Substance Abuse

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Substance abuse has become quite a large problem in the US. Roughly 4 years ago, methamphetamine became the illegal drug of choice in Indiana with Fulton County having  the regrettable claim of the highest concentration of meth labs in the state (if not the country) at that time. Law enforcement has cracked down on this problem and as of 2015 Indiana led the nation in meth busts. Law makers have passed stricter laws making it harder to get the precursors for meth production and although meth continues to be a problem, there are unfortunately all kinds of substances that continue to be used and abused.  Heroin use seems to be on the rise  but meth is probably the larger problem in this area of the country which has no doubt affected my choice of books from the substance abuse section of the Fulton County Public Library. It is, however, important to be aware of other illegal substances.

Until reading about designer drugs, I didn’t really understand what they are. Designer drugs are created from synthetic compounds made in a lab. They are not plant based and are often very dangerous. Production of designer drugs in illegal labs is extremely dangerous. Interestingly many of the designer drugs started out in legal labs for medicinal reasons. For instance Meth was originally used as a weight loss product and then in nasal sprays before being pulled from the market when it was noticed that the drug had addictive qualities as well as adverse long term effects. Several other designer drugs were pulled off of the market due to undesired side effects but not before many people got hooked on them. Black markets were born but production quality decreased almost guaranteeing eventual negative side effects and sometimes death. In the book Designer Drugs by Paul Robbins, the author follows drug origins from the (often) legal production to the illegal street versions and explaining along the way who the people are that want to use these drugs and why.

designer drugs

Following these stories was quite interesting and informative. Despite the obvious chemistry and manufacturing that goes into the production of designer drugs, the book is written in an easy to understand format and is very reader friendly. I would even go as far as to say some of the stories are entertaining although unfortunate. Designer Drugs is a small book which is packed with information. With only 7 chapters it covers topics such as the characteristics of designer drugs, the differences between MPTP and Speed, why people choose drugs like Ecstasy  and the Fentanyl Analogs, individual drug use, families and drug abuse, society and drug abuse, and how to get help for drug abuse. The book has fairly short chapters with a few discussion questions at the end of each chapter making the book useful as a classroom textbook or even a support group resource.

IfOnlyYouPeople_FINAL

In If Only You People Could Follow Directions Jessica Hendry Nelson shares her experiences of being in a family dealing with addiction. While I can’t exactly say I enjoyed this book, I did find parts of it interesting. I found the jumbled time sequences hard to follow and had a definite distaste for much of the language used in the book. I nearly didn’t finish the book because of this. Despite these reasons, I continued to read and what emerged was the story of an imperfect family trying to survive addictive behavior related to substance use and abuse. As a child growing up in this environment, Jessica’s experiences and memories do seem to be fragmented always revolving around the current crisis. The jumbled time sequences are likely trying to portray the out of control feeling experienced by families in crisis. Jessica’s family seems to be held together more by crisis than by family bond. Despite it all, Jessica appears to have left her dysfunctional roots and moved on to become a successful writer.

After reading about drugs themselves, the abuse of drugs, and families in crisis because of drugs, the obvious next choice was to read something dealing with how to stop abusing drugs. Given the meth problem in this area of the country, I’ve heard a lot about the issue and know about how addictive meth is. Wondering what it takes for someone to stop using, Quitting Crystal Meth by Joseph Sharp seemed to be the next logical choice for me to read.

quitting crystal meth

Joseph Sharp is a former meth addict who is nonjudgmental and respectful to the reader.  After someone decides to quit meth, Joseph explains how to prepare to quit by trying to anticipate questions a user may have such as “Do I really have to ‘hit bottom’?” and “Should I detox alone or with a doctor?” Several other concerns are also addressed in the “getting ready” phase. The author goes on to explain everything from exactly what to expect during the actual detox, the weeks and months following through the first year and even some time after that. The possibility of relapse is discussed and what to do about it if it happens. Along with all of this, Joseph interjects his own experiences and also talks about the need to establish a good support system and how to get help to quit meth if needed.

