Books Books Books and Reading

Books

The read through of the Fulton County Public Library continues and now the adventure is taking me to the 380’s section which focuses on Commerce, Communications, and Transportation. The first books I have encountered are books about books!

Books are so important and useful. They help us to communicate with each other. They are a source of sharing and receiving information. Books also go way beyond the basic function of communication. Books are most useful if we can read. Reading is akin to a car key. To get the full benefit of a car, one needs to have the key. To get the full benefit of books, one needs to read–and read a lot!

It's Called Reading

Most of us have learned to read through one (or some combination) of the following methods: self taught, learned to read by being read to, taught by a teacher, a librarian, or a literacy director. Some people seem to need a little bit more time to learn to read. For this reason, the Fulton County Public Library offers a Literacy Service under the leadership of Ezra Eagle.

eagle no hat

A few of the functions of the Literacy Department are to teach adults to read, to help patrons of any age to read better, and to help those whose second language is English learn to read and write in English. For other functions of the Literacy Department, follow the link above.

The following photos are of the Literacy Department at the Fulton County Public Library:

Lit Department

Literacy Office

Lit 2

Lit 1

The last two photos are tutoring rooms located in the Literacy Department. These rooms are used for Literacy Department services and also double as small space meeting rooms. One room holds 4 people, the other 10 people. When our regular Meeting Rooms (a topic for another post) are filled, small groups may be assigned to one of these two rooms. Additionally patrons are allowed to sign themselves up for either of these two rooms. Individual patron usage has included things like test taking (and being proctored), a quiet place just to study or read, family meetings, would be entrepreneurs strategy sessions, and home schooling activities just to mention a few. Some groups are repeating but may be very small so those groups have been assigned to these rooms by library staff (usually me).

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention therapy dogs used in connection with the Fulton County Public Library Literacy Department. In the last several years, we have had two therapy dogs working at all three locations of our library. Allow me to introduce to you Samantha and Oliver:

Samantha and Oliver

Samantha is a  black Newfoundland. Samantha loves working with her Dad, Ron, at the library as well as in schools and hospitals.

Samantha at work in School

Samanthat at work in Hospital Samanthat and Nurses Samantha at FCPLR

 

 

 

 

Samantha has her own Facebook page and would love to be your friend. In her free time, Samantha enjoys spending time with her family. Samantha lives in another city and recently has decided to start working closer to her home.

Oliver is a chocolate Australian Labradoodle. He is the MDIC (Main Dog In Charge) here at the library. Oliver lives locally and he also works with his dad, Ezra Eagle.

eagle no hatOliver is quite busy with his duties and responsibilities as the MDIC here at the library. Besides having such an important job, Oliver is also a library patron. Oliver agreed to be interviewed to answer some of the most common questions people may have about him either as a therapy dog or a patron. Oliver is a people dog and he regrets that he is unable to personally answer questions at this time. The interview was done last summer, but the information given by Oliver about himself is timeless. Follow the link if you would like to read Oliver’s Interview.

Oliver’s job seems to be something new everyday. Below is a recent picture of Oliver and some library folk. On this day, Oliver was instructing on the finer points of making and playing your own guitar. It was a difficult job, but these two people succeeded  in their efforts and Oliver is being treated to an appreciative serenade. Music is a form of therapy after all. Oliver also enjoys listening to music in his free time.

Oliver Music Instructor

In other free time activities, Oliver enjoys sports and loves to take long walks to get back to nature.

Oliver1

Oliver 2

Oliver 4

(Black and white photo(s) credit: Kendra Roe)

Follow this link to watch a short video if you would like to learn more about how libraries (and schools) partner with dogs.

Once we actually learn to read, books can open up whole new worlds to us. They teach us, entertain us, make us laugh, make us cry, give us new ideas and challenge old ideas. Books make it possible for us to learn from the dead, to go into entirely new worlds on other planets, to explore scary topics in safety and so very much more. Since there is no way I could possibly ever finish listing all of the benefits of books, I encourage you to read from a wide variety of genres to stretch and grow yourself.

Beyond the printed page, books also serve many other purposes.  Books can be used to build and display:

Books Christmas Tree

Books building

Books can inspire us to be creative:

Books Flowers

Les Compressions de Livres

(Les compressions de livres by Johnathon Callan)

Books can even be part of home decor:

books lamp

Books also provide many jobs for people who handle them regularly.   There are people who work in book stores:

Book Store

In libraries:

library worker

My own job here at the Fulton County Public Library involves  reading many books and writing a blog which often features books as I explore library materials, resources, and services.

froggy2

There are people who write books

writer

and others who edit books.

editing

Books can also help people be self employed. There are people who buy and sell books–which leads me to recommend two of the most recent books I checked out on my way through the nonfiction section:

Book Finds Selling Used Books Online

Both of these books contain excellent information for anyone wanting to buy and sell books full time, part time, or just as a hobby to earn extra money. The information on the covers of these books is self explanatory. If interested, I highly encourage Dewey Hop readers to read these books about books.

