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It’s inevitable that you will one day tire of what you are now cooking – the recipes you now rely on will eventually fail to thrill, the staples that once provoked extreme satisfaction from family and friends will instead elicit groans. When that moment comes, the library has your back! We have assembled a list of 13 great cookbooks from 2018 for your consideration. Click here to view the entire list in our catalog, or click on the title or cover of each suggested book to be taken to its record in our catalog.

Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi

Author and chef Yotam Ottolenghi presents 130 streamlined recipes packed with his signature Middle Eastern-inspired flavors. Each dish can be made in 30 minutes or less, with 10 or fewer ingredients, in a single pot, using pantry staples, or prepared ahead of time for brilliantly, deliciously simple meals.

Now & Again: Go-To Recipes, Inspired Menus + Endless Ideas for Reinventing Leftovers by Julia Turshen

In this book – the follow-up to Small Victories, which Real Simple magazine called “an inspiring addition to any kitchen bookshelf” – Julia Turshen presents more than 125 delicious recipes and 20 creative menu ideas to help cooks of any skill level gather friends and family around the table.

Mississippi Vegan: Recipes & Stories from a Southern Boy’s Heart by Timothy Pakron

Inspired by the landscape and flavours of his childhood on the Mississippi gulf coast, Timothy Pakron found his heart, soul, and calling in cooking the Cajun, Creole, and southern classics of his youth. In his debut cookbook, he shares 125 plant-based recipes, all of which substitute ingredients without sacrificing depth of flavor and reveal the secret tradition of veganism in Southern cooking.

Milk Street: Tuesday Nights by Christopher Kimball

Kimball and his team of cooks and editors search the world for straightforward techniques that deliver delicious dinners in less time. Here, they present more than 200 solutions that will transform your weeknight cooking, showing how to make simple, healthy, delicious meals using pantry staples and just a few other ingredients. Some chapters focus on time – with recipes that are fast (under an hour, start to finish), faster (45 minutes or less), and fastest (25 minutes or less) – while others highlight easy methods or themes.

Magnolia Table: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering by Joanna Gaines

Drawing inspiration from television personality Joanna Gaines’s home kitchen and her Waco restaurant, this book includes 125 classic recipes – from breakfast, lunch, and dinner, to small plates, snacks, and desserts – that represent a modern selection of American classics and personal family favorites. Complemented by Gaines’s love for her garden, these dishes also incorporate homegrown, seasonal produce at the peak of its flavor.

Israeli Soul by Michael Solomonov

For their first major book since the trailblazing Zahav, Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook go straight to the food of the people – the great dishes that are the soul of Israeli cuisine. To find the best versions, the authors scoured bustling cities like Tel Aviv and sleepy towns on mountaintops. Solomonov has perfected and adapted every recipe for the home kitchen.

Food52 Genius Desserts: 100 Recipes That Will Change the Way You Bake by Kristen Miglore

Drawing from her James Beard Award-nominated “Genius Recipes” column and powered by the cooking wisdom and generosity of the Food52 community, Kristen Miglore has unearthed and rigorously tested 100 game-changing dessert recipes from beloved cookbook authors, chefs, and bakers – and collected them all in this guide.

Everyday Dorie: The Way I Cook by Dorie Greenspan

The James Beard Award-winning and New York Times magazine columnist shares the irresistibly informal food she makes all the time for herself, her husband, and her friends. The dishes – many of which can be served as a dinners, side dishes, or an appetizers – are practical and can be made with common ingredients from the supermarket, farmers’ market, or pantry.

Eat At Home Tonight: 101 Simple Busy-Family recipes for Your Slow Cooker, Sheet Pan, Instant Pot, and More by Tiffany King

Founder of the Eat at Home website and family meal-planning wizard Tiffany King shares recipes focused on simplicity, flavor, and healthy balance to help home cooks end every day with an affordable family dinner. This is the cookbook to turn to when all hope of a homemade, wholesome dinner seems lost.

Delish: Eat Like Every Day’s the Weekend by Joanna Saltz

You don’t have to know how to cook, you just have to love to eat. Delish.com speaks to food lovers who don’t fancy themselves chefs, and this – their first cookbook – collects all the online insanity and entertainment into one print volume. Inside, you’ll find more than 275 recipes and ideas that are meant to be devoured (Quesadilla Cake, Chicken Fried Cauliflower) plus tips, tricks, and indispensable advice.

Cravings: Hungry for More by Chrissy Teigen

After the extraordinary success of Cravings, Chrissy Teigen returns with more of her signature wit and take-no-prisoners flavor bombs. Her 100 recipes are simpler and provide plenty of bang for your buck, reflective of her new time-conscious status as a parent responsible for getting food on the table.

All About Cake by Christina Tosi

In this book, Christina Tosi takes you into the sugar-fueled, manically creative cake universe of Milk Bar. From two-minute microwave mug cakes to gooey Crock-Pot cakes, from Bundts and pounds to their famous cake truffles and, of course, their signature naked layer cakes, this book will help bakers of all levels to indulge in a world of flavors. Along the way, Tosi reveals the methods behind her team’s creativity that will allow you to invent any cake flavor you can imagine.

Power Plates: 100 Nutritionally Balanced, One-Dish Vegan Meals by Gena Hamshaw

Focused on the art of crafting complete, balanced meals that deliver sustained energy and nourishment, this book features 100 compelling and delicious recipes that just happen to be vegan. Every recipe contains the key macronutrients of healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, and proteins, which together make for a complete meal – things like Smoky Red Lentil Stew with Chard, and Falafel Bowls with Freekah and Cauliflower.

