Month: May 2022

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Older Americans Month

Older Americans Month

by Rhonna Hargett, Associate Director of Learning and Information Services

May is Older Americans Month! As the Administration for Community Living states “Older adults play vital, positive roles in our communities – as family members, friends, mentors, volunteers, civic leaders, members of the workforce, and more. Just as every person is unique, so too is how they age and how they choose to do it – and there is no “right” way.” We have some reading suggestions to help celebrate this important part of our community.

You might remember the author Mary Pipher from her 1994 New York Times Best Seller on adolescent girls entitled “Reviving Ophelia.” In “Women Rowing North: Navigating Life’s Currents and Flourishing as We Age,” she explores the lives of women in their 60s and beyond, discussing the challenges and joys of being a woman in this age group. She covers the changes in roles, relationships, physical well-being, and mental well-being that many face, and shares her expertise on how to best navigate all of them. Reading this book is like having coffee with a friend who also happens to be an expert on human development. The tone is relaxed, full of anecdotes and personal stories, but her knowledge in the field shines through. Snippets from several interviews are included to add breadth to her perspective. “Women Rowing North” is an enjoyable, empowering, and informative book.

Practicing neurosurgeon, member of the National Academy of Medicine, and chief medical correspondent for CNN, Dr. Sanjay Gupta explores brain health in his book “Keep Sharp: Build a Better Brain at Any Age.” According to Dr. Gupta, dementia is not an inevitable condition of aging. He shares what can be done to prevent dementia and concrete advice for moving forward if it has already been diagnosed. The book includes a twelve-week program of nutrition, exercise, and other activities to set readers on the right track. His advice isn’t particularly new, but his optimism and ability to write about the topic in an engaging style make “Keep Sharp” a valuable contribution to the subject.

We have two brand new titles that I haven’t had a chance to read yet. “The Inside Story: The Surprising Pleasures of Living in an Aging Body” by psychologist Susan Sands discusses how common cultural beliefs can give us negative perceptions of our bodies that aren’t necessarily accurate, and shares advice for developing positive relationships with our bodies. In “From Strength to Strength: Finding Success, Happiness, and Deep Purpose in the Second Half of Life,” behavioral social scientist and Harvard Professor Arthur C. Brooks helps those who identify strongly with their working lives navigate the challenges of aging.

The Thursday Murder Club” by Richard Osman is the first in a series that takes place in Coopers Chase, a retirement village in Kent. The club started when former member Penny shared unsolved murder cases from her previous position as a police inspector. A group starts gathering in the jigsaw room to investigate and hopefully solve each case. When a Coopers Chase employee is murdered, they team up with an underappreciated police officer to solve the case. Osman’s novel is a humorous and intricately plotted mystery that is an absolute delight to read, while he also shows us a glimpse of the complex lives of the characters. While the world has discounted them, they are noticing the things that others don’t, building fast friendships, and navigating the complications of their lives. This is a fun read that also gives insight into the later years in life.

All of the included books are available in print, and some are available digitally as ebooks or audiobooks. For these titles and more, visit our website at www.mhklibrary.org, or come see us at 629 Poyntz Ave.

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Oceans of Possibilities at the Library

Oceans of Possibilities at the Library

By Jennifer Bergen, Program and Children’s Services Manager

Summer Reading 2022 Oceans of Possibilities June 1 - July 31School is out, and it is a time of freedom for many kids. With some of the pressure lifted, everyone can breathe easily and enjoy some sunshine. Summer is also the perfect time for exploration and discovery through books. The library’s summer reading program will begin June 1st, with early registration opening Monday. Our reading challenge is all about having fun and enjoying books.

This year’s theme is Oceans of Possibilities, so look for some cool, blue decorations in the library and a special sea creature waiting for your books to be returned at the new returns machine inside. School kids might tell you about a shark that visited their school, promoting prizes (including two free books) that can be earned by tracking their reading time. Everyone, even adults, are invited to sign up.

If you want to find some ocean-themed books to go along with summer reading, here are a few great new choices.

