of the story are portrayed in grotesque forms and birds are shown being shot, killed and dissected.

Even still, the overall story is fascinating and beautiful; this is definitely worth a read!

 

*written by Donny Turner