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Jul 12 2017

Creating Library Memories

by Camille B

LIBRARY MEMORIES 1I happened to be helping a patron at the circulation desk a few weeks ago who had his young son with him. The little boy was about three or four years old and seemed a little overwhelmed, the expression on his face clearly saying, “Where are we and why are we here?”

I figured it was probably his first visit to the Library and so before they walked out the door I reached over and gave him a sticker. The smile that lit up his face was priceless, and I sincerely hoped that that one sticker would be the beginning of fond memories for him associated with the library.

To an adult, a sticker might seem like such a small thing, insignificant really, but ask any children’s librarian or circulation staff member how kids react when they receive even the tiniest one, for them it’s like the cherry on top of the cake.

As library staff we encounter countless patrons everyday from all walks of life. We have seniors who come in with no idea how to use a computer (and are sometimes embarrassed to say so); young mothers in need of resources to help  with anything from potty training to allergies and homeschooling; and many individuals seeking help with finding a place to live, searching for employment, or simply looking for a place where they can relax and read or study. Senior at the Library

The little boy’s experience took almost no effort at all. That one sticker was the only thing needed to create a positive memory for him. But what about the person who walks through the doors already frazzled, their nerves frayed, barely hanging on to their sanity by their fingertips? Truth be told it can rattle the best of us if we’re not prepared. Yet I believe, frazzled patrons also need to walk out the door with the same feeling as that little boy. Their experience should be a positive one, maybe more so because of the day they are having.

Think about some of the best customer service you’ve ever received. Now think about the worst. You probably remember them both vividly. When you get great service you want to tell people about it. The same when you get bad customer service–you want to share that as well. At the library we aim to leave patrons with positive experiences.Librarian and Student

Now I’m not saying it’s always easy. We are only human, and we too have good days, bad days and a whole lot of other stuff going on in between, but our aim should be to give our best.

One thing that has always helped me when I begin to feel a little frayed around the edges is to remember that the person standing in front of me needs my help or they wouldn’t be asking for it. They might really believe they know what they’re asking for but sometimes they  don’t, and with a little help I can get them to where they need to be.

This happened to me a while back with a gentleman who was filling out a job application that had to be submitted by the end of the day. He was just getting back into the workforce and the last time he filled out an application the printed version was still acceptable. He had no idea how to use the computer, and so of course he had no idea how to create an email address. I swear, after twenty minutes, you could almost see the smoke rising from the top of his head. There wasn’t a sticker in the world that was going to fix that.

This case was not an exceptional one but actually one quite common to Library staff, and patience is always needed, even when the patrons themselves seem to be losing it. Sometimes you might even need to engage another staff member if you feel like you’re out of your element, and hopefully at the end of it all, like in the case of that gentleman, they would eventually leave satisfied.

I often have a hard time picturing libraries ever closing their doors to the public. Not when we hear from patrons all the time how much they love the interaction with their library staff, even bypassing the self-check machines in an effort to have that one on one face time with us. A virtual experience, no matter how great, can never take the place of that.

Baby Storytime

There are patrons who are now in their fifties, sixties and even older who have been visiting the library since they were in their teens, some now bringing their own children and grandchildren. They reminisce with us about getting their first library card or bringing in their kids to get theirs.

They walk through our doors every day, to sit in our Story Times, Workshops, Book Clubs and Movies, our Craft and Computer Classes, Poetry Slams, Musical Events, Author Talks and so much more. Each of these a memory to be created by our library patrons.

What are some of your favorite Library memories, now and while growing up?