Below are some websites which can help you through the process of quitting:

Home

http://crystalmeth.org/

Other sites than may be helpful are:

http://www.na.org/

ww.aa.org

If you Google the words “images faces meth users” you will bring up a series of pictures showing how meth dramatically ages a person and you will see visible damage to the human body. These photos are graphic (so not shared here). View at your own discretion. The majority of the photos are only from the neck up, but they can be difficult to view. In my opinion they are effective deterrents to starting meth. If you or someone you know already is a current user of meth, please view the images to educate yourself on what this deadly drug does to people. I would highly recommend the book Quitting Crystal Meth by Joseph Sharp to anyone struggling with meth addiction. Please seek help. There is hope and the bravest thing a user can do is to seek help.

 

 

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Suicide and Survival

suicide survivor

Suicide is a topic I dreaded having to read about and a post I’ve been dreading having to write. There is no way I can write about this and not get more personal about this subject. In 2010 my oldest tadpole died by suicide at the age of 20. Although it’s been 6 years I am just now getting to the point that I can share her story. This is not to say I haven’t been dealing with her death in my own way. It’s just that I was more focused inwardly and now I’m able to begin to outwardly talk about the whole issue. I am actually writing a book which is our family’s testimony about the problems leading up to a senseless death that didn’t have to happen and how we believe God brought us through it all. Ironically I had already begun the book–most of which she read and ok’d as a story of her life–before this tragedy. I write now to keep a promise to her that I had made to somehow get her story heard. Her story is my story. It’s my family’s story. It’s a true story of dramatic twists and turns that none of us could have possibly made up. Although it’s a cliche, truth really is stranger than fiction.  Our story is one of betrayal, secrets, a double life, mental illness, corruption, prejudice, ignorance, survival and death and yet it is a story of faith, hope, love, loyalty, brutal honesty,compassion, integrity, acceptance, education, and forgiveness leading to life. Our lives are an enigma of oxymoron. Having said all of that, I found that when I reached the literature about suicide that I was actually ready to read it and much of it has been extremely helpful and even freeing for me, a suicide loss survivor.

Something amazing happens when we read and keep on reading. We not only learn about individual topics, but all of that knowledge begins to integrate in our minds. Our understanding is opened as if pieces of a jigsaw puzzle are joined together giving us a bigger picture. My previous post about Mental Health and now this one about Suicide and Survival have brought pieces of my own story together in a way that has been very therapeutic for me. Drafted into a club I never wanted to join, I feel uniquely qualified to discuss books and literature on the topic of suicide.

Until fairly recently all available literature pertaining to suicide dealt with statistics after the fact or with ways of trying to prevent it. While I believe this is valuable information, it did very little in helping survivors cope with a suicide. It’s also obviously not enough since suicide rates continue to climb. Some survivors have sought help from psychotherapists and have found that the therapist seemed more interested in the suicide than actually in helping the survivor cope. In many cases survivors are blamed and shamed for the death by the very people who should be able to help them cope. There are over 40,000 suicides in the US every year. Mental health professionals estimate that for every suicide there are at least 6 survivors who were very close to the deceased with many more people affected by the suicide. I’ve seen some figures that estimated that as many as 4 million people a year in the US are affected in some manner by suicide. For survivors closest to the suicide, the risk of suicide increases by 400%. Given that 4 million people can be a 400% higher suicide risk this is a huge problem. There is an enormous need for education and survivor support in this nation.

The first book on this topic that I read in my library read through was Words I Never Thought to Speak: Stories of Life in the Wake of Suicide by Victoria Alexander.

Words I Never Thought To Speak

Victoria Alexander lost her mother by suicide. In trying to make sense of the tragedy, she began to collect suicide survivor stories. The stories are traced over the years after the suicide. In doing so, she discovered that suicide loss survivors have a unique need to grieve differently than people who have experienced loss due to causes other than suicide. There is an almost compulsive need to tell suicide stories over and over often for years. Often support isn’t as available to suicide survivors as it is for any other type of loss. This may be due as much to shock as it is to stigma and shame. Often there is secrecy surrounding the cause of death, making it difficult to mourn in traditional ways. Friends and even extended family members may not understand the need to grieve long after the death and to keep revisiting all of the details.. In many areas of the country survivors have banded together and can offer support to other survivors in ways the “uninitiated” can’t.