There’s still so much more to say about books. One blog post can’t do the world of books justice. Once you enter this world, you will find something amazing and relevant to your life and I hope you will find a world of happiness in their pages.

Were you surprised to learn that libraries partner with dogs? What is your favorite thing about books? Would you enjoy a career centered around books?

 

 

 

 

 

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Poverty and Homelessness

most homeless

Poverty and homelessness are topics that we don’t particularly like to think about or talk about, but they are also topics that we must think about and talk about. We must think and talk about these subjects right here, right in the USA and right in your state, your county, and your city. Whether we are rich and housed, poverty stricken and homeless or anywhere in between, these issues affect us all.

The recession that hit around 2008-2010 not only forced many Americans into underemployment or unemployment, it forced many individuals as well as whole families over the edge into poverty and homelessness. Most of us are aware of the media images of homeless people sleeping in cardboard boxes or on park benches. We’ve seen shameful images of our vets living on the streets. We may have even seen some people standing on street corners holding cardboard signs asking for help. It is true that some people (probably a small percentage) are homeless by choice. There may even be a few people who are poor by choice. Unfortunately there are homeless people who fit the stereotypes of being homeless (addicts, mentally ill individuals, and runaways) but since the recession there has been a growing number of people dealing with poverty and homelessness who never had a choice or a chance; some are children. There is a new face of homelessness in the United States and those faces look just like you or me. These people don’t fit into the media stereotypes. There are people who through no fault of their own have ended up on the streets. Inability to find affordable housing and/or work are just a few contributing factors. There are homeless people who hold down full time jobs, but because they can’t find anything that pays higher than poverty wages, they can’t afford a place to live.

I have blogged before about aspects of poverty, so when my library reading project brought me to books on poverty, I was anxious to read them. Two of the most well known of these types of books are Bridges Out of Poverty by Ruby K. Payne, PH.D, Phillip E. DeVol and Terie Dreussi Smith. A Framework for Understanding Poverty was written by Ruby K. Payne, Ph.D.

Bridges Out of Poverty Framework for Understanding Poverty

Having read both of these books, I have some mixed reactions to them. I think there is great information in these books and they are worth spending some time with. Bridges Out of Poverty was the first book of the two that I read. I found much of it quite enlightening. The purpose of the book seems to be to help professional people who come in contact with people in poverty. The author intends to help workers be better able to anticipate and serve the needs of those living in poverty. According to this information there are two basic types of poverty: generational and situational. Generational poverty is defined as at least two generations of the same family still living in poverty. Much of the rest of the book goes on to make a profile of sorts of those who are in generational poverty. Professionals who would read these books deal with those in generational poverty on a daily basis so I do understand the need to address the issue in depth. I was quite disappointed though that situational poverty was barely addressed and the author(s) appear(s) to assume that everything known about generational poverty also applies to situational poverty. While some characteristics are shared, I think these are actually two (or more) separate issues. In generational poverty behaviors and attitudes may have been actually taught by families to their children as a way of life. In situational poverty individuals are in survival mode and their needs are likely to be temporary. Those in situational poverty most likely possess the skills to get out of poverty, but need temporary assistance. In reading this book, I was often uncomfortable with blanket statements that seemed to assume that those in poverty have no skills, education, resources, or other means of helping themselves although I realize that is true for some people. With those in situational poverty likely being the fastest growing segment of those in poverty, I think the author(s) missed a huge part of the issue.

On a more positive note, there was some extremely helpful information in Bridges Out of Poverty. The author(s) talk(s) about the ability to use language and the ability to relay information as a means of helping people climb out of poverty. Interestingly those in (generational) poverty tend to use more casual language and story telling when relaying information which becomes a problem if they are dealing with agencies (social services, medical, governmental, etc) which tend to use more formal language to give and receive information. It’s as though two different languages are being spoken and the author(s) believe(s) that those in poverty should be taught to use more formal language. Conversely, people who work as intake information gatherers should also be taught about the more casual speech of those in (generational) poverty to be better able to abstract critical information. Also of great value this book identifies some “hidden rules among classes” and does a great job explaining them. By learning the “rules” and teaching them, those in any class (poverty, middle, wealth) can use them to communicate more effectively and also potentially move from one class to another. Several areas are addressed, but as an example attitudes about possessions tend to be the following:

  • Poverty-People are possessions
  • Middle Class-Possessions are things
  • Wealth-Possessions are one-of-a-kind objects, legacies, pedigrees

It is very interesting to see the differences in attitudes about other areas as well such as money, personality, social emphasis, food, clothing, time, education, destiny, language, family structure, world view, love, driving forces, and humor.

