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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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How many of you check magazines and newspapers for the next best read?   Such as Red Book, Real Simple, Glamour, or USA Today?  These lists usually comprise what is currently the hottest books in the market.  I myself usually find these lists interesting to see what the selections are and which authors areThe Sun Is Also the Star included.

A website or blog has recently joined these hot magazines in offering the hottest books.  This site is Pop Sugar.  The posts are written by author Brenda Janowitz.  We currently have her latest book  The Dinner Party.  I thought it would be fun to see what titles DCPL has that were recently noted on her 50 Books of 2016 list.

So here are some titles from the best of 2016 that you can find at DCPL:

THE SUN IS ALSO THE STAR by Nicola Yoon

THE TRESPASSER by Tanya French

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Every Song Ever:  twenty ways to listen in an age of  musical plenty  by Ben Ratliff

Sons and Daughters of Ease and PlentySons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty by Ramona Ausubel

The Lonely City: adventures in the art of being alone by Olivia Liang

Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeliene Thien

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

Moon Glow by Michael Chabon

Known and Strange Things by Teju Cole

Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett

13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad

YOU WILL KNOW ME by Megan Abbott

And more…

Many of these books are available in audiobook format, ebook, and downloadable audio.  If you are looking for reader advisory then visit Pop Sugar for the 2017 list.  Happy Reading!

 

 

 

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Jan 25 2017

The Book and Its Cover

by Camille B

“The book cover is the window to your book’s soul.”   

Book Image 3

Book Image 5Book Image

Book Image 2Book Image 6

Book Image 4


 

 

 

 

They say never judge a book by the cover– well, I do it all the time. I know that I shouldn’t. I know each book stands on its own merit, appealing cover or not, but I find myself being swayed anyway. I’m sure that in spite of your best efforts you do too; whether it’s the cool jacket or intriguing title, you find yourself passing over the blander looking dust jackets to pick up the ones that seem more enticing.

Even though those covers have misled us before. They either promised pages filled with intrigue and adventure and never delivered, or the book looked really dull on the outside and turned out to be fantastic!

So why is this? Why is it that against our better judgment we find ourselves drawn to book covers on the library and bookstore shelves that appeal to the eyes; without even checking the blurb on the inside to see what the books are about? Probably even robbing ourselves in the process, because who knows, that ugly looking book with the brown cover might turn out to be quite an interesting read.

According to an article in the Huffington Post, a book cover is the first thing a potential reader sees and it can make a lasting impression. “Our brains are wired to process images faster than words, when we see an image, it makes us feel something, a great cover can help the reader instantly recognize that this book is for them.”

So it’s human nature to have our curiosity piqued by pretty or unusual book covers. You should feel better knowing it’s not entirely your fault. It is the publisher’s job to lure you in with fancy and captivating book covers, using intriguing teasers and taglines, contrasting colors, and paying careful attention to details such as font style and text placement all in the purpose of getting you to pick up the book and take a closer look.

Does the cover actually sell the book? One blogger puts it this way “The front cover sells the back, the back cover sells the flap and by then you’ve sold the book.” Well, yes and no, because for me personally the blurb is the deciding factor; because pretty cover or not, if it doesn’t interest me, I’m not buying it.

There are some who won’t even get as far as reading the blurb on the inside of the book because they’re so turned off by its hideous cover. Says Naomi Blackburn, one of the world’s top  Goodreads reviewer and columnist for The Author CEO, “If the cover seems to be nothing more than a catalog photograph with block lettering, I bypass it,” she says. “If the author didn’t care enough to dedicate time/effort to their cover, I wonder how much time they put into the book itself.” 

And I agree. I think the cover should have appeal and make a potential customer or library patron want to pick it up. But what about those authors who don’t have a say in the design of their book covers? Because the truth is most of them don’t; just ask Anne Rice who’s Facebook fans were not too thrilled with the cover of her book Prince Lestat which they felt did not represent the story. “I have no control,” she said in her response. “Never have had. Of all the covers on my books over the years, I have liked a few”

And this is true of many authors. I guess for some it comes down to a matter of trust and loyalty after being with a publisher for so long, and depending on the working relationship they have together or contract in place. They may, or may not have approval  for the consulting and cover of their book. Sometimes they like the covers, sometimes they don’t, but at the end of the day it’s all just one of the realities of the publishing world.