With suicide deaths often come stigma, speculation, and judgement. Survivors torture themselves with the “what if’s” and the “if only’s.” Self blame, feelings of abandonment, guilt, and rejection are also common. Families can either be brought together or torn apart by a suicide. Some families splinter between blame and support causing rifts in relationships that can last for years or a lifetime. Storytelling helps survivors to work out their thoughts and emotions. Victoria Alexander has arranged her book in such a manner that you can read survivor stories straight through or so you can read the stories in the stages of  “At the End/At the Beginning,” “In the Midland,” and “Then and Now.” The reader gets a better understanding of the stages of grief that suicide survivors go through–and how they waver between them. This book is appropriate to both survivors and therapists who work with survivors.

Victoria Alexander recommends the following groups [and I’ve tried to find the online versions] for those dealing with suicide related issues:

American Association of Suicidology  http://www.suicidology.org/

American  Foundation for Suicide Prevention https://afsp.org/

The Compassionate Friends https://www.compassionatefriends.org/home.aspx

The International THEOS Foundation http://accesshelp.org/resources/grief-support-orgs/

Children’s Grief Support Network http://www.griefsupportnetwork.org/index.php/community-links/general

Another result of suicide is that it creates unfinished business. Survivors are almost always caught off guard and must not only deal with the shock of an unexpected death, but they are forced to make very difficult decisions concerning everything from final services to legal and financial decisions. On top of this, in the midst of shock, survivors begin to realize that they will have to be responsible for dealing with the remnants of  a life left suddenly behind by the suicide which often involves discovering secret plans and personal facts about the loved one that the survivor would have preferred not to know.

In No Time to Say Goodbye, Carla Fine (a survivor herself) explores all of these unique aspects to dealing with a suicide death. Fine does a remarkable job of explaining why it is so difficult to talk openly about a suicide death. I found this book to be candid and affirming. I highly recommend No Time to Say Goodbye to any suicide survivor.

No time

Because I felt it was a good summary, I have copied and pasted the summary of this book from the Fulton County Public Library card catalog below:

Suicide would appear to be the last taboo. Even incest is now discussed freely in popular media, but the suicide of a loved one is still an act most people are unable to talk about–or even admit to their closest family or friends. This is just one of the many painful and paralyzing truths author Carla Fine discovered when her husband, a successful young physician, took his own life December 1989. Being unable to speak openly and honestly about the cause of her pain made it all the more difficult for her to survive. With No Time To Say Goodbye, she brings suicide survival from the darkness into light, speaking frankly about the overwhelming feelings of confusion, guilt, shame, anger, and loneliness that are shared by all survivors. Fine draws on her own experience and conversations with many other survivors–as well as on the knowledge of counselors and mental health professionals. She offers a strong helping hand and invaluable guidance to the vast numbers of family and friends who are left behind by the more than thirty thousand* people who commit suicide each year, struggling to make sense of an act that seems to seem senseless, and to pick up the pieces of their own shattered lives. Perhaps, most important, for the first time in any book, she allows survivors to see that they are not alone in their feelings of grief and despair.

[*Discrepancy between this figure and the one stated previously is probably due to Carla Fine’s book being copyrighted in the late 90’s. Unfortunately suicide statistics have risen considerably.]

No Time to Say Goodbye is presented in six parts:

Part One: Introduction. This talks about the need to let go of the silence–something many survivors are hesitant to do because of all of the stigma, blame and shame associated with suicides.

Part Two: The Suicide. Very brave  survivors tell their actual stories.

Part Three: The Aftermath. This part of the book deals with a stage most survivors go through in which they search for answers, the helplessness they feel, tumultuous emotions, and dealing with legal and financial problems.

Part Four: The Survival. This is when survivors truly begin the mourning process and deal with the long term effects of the suicide on the family, how to get help for themselves, and forgiveness.