Here are a few relevant titles to check-out:

ebookfriendly.com/best-quotes-about-libraries-librarians

Uncommon Service

 

 

 

Uncommon Service- Frei Frances

 

Who's Your Gladys

 

 

Who’s Your Gladys: how to turn even the most difficult customer into your biggest fan- Marilyn Suttle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jun 12 2017

Is it done yet? Now? How about now?

by Dea Anne M

salt1I had a friend in college who insisted on McDonald’s if we were stopping for fast food – which happened about as often as you might expect for two college students who were too “poor” to buy food to cook for ourselves and yet managed to regularly unearth enough “sofa money” (i.e. coins and cash found under and between furniture cushions, in the pockets of clothes heaped up on the floor, inside that semester’s textbooks and sometimes even in wallets) to take ourselves out to eat. One thing my friend always ordered were fries – large fries – and he always sprinkled them liberally with salt.

“What are you doing?” I would ask.

“What? I’m adding salt!”

“But they’re already salted.”

“Haven’t you ever heard that salt brings out the flavors in food?”

“Yeah, but…uh, so what?”

“Well, duh, McDonald’s fries are the best so adding more salt makes them taste even more like the best!”

He had me there. Thankfully, we both learned to take better care of ourselves shortly thereafter. He got a job as a server at a local restaurant that fed him before his shifts and sometimes allowed staff to take home leftovers. As for me,  I finally just learned to cook. I don’t know if he still salts fast food fries since we lost touch with each other through the years, but I have, I think, become a much better cook and one thing that I know for sure is that salt truly does enhance the flavors of food. Of course, many people are advised to limit salt for reasons of health, and I think that’s probably good for all of us, particularly in regard to processed food.

For home cooking though the right amount of salt can work wonders. I still think that my college friend’s taste was a little extreme…I really don’t think that McDonald’s fries require additional salt. On the other side of the question, I would never think to impose on my dinner guests the sort of strictures that diners at a few top-flight restaurants have been subject to. At these sorts of places, not only is there no salt provided at the table – any customer unwitting and naive enough to dare ask for any risks coming face to face with a furious chef. Still, I hope that I’m able to cook food that’s well seasoned and tasty enough to need no doctoring at the table at least some of the time.

What pops into your head when you think of these things: salt, fat, acid and heat? I imagine the reaction of many will be:

Salt (bad!)

Fat (really bad!)

Acid (huh…what?)

Heat (well, sure, we’re cooking aren’t we?)

Anyway, this somewhat rambling discourse is all by way of letting all of you know about a great new book that I’ve discovered in my ongoing quest to become a competent improvisational cook. I’m probably going to come across as a true believer here but I can’t recommend this book highly enough. It is Salt, Fat, Acid and Heat: mastering the elements of good cooking by Samin Nosrat. Be warned, this is really more of an instructive guide to cooking than an actual recipe book. There are recipes, true, butnosrat they function more as practical illustrations of Nosrat’s principles and are, as a whole, quite simple to understand and execute. The real meat of the book (so to speak) is the extensive chapters that examine in great depth each of the four “elements” that Nosrat considers essential. Some of this is bound to be controversial. Salt, as mentioned above, is something that many people must avoid for reasons of health. Some of us approach fat with the same wariness that a kitten might an elephant. As far as acid goes, it isn’t always clear what acid actually is in cooking. Let’s follow Nosrat’s lead and look at the elements one by one.

Salt – Enhances the inherent flavors of food. This is its purpose. Potatoes taste more like potatoes – steak more like steak. Used judiciously, salt makes your food taste taste wonderfully like itself. Too much just makes food taste salty which is definitely not what you want.

Fat – Helps flavors permeate throughout your food.

Acid – Balances flavors. Salt and oil on lettuce makes for a pretty ho-hum salad but a little vinegar or lemon juice make the whole assembly sing. And acid isn’t provided only by the obvious suspects. Cheese, for example, delivers salt, fat and acid together. Ketchup, mustard and yogurt all carry the “pop” you get from acid.

Heat – Determines texture as well as certain flavors. Boiling green beans might work perfectly but you don’t necessarily want to do the same thing with pork chops.