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While librarians don’t sit around and read all day at work, most of us are voracious readers when we’re not on the desk. Below are 10 of my favorite novels and short story collections published in 2018. Click here for the entire list, or click on the individual covers and titles below to be taken to their records in our catalog. Come back tomorrow for a look at my 10 favorite non-fiction reads of 2018.

The Incendiaries by R.O. Kwon

Inspired by the author’s own loss of faith at the age of 17, this thrilling debut about religious fervor on a college campus is told through a series of intense memories pieced together after a terrorist attack.

Heartbreaker by Claudia Dey

A missing mother. An isolated community. One of the best canine narrators in literature. Dey sets her novel in a secluded area of Canada, and the area becomes the emotional center of the book, which deals with both adolescence and motherhood.

Invitation to a Bonfire by Adrienne Celt

Loosely based on the adulterous marriage of Vladimir Nabokov, this novel is told in diary entries and follows the love triangle of Zoya, Vera, and Leo through the 1920s. The novel is filled with beautiful sentences worthy of Nabokov himself.

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

If you knew the date of your death, how would you choose to live? This is the question at the heart of this novel, which follows the four Gold siblings throughout their lives and examines how they deal with the information given to them by a mystical woman on the Lower East Side of New York City in the summer of 1969.

Florida by Lauren Groff

This short story collection is entrancing from start to finish. Groff’s ability to write precise sentences leads to several unsettling (in a good way) stories where danger lurks at every turn.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

This compelling novel tells the story of love, justice, and loyalty as a couple is ripped apart when one is falsely accused of a crime.

The Wrong Heaven by Amy Bonnaffons

In this imaginative and unsettling debut short story collection, Bonnaffons creates worlds that are decidedly strange. Her writing is funny, insightful, and probing. A story in the collection about a woman trying to turn herself into a horse was also featured on a recent episode of This American Life.

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

1980s Chicago is the setting for this novel, which explores the AIDS crisis through the character of Yale Tishman, an art director who tries to finalize a deal for a collection of 1920s paintings as his whole world begins to crumble around him. This novel is beautiful from beginning to end. You’ll want to read it in one sitting.

Certain American States by Catherine Lacey

A story collection about characters trying to come to terms with their place in the world. Catherine Lacey’s tales of love, loss, and longing are hard to shake. The way she writes about characters trying to get a handle on their own lives is simply beautiful.

Circe by Madeline Miller

Miller expertly makes the story of Circe come to life in this astounding novel. After she is banished to a deserted island by Zeus, Circe hones her occult craft and comes into contact with several famous figures from mythology.

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What’s it like to be a professional dishwasher, or a tax collector for the IRS? What enormous pressures is a prison guard subjected to on a daily basis? What were the hotel staff laughing about while you were checking out last weekend? With these – and other – questions in mind, we assembled a list of 12 memoirs that will take you behind the scenes of 12 very different workplaces. You can click on the book covers or titles below to be taken into our catalog, or click here for the entire list.

Dishwasher: One Man’s Quest to Wash Dishes in All Fifty States by Pete Jordan

This is the true story of a man on a mission: to clean dirty dishes professionally in every state in America. Part adventure, part parody, and part miraculous journey of self-discovery, it is the unforgettable account of the author’s transformation from itinerant seeker into “Dishwasher Pete” – unlikely folk hero, writer, publisher of his own cult zine, and the ultimate professional dish dog – and how he gave it all up for love.

Confessions of a Tax Collector: One Man’s Tour of Duty Inside the I.R.S. by Richard Yancey

Richard Yancey needed a job. He answered a blind ad offering a starting salary higher than what he’d made over the three previous years combined. The job? Field officer with the Internal Revenue Service. Yancey was brilliant at it. As a revenue officer, Yancey knocked on doors and made people pay. (Never mind that he couldn’t remember where he stashed his own tax records.) Yancey details how the job changed him, and how he managed to pull himself back from the brink of moral, ethical, and spiritual bankruptcy.

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

In this book, Jahren recounts her childhood in rural Minnesota, with a father who encouraged hours of play in his classroom’s labs. These early experiences led to a career as a paleobiologist, a role that takes her around the world, from the North Pole to Hawaii to Ireland. The core of her book is the story of the relationship she forged with a brilliant, wounded man named Bill, a student who becomes her lab partner and best friend.

Nature Noir: A Park Ranger’s Patrol in the Sierra by Jordan Fisher Smith

This is the story of Jordan Fisher Smith’s fourteen years as a park ranger on 48 miles of Sierra Nevada river canyons. Ranger work, in this place where wildness tends toward the human kind, includes encounters with armed miners who scour canyons for gold, drug-addled squatters, and extreme recreators who enjoy combining motorcycles, parachutes, and high bridges.

Blue Blood by Edward Conlon

Conlon, whose uncles, father, and grandfather were all police officers, and who becomes a NYPD officer himself after graduating from Harvard, paints a vivid portrait of the world of Big Apple law enforcement. Despite the fact that his father wanted something better for him, Conlon is irresistibly drawn to the force, and this book relates in thrilling, comic, tragic day-to-day details his ascent from beat patrolman to detective.

Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner by Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell

Two months before the September 11 terrorist attacks, Dr. Judy Melinek began her training as a New York City forensic pathologist, throwing herself into the fascinating world of death investigation – performing autopsies, investigating death scenes, counseling grieving relatives. This book, which chronicles her two years of training, takes you behind the police tape of the events large (the disastrous crash of American Airlines flight 587) and small (the individual murders, suicides, and accidents that are her stock-in-trade).

Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing by Ted Conover

In this book, author Ted Conover spends a year as a prison guard at New York State’s infamous maximum-security facility, Sing Sing. A gallery officer, Conover often has to supervise scores of violent felons – by himself. As he confronts the impossibility of doing his job by the book, he begins to develop the sense of balance between leniency and tyranny that defines a good prison guard. This is an excellent look at what prison life does to people on both side of the bars.

Free for All: Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library by Don Borchert

Borchert, a longtime assistant librarian in a suburban Los Angeles library, pulls back the curtain on public library service and reveals a world overflowing with outsized, oddball personalities – on both sides of the desk.

Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality by Jacob Tomsky

When Jacob Tomsky emerged from college with a philosophy degree, he didn’t intend to enter the hospitality business. Yet he did, becoming a valet parker for a luxury hotel in New Orleans. Ten years later, Tomsky was still in the industry and had worked his way around and through the hotel world. In this book, you are provided a backstage look at what lies beneath the surface of hospitality.

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: & Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty

Doughty, the blogger behind the popular web series Ask a Mortician, describes her experiences working at a crematory. In addition to detailing her day-to-day experiences – sweeping ashes from the machines, caring for bodies of all shapes and sizes – Doughty unearths and details the sometimes weird history of cremation and undertaking.

Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl

Reichl, a former restaurant critic at the New York Times and once the editor-in-chief of Gourmet, recounts her visits to some of the world’s most acclaimed restaurants, where she often dined both as herself and – in disguises involving wigs, makeup, and credit cards under assumed names – anonymously.

Heat: An Amateur’s Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany by Bill Buford

Author Bill Buford had long thought of himself as a reasonably comfortable cook before he decided to answer a question that ate at him every time he prepared a meal: How would his skills measure up in a professional kitchen? Buford seizes the opportunity to train in the kitchen of Mario Batali’s three-star New York restaurant, Babbo, and this book is the story of his time spent under Batali’s tutelage and of his apprenticeships with culinary masters in Italy.

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Oct 15 2018

Are You Sleeping?

by Dea Anne M

Thomas Edison famously referred to sleep as “an absurdity” and “a bad habit.” Of course, one could argue that the advent of artificial light disrupted our natural sleep patterns forever for good or ill. Certainly, when I was coming along in college and then further along in my working life, the general consensus was that if one was faced with an overloaded schedule, sleep was naturally the first thing to go. My friends and I bragged about how little sleep we were getting. That seems ridiculous to me now but at the time it seemed like a badge of honor – proof positive that our lives were full, rich and interesting. Don’t even get me started on the epic battles my parents had with me about my more than reasonable bedtime. Small children need their sleep but to me it just didn’t seem fair.

My current thinking on sleep and its importance diverges wildly from Edison’s as well as my younger selves. I make sleep a priority these days and I find that the much touted eight hours a night is just about perfect for me. Of course, some people really do fine on less and then there are folks who need quite a bit more. Model, Heidi Klum says that she sleeps 10 hours a day and LeBron James reportedly needs a full 12 hours. Personally, I find that enough sleep eases stress, keeps my appetite stable, makes exercise more satisfying…in short life is just more fun!  My 25 year old self would say…”How can it be more fun? You’re asleep…you’re missing so much!” To that self I say now, “You don’t know what you’re missing.” My five year old self  would say “But…why?” and, of course, the proper reply to that is “Because I said so. Now go to bed!”

Current research indicates that sufficient sleep helps with metabolism, memory and concentration, and athletic performance. As well, it might decrease your risk of heat attack, stroke and diabetes.

Are you someone who needs help getting the sleep that you know you need or are you someone just interested in learning more about the fascinating (and in many ways still mysterious) world of sleep? Never fear! Either way, DCPL has got you covered.

In recent years, the most visible person lending face and voice to the importance of sleep is Arianna Huffington. Huffington, who has provoked plenty of controversy through the years, is probably best known as the co-founder of the Huffington Post (now known as HuffPo) the news and opinion website. A few years ago, Huffington was your typical high achieving go-getter and sleep was in no way a priority. Then one day exhaustion finally laid its claim. She collapsed at her desk and woke up in a pool of blood with a broken cheekbone. Much has changed since then and Huffington is a true believer in the power of sleep. Check out her book The Sleep Revolution: transforming your life one night at a time and find out how you too can benefit.

But wait! There’s more! Try these titles too for more about the importance of sleep and how you can reap its rewards.

Nodding Off: the science of sleep from cradle to grave by Alice Gregory

Sleepyhead: the neuroscience of a good night’s rest by Henry Nicholls

The Sleep Solution: why your sleep is broken and how to fix it by W. Chris Winter

Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker

Wild Nights: how taming sleep created our restless world by Benjamin Reiss

So tonight, do yourself a favor and…go to bed already!

Also, of course, sweet dreams.

 

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Sep 6 2018

Unlikely Friendships

by Camille B

We’ve probably all heard the expressions, fighting like cats and dogs, or being as scared as a mouse. These popular sayings are most likely derived from the knowledge that many species generally do not get along well together. As a matter of fact the entire premise for the cartoon, Tom & Jerry is based on it–a cat and mouse who fight and torment each other at every chance they get.

Lions and zebras, bear and fish, foxes and rabbits–alongside each other these animals are seen for the most part as predator and prey–left together for any period of time, one can quickly become food to the other.