Part Five: Making Sense of the Chaos. This is about learning to live with the facts of the suicide and the life changes it brought while honoring the memory of the person lost.

Part Six: Resources. This one is self explanatory, but because it is so important, I will list some of the resources that weren’t previously mentioned. As above, I’ve tried to find and list the online versions of the groups I’ve listed.

Friends for Survival, Inc. http://www.friendsforsurvival.org/

Heartbeat http://heartbeatsurvivorsaftersuicide.org/

SPAN https://afsp.org/support_group/span-survivors-of-suicide-support-group/

The resource section also lists various material and pamphlets for survivors. There is also a state by state listing of already existing survivor support groups.

The following is an excerpt from “Understtanding Survivors of Suicide Loss”  Psychology Today  by Deborah Serani, Phys.D.

Ways to Help a Survivor of Suicide Loss

If you know someone who has lost a loved one to suicide, there are many things you can do. In addition, by reaching out, you also help take stigma out of the equation.

  1. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge the death. Extend your condolences, express your feelings of sorrow. Make sure you use the loved one’s name. “My heart is so sad that John died.” Many who have lost someone to suicide have a broken heart, clinically called Stress Cardiomyopathy, and really need your empathy, compassion and understanding to heal.
  2. Ask the survivor if and how you can help. Though they may not be ready to accept help, asking signifies that you are there—not avoiding or distancing during this tragic event. The notion of being there if needed is extremely comforting for survivors.
  3. Encourage openness. Be accepting of however survivors need to express their feelings. It may be with silence, with sadness or even anger.
  4. Be patient. Don’t set a time limit for a survivor’s grief. Complicated grief can take years to process. Moreover, don’t limit a survivor’s need to share and repeat stories, conversations or wishes. Repetition is a key factor in grief recovery.
  5. Listen. Be a compassionate listener. This means don’t look to fix things. The greatest gift you can give someone you care about who has survived a suicide loss is your time, reassurance and love.

I think this is a decent list of things that anyone can do. Being a survivor myself, there are a few comments I would like to add. Definitely don’t be afraid to acknowledge the death. However, use a bit of common sense in this practice. In the beginning it is extremely important to acknowledge that there actually has been a death. Sometimes this seemingly obvious fact gets lost amidst police investigations and other legal and bureaucratic concerns. When my daughter died, someone brought up the fact of her suicide EVERY single time I saw that person for YEARS after the fact. This is where a little discretion could be used. While it’s perfectly fine to acknowledge the death, there is no reason for it to be brought up in every conversation. The person who was doing this was totally oblivious to the fact that it was upsetting me. Sometimes the name of the deceased will come up casually and normally in conversation and when this happens, it’s perfectly fine to comment and follow the conversation. Also, if those closest to the suicide like a mother (as in my case) bring it up, it’s ok to talk about it. Survivors have good days and bad days–and will for the rest of their lives so it is really important to follow the lead of those closest to the suicide. Some days survivors may have the strength to confront the facts and other days they won’t. Please do not try to force a survivor to talk about the suicide if they are clearly not ready to do so. They will open up when they are ready.

Listening–if the survivor(s) want to talk–is critical. I’m very fortunate that I had (and have) really great support in my life; wonderful people that I’m blessed to call my closest friends. Unfortunately there have also been a few people that just wanted to attack me. The people who wanted to attack me didn’t (and still don’t) have all of the facts and really do not know what they are talking about. They jumped to conclusions about the why of  my daughter’s death. Some blamed me. Some blamed her. A survivor is already blaming themself (although in the majority of situations the closest survivor couldn’t have stopped the death anyway) and the blaming and shaming that some want to do is not helpful at all. One of these people called my daughter a “coward.” One  attacked me at the memorial service basically saying I’m a lousy person who had a lousy kid. These are not exactly the type of people that a survivor is going to open up to. This type of behavior is extremely hurtful and harmful not to mention apalling and rude. It’s the exact opposite behavior of what should be happening. 