The real point of Nosrat’s writing and teaching is to show cooks how to trust their own senses and palates. She encourages you to taste food while you’re cooking it then taste again and again and again until it is exactly how you want. “You” is the operative word here. “Salt to taste” means exactly that. You are adding enough salt or fat or acid or heat until what you’re cooking tastes perfect to you and not necessarily what someone else thinks that you should prefer. And lest you fear that this approach renders Nosrat’s writing pedantic and dull be assured that nothing could be further from the truth. She is, first of all, an excellent writer both engaging and precise. She also seems to possess an enormous sense of fun and a lack of pretension that caused me to think all the time that I was reading that she would be a great person to be friends with. In any case, she is quite a wonderful teacher and I daresay that my own cooking has been transformed for the better due to her lessons.

I must also mention that instead of  the glossy and perfectly staged photographs that are usual in cookbooks these days, you have here Wendy McNaughton’s charming illustrations. I particularly love the “Spices of the World” wheel and the similar wheel for “The World of Acid.” Both provide a surprisingly handy reference when you might be improvising in the kitchen and want to create a dish that tastes French (wine, dijon mustard, tarragon) or reminds you of that week you spent in Mexico (oregano, chili, lime juice).

Whether you’re an experienced cook or an absolute beginner you can’t go wrong with this book. It will instill confidence in your own skills and in your own taste. That confidence is the most valuable tool that a cook can possess in my opinion. Also, I guarantee that following Nosrat’s lesson will not leave you with food that’s too salty, or a fat bomb, or turns your mouth inside out from sourness. Instead your food will just taste good and what isn’t to like about that?

 

 

 

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Jun 5 2017

Better Than The Movie

by Camille B

Image 4My family hates it when I’ve already read the book to the movie that we’re watching. In spite of my best efforts, I always find myself blurting out at some point, “That’s not what happened in the book.”

There would be loud groans and eyes rolling (and probably a secret meeting to vote me off the island), but I’d find myself unable to resist every time.

Book lovers know what I mean, that feeling of disappointment you get when you see a book that you thoroughly enjoyed butchered on its way to the movie screen, the final product barely resembling its original story line.

For movie lovers there’s no love lost, their mantra is, “I’ll just wait for the movie to come out.” Their take is, why waste time reading the book when they’re going to make it into a movie anyway?

But oh, how much of the story you miss that way. According to Rich Santos of B&N Reads, a movie gets lost in translation. Once a filmmaker decides upon settings and characters, we’re limited to seeing those characters and settings through their eyes.” 

It’s no wonder then, why a lot of times we are left disappointed when the characters don’t turn up on screen looking the way we imagine them, or we’re left waiting for scenes that never appear because the producer couldn’t squeeze them into the budget or time frame.

To me, no movie is better than the one that plays out inside the head of you the reader when you get wrapped up in a really good book. Time is suspended, characters appear on cue looking exactly as you expect them to look. You can enjoy it at your own pace because you don’t have to cram everything into a 90 minute time frame.

In your mind’s eye, it can be as long as you want it to be and include everything that you want it to include because it’s all coming from your imagination. A book allows you to feel the characters’ emotions and hear their inner thoughts, in a way that not even the best movie narration can. Here is a lists of books that are described as better than their movie version: Books That Were Better Than The Movie

Don’t get me wrong I love movies, but I would never watch one instead of the book. Even though I know there’s a good chance I might be in for a let down, I still get excited whenever I see a book that I enjoyed made into film.

It isn’t just me, whenever a book is made into a movie, the waiting list at the library for that particular book goes up again. Some people are re-reading the book and others are curious because of the sensation the movie is causing.

I think too, that producers are making a greater effort to stay true to story lines. There are movies that some say are actually better than the book (hmm). I haven’t seen all of them but here’s a list, you be the judge: Movies that are better than the book

So which are you? Do you prefer to get lost in the pages of the book, or sit tight and wait for the movie trailer?