So whether a book cover is flashy, lame, witty or simply leaves us with a question mark hanging over our heads, we have to admit that in today’s competitive world of book publishing they’ve made the phrase “Don’t judge a book by the cover” pretty darn hard to do.

Here is a survey that was taken to try and determine how much influence a book cover actually has in helping a customer decide whether to buy it or not.

Here are some other interesting links about book covers:

 18 Modern Redesigns of Classic Book Covers That Will Make You Want To Read Them Again

  50 of the Coolest Book Covers

Below are some suggested titles that you can find in our DCPL collection:

Book 2

Book Cover 3

 

 

 

 

Book design made simple- Fiona Raven & Glenna Collett

Creating the cover for your graphic novel– Frank Lee

Do you have a favorite book cover?

 

 

 

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Jan 23 2017

Sock Monkey Mind

by Dea Anne M

Many of us resolve to “do better” at the beginning of each year and for some that means losing weight, getting more exercise, or quitting an undesirable habit. What can happen though is that we dive into our new life style in a full-tilt manner only to find out (again) that most of us live lives which are subject to disruption and change. Too often, we experience a setback, see this as proof of our failure and then give up. It’s happened to me often enough that I resolved several years back not to make resolutions.

Well, this year has been a little different. It isn’t that I’ve made a bunch of, or any, actual resolutions, but I have decided that I want to slow down and be a little kinder to myself. One way that I’m doing that is by starting a meditation practice. Already I’ve been impressed with what a difference it’s made in how I feel – and more importantly – how I react not only to everyday stresses but the little surprises that life has a way of throwing at us. It is a practice that I can recommend without reservation. I’d hesitate to say that it has changed my life except it kind of has.

Do you think you might be interested in exploring meditation for yourself? If so, DCPL has resources to help.

If you’re the kind of person who wants to do a little self-study before you dive in or you’re curious but don’t know if meditation is right for you here are some books for beginners:meditation

Mindfulness: an eight-week plan for finding peace in a frantic world by Mark Williams and Danny Penman

Meditation for Dummies by Stephen Bodian

Quiet Mind: a beginner’s guide to meditation compiled and edited by Susan Piver

whereverAnd here some sources that are widely considered classics in the field:

Wherever You Go, There You Are: mindfulness meditation in everyday life by Jon Kabat-Zinn

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

Real Happiness: the power of meditation by Sharon Salzberg

If you have specific needs or concerns around meditation, be sure to check out the following:

In this country, African Americans overwhelmingly face issues and concerns that other people will rarely, or ever, be confronted with. Free Your Mind: an African American guide to meditation and freedom by Cortez R. Rainey addresses this reality with specific meditations and visualizations that freeencompass this reality.

Parents face specific challenges especially around helping children find mental health, happiness and security. If this is your situation, don’t miss Christopher Willard’s Growing Up Mindful: essential practices to help children, teens, and families find balance, calm and resilience.

Although all of the world’s major religions feature spiritual contemplation as a component, devout people can sometimes feel that the practice of meditation might run counter to what they believe. Christian Meditation: experiencing the presence of God by James Finley and Connecting to God: ancient kabbalah and modern psychology by Abner Weiss are two examples of resources available from DCPL that can help you explore these concerns.

happierFinally, let me wholeheartedly recommend Dan Harris’s wonderful 10% Happier: how I tamed the voice in my head, reduced stress without losing my edge, and found self-help that actually works.  Harris, a co-anchor on Nightline and a longtime professional in the pressure cooker that is network news, has a very active brain – a quality that many of us share. He was able to rise to the top of his profession yet at the same time developed ways to mask his anxiety to the extent that he finally experienced an intense, and very public, panic attack while he was on the air. If you’re curious about meditation, but remain skeptical, then this is the book for you. Harris is a very funny writer and utterly convincing as he chronicles his journey toward greater happiness and focus all by way of learning to quiet the voice inside of his head that he was convinced would never shut up.

Now about the title of this post – Buddhist tradition has a term for the mind that is restless, confused and inconstant from which comes many of our mental and spiritual anxieties and that term is “monkey mind.” Well, meditation is starting to turn my own monkey (i.e. busy brain) into something more closely resembling a sock monkey. It isn’t something I’m not cuddling up with it every second of the day, but it sure doesn’t keep me from falling asleep at night. Try it for yourself…and do let me know how it goes.

 

 

 

 

 

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