We have a very long way to go in our society in dealing with issues surrounding suicide. I am pleased that the silence is beginning to be addressed. I know there are many writers on this forum and this is a topic wide open. We need more materials to help survivors cope with suicide. Consider this post a challenge for you to bravely and openly talk about this issue.

Mental Health

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Reaching the 360’s (Social Problems & Social Services) in my library read through coincided with library programming concerning autism education training for staff and autism educational programming for patrons. The program was presented by a man named Stephen Viehweg. He is widely known in Indiana. This was the flyer for the program:

Stephan Viehweg Presentation

Being a former Special Education teacher, I was extremely interested in this topic. When I first reached the 360’s, the first books I picked up were about living with autism so the staff training couldn’t have been better timed for me. There is so much more known about autism now than when I was in the classroom and the current research into this condition is truly amazing.

While I realize that many high functioning autistic people do not think of autism as a mental health problem, the Dewey Decimal System lumps autism into this category which is why I am including it in this blog entry.

Look Me In the Eye Look Me In the Eye by John Elder Robison was an entertaining and very informative book about living with autism. It was also my first introduction to the work of John Elder Robison (who by the way is the brother of Augusten Burroughs, author of Running with Scissors, a book that is about mental illness.) I was so impressed with Robison that I looked for other books he had written. I’m not normally a big fan of books on CD (BOCD), but Robison has two that I checked out.

The first of Robison’s books on CD  that I listened to was Switched On A Memoir of Brain Change and Emotional Awakening.

Switched On

This BOCD held my attention in a way that few would. It is about an experimental treatment for people with autism (and depression) and how this treatment was life changing for Robison. I highly recommend this book for anyone with an interest in this topic.

The second BOCD of Robinson’s that I listened to was Raising Cubby.

Raising Cubby

This was also  very interesting. Robison’s son is autistic and the book explores a unique father / son relationship and an FBI investigation into Cubby’s interest in explosives. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in exploring the dynamics of families living with autism.

The next group of books in the 360 section pertain more to actual mental illnesses, disorders, and conditions. These are also topics of interest to me since I have studied Psychology.

Amen, Amen, Amen

Amen, Amen, Amen by Abby Sher is a book about a woman who lives with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I like books like this because they show how people are affected in their daily lives by mental illness. Abby Sher does a great job of explaining not only how OCD affects her own life, but the lives of all those around her.

After exploring OCD, I launched into a book about Bipolar Disorder.

A Promise of Hope

A Promise of Hope by Autumn Stringam  is a quick read and informative book. Stringam traces a history of Bipolar Disorder in her family as she describes her life experiences. After some very tragic occurances, Autumn’s father had had enough and set out to find a cure while enlisting the unlikely help of a pig feed salesman. Together the two men come up with a formula that now has the attention of the world. Their formula is completely natural and contains vitamins and minerals. It has a higher absorption rate than over the counter vitamins.  Autumn, who was probably at stage 4, is living proof of the formula’s success. Since Autum’s experience literally thousands of people have benefited from this remarkable product. Anyone suffering from bipolar or who knows someone suffering from bipolar should make this book a must read.

Bearing in mind that only a professional can make an actual diagnosis, if you are concerned that you or someone you know could be at risk for mental illness, there are some online screening tools that you can check out anonymously:

http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/mental-health-screening-tools

https://www.mindoula.com/m3-screen/

Moving along, I came to the book American Psychosis: How the Federal Government Destroyed the Mental Illness Treatment System by E. Fuller Torrey, M.D.

Image of American Psychosis: How the Federal Government Destroyed the Mental Illness Treatment System

This is not a book for the faint of heart. Academic in its presentation, it is not an easy read. If one can stick with the book it has some amazing facts to share. Torrey traces the beginnings of the mental health system and the psychiatric profession from the Kennedy administration to present day. This is a topic near and dear to my heart for reasons I don’t have time to get into in this post, but it has been a real eye opener in some areas. For me, this book also helped to fill in some gaps in my understanding of the psychiatric profession. It is essentially an attack on the mental health system and psychiatry both of which actually started out with political roots.