Below are just a few popular books that were made into movies. You can find both the book and the movie at your DCPL library:

The Fault In Our Stars                                     My Sister’s Keeper

The Devil Wears Prada                                    The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

The Notebook                                                     A Man Called Ove  (Swedish with English subtitles)

Gone Girl                                                             The Girl On The Train

Life of Pi                                                               The Boy In The Striped Pajamas

The Time Traveler’s Wife                                 The Great Gatsby

The Help                                                               The Lovely Bones

 

 

 

 

 

 

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May 11 2017

Cooking with Diana Gabaldon!

by Jencey G

gabaldonI have been a fan of Diana Gabaldon’s books for a long time.  I have read most of the Outlander series.  I also really enjoy the Outlander series on television which are available on DVD from the library.   Diana has a couple of Outlandish companions that give extra details on the Outlander series and allow readers delve  deeper into the series.

Another book that has recently come out is the Outlander Kitchen cookbook.  This book takes readers into the food and drink aspect of the Outlander series.   Dishes such as: Claire’s Nettle Kissed Buns; Brianna’s Bridies; Banoffee Pie; Bannocks; Battlefield Blackberry Jam;  Garlic and Sage Sausage; and many more.  The food follows the storyline of Outlander.  So many of these dishes are native to England, Scotland, and the USA.

I have enjoyed cooking since I was a girl.  I also love to bake.  So I thought it would be a fun experience to check out some of the recipes included in this book.  I flipped through the book and picked several that I thought I might be able to make.

So my first recipe attempt was Mrs. Bugs Buttermilk Drop Biscuits.  It was the first time I made biscuits from scratch that actually tasted like biscuits.  I think this recipe was better than anything I have in my current collection of recipes.

Spaghetti and Meatballs was the next recipe. The cookbook goes into a description about the characters and their process for preparation.  The author’s of the cookbook include which book the dish came from and some dialogue describing the scene. I followed the recipe, but I did not enjoy this recipe.

I have a few more recipes I would like to try.  I am also looking forward to reading the further adventures of Jamie, Claire, Brianna and Roger’s family.  I always look forward to the next season of Outlander!

Try a few recipes from your favorite characters in the Outlander Kitchen cookbook! Diana’s books are available in all formats with DCPL.

These items can be found in the catalog:

Outlander                                                                                                                   Outlander TV

Dragon Fly In Amber

Voyager

Drums of Autumn

The Fiery Cross

A Breath of Snow and Ash

An Echo In The Bone

Written In My Own Heart’s Blood

The Outlandish Companion

The Outlandish Companion Volume 2

The Outlander series DVDs

 

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May 9 2017

Are You A Book Snob?

by Camille B

Book Snob 2Several months ago I picked up a Harlequin Romance to casually browse its back cover. It had been several years since I’d read one, and I associated them mainly with my teen years and early twenties, so I didn’t really expect it to hold my interest.

Well! Wonder of wonders if I didn’t find myself completely drawn into the first few pages of the book-all the while telling myself that I was going to put it down just as soon as I discovered what Prince Rihad’s brother was up to. Of course I was only kidding myself, and I ended up reading it to the very end.

Sadly, it was like eating a can of Pringles. I couldn’t stop myself from reading another, and then another, and pretty soon I was out in the stacks hunting for them, making neat little piles on my desk and searching Amazon for sequels to the ones I’d already read. It was like there was some sort of romance-sized hole inside of me that I was trying to fill.

The problem, however, was that even though I was enjoying this new secret indulgence, it was just that, a secret. I found myself hiding my book every time I’d bump into a friend or co-worker which seemed really silly. It’s not like there were naked people all over the front covers.

But I think that on some level a part of me knew that my “lighthearted books” would probably be met with some raised eyebrows from those who were more literary minded. After all, to be taken seriously as a reader you have to read “serious books” right?

First of all, I don’t believe all serious readers are necessarily “book snobs.” I know there are readers who enjoy and appreciate great literature and the classics, but they would also read any good book regardless of its genre. These readers would never judge others who don’t share their literary preferences.

On the other hand, true book snobs are those individuals who have an aversion to anything they consider to be light or fluffy writing. I imagine their idea is: The Great Gatsby- yes, yes, yes and The Hunger Games- not so much. They would rather be burnt at the stake than caught reading The Twilight Saga in public, and they would consider any book that hasn’t won a Pulitzer, made an appearance on the New York Times Best Seller’s List or been recommended by Oprah, not worthy of their time.

I often wonder how they cleanse their reading palate. For instance, when you go to a restaurant you don’t just sit there and eat salad all night long do you? You eat a little of everything to ensure a well balanced meal and the experience of a variety of tastes. I believe the same applies to reading-you need the balance and variety.

I have to tell you that it didn’t take long for my paperback rendezvous to fizzle away, and I soon found myself craving a difference in scenery so to speak. This is why the genres complement each other, and why I would never put one up against the other. We need all of them at different times in our lives.

And maybe the truth is we all have a little book snob in us somewhere, though we may not be aware of it. All of us could be more tolerant of other people’s literary choices. We should not judge people or their intellect based on what they choose to read.

Remember your early reading years when you would read anything and everything you could get your hands on including the TV guide? Fiction, non-fiction, romance, mysteries, fantasies, thrillers, memoirs, biographies. You read them freely and without fear of ridicule or judgment. You didn’t wait to check the Sunday paper to see what everybody else was reading before you chose a book. Your love for words was your master and reading guide, not the hype or prestige associated with an author or genre.

I applaud all great writers who continue to turn out tremendous work and thrill their audiences even in the face of the snobbery. These writers remain steadfast and stalwart against the book snobs and critics even though their books are squeezed into categories that no longer seem able to hold them, and are slapped with labels that are less than flattering, even while the demand for their books continue to soar.

All snobbery aside, a great book is a great book. It should not matter if the author is male, female, young, old, black, white, a stay-at-home-mom or a professor. If a book is well written and touches the reader, then it has accomplished what it was meant to accomplish.  

Check out DCPL’s Reference database NoveList Plus where you can browse other genres, find books that you’re in the mood to read and discover other books and writers similar to the ones you already know.

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Apr 26 2017

Salad Days

by Dea Anne M

salad

You’ve known it. I’ve known it. It’s that empty feeling, that sense of lacking something, that special bereftness that causes you to drape yourself across the handiest piece of furniture moaning and sighing and exclaiming out loud to (the bafflement of roommates, significant others and pets)…

“Why, oh why, is there no month – just one lousy month – during the year in which we celebrate salad and all things salad related?”

Fret no more because, believe it or not, May is National Salad Month! Granted, this extended occasion was created by an organization known as the Association for Dressings and Sauces back in 1992. Still, it might be said that National Salad Month must have been created to fill a need recognized by people who are obviously wiser than myself. After all, I had no idea – until about two minutes ago that is – that a 1991 Gallup Poll showed that “three out of four people eat a tossed salad everyday” and that other (unnamed) polls revealed the startling news that “salads taste better with salad dressing.” Of course, what a salad actually is can be a matter of some debate. The classic French salad course consists of plain greens dressed simply with oil and vinegar and is meant to follow the main course instead of preceding it. In parts of the South, when I was growing up, any random mix of edible objects could be suspended in gelatin and called a salad. No doubt some of these mixtures were, and continue to be, delicious, but I still remember a particularly garish presentation of sliced radishes and carrots in lime Jello with a combination of fascination and dread. The Midwest has its Snickers Salad which includes chopped Granny Smith apples, mini-marshmallows and…wait for it…chopped Snickers bars. About Frog Eye Salad I will only say that its ingredients include tiny round pasta, Cool Whip and pineapple juice.

