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Jun 1 2012

ShareReads: Shhh….

by Dea Anne M

ShareReads intro

I think I can say that most people who know me would not call me “shy.” Quiet maybe and not usually the life of the party, but not shy.

Well, I have a secret.

I am.

I was lucky enough to have parents who let me be myself and encouraged my passions for reading, writing, and drawing.  Both sides of my extended family, however, are filled with boisterous sorts who think that nothing is better than spending nearly every waking moment with each other arguing, joking, and talking…a lot. I love them all dearly but there were many times during my childhood when I longed for a retreat from so much togetherness and chatter. Middle school was just plain awful, as I think it must be for anyone who can’t quite squeeze themselves into the rigid social parameters of that particular environment. My mom finally rescued me from a particularly rough time by enrolling me in drama classes. She didn’t consult me about this and you’d think that a shy, quiet child would be horrified at the prospect. Instead, I found that I loved everything about acting and the theater and discovered an emotional strength that I never knew I possessed. To this day, I honestly believe that my mom’s  intuition and love rescued my essential self from the some of the worst damage it could have suffered.

As you might gather, I’ve given this a lot of thought over the years and so, Susan Cain’s wonderful new book Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking really struck a chord for me.  Cain, a former corporate lawyer,  is herself a self-described introvert who, strange as it might seem, does quite a bit of public speaking. Actually, I don’t think this is a paradox at all. I think of my own love of acting and the “rightness” I always felt about being on stage playing a part. Also, although it isn’t addressed in depth in Cain’s book, there are more than a few introverts in the arts who are, or were, dynamic performers and often quite gregarious within the right situations. Steve Martin, Audrey Hepburn, Jimi Hendrix, Meryl Streep are all introverts who have undeniably entertained and moved many. Cain draws our attention to many of those individuals who changed our social and cultural landscape through passion and quiet strength: Rosa Parks, Albert Einstein, Steve Wozniak, Gandhi, J. K. Rowling. All these and more make it clear that our world would be a very, very different place were it not for the contributions of introverts.

This is a thoughtful, very readable, approach to the question “What is the place of introverts in a culture that values the Extroverted Ideal?” (and Cain makes it clear that this ideal is by no means universal). Introverts can lay claim to many qualities that enhance their success as artists, teachers, leaders. Big-picture thinking, listening skills, and the ability to effectively use solitude are invaluable but Cain makes the point that perhaps the introvert’s greatest strength is the quality of persistence.  The old adage tells us that genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. For good or ill our culture tends to lionize the glamorous one percent, but on that issue Einstein had, I think, the best last word. “It isn’t that I’m so smart,” he once said. “It’s that I stay with problems longer.”

If you are an introvert, you need to read this book. If you are an extrovert seeking to understand a friend, a partner, a co-worker, or a boss, you will find Quiet a wonderful resource. Either way, this book gets my highest recommendation.

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Aug 17 2009

A Good Yarn

by Vivian A

Cover image of Knitgrrl by Shannon OkeyTake two knitting needles, a skein of yarn and thou and what have you got? Hopefully a sweater, a scarf or at the very least – a pot holder. I am less than the very least. I cannot seem to get the hang of knitting.

Three of my more than patient co-workers, a knitting store and a few books with huge pictures cannot seem to get my needles and yarn going in the right direction to make anything more than some impressive knots. Not the knits that I was striving for.

I just wanted to join the ranks of the fifty-three million women who know how to knit or crochet (another dismal failure). This is an impressive fifty-one percent increase in the past ten years.

Plus, I wanted to join celebrity knitters like Madonna, Cameron Diaz and Julia Roberts. In fact, Julia is set to star in an upcoming movie about knitting called The Friday Night Knitting Club. (Also a book you can check out of the library.)

I longed to whip through patterns in Stitch and Bitch by Debbie Stoller or even Knitgrrl by Shannon Okey although I am much too old to check it out.

Knitting is so cool that it has blogs like www.yarnharlot.com. Or www.ravelry.com which is like Facebook for knitters with nearly 400,000 members.  I give up, I am turning in my needles (and crochet hook) for something like ?????