The book Unlikely Friendships puts this theory to the test with true stories of animals who you’d never expect to be friends under any circumstances. Jennifer Holland, science writer and author of the book says, “It is about animals who, with nothing else in common, bond in the most unexpected ways and thrive on the warmth, closeness, and trust that come with being true friends.”

While reading some of the stories in this book, I was totally fascinated by one in particular about a 230 pound ape called Koko who is taught to communicate in American Sign Language, and who asks for a cat for her birthday after being read the stories “The Three Little Kittens” and “Puss in Boots.” Not satisfied with just a stuffed animal, she is finally allowed to choose from a litter of abandoned kittens. Koko calls her new friend “All Ball.”

I cannot begin to fathom how a gorilla would befriend a cat, but Koko does so with ease, treating Ball as gently as she would one of her own babies. When asked if she loved her little Ball, she signs to her teacher “Soft, good, cat.”

I was curious for an explanation to all of this. What would make a snake befriend a hamster? Or cause a golden retriever to be fascinated by a fish? Why would a tiger cub want to take care of orangutan babies or an elephant become pals with a stray mutt?

Holland, narrates each of the stories in the book, explains, “Sometimes there are plausible scientific explanations: an orphan seeking comfort from an older animal; an adult yearning for a younger creature to nurture, as in the case of the lioness who befriended and protected a baby oryx- unexpected, but not inexplicable. Sometimes a friendship is about need, as in the case of the blind Lab and her “seeing-eye” cat. But sometimes it’s just a lovely mystery, like the story of Owen the hippo and Mzee the tortoise, two notoriously surly creatures who became bosom buddies.”

In another book “Raising the Peaceable Kingdom: what animals can teach us about the social origins of tolerance and friendship” the author Jeffrey Masson conducts an experiment to try and determine if several different species- some, natural enemies- raised together from an early age could live peacefully side by side. He takes into his home seven young animals- a kitten, rabbit, two rats, two chickens, and a puppy- and sets about observing the process of socialization.

Says Masson, “At first the animals displayed typically what was expected of them, but as time went by and they began to adapt to their environment, they began to change in startling ways, I wondered then, can animals, including humans, truly change when direct experience tells them it’s safe to do so?”

Is it true? Can we learn a thing or two about relationships and peaceful coexistence from animals? If they can get along, how much more should we be able to no matter what our differences.

Unlikely Friendships is truly a lighthearted and entertaining read, guaranteed to be enjoyed, whether you’re an avid animal lover or not.

Each story reveals the true power of friendship and, to some degree, the many forms of “love” that seems to exist in the animal kingdom. Yes, scientists might scoff at that notion, but readers may feel a little differently about the world after they finish this book.” – Jennifer Holland

DCPL carries both books in its Library System.

Unlikely Friendships: 47 remarkable stories from the animal kingdom/ Jennifer Holland

Raising the peaceable kingdom: what animals can teach us about the social origins of tolerance and friendship / Jeffrey Masson

 

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Jul 25 2018

Having The Conversation

by Camille B

“Hey Dad, how’s the game? Oh, and do you want to be buried or cremated? And how much money are you leaving me?”

As I read these words in a CBS’s MoneyWatch article, I had a hard time keeping a straight face. Even though the underlying tone was a somber one, I couldn’t help but imagine the look of horror on the father’s face at his son’s question. It did, however, make me stop to think about how I would broach a subject like this myself if I had to.

In a nationwide survey, ninety-percent of people who responded said that they knew they should have a talk with a family member about end-of-life care and becoming power of attorney- but only 30 percent of them actually had. Some of the reasons given were: their loved-one wasn’t sick yet, the subject made them uncomfortable, they didn’t want to upset their loved-one, or the time just never seemed right.

But research has shown it can be equally upsetting for grieving family members who are left behind with no clear directives to follow. In this situation, they are now unsure of whether they’re fulfilling their loved-one’s last wishes or not- not to mention the family spats and arguments that can erupt out of nowhere. 

Let’s face it, family members don’t always behave the way we expect them to behave.  The passing of a loved-one can bring out the worse in some of them. Having no will in place only complicates matters, leading to all sorts of unnecessary drama that could have been avoided.

You now have children, stepchildren, first wife, second wife, uncle Ed and cousin Fred, all in line trying to sort through family possessions with no clear guidelines as to who gets what if anything at all, igniting family feuds that could sometimes take years to resolve.  

It’s not enough that Ma said she’d leave you her designer handbags. If it’s not stated in a will it’s fair game for Aunt Rachel and all of your cousins. Even though a verbal agreement is legally binding you may still have to prove it in court. Put it in a will and make sure that the will is current. As one person rightly puts it, “A will is your chance to end the argument before it begins.”

Well, you say, I’m an only child, so no drama for me. But it’s more than material possessions and who gets what. As our parents get older it brings to the forefront their quality of health and end-of-life concerns as well, not to mention the financial considerations that go along with them. Do they have a living will or advance directive? Who has power of attorney if they are no longer able to make important decisions for themselves?

So what’s the best way to go about having this conversation without seeming insensitive or rude? Or worst yet, like you’re after money? Here are some ways that experts say work best:

  • First of all, let them know your intentions are honorable, and you don’t have any ulterior motives. You’re inquiring because you’re concerned. If anything should happen to them you’d want to honor and respect their last wishes and do things the way they would have wanted it done. Be sensitive in your approach remembering that you’re dealing with two very unpleasant subjects-death and finances.
  • Make sure the timing is right. You don’t want to bring up the subject right after someone’s funeral, especially if it’s a friend of theirs. Maybe you can casually mention it in passing one day-that you were thinking about drawing up a will of your own, letting this open the doorway for discussion. It doesn’t have to be all at once. A vseries of small conversations over a period of time can work as well.
  • Discuss your intentions with your siblings ahead of time.  Get their input if you can do it without argument or discord. You may not agree on every single detail, but your overall intentions for your parents’ well-being should be the same. Take one of them along with you if this works. Sometimes the person that the parent relates to best can make them more open and receptive to talking about a difficult subject.
  • Gather as much information ahead of time as you can so that you can put them at ease if they have questions. You may also need to assist them with finding the proper documents and paperwork to begin and complete the process.
  • Include in your concerns: whether or not they have a will, if they have power of attorney, advance healthcare directives, an authorized user on their bank account if a family member needs to access funds to cover expenses such as medical care, nursing home, and funeral arrangements.
  • Listen to what they have to say, giving them time to think things over that they’re not sure about. Don’t coerce them into signing documents and paperwork that they’re not comfortable with. Remember that the end result of all of this should bring them peace of mind, not cause further worry or anxiety as to whether or not they’re doing the right thing.
  • When you think that you have everything in place, set up a meeting (or series of meetings) with a lawyer to have a will drawn. Even if your loved-one has a simple estate with no property or no real investments, you can still create a legally binding will yourself using software from NOLO.com .

And if all of this seems a bit overwhelming for you and your loved one, The Five Wishes document is another avenue you can take to securing a will. It is an advance directive created by the non-profit organization Aging with Dignity, and currently meets the legal requirements for an advance directive in 42 states and the District of Columbia. More people have used this document for their living will or advance directive than any other document.

It is popular because of its simplicity and everyday language. It helps you to express your wishes in the areas that matter most. The person you want to make care decisions for you when you can’t; the kind of medical treatment you want or don’t want; how comfortable you want to be; how you want people to treat you, and what you want your loved ones to know.

So it may not be one of the easiest conversations to have, but financial advisers say that the conversation with your parents is one of the best things you can do for them and for yourself. And the earlier you do it the better.

Here are other helpful books on the subject matter that you can find in the DCPL system.

The everything guide to caring for aging parentsKathy Quan

Quick & Legal Will Book– Clifford Dennis

The Conversation: a revolutionary plan for end-of-life care– Angelo Volandes

Caring for our parentsHoward Gleckman

Caring For Your Parents: the complete AARP guideHugh Delehanty

The Power of Attorney Handbook– Edward Haman

 

 

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We are bombarded every day with news stories that can be sometimes disheartening or just plain depressing, so you could agree that it’s refreshing when you stumble across one that makes you smile and gives you a good feeling inside.

Michaela DePrince’s life story is one such, rekindling hope and courage within the human spirit and touching even the most calloused of hearts.  It’s a story of triumph over tragedy for anyone who’s ever had to face seemingly insurmountable odds or told they were less than for whatever reason, be it color, race, gender, ethnicity or handicap.

Though it reads like a fairy tale, Michaela would be the first to tell you that it’s not.  As you read her memoir you realize that her story is one of dedication, perseverance and survival. Born in Sierra Leone in 1995, during the country’s bloody civil war, her given birth name then was Mabinty Bangura. After losing both parents at the age of three (her father to the war and her mother to illness), Michaela is placed in an orphanage where she is faced with harsh and sometimes inhumane treatment by the women there, mostly because of her unusual skin pigmentation condition called vitiligo. They believed that the white spots on her dark skin were evil or a curse, and she was soon labeled “the Devil Child.”

It is hard to imagine, but the kids at the facility were ranked in order of favoritism. “They ranked us,” said Michaela. “Like number one was the favorite child and number 27 was the least favorite…I was number 27.” For her, being last on the list meant that she was the last child to get food at dinner, the last to receive clothing etc.

She quickly became friends with another little girl, number 26, whose name was also Mabinty, and who had found herself at the bottom of the “special” list because she was left-handed and wet the bed. Together, the two Mabintys shared a grass mat to sleep on at bedtime, their rice at mealtime and, since they were always blamed for everything anyway, decided to both take the blame so they could have their time-out together.

There were many days when, teased by the other children and missing her parents, Michaela would sit at the orphanage’s gate and cry. It was on one of these occasions that a gust of wind blew a page from a magazine up against the gate. It was a dance magazine depicting the picture of a beautiful woman in a pink tutu and pink slippers. She said that what she remembered most about the photo was how happy the woman looked. “It was not just the fact that she’s a ballerina,” said Michalea. “It’s that she looks happy. And I wanted to be happy. If what she was doing made her happy, that’s what I wanted to do.”

The next day, her teacher explained that the woman in the photo was a famous ballerina, and Michaela wanted to know if she too could one day become a ballerina, to which her teacher replied yes. If she took lessons, worked hard and practiced every day, it was definitely possible.

It was not long after that the children learned that people from America were coming to adopt some of them. Her friend, number 26, was one of the lucky ones. An American family chose her and sent her an album of photos. But no-one was coming for number 27. There was actually little hope that she would ever be adopted because of her skin condition. “Why would somebody want to adopt the Devil’s Child?” they said.

Across the sea in New Jersey, Elaine DePrince and her husband Charles were getting ready to adopt. They had previously adopted three American boys who tragically, all had died of AIDS from contaminated blood. Even though they were devastated, Elaine did not let that stop her from opening her heart and home to another child who needed a family. She and her husband made preparations to adopt Mabinty. What they didn’t know was there were two of them. Elaine was surprised when she got a call from the adoption agency asking, “Which Mabinty are you adopting? We have two of them.”