Now, I don’t know about you, but this sort of exhaustive culinary research makes me hungry. I happen to be one of those three in four people who eats a tossed salad everyday, although I do make my own salad dressing which I suppose wouldn’t make me popular with the Association for Dressings and Sauces. Still, I proudly declare my love of salad and if you are fond of it as well – but feel the need for some new salad ideas in your life – then DCPL has resources for you.food52

From the excellent community website, Food52, comes Food52 Mighty Salads: 60 new ways to turn salad into dinner – and make ahead lunches too. These are hearty dishes, make no mistake, and certainly will provide you with some creative new ideas. By the way, if you’ve yet to visit Food52, then please do. The site is beautiful and the recipes are great. Try the Mujaddara With Spiced Yogurt!

In a similar vein is Tasha DeSerio’s Salad For Dinner: simple recipes for salads that make a meal. DeSerio presents a lovely range of salads here. Plus, detailed instructions and a beautiful photographs will be sure to inspire your wildest salad dreams.

bigAt 288 pages, Cooking Light: big book of salads from the editors of the excellent Cooking Light magazine, certainly covers the bases. The salads look good too. You’ll find intriguing dressing recipes and interesting variations on green salads plus dishes made from heartier vegetables as well as grains and meats. All are presented with the magazine’s typical close attention to eye appeal and high flavor profile. Of course, there’s a focus here on good nutrition too which isn’t a bad thing when you consider the fact that some restaurant salads can pack as much as 1,200 calories and over 1,400 mg sodium inside a single bowl.

How about you? Do you love salad? What’s the most unusual salad that you’ve encountered?

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Apr 7 2017

Your Books Are Due On…

by Camille B

library stamp 2

“Man returns library book checked out 75 years ago.”

This newsworthy article caught my attention a couple months ago, and I just had to share it.

Working at the library you think you’ve seen it all: sticky book covers, dog-chewed spines, charred audio cases, and seriously overdue items.

But my mind still reeled when I saw the above headline. What in the world could have happened to delay this book’s return?

Turns out that the children’s book Val Rides the Oregon Trail was found by Robert Lockmon Jr. while he  was cleaning out his basement. It belonged to his late father Robert Lockmon Sr. who, according to the receipt in the book, had checked it out in 1941 when he was just 9 years old.

The book’s due date was Dec 2, five days before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on the 7, and Lockmon figures that in light of an ensuing world war, the book’s return may have been forgotten.

I tried to imagine what my reaction would be if I looked down and saw that the due date on a book was Dec. 2, 1941. It would probably be like finding a rare coin or postage stamp, and the circulation staff would most likely be huddled around together with me, to stare at it in awe.

Due Date Card

Well, the folks at the Osterhout Free Library in Pennsylvania were certainly happy to see the book back, and waived the fine which was a whopping, wait for it, $554! That’s 2 cents a day for 75 years, two months and 13 days.

“We just laughed about it.” said Jeannette Karaska, the circulation clerk who was on duty at the time.

She says that it’s unlikely that they’ll place the book back in circulation, but she plans to put it on display because of its unique story. For more of the story you can watch this video link here.

Of course I was curious to find out if this was the longest a book had ever been kept out by a patron, and surprisingly the answer was no. In an article in the Daily Mail Reporter, an overdue Library book was returned 123 years late and the fine of 4,500 British pounds was also waived.

The Victorian miscellany Good Words for 1888 was borrowed from the Troutbeck Institute Library shortly after it was first published, but it was never returned.

It sat on the fireside shelf at Townsend House in Troubeck, home to the wealthy Browne family ever since. It was discovered by chance by staff at the National Trust, which now owns the building.

Speaking of waiving of fines and fees, DeKalb County Public Library is also offering Fine Forgiveness to our patrons in the month of April. Beginning April 3 through April 23, we are encouraging patrons to take this opportunity to return any lost and overdue items they may have no matter how old or late, so that we can work with expunging their records. It’s still early in the year and a good time to wipe your library slates clean, replace your library cards and start anew.

I leave you with this list of Ridiculously Overdue Library Books (that were finally returned).