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Apr 13 2009

You have got to see this!

by Amanda L

How often have you seen a movie and just died to share it with someone? Has a particular movie made such an impact on your life that you have seen it like a million times?  For me, two of my favorite movies of all time (that the Library owns) are My Cousin Vinny and the Sound of Music. Anyone watching these movies with me has to endure my reciting the lines verbatim. The Sound of Music made such an impact on my sister and me that we recreated the movie over and over after seeing it on the big screen.

you-gotta-see-this

Have you ever wondered what some of the stars’ favorite movies are? I found an interesting book in our collection called,  You gotta to see this: more than 100 of Hollywood’s best reveal and discuss their favorite movies. There are several movies mentioned at least two times by the stars. These were On the Waterfront, Claudine, Casablanca , Terms of Endearment and Taxi Driver.

It was interesting to me to read what each star stated as their favorite movie and try to figure out the reason why. Sometimes, at least according to me, it depended on the star’s age. If it was a director who was giving his/her’s favorite picks, it aligned with the Oscar picks.  Some of the more interesting films picked were: Purple Rain, Anchorman, Bad News Bears, Sugar Cane Alley, Blues Brothers, Say Anything and The Bad Sleep Well.

What is your favorite film and why? If you have read or skimmed this book, what did you find interesting about the stars’ picks? Just like our favorite books, I believe that our situation at a particular time and our experiences influence our favorites. What about you?

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Jan 6 2009

So long, farewell

by Heather S

Many notable people, who left an incredible mark on our culture and society, passed on in 2008. This year we have said good-bye to the people listed below, whom I greatly admired and enjoyed their work.  I also picked my personal favorite or most memorable piece of theirs from the Library’s collection.

Let us remember their work fondly.  For a more complete list of people who died in 2008, you may want to try this article from Wikipedia.  Who will you miss?  What are your favorites from his or her work?

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Dec 30 2008

What’s In A Name?

by Jnai W

Ahhh…it’s the last week of December; the time for reflecting upon the passing year and anticipating the one to come. This time of year is also a writer or a blogger’s dream as we compile those wonderful, snarky and slightly judgmental End-Of-Year lists. You know the ones–the Best and Worst Albums, Movies or Political Moments of 2008, etc. I love reading those things!

One list that I’ve found is one that ranks the worst Celebrity Baby Names of 2008. I know, I know–it’s silly. But this intrigued me for a couple of reasons. Reason 1: I love names. As someone with an unusual name I’ve developed a fascination for all things name-related. Where do our names originate? What do they mean? How do they strike the ear or roll off of the tongue? It’s something to think about. Reason 2: Rampant Celebrity Baby-Naming produced some, um, colorful choices.  To be fair, it’s not my place to judge what some rock star names her kid. But I think someone’s gonna owe poor little Bronx Mowgli Wentz an explanation…and a hefty trust fund as consolation. This whole thing has me considering a move to Hollywood to become a professional Celebrity Baby-Namer. It’ll be the easiest money I’ll ever make! Here’s a list of name-related books that I’d take with me:

Classic Biblical Baby Names: Timeless Names For Modern Parents by Judith Tropea (Bantam): For those of us who’d rather stick to tried-and-true (read: good ol’ fashioned sensible) this is a great reminder that the classics never die. Most of us know a Mary or a David or a Michael but this is also a good source for namers with a yen for more exotic monikers like, say, Delaiah or Cozbi.

A Book About Names by Milton Meltzer (Thomas Y. Crowell):  Author Meltzer provides great insight into the history and cultural significance of names throughout the world. This little book also examines the impact of naming on American culture. Does your family still bear the same surname that your Great-Great Granddad left The Old Country with? If not, this book gives a concise explanation to this and other surname-related queries. This is juvenile non-fiction, which means it’s very reader-friendly…and it has illustrations.

The Best Baby Names In The World From Around The World (Facts on File, Inc.): Here’s a great example of your standard, expansive dictionary of names. As a kid I liked to refer to big baby names books like these when christening my baby dolls.  This one is pretty good as it classifies names by gender and nationality while also providing meanings and derivation. One minor quip: I searched that book from cover to cover and found no J’nai (or Jenay or Jenee…)

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