She was told that twelve different families had refused to take the other Mabinty because of her vitiligo. She did not hesitate. “We’ll take her,” she said. “I really don’t have a problem with spots, after dealing with AIDS.”

She remembers getting to Africa to adopt the two 4-year-olds, and meeting an angry, almost defiant Number 27. “She was standing there with her arms folded really angry. I think… she just thought there was gonna be more rejection ahead for her.” Michaela also recounts the moment when Elaine took both their hands and said to them, “I’m your new mama.”

It would have been rather difficult to have two Mabintys, so Elaine re-named both girls after her late son Michael who had encouraged her and Charles to adopt in Africa. Number 26 became Mia Mabinty DePrince and number 27 became Michaela Mabinty DePrince.

Michaela now felt closer to her dream, and one of the first things she did was to show her new mother the page from the magazine that she still had with her. “I couldn’t believe that I had adopted an orphan from Africa who wanted pointe shoes!” Elaine laughed. “I had to promise her she could dance.”

And she kept that promise, signing both girls up for ballet lessons. Michaela took it seriously from day one, and even at a young age was said to be laser-focused on becoming a professional ballerina, even with all the obstacles that were going to come her way–the first being her skin condition. At her first show she was terrified that people could see her spots from the audience, and felt that if they were able to, in her child’s mind, it meant the end of her dancing. She asked her new mother to see if she could see the spots from the audience and Elaine told her that from where she sat it just looked like pixie dust. Michalela’s response was, “Oh good. Now I can be a professional ballerina.”

Even after that, it was still and uphill battle, as she was still faced with obstacles and prejudices because of the color of her skin. She had never known anything about racial intolerance but quickly learned, when she experienced it not just in the neighborhood around her but in the world of ballet as well. In one instance, a teacher whose opinion meant a lot to her said to her mother, “We don’t like to waste a lot of time, money, and effort on the black girls. When they reach puberty, they develop big thighs and behinds and can’t dance ballet anymore.”

But for every person that put Michaela down, there was someone there waiting with an encouraging word, to help her keep her head up. The following week another teacher told her. “If you keep working hard, I don’t see any reason why you can’t one day become a world-class dancer.”  So with focus, hard work, practice and dedication, she persevered, not allowing the racism, jealousy and bigotry to break her spirit. “The only way I could survive,” she says. “Was to prove everybody wrong.” And this is exactly what she did.

Today Michaela dances classical ballet. After studying at the American Ballet Theatre at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School, in New York, she moved up the ranks, joining first the Dance Theatre of Harlem in 2012, then the Dutch National Ballet Junior Company in 2013 and finally the Dutch National Ballet where she was promoted to coryphée in 2015, and to grand sujet at the beginning of 2016. She is presently a soloist for the Dutch National Ballet.

Michaela was featured in an award-winning documentary by Bess Kargman called First Position, which was nominated for an NAACP Image Award, as well as a dancer in Beyonce’s album Lemonade. She has also been an ambassador for War Child since 2016, an organization which helps children living in war zones. Together with her mother, she has written the memoir Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina as well as a children’s book Ballerina DreamsBoth books, as well as the documentary First Position, can be found in the DCPL library system, where you can read more about her remarkable journey.

First Position- DVD

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Apr 30 2018

How to Find a Book

by Dea Anne M

bookspostI worked as a bookseller for a number of years and I’d have to say that the most rewarding aspect of that job for me was helping my customers pick out great books to read. Of course a lot of folks would come in knowing already what they wanted to purchase (“Do you have the latest John Grisham?” Where are your yoga books?” “Harry Potter! Harry Potter! Harry Potter!”), but more people than you might think want to have books recommended to them. Not to brag (except that, of course, I’m bragging), but I took a lot of pride in my ability to ask the right questions in order to guide my customer to just the right book.

Not so for a co-worker of mine at another store (at the time I was working for a small local chain of “neighborhood” bookstores). This guy was famous for his love of the thriller genre. I mean that’s all he ever read. There’s nothing wrong with that. Everyone has their preferences. The problem was that thrillers were all that he’d ever recommend…to anybody. I’d heard this about him, but I’m not sure that I completely believed it (how could a devoted bookseller be so wedded to a genre?) until he filled in at my store for a week. It was true! Whatever the customer’s expressed preference – lush romance, civil war novels, the hardest of sci-fi – he’d show them all the same thriller that he’d been raving about all week – let’s call it “Be Very Afraid!”

Me – “That lady asked for an historical romance set in late 1800’s Colorado.”

Him – “Yeah. So?”

Me – “You showed her “Be Very Afraid!”

Him – “She wanted a good book and that’s a good book!”

Me – “So if someone came through that door right now and wanted a good book for her seven year old nephew who loves dinosaurs, color wheels and knock-knock jokes would you show her “Be Very Afraid?”

Him – “It’s never too early to get kids hooked on quality fiction!”

Anyway, I’m sure you get the picture.

Now some of you might look at the title of this post and think “Well, gee, she works in a library! How hard can it be to find a book? Just go to the shelf!” I can assure you that even when surrounded by books it can often be difficult to find just the right one. Luckily, DCPL is here to help.

tub

Sometimes you might just want to know what other people have read and enjoyed because the odds are pretty good that you might enjoy it too.  In Ten Years In the Tub , novelist Nick Hornby chronicles his own pursuit of the pleasures of reading. He talks about the books he has read and loved, the books that he’s purchased then shelved never to be picked up again, and those books hurled across the room in anger or set down in bored indifference. You might get new reading ideas from this very gifted writer – plus he’s very, bookshelfvery funny.