                         

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mar 10 2017

Small Great Things

by Camille B

Small Great Things(No Spoilers)

I have never been a member of a Book Club, but after reading this book I honestly wished that I was. Small Great Things left me so charged up- in a good way- that I wanted to sit down with others who had read it to hear what they had to say about it. Did the emotions they experienced mirror mine? Or were they totally opposite?

There is probably no author worth his salt, who has ever written a book that was totally loved the world over, no matter the effort, research, humility and best intentions he’d put into capturing a particular truth. There would always be the few who felt that the facts weren’t accurate, or if they were, they weren’t presented the right way. Or maybe they simply felt that the author was presumptuous to speak on the topic at all. To these folk I say, get it right when you write your book.

The blurb of Small Great Things actually sells itself, and I found myself being quickly reeled in as I read it: a black labor and delivery nurse, white supremacist parents; the black nurse is told not to touch their baby because of the color of her skin, she ends up doing so anyway in a moment of crisis, the baby dies and the story takes off! I placed a hold on the book immediately. Who was going to pay for this…crime? How? And most importantly…why?

Jodi Picoult uses the lives of her three main characters:  Ruth, a nurse; Turk, a white supremacist father; and Kennedy, a white public defender, each with different lives, cultures and backgrounds, to explore a topic that so many tiptoe around or find difficult to speak about. “Racism is hard to discuss,” says Picoult in the author’s note. “And as a result we often don’t.”  So she puts out the three pairs of shoes for us to walk in, and as we do we see firsthand the many cracks and crevices where racism can lie, sometimes hidden in plain sight. 

Parts of the book will make you squirm, and you may be tempted to skip over a few pages or even chapters. Some of the deeds done would seem atrocious and cause your blood to boil. There are words that may make you cringe, because you can’t imagine ever saying them yourself, but they’re necessary and the book won’t be complete without them.

And Picoult stays true to her characters and their voices throughout her book. I remember commenting to a friend while reading it that, had I written the book myself, I would have been drenched in sweat by the end of the final chapter from the sheer effort of having to keep those three voices as clear and distinct in the reader’s mind as they were throughout the entire novel- a black nurse, a white lawyer and a white supremacist.

The wealth of research that went into breathing life into Ruth Jefferson, Kennedy McQuarrie and Turk Bauer, and causing them to come alive for us on the pages included Jodi sitting down to speak with women of color- many of them mothers- who were willing to share with her openly what it really feels like to be black. She interviewed former skinheads who gave her an inside look of how white supremacists think and what they actually believe. She spoke with white mothers as well, many of whom admitted that they never discussed racism with their children. She spent hours poring over books on the topic and even enrolled in a social justice workshop called Undoing Racism.

I was learning about myself,” Picoult says in her author’s note. “I was exploring my past, my upbringing, my biases, and I was discovering that I was not as blameless and progressive as I had imagined.” Mrs. Picoult is white, I am black, but her words ring true for me as well, as I’m sure they will for you, whether you’re black, white, blue or purple.

For some, this might be a difficult book to read, but what growth is there if we only read the books that we’re comfortable with? The ones with easy answers and a happy ending? I think that it’s imperative that we also  read the ones that stretch us; the ones that make us look at life in another way, whether we agree with that way ourselves or not. And this is what Small Great Things does– it causes you to walk in the other person’s shoes, see through the other person’s eyes, even though doing so might be uncomfortable.

So if you’re looking for an easy read, this is not the book for you. Easy it’s not and change you it will, because there’s no way you can remain indifferent to the racism we see in our world everyday after the myriad of emotions you’re bound to experience as you go through the pages of this book.  There is no way you can continue to hide beneath a cloak of ignorance.

It’s the best book I’ve read so far this year, with a surprising twist that will knock your socks off. I urge you to get it, read it and pass it on to your friends, share it with your husband, wife and coworkers.  I guarantee you that unless your heart is made of stone, there is no way you can read it and not come away with a different imprint upon your  soul that wasn’t there before.