Marine Biologists on a Dive” by Sue Fliess is the first in a new series, Kid Scientist. The picture book format makes this an easy way to introduce young kids to science field careers. In this story, Maggie and her team are studying whales. They scuba dive in with a pod of humpback whales, and each young scientist is exploring a different aspect of whale life. Maggie is recording the whale songs, and later listens to them in the lab to see if her hypothesis about whale communication patterns holds true. Illustrations by Mia Powell are more on the cartoony side, giving a simple visual aid that’s perfect for young listeners.

Can a story about the life of krill be delightful? I wouldn’t have thought so, but “Good Eating: The Short Life of Krill” by Matt Lilley surprised me. Krill actually have a very complicated life cycle just getting to be full grown, but their daily tasks are very simple. Once they have grown their mouths, it’s just eat, swim, and grow. They continually molt out of their shells, even as adults, and can live 10 years…that is, if they are not eaten by everything around them, including blue whales.

If you have never delved into the life of anglerfish, Elaine Alexander’s “Anglerfish: The Seadevil of the Deep” will introduce you to life in the midnight zone of the ocean. With eye-catching illustrations by Fiona Fogg, the anglerfish life cycle comes to life, from its beginnings as a vulnerable egg on the water surface, to an impressive fish, up to 3 feet long, with a dangling bioluminescent “fishing pole” fin and a stomach that can handle prey twice its size. Satiate your sea lover’s curiosity about strange and fascinating animals with this title.

Storytimes begin on June 7 for six weeks of fun stories, songs, action rhymes, puppets and dancing, with 8 different options throughout the week for various ages. Working families can join us on Saturdays at 10:00 or 11:00, June 11 – July 16. More information is on the library events webpage. These titles are a few samples of what storytellers will be reading.

Not Quite Narwhal” by Jessie Sima will be a big crowd-pleaser with a unique sea critter named Kelp who doesn’t fit in with his fellow narwhals. Will he come to realize who he really is when he meets a “land narwhal”? No need to worry, everyone ends up under the rainbow together.

Equally fun is Joyce Wan’s “A Whale in my Swimming Pool.” With cute illustrations influenced by Japanese pop culture, kids will laugh as a little boy tries to figure out how to get an enormous whale out of his pool.

For a calming effect, try “Oceans of Love” by Janet Lawler. This sweet, rhyming book centers on comforting language about mama sea animals taking care of their young. Holly Clifton-Brown’s mixed media art is full of color and light, creating playful scenes of undersea life.

For more summer reading book lists, join the summer reading challenge and check out our book lists for all age ranges. To sign up, visit the library’s webpage, www.MHKlibrary.org/SR, or come into the library.

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Find Your Next Woodworking Project at the Library

Find Your Next Woodworking Project at the Library

by Jared Richards, Learning and Information Services Supervisor

I recently had to build a new mailbox post after finding the old one lying in the yard. Was it just old and rotten, or was it related to the car antenna found near the fallen timber? We may never know, but I do know that it gave me the opportunity to pull out my power tools and build a needlessly-complicated but nice-looking post out of fresh lumber. Last year, my creative pursuits were almost exclusively digital, so it’s a refreshing change of pace to build something that exists in the real world.

There is a feeling of accomplishment associated with mowing a yard or baking, but then a week passes and you’re back behind the lawn mower, or a few days go by and you’re wondering where all the cookies went. I like when that feeling isn’t as fleeting, and there’s something to be said for made objects that can last generations. An example of this is the small wooden rocking chair currently sitting in my living room. My grandpa made it for me when I was a child, and now my son will be able to enjoy it for years to come, even more so when we don’t have to prop him up with pillows and stuffed animals.

The great thing about woodworking is that it covers such a broad range of activities, from carving small objects to making furniture, or even building a house. I am fairly confident we can rule out the house for a second project, but that still leaves a lot of options.