My Ideal Bookshelf Thessaly La Force (editor) and Jane Mount (illustrator) is a charming idea, and beautifully executed. La Force invited authors, chefs and other luminaries (Malcolm Gladwell, Alice Waters and James Patterson to name a few) to name the books that have been the most important in shaping their lives. Mount then created charming paintings featuring the spines of said books. Also included is commentary from each contributor illuminating the personal importance of each title. This is a gorgeous coffee table that might just inspire some new choices for you.reads

Sometimes you want your book to be more of a snack than a seven-course meal. For those times, you’ll want to peruse 100 One-Night Reads: A Book Lover’s Guide by David C. Major and John C. Majors. As you might suspect from the title, the book surveys a number of very short books – both fiction and non-fiction. It’s clear that the Majors brothers are deep readers with a breadth of interest. The summary of each title is succinct, while still compelling, and the authors often include biographical information on the author and some of the publishing history as well. It’s true that the most recently published recommendation is probably Seamus Heaney’s Beowulf: A New Verse Translation but that shouldn’t deter you. Classics are, after all, classic for a reason.

magicFinally, we come to a fabulous tool that’s available to you through DCPL’s website. This wonder is NoveList Plus (scroll down under Books and Literature and click NoveList Plus link) and you’ll find it among our reference databases . You can use NoveList Plus to search for potential great reads in all sorts of useful ways. I happen to love Elizabeth Hand’s novel Waking the Moon and NoveList Plus provides me with a handy list of “Title Read-alikes” such as Counterfeit Magic by Kelly Armstrong. I can also look up “Author Read-alikes” to find authors who share a similar style such as Stephen Baxter.  I can also search for books that I might enjoy by inputting appeal terms that mirror aspects of Hand’s work flightsuch as “complex” (character), “atmospheric” (tone) and “richly detailed” (writing style). This brings up suggestions like Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver and The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks.  You can search by genre or by audience (adult, teen, ages 9-12 and ages 0-8). You can specify books of a certain lexile range or narrow your search to authors of a specific cultural identity. You can even use NoveList Plus to look for non-fiction. I can’t recommend this tool highly enough if you’re looking for your next great read. And if you work in a library (like me!) NoveList Plus is one of the best tools out there that you can use to find good books for your patrons.

How do you find a book?

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Apr 23 2018

A Room Of One’s Own

by Camille B

Cosy Room 2I remember seeing a TV commercial some years ago where a mother was desperately trying  to find a little peace and quiet from her little ones. Seeking refuge in the restroom, she sat there for a few minutes with the door closed trying to catch her breath. But it wasn’t long before she looked down to see tiny fingers wiggling beneath the restroom door, trying to get her attention once again.

We can all relate to reaching that level of exhaustion where we need to just take some time away to breathe. And even though we may not be dealing with small kids on a daily basis, we know when our mental batteries are drained and need recharging.

When we’ve had a horrible day, sat in traffic for hours, got flipped off by an impatient driver, picked up the kids late from school- again, forgot to take the chicken out of the freezer for dinner, the list goes on and on.

But where do you go to find that alone time? Where is that sacred place that’s yours and yours alone? Where you can hang a Do Not Disturb sign on the door and have it respected? Where is your place you can kick off your shoes and unwind, preferably with a glass of wine, or a cup of coffee or tea?

Some of you are probably laughing to yourself, wondering “Is she serious? I can barely take a restroom break for a full five minutes without being interrupted, much less find time for, what is it? Rest and Relaxation?”

And it’s understandable that we feel this way, with the whirlwind of life around us. Slowing down or stopping for anything “me related”  seems like such a luxury, and many women claim to feel that twinge of guilt when they step back for a moment to take care of anything that doesn’t involve their family or loved ones–like that mother probably must have when she saw the tiny fingers peeping under the bathroom door.

The truth is though, we’re no good to ourselves or anyone else when we get like this. Stress left unchecked can lead to other health problems in the long run such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. According to an article in the Huffington Post “Having your own space—where you can think, dream, ponder, plan and create, or just be—is essential in our fast-paced, over-connected world.”

Still the question remains, where is that place that we go when we need to retreat and refuel? Daddy has his Man Cave, the kids have their game rooms or tree houses. And let’s face it, they would be contented just about anywhere as long as they have their smart phones with them.

What is the woman’s version of a Man Cave? And if one more person says it’s the kitchen, I’ll scream. Because I’m betting you that as much as Martha Stewart and Rachel Ray love their kitchens, it is not the place they go when they need to relax and unwind.

She Sheds are now becoming quite popular with women everywhere, and before I began writing this post I had actually never heard of them. They are apparently the woman’s version of a Man Cave and women are becoming very creative with building their own. So if you have the space and resources, this might be the way to create your getaway. Check out She sheds: a room of your own by Erika Kotite at your DCPL branch for interesting ideas for this project.

But having your own space doesn’t have to be as elaborate as a She Shed, nor does it have to be an entire room, although that would be ideal. It could be just a nook or cranny, an unused storage room or closet, whatever space you have available in the home. Not all of us have the luxury of a backyard shed or greenhouse that we can turn into that idyllic place, but we all have a place in the house where we can set up our own sanctuary.