“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way” 

                                                                   – Martin Luther King Jr.

Small Great Things– Jodi Picoult

 

 

 

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recyle

As the time for Spring cleaning approaches, some of us may find we have certain troublesome items we would like to be rid of, from old paint cans to spent batteries to used fluorescent bulbs. These materials aren’t suitable for normal garbage collection, but DeKalb County provides an environmentally-friendly alternative. On Saturday, March 25, the DeKalb County Sanitation Division will host its biannual household hazardous waste recycling event from 8 a.m. – noon at the Sanitation Division’s Central Transfer Station, 3720 Leroy Scott Drive, Decatur, GA 30032. The event is free and open to all DeKalb County residents. For more information, check out this flyer. Happy recycling!

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Feb 28 2017

Feeding America

by Camille B

OPEN_DOOR_SOUP_KITCHEN_122I came to the United States at the age of 34, still believing that no one in America ever went hungry. Growing up in Trinidad I had seen poverty aplenty, had lived with it and been surrounded by it for many years; but I was in America now, a land where there was more than enough for everyone to go around.
It didn’t take me long to realize that I had been quite naive and disillusioned in my thinking. The rose-colored glasses were swiftly snatched from my eyes, as I was forced to face the fact that America, like Trinidad, existed in a real world with real problems, and hunger was one of them.

For many, the problem of hunger is not a pleasant one, and conversations of this nature make them uncomfortable, not for lack of caring but because they probably feel helpless in the face of such overwhelming need. And if you’re a woman it’s worse, since as caregivers we would feed everybody, everywhere if you gave us the chance.

Since America already grows enough food to feed 10 billion people, it is indeed worrisome that there are so many who still go to bed hungry at night. Could waste be one of the factors? American Wasteland

In his book American Wasteland Jonathan Bloom states that everyday America wastes enough food to fill the Rose Bowl- the 90,000 seat football stadium in Pasadena, California. We squander between a quarter and a half of all the food produced in the United States-according to the Washington Post $165 billion in food each year. Now that’s a lot of food.

Can the bridge be gapped between waste and hunger? For example, if restaurants donated their leftovers at the end of  the night to give to the hungry and homeless, would that help create some type of balance?

Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. An article in the Huffington Post reported that a lot of restaurants are afraid of donating uneaten food for fear that they might get sued if someone gets sick. Since we do live in an age of lawsuits you can’t really blame them. However, according to that same article, these establishments have nothing to fear because the Good Samaritan Food Donation Act of 1996 protects donors from civil and criminal liability should the product donated in good faith later cause harm to the recipient, except for cases of “gross negligence or intentional misconduct.”

Because of this we are now seeing more and more restaurants stepping up to contribute in a significant way to the hungry and to the charitable organizations that feed them. It was very heartening to see places like Starbucks, Olive Garden and LongHorn Stakehouse donating food, that would have otherwise been thrown away, to such a worthy cause. Take a look here at this video clip https://www.aol.com/article/news/2016/07/26/these-restaurants-arent-letting-food-go-to-waste/21439044/

This year the Library partnered once again with the Atlanta Community Food Bank in their annual canned food drive which took place between January 23rd and February 17th. Barrels were placed at all library branches during this time for patrons to put their food donations whenever they visited during regular branch hours.

So even though the thoughts of hunger and homelessness can sometimes seem daunting and leave you feeling helpless, rest assured that you do not have to be a millionaire or donate lump sums to charity in order to make an impact for the cause. It’s the drops that fill the bucket.

Below is a list of various organizations that will be more than happy to accept your contributions of generosity, whether it be monetary, in the form of actual food items or some other form:

FoodPantries.org

FoodHelpUSA.com

-Dosomething.org

Georgia Food Oasis.org

Georgia Food Bank Association

The Atlanta Community Food Bank

These are just some in over 99 organizations set up to provide food assistance in the U.S.

 

 

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