A Framework for Understanding Poverty was disappointing to me as a reader. The information in it is good, but it is essentially the same book (but updated) as Bridges Out of Poverty.  Although the front cover says it’s a revised edition, it doesn’t say that it’s a revision of the Bridges book. I spent time comparing graphs, charts, and pictographs between the two books and didn’t find a whole lot of differing information. This was even more disappointing when I realized that the Bridges book was originally copyrighted in 2001 and the Framework copy I had was last updated in 2011. With the rising statistics of those in poverty over the years between 2001-2011, I felt the information in this book was extremely dated. Situational poverty is still not really addressed in the newer version. If I had bought both of these books in a bookstore, I would have been upset that they are the same book but don’t say they are the same book.

I searched for quite awhile for current statistics on homelessness, but the best I could come up with was the map at the beginning of this blog. I believe that this map is new enough to include both generational and situational numbers combined to give us at least an idea of how many homeless people we have in this country and where they are located. I was surprised by Hawaii’s ranking as the state with the highest number of homeless people. I was equally surprised by Mississippi’s ranking as the state with the lowest number of homeless people. (Great job Mississippi!) I am pleased that my state, Indiana, has the third lowest homelessness rate in the country.

Homeless people are in every state and many of them-especially those in situational poverty- know how to blend in and not be seen. That is exactly what The Girl’s Guide to Homelessness by Brianna Karp is about. Brianna Karp shares her true experience of homelessness.

The Girl's Guide to Homelessness

This book is entertaining and easy to read. The story is a true one of determination and bravery.  I had trouble putting it down. After being laid off of her job and unable to pay rent, Brianna finds herself estranged from her family and homeless. Brianna literally put a face on situational poverty and homelessness. In the process of relaying her story, Brianna addresses the many stereotypical beliefs about the homeless. After unexpectedly inheriting a truck and a trailer, Briana found herself living in a makeshift camp in a Walmart parking lot without access to plumbing, electricity, air conditioning or heat. She was one of the luckier homeless people because she at least had shelter.

WalMart Campers

Some might say Brianna was not homeless because she had a trailer. However the Federal Definition of Homeless, United States Code Title 45, Chapter 119, Subchapter I, SS 11302 says:

General Definition of a Homeless Individual:

an individual who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence; and

an individual who has a primary nighttime residence that is a supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designed to provide temporary living accommodations (including welfare hotels, congregate shelters, and transitional housing for the mentally ill);

an institution that provides temporary residence for individuals intended to be institutionalized; or a public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings.

Brianna faced her situation with intelligence and bravery. She details her daily struggles in getting her most basic needs met while searching for a job using the few resources she had retained. Her experiences have led her into her true passion, advocacy for the homeless.

I would love to say much more about The Girls’s Guide to Homelessness, but just about anything else I would say would be a spoiler and I don’t want to give away the entire story. I will just say that I have never met Brianna Karp, but I have immense respect for her. She has an ongoing website: http://girlsguidetohomelessness.com/

Also, some sites that Brianna recommends are:

Change.org http://uspoverty.change.org/blog/category/homelessness

Homeless.us – United States Department of Social Services; Emergency Shelter http://homeless.us

211 National Human Services Information & Referral Hotline http://211.org; http://211us.org or dial 2-1-1 toll-free from any U.S. phone to be connected with an operator.

National Coalition for the Homeless http://nationalhomeless.org

Homeless Blogs Project http://homelessblogs.org

The International Homeless Forum http://homelessforums.org

World Homeless Day http://worldhomelessday.org

A Gift of Hope

Danielle Steel wrote A Gift of Hope to bring attention to the needs of the homeless. Shortly after Danielle’s son, Nick, died by suicide Danielle was looking for a way to make a difference and honor her son at the same time. (His Bright Light by Danielle Steele is the true story of her son’s suicide.) She formed an outreach called Yo! Angel! in which her teams drove around the city looking for homeless people in need of winter jackets, wool hats, warm socks, gloves, and sleeping bags. Later other supplies and some food was added to the items Yo! Angel! distributed. Danielle was hesitant about sharing her activism but then later changed her mind and decided to speak out because she could voice a desperate cry for help for the homeless.