Torrey is doing some definite feather ruffling with this book while pointing out the need for a serious change. Many people can point to the need for change, but Torrey is trying to encourage and participate in major change.  He can’t do it alone though. To serve the most seriously mentally ill among us is going to require major changes in politics, in hospitals, community clinics, psychiatry, jails, law enforcement, nursing homes, board and care homes, and (re)education of just about everyone. All of us need to start somewhere though and this book is a great place to start.

Fitting in nicely with both Autumn Stringam’s and E. Fuller Torrey’s books is a movie called Generation Rx.

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I haven’t made it to the movie section in my library exploration, but I would be remiss not to include a reference to this particular DVD. If you have children or grandchildren, know any child or adult who takes psychotropic drugs (Zoloft, Ritalin, Prozac, etc). You need to view this movie. Generation Rx is essentially a documentary that explores the safety of these types of drugs and the (often) junk science that these medications are based on. By educating yourself on this topic, you may literally save lives.

 

The Serious Side of Law

The Innocent Man  Dealing with law enforcement, courts, judges, and correctional institutions is serious business. I have the utmost respect for the law and love when it functions the way it was intended. We all know though that sometimes things go wrong. Politics may get involved. Money may be an issue in obtaining competent representation. Overcoming public opinion or media bias may be factors in the outcome of certain criminal trials. Mental illness may also complicate many cases.

Once again this topic of law is so vast there is no way I can do it justice in just one or two blog entries. The broader categories I’ve read through are (general) law, law of nations, constitutional & administrative law, military (defense, public property, public finance, tax, commerce [trade], industrial law), labor law (social service, education, cultural law), criminal law, private law, procedures & court,  laws, regulations, cases and law of specific jurisdictions, areas (socioeconomic regions, regional intergovernmental organizations). It’s been difficult to choose just a few books to comment on. In my last post I commented on the lighter side of law. In this post I will comment on a couple of book types. The first type are true cases gone awry and the second type are self help books.

During my library read through, I’ve encountered several books which talk about things that have gone wrong. One such book is The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town  by John Grisham.

Innocent Man

In this heartbreaking book Ron Williamson, former pro baseball player for the Oakland A’s,  was accused of a crime he did not commit. Grisham documents the unbelievable (but true) events that landed an innocent man in jail and the appeals process which ultimately got him out. During the incarceration period, much damage was done and mental and physical health concerns were negelected. The man who was unjustly sent to prison was not the same man who came out.  In this case (and many others I have read) mental illness was a factor.

While I would love to comment in depth on the mental health issue alone, for now I will suffice it to say that we as a society need to step up and take some responsibility in these types of situations by ensuring that the mentally ill receive proper treatment.  For anyone with a conscience, I highly recommend this book.

There are several types of legal self help books available. One that I consider extremely noteworthy is The Easy Will and Living Will Kit by Joy S. Chambers, Attorney at Law.

The Easy Will and Living Will Kit

This book is written in easy to understand language and walks the reader through the entire process of creating the most common legal documents needed. The author explains when these forms are enough for legal purposes and when one might need to go beyond these forms and consult an attorney. Additionally various state laws are addressed when using do it yourself forms.

My husband and I were already discussing some legal forms we need to have (a result of my read through in the economics section!). This book answered many of our questions and sometimes brought up topics that we hadn’t necessarily considered or aspects of topics we hadn’t realized were necessary. For instance, do you have a plan for the care of your pets in case you are suddenly unable to care for them? Will they have to be relocated to another home if something were to happen to you? Do you want to be the one to specify the terms of their care? How will you provide for their needs (food, shelter, etc)?

Most people need to have three major legal documents on file:

  1. A simple will (this leaves all property to one person such as a spouse or a child)
  2. Financial Power of Attorney (this is used in emergencies when you are temporarily or permanently unable to manage your own finances)
  3. Health Care Advance Directive (aka a Living Will to make your wishes about your medical care known)

The book will point out certain situations when an actual attorney should be consulted. In most cases though, one can just fill out the proper forms and take them to a notary public and have them notarized to make them legal.

Not only does this book do a great job explaining legalities, it provides hard copy forms with examples, explains who needs which forms, and also has a CD Rom included. The CD Rom is extremely user friendly and allows the user to just click and fill in blanks.

Going further still, the book explains how to store your copies safely, where to store your copies (I found some of this surprising), and who you should give copies of what forms.

Overall I would say that this is a very thorough book for the average person and well worth the reader’s time to check out!

 

Social Sciences

twister group

The next category of the Dewey Decimal System explores a very wide array of social categories and systems. This section is so broad that I will need to split it up for comment. Today I’ve chosen to comment on the first two Dewey subcategories of Sociology & Anthropology and Statistics.

In the beginning of the 300 section, there are many books about specific groups of people. I read about what it takes to have great relationships, a whole generation of Millennials, the Red Hat Society, women in general, the poor, and people trapped in dead end jobs (aka the working poor).  Books with numbers from 300-309 make up the Sociology and Anthropology books. I’ve chosen to mention just a small  representative cartload of books in this category .

Cart Close Up

Brief comments in Dewey Order follow:

The 100 Simple Secrets of Great Relationships by David Niven, Ph.D:  Sharing simple secrets of great relationships, this book claims  to share what scientists have discovered and tell you how to use those discoveries in your own relationships. A quick read, the book has some interesting secrets.

The Millennials Connecting to America’s Largest Generation by Thom S. Rainer and Jess W. Rainer : This was a very positive and informative book about the millennial generation. I was born pretty much on the dividing line of the Baby Boomer/Millennial generation. In some ways I’ve always felt I have a foot in both generations and it was interesting to me to see how much of the overlap is significant to my life. Additionally I have a tadpole who is a Millennial and it is interesting to see how her world differed from mine growing up. I have read other things about Millennials which basically forecast the gloom and doom of our changing world, but I found this particular book to be a refreshing, hopeful, and positive statement of the people who are taking over the next generation.

The Red Hat Society’s Laugh Lines Stories of Inspiration and Hattitude by Sue Ellen Cooper: This book pokes fun at women over 50 who do not want to grow up and still want to have some play time. It is a good illustration of  life to be lived after 50.

Fake It More than 100 Shortcuts Every Woman Needs to Know by Jennifer Byrne :This is a quick read and somewhat humorous book about women finding time to accomplish everything they need to accomplish. While many of the shortcuts are helpful, some are more tongue-in-cheek.

Nickel and Dimed On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich: This book explores the fact that millions of Americans work full time for poverty level wages and can’t make ends meet for even the most basic of necessities. The author took the unique approach of going undercover and living among the working poor in order to research this topic. It is interesting to note that she herself would not have been able to make it without the safety net she kept in place for herself; a net not available to the working poor. In my opinion, everyone needs to read this book.

Real Questions, Real Answers About Sex The Complete Guide to Intimacy As God Intended by Dr. Louis & Melissa McBurney: The authors have divided this book into six sections and leave no stone unturned. This book is appropriate to engaged as well as married couples and is filled with good advice. In my read through of the library, I have come across many books on this topic and this is by far the best book of them all. I highly recommend it.

Even though I am reading through the library, there are certain categories of books that I dread reaching. When I saw that statistics was one of the Dewey categories, I was rather dreading it. I did not enjoy statistics in college! As it turns out, the statistics category has been shrinking in most libraries and I found only 3 (!) books  numbered from 310-319.

Statistics Books

These books have been moved to the Reference Section of the library. As these actually are used as reference books, there isn’t much “review” to be done. Instead I will just comment that the probable shrinkage of this category of books is due to the Internet and information being readily available. This type of information could change by the time statistical books are published. You can probably surmise by these surviving books that Fulton County Public Library is located in a rural area of Indiana.

