Library Resources on Compassion

“Compassion” and “empathy” have become self-help buzzwords lately, with the recent rise of TED-talk superstars like researcher, author, and speaker Brené Brown. But what does it actually mean to practice compassion towards oneself and others, and how can we use these tools to take better care of our relationships? Here are some library resources for practicing self-compassion and compassion towards others whose messages ring especially true during times of social crisis and isolation.

Radical Compassion: Learning to Love Yourself and your World With the Practice of RAIN, by Tara Brach
This book is currently a popular Peak Pick, and although it’s not available to be checked out in person for the time being, it is still accessible online with your library card! Written by celebrated mindfulness instructor Tara Brach, Radical Compassion teaches readers a mindfulness practice called RAIN – Recognize, Allow, Investigate, Nurture – designed to help us become more compassionate towards ourselves. You might find Brach’s tools helpful if you are dealing with loss of a loved one or a past relationship, working through past trauma, or simply trying to cope with the ongoing trauma of living during a pandemic. Continue reading “Library Resources on Compassion”

Freegal playlists to stay home and stay healthy with

Spending all day alone in a silent home isn’t easy. Luckily, you can stream plenty of music through Freegal – for free! – with your library card. What’s more, there are some fantastic mixes already curated and available on the platform to accompany your Stay Home, Stay Healthy experience, no matter what you have planned for the day. Let’s explore some Freegal playlists that are perfect for when you are staying home to stay healthy!

Work from Home: The Social Distancing Playlist from Freegal“Working from Home: The Social Distancing Playlist”

This aptly named playlist offers a truly eclectic music selection, featuring artists as diverse as The Backstreet Boys, Carole King, The Offspring, and A Tribe Called Quest. The one thing these 90 songs have in common? From “98.6” to “Wish You Were Here,” their titles share a certain resonance with the theme of social distancing.

“Spring Cleaning”Spring Cleaning playlist from Freegal

Whether or not you are working from home during this time, you may find yourself with far more free time than you know what to do with. If you are taking the opportunity to get some spring cleaning done, this is the playlist for you. At 5 hours, 34 minutes, 55 seconds, it has enough upbeat music from various genres to help you dance your way through a whole day of scrubbing, dusting, and re-organizing closets. Continue reading “Freegal playlists to stay home and stay healthy with”

Science fiction and fantasy books about change

During these times of uncertainty, many of us are looking to our favorite writers for comfort and guidance. For decades, speculative-fiction writers have shown themselves to be especially well-versed in the subject of uncertainty, using their magical worlds to explore social problems and existential questions that complicate our daily lives. Here are three science fiction and fantasy novels that offer empowering perspectives on change and adjusting to a new normal.

The Left Hand of Darkness book cover imageThe Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

This novel is perhaps best known for its commentary on the social effects of gender roles, thanks to Le Guin’s detailed, almost anthropological portrayal of an alien society where gender does not exist. These are the Gethenians, who live out their days on the planet Winter, named so because it is covered eternally in snow, wind, and ice. As narrator Genly Ai learns about the Gethenians’ culture and lifestyle on their frozen planet, the patient reader slowly learns along with him and ultimately is rewarded with profound meditations on change, ephemerality, and living under harsh conditions in a world full of great unknowns. Continue reading “Science fiction and fantasy books about change”

Imagining Life, Post-Pandemic

There was a time – two months or so ago – when readers flocked to dystopian fiction so that they might imagine  what strange, dark days might lay ahead. Now that we’re all living through something that feels a bit like sci-fi itself, futuristic fiction is still there to help us envision and contemplate the way forward.

In Mike Chen’s Beginning at the End, it felt pretty apocalyptic when the viral epidemic known as MGS wiped out 70% of the world’s population. But the world didn’t end, and six years later we join three residents of San Francisco as they emerge from social isolation into a city and a world that is different, yet in many ways still the same. Rob’s young daughter doesn’t yet know that her mother has died. Struggling former wedding-planner Krista escaped her own abusive family under cover of the plague, and now counsels traumatized survivors. Former pop star Moira’s life has been reinvented in surprising ways during the epidemic. Chen’s perceptive, empathetic novel helps us to process realities not so very different from our own. Continue reading “Imagining Life, Post-Pandemic”

Films about Obsession Available for Streaming in Kanopy

These days it’s hard not to be preoccupied with the pandemic. Are you constantly refreshing the news? Stuck on social media? If so, here are three films about obsession to help you get out of your head and into someone else’s.

Zodiac movie posterJake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr. and Mark Ruffalo are all in peak form in David Fincher’s Zodiac. The film follows Robert Graysmith (Gyllenhaal), a cartoonist turned writer who becomes consumed with finding the identity of the Zodiac killer. While the early parts of the film are concerned with the Zodiac Killer’s crimes, the majority of the movie is spent following Graysmith as he becomes singularly obsessed with the Zodiac killer. Based on Graysmith’s real-life memoir, Zodiac is part police-procedural, part thriller and proves that films can be scary without venturing into horror movie territory. In true Fincher fashion, the film is dark and moody, and with a run time of 2 hours 42 minutes, it’s sure to keep you occupied. Continue reading “Films about Obsession Available for Streaming in Kanopy”