A Gift of Hope is a touching book which details how Danielle Steele and her crew first began to help the homeless, the mistakes they made, the safety precautions they took, and the unforgettable people they met along the way. Many living on the streets truly have been given hope through the efforts of Danielle and her team. For anyone interested in homelessness, I would recommend this book. It is short, a quick read, and loaded with information.

In Danielle Steele’s book she points out that the numbers of homeless at any given time are likely not accurate. She reports an abysmal process of counting the homeless (at least in the San Francisco area) in which the “counters” go out for just one night and count only those homeless that they actually see on the street. If a homeless person happens to be using a public restroom or has scraped together enough money to go get a sandwich or some other needed supply and are in a public place (restaurant, store, etc) they are not counted. Those who are homeless due to situational poverty are experts at blending in and not being seen so they are likely never even counted. According to Danielle we have more accurate counts of birds than we do homeless people. Because of the counting method used, Danielle believes the numbers of homeless people in her area at any given time can be wrong by at least 23,000. She also points out that some states have managed to lower their homeless population by “relocating” the homeless. She claims that at one point the city of New York paid for bus tickets for the homeless to go anywhere but where they were. Some of the homeless were put on a bus and sent to a neighboring state. Therefore, according to Danielle Steele, we need to be leery of the current statistical data. Are we actually making an impact on the homeless problem (which more than likely are economic, employment, health, and education problems) or are we as a society just getting better at hiding it in numbers? Are the homeless just being moved around and therefore not being counted? Are the populations of homeless people being moved actually the mentally ill who should be hospitalized? These are disturbing questions.

Have you ever been homeless? Have you given serious thought to the plight of the homeless? Are you active in trying to help the homeless? I would love to hear about your experiences.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Substance Abuse

prescription-drug-abuse-s1-what-is

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.

 

 

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

Stages-of-Mental-Health-Conditions-859x1024

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!

 

The Lighter Side of Law

Bath Law

The next Dewey category in my read through library project pertains to law–which can be serious or hysterical (and often both at the same time).  I plan to split “Law” into two posts, so here is the lighter side. These are actual laws in the United States unless otherwise noted. It is strongly advised that you do not take a drink of anything while reading through these!

Being a bit of a Bigfoot fan, I was attracted to this first book for reasons which should be obvious.

Emergency Sasquatch

This is actually a very interesting book and of all of the books I encountered in this category, it’s the only one that came with a test to indicate if it needed to be read. There was only one test question which I will copy below.

Which of these statements is false?

  • The earliest surviving written law code mentions beer.
  • The ancient Greeks had strip searches, but the one who searched was the one who stripped.
  • It’s illegal to import skunks into Tennessee.
  • It is legal to mail someone a live scorpion.
  • A Florida town’s ordinances contain a 249 word definition of “buttocks.”
  • Tibetan lamas must get a permit before reincarnating.

If you can identify the false statement above, you may skip this book and move on to the next one. If however you can not say with 100% accuracy which statement is false, you really need to read this book.

The Emergency Sasquatch Ordinance is laid out into types of law: ancient, the US, States, Cities, and US Territories. I found this a very interesting read.

The next book I want to share is Wacky Laws, Weird Decisions & Strange Statutes.  This is a fun book not just because of the funny laws, but you can also turn the information in this book into a team game or an individual game. The rules and scoring for the game are explained at the back of the book, but essentially you hear an actual case and then try to figure out what the court ruled. There are various points awarded if you win your case either in lower court or on appeal. When I played this game, it seems I had a talent as an appeal court judge!

Wacky Laws

I will share some of the laws from this book below.

  • Taking a bath during the winter months is against the law in Indiana.
  • Each driver on a country road in Omaha, Nebraska is required to send up a skyrocket every 150 yards, wait eight minutes for the road to clear, and then drive cautiously, blowing the horn while shooting off Roman candles.
  • A parent in Indiana cannot drink beer if a child is in the same room.
  • In Vermont you could be fined $200 if you denied the existence of God.
  • There was an ordinance in Belhaven, North Carolina permitting a sewer service charge of “$2 per month, per stool.” That has recently been revised to read “per toilet.”
  • One cannot attend the theater in Gary, Indiana within 4 hours of eating garlic.
  • Any man who constantly kisses “human beings” is forbidden to have a moustache if he lives in Indiana.
  • It is necessary to document any services performed by a jackass in Baltimore.
  • Speaking English in the state of Illinois is illegal. In 1919 author H.L. Mencken had a statute revised establishing “American” as the official language.
  • A law in Maine calls for a legal hunting season on attorneys.