Full Circle

religion pie chart

I’ve now come full circle back to the religion section. I temporarily skipped part of the religion section to explore other library resources in front of it. Picking up where I left off, I resumed reading through the library in the 240’s and completed the rest of the religion section.  The following broad topics have been covered:  Christian Practices & Observance, Christian Order & Local Church, Social and Ecclesiastical Theology, History of Christianity, Christian Denominations, and Other Religions. As you can imagine, this was a lot of reading! There is no way I can cover in one blog post the many, many books I’ve read through.  Instead, I’ve chosen to share a few of the books that have really stood out to me in the remaining portion of the religion section and share a brief synopsis.

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Going in shelving order of the books I’ve chosen, the first one up for comment is Heaven Has Blue Carpet by Sharon Niedzinski.

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This is a delightful book about a woman and her family who left suburbia for the wide open spaces of country life. The story details how the Niedzinski family bought a run down centennial farmhouse and equally under cared for farmland.  This homestead was developed into a working sheep farm and a comfortable home. Throughout her description of this process Sharon describes being a shepherd and what it takes to look after a flock of sheep. True to her background in Christian ministries, Sharon draws some very interesting parallels to Jesus and his flock of followers.  This book has a conversational tone which is easy to read and is entertaining as well as challenging.

Next in this line up is Uncommon Marriage by Tony & Lauren Dungy with Nathan Whitaker.

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To be honest, this wasn’t a book that I really thought I would enjoy. As most of you are aware, I’ve been reading my way through the entire Fulton County Public Library. No one could possibly read every single book in a library, so my strategy has been to read many representative books from each section. I usually will shelf browse-in order of the Dewey Decimal system-until I’ve selected 5 books at a time. I picked this book up for it’s title, Uncommon Marriage. At the time I had no idea who these people on the cover were. I had absolutely no idea that Tony Dungy was a professional football coach, the first African American head coach to win the Superbowl, or a sports reporter. If I had, I probably would have skipped this book altogether.  I know nothing about football! However, because of my commitment to read through the library and broaden my reading horizons, I read the book anyway. I am glad that I did. The Dungys are a wonderful example of what it takes to truly be committed to a marriage in the good times and the bad. The Dungys are a Christian couple committed both to each other and to helping others grow spiritually. They are an excellent team and share their ways of supporting each other in achieving goals and dreams. They talk about the importance of staying connected to each other and how they’ve managed to do that despite grueling schedules. They truly can help others to have an uncommon marriage.

Moving on we come to Weird Because normal isn’t working [sic] by Craig Groeschel.

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This is a fairly easy read book. It talks about how normal people are stressed, overwhelmed, and exhausted. Relationships are stressed or nonexistant. Normal people are living pay check to pay check and just can’t seem to break out of a miserable cycle. Many people claim to believe in God, but are not living out Biblical teachings. This book is like a breath of confirmation that lets the reader know he or she is not alone in being caught in a style of living that just isn’t working. Written by a pastor, Christ-centered topics which cover diverse topics from money to scheduling to purity and many others which will help the normal person break out of the rut and live with God’s grace and truth.

Confession Brings Possession by Dr. Norvel Hayes is a tiny little quick read book.

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There are powerful Scriptural truths contained in this little book. For this summary, I’ve chosen just to share what’s written on its back cover:

“All of the promises of God belong to the believing Christian. Whether we receive them or not is our choice. Learn how to affirm the Word of God in your hearts and release the power of God through your faith-filled words.”

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Confession Brings Possession is a powerful book that will give the reader insight into how to release the power of God in their life.”

Life Without Limits by Nick Vujicic is a very inspirational book.

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Born without arms and legs, Nick shares his emotional and physical struggles related to his disability. Nick has found his passion in inspiring others and credits his faith in God as the source of his strength. Nick encourages others to accept what they can’t change and focus instead in what one does have control over. The reader is challenged to live a life without limits.

The last book I’ve chosen to share is Grieving a Suicide A Loved One’s Search for Comfort, Answers & Hope by Albert Hsu.

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The author wrestles with his emotions and theological questions after the suicide of his father. Hsu acknowledges that there are no easy answers, but found hope in God Who comforts and offers hope for the future. Anyone who has been affected by suicide should read this book.

There are obviously many other books in the religion section and I encourage you to check them out!