In his book A Room of Her Own: women’s personal spaces, Chris Madden shows you how you can use whatever space you have to create that level of comfort you want. A review on Amazon describes the book: Full-color photography and a charming text capture the special places that women have created as retreats from busy daily routines and offer creative and inspirational decorating ideas to help transform one’s dream room into reality. 

Maybe you’ve had it at the back of your mind for a long time to create that reading room, or crafting room. A place where you can take a mental holiday, exercise, light a scented candle and pray or meditate, do yoga, take a nap, or unplug. But somehow you haven’t gotten around to it as yet. Here’s hoping that the seed of an idea has been replanted once again and that you’ll be inspired to start wherever you are, using whatever you have. Because we all deserve to have a room of our own.

 

Check out these titles at DCPL:

 

Book

 

 

A room of her own: women’s personal spaces– Chris Casson Madden

 

Book 2

 

 

 

Small Spaces /the editors of House Beautiful magazine

 

Book

 

 

 

500 ideas for small spaces: Kimberly Seldon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mar 6 2018

Are You A Luddite?

by Camille B

technophobe 2

So what exactly is a Luddite?  Is it, a) A type of religion? b) Some form of igneous rock or stone? Or is it c) A person opposed to increased or new technology?

Well if you’re like me, your first answer was probably a or b. Because doesn’t it sound very much like some type of religious order or semi-precious stone? When in truth and in fact the answer is c, a person who is- not just opposed to technology- but is downright hostile towards it.

A Luddite can be your Uncle Bob who refuses to be harassed into updating his rotary phone for a cell- not even a push button one. Or your mother, bless her heart, who presses the buttons on the computer like they’re hot, all the while reminiscing about the good old days of pen and paper.

The origination of the word Luddite came about in 1811 during the British Industrial Uprising, when skilled workers, who mostly worked in the textile industry, attacked the automated, steam-powered looms that were threatening to replace them. It is said that the workers got their inspiration from the fabled General Ludd (King Ludd), who lived in the Sherwood forest and supposedly led the movement.

The Luddites feared that the new machines were going to replace them and cut their wages, since factory owners were hiring less-skilled workers to operate them at a lower pay rate. They fought with government soldiers and sent threatening letters to their employers, attacking them as well as magistrates and food merchants. They also carried out nighttime raids, breaking into factories and destroying the new machinery by smashing them with sledgehammers.

The breaking of the machines spread to the West Yorkshire wool workers as well as the Lancashire cotton mills, and these workers followed the same pattern, even going as far as burning down some of the mills; eventually leading to machine breaking becoming a capital offence.

Today, the meaning of the word Luddite has taken on a slightly different meaning. It is now used to describe a person who, while they may not break their computer screen or smartphone in anger, has a certain fear or dread towards modern technology. A more familiar word would be a technophobe.

We can all think of someone who falls into this category, be it a family member, friend or co-worker. Just the thought of having to use a new machine or gadget causes them to break out in a cold sweat. They would rather leave well enough alone and stick to what they know.

Some of these individuals may not own a computer or even know how to use one. They don’t text, and they read all of their news from the newspapers. They still use paper maps even though they have a GPS, and they would never be found standing in self-check out lines.

Even in the workplace you have individuals who are hesitant and sometimes downright reluctant to “get with the program.” A new machine or program is introduced, and they disappear like clockwork whenever an occasion arises to use them. You’re seriously beginning to worry about Craig and what’s causing him to run off to the restroom every half an hour, and are getting just a little peeved with Margaret for taking so many breaks back to back, when it suddenly dawns on you that the new copy machine came in on Monday. The one with all those fancy buttons. It needs to be avoided at all costs.

So how do you assist people who are afraid of, or have a strong aversion to new technology? Well first of all, maybe the reason behind their reluctance should first be identified, because I’m sure that not all of it is stubbornness.

Is it an irrational fear? Or is it justifiable? Maybe they’ve had a bad experience using new technology in the past that has left them a little weary. Maybe they’re embarrassed or uncomfortable  because they figure that they should know how to use it.

This is one of the main reasons I believe many people shy away from embracing new technology. No-one likes to seem incompetent in front of others, and so would rather feign knowledge or avoid an embarassing situation all together.

As library staff we interact with patrons everyday who come in to use our computers, printers and copy machines. They can sometime get pretty nervous or anxious if they’re not quite sure about what they’re doing, approaching the machines like they would a swarm of bees.

But these same people, if you let them know that 1) it’s really not that hard, and 2) there are some things that you yourself are still learning, they immediately relax. They realize you’re not judging and are there to help, and so they open up a little more to embrace what you’re showing them.

Also, a person struggling with new technology would probably find it harder to learn from someone who is a technophile and delights in new technology. The techie’s mantra is, the newer the better. Gizmos, gadgets, digital thingies, it belongs in their world and they’re fluent is all things tech related. So while grandma is still trying to remember the password to the Yahoo account she created yesterday, Junior has already retrieved the code from her cell phone and is already typing it in.

Overall, patience and a simple approach is needed in dealing with a person who is technologically challenged. Anything that’s perceived to be harder than it really is will be met with resistance. Better small steps than no steps at all.

Below is a list of books at DCPL to help you get a hang of some of the gadgets you possess but never use.

Book

Teach yourself visually Android  phones and tablets– Guy Hart-Davis

Android tablets for dummies– Dan Gookin

Overdrive at DCPL provides eBooks and downloadable audiobooks.

Book 2

Laptops for seniors in easy steps: Windows 10- Nick vandome

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