I found more humor in You May Not Tie an Alligator to a Fire Hydrant 101 Real Dumb Laws by Jeff Koon and Andy Powell.

Dumb Laws

The laws I read in this book can speak for themselves.

  • In Alabama it is illegal to pretend to be a nun.
  • In Belton, Missouri it is illegal to have a snowball fight.
  • It is illegal to intentionally burp in church in Nevada.
  • In Conyers, Georgia no one may get the attention of any student in school without official permission.
  • You may beat up anyone who says really nasty things to you in Georgia.
  • Eavesdropping on your own conversation is a felony in Illinois.
  • In early May all US citizens should recognize the importance of the transportation system.
  • In North Dakota no one can be arrested on the Fourth of July.
  • In Indiana one can avoid paying for a dependent’s medical care through prayer.
  • Anyone under eighteen playing pool in Kentucky must have a note from his or her mom or dad.
  • In Tennessee children may not play games on Sunday without a license.
  • In Tennessee it is illegal for an atheist to hold any public office.
  • In Indiana it is illegal to color a bird.
  • By Alaskan law the entire state rarely has emergencies.
  • In Oklahoma hamburgers purchased on Sunday can only be eaten in the restaurant.
  • It is illegal to reproach Jesus Christ or the Holy Ghost in Massachusetts.
  • In Salt Lake City, Utah a person can be imprisoned for one month for not returning a library book.
  • In Oregon it is illegal to pump your own gas unless you own the dispensing device and are properly trained.
  • In South Carolina only fruit may be sold by itinerants within a half mile of a church.
  • You may not affix the US flag to a bar of soap that is for sale

Yes folks, these laws represent your tax dollars at work. There are many, many more of these laws. I would be interested in any funny laws you would like to share in the comments section.

Political Science

Political Science

Confession: I don’t have a huge interest in politics. I vote. I stay informed of the main issues and the issues I personally care about but that has been the extent of my participation in politics. Political Science is another one of those categories that I was dreading reaching in my library read through project. One of the reasons for doing this project is to broaden my reading horizons and perhaps discover new interests. I surprised myself–and just about everyone who knows me personally–by really enjoying this section!

It was in broadening my reading horizons that I came across this gem of a quote that comments on the importance of just reading:

“Within eighteen months, I went from the bottom of the class to the top of the class, and many of those smart kids were now asking me for the answers. Some have described this academic metamorphosis as miraculous, but in fact, it is the kind of transformation I have witnessed or heard about countless times when people fill their time with reading and the acquisition of knowledge as opposed to worthless pursuits of near-constant entertainment.” One Vote by Ben Carson, MD

20369702 One Vote is a small but very interesting nonpartisan book that aims to encourage everyone to get out and vote. It also contains some very interesting websites. I checked some of these out and have chosen to share just a few.

http://votesmart.org/voteeasy/ This is a nonpartisan site which will help the user to narrow down his/her choice of candidates. At the top there will be small tabs. Click on an issue and the candidates who agree with you will move forward and those who do not agree with you will move backwards. Do this with all the main issues listed, and you might be surprised who you do or do not agree with!

http://www.isidewith.com is another nonpartisan site that is quite informative. Though the quiz is somewhat lengthy, it does an in depth analysis of which candidates you agree with on what issues and shows you where you fall on a political scale, identifying your core beliefs. This site can also help to educate you on relevant issues.

There are many other similar sites. Until I read through this section of the library, I had no idea that nonpartisan sites like those mentioned existed.

civil rights

In addition to reading numerous nonpartisan books/sites, I also was able to look at many picture books of important events such as the Civil Rights Movement. I found these to be very interesting.

Other books in this section were a little more light hearted such as The Official CIA Manual of Trickery and Deception by H. Keith (Harold Keith) Melton and Robert Wallace.

The-Official-CIA-Manual-of-Trickery-and-Deception

One other book that I wanted to mention from the Political Science category was a book that I would have been unlikely to pick up and read because I wanted to. It’s titled Obama Zombies: [How the Liberal Machine Brainwashed My Generation] by Jason Mattera.

Obama Zomies

I came to have this book checked out by my normal method of shelf reading in order and choosing 5 books at a time. In my opinion, this is a very informative book regardless of which party one supports. It is written by a millennial author about how millennials were coaxed into voting for certain candidates during the last presidential election. It was rather eye opening.

If others have read the books mentioned here, I would love to hear your viewpoints!

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.

Religion Books 009

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

Religion Books 003

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.

Religion Books 004

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.

Religion Books 005

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.

Religion Books 006

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.”

and

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.

Religion Books 007

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.

Religion Books 008

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!