In “Build Stuff with Wood,” author Asa Christiana is a proponent of making simple projects with power tools and materials found at your local home center. The learning curve for this is much smaller than hand tools and rough-cut lumber. This increases your chances of success, which in turn will encourage you to continue with the hobby, and maybe one day get to the point where you’re milling your own lumber and using hand chisels like a pro. I’ve added the outdoor bench from this book to my Maybe Someday I’ll Make This list.

Once you knock a few projects out and are realizing it would be much easier to work on future projects if you had a dedicated space, you should checkout “Wood Magazine: How to Build a Great Home Workshop.” This book covers everything you need to know, whether you’re working out of your basement, your garage, or even a dedicated shop. I particularly enjoy the deep dive into dust collection and lighting, possibly two of the least glamorous aspects of woodworking, but arguably the most important. We also have “Workshop Dust Control,” if you really want to keep your workshop as clean and safe as possible.

A central feature of almost any workspace is a workbench, and I did not realize how specialized they could be until I read “The Workbench Book” by Scott Landis. He starts with the evolution of the workbench and then covers various specialized workbenches that have been developed for tasks like boatbuilding, carving, and lutherie. I already knew I wanted a workbench, but now I really want one, so I also checked out “How to Make Workbenches & Shop Storage Solutions.” This book features aspirational workbenches, as well as more realistic carts and tables, and includes detailed instructions, full pictures, and even cut diagrams for the projects.

One final aspect of woodworking that I really enjoy is the level of creativity and freedom to completely customize the project you want to make to suit your needs. For example, in “The Handbuilt Home” by Ana White, there are plans for a recycling console that would be great for my kitchen. But my kitchen is also small and lacks counter space, so I can combine that project with the folding work table project from “How to Make Workbenches & Shop Storage Solutions” and add casters and a back that folds out into a table that can be used for food prep. It looks great in my head.

When I get a wild hare and fall down the rabbit hole of a new hobby, I tend to start by window shopping all the possibilities on the internet. More often than not, this sates my interest and I move onto something else. But every now and then my interest survives the warren that is the internet, and I find myself at the library, trying to check out more books than I can carry. It’s a fun challenge.

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YA Books by AAPI Authors

YA Books by AAPI Authors

by Jennifer Jordan, Adult Services Librarian

This month’s ReadMHK challenge is to read a book by an AAPI author. As a Filipino-American, I was most excited for this month, both to read books and to celebrate my heritage during national Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. Finding books with characters to identify with has been a difficult journey growing up. As I’ve gotten older and more BIPOC authors are being published every day, I find more characters that represent me and other Filipinos.

In “They Called Us Enemy” by George Takei, he tells the story of his and his family’s time in U.S. run internment camps. He shows us the discrimination they and many other Japanese-Americans faced as they were deemed “enemies” by presidential proclamation on February 19, 1942. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 which stripped rights and freedoms of anyone who is of Japanese descent. Takei depicts the realities and choices every Japanese-American had to make from filling out questionnaires to giving up their citizenships. Takei guides readers through his life before, during and after his and 120,000 other Japanese-Americans’ imprisonment in this emotional graphic novel-memoir.

Internment” by Samira Ahmed is a near future dystopian novel where the US starts imposing similar restrictions Japanese-Americans faced in the 1940s to Muslim-Americans. The novel follows Layla, a 17-year-old who had a normal life until the government started putting more restrictions on her and anyone else who answered yes to being Muslim on the US Census. As more anti-Muslim restrictions were put in place, the government forced her and many other Muslim-Americans into Camp Mobius. She and others organized peaceful protests to show the guards and US government that they won’t be silenced.

If you are a girl born in Huaxia, your destiny is not your own. In “Iron Widow” by Xiran Jay Zhao, 18-year-old Zetian’s family offers her up to become a concubine-pilot, which would earn them money but will almost certainly kill her in the process. To everyone’s surprise, she exacts revenge on the pilot who killed her sister, earning her the title of Iron Widow. In this patriarchal society, women give their lives to support the stronger male pilots of the Chrysalises, giant transforming robots, to keep them all safe from the Humduns, mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall intent on breaking through. Her power grows, and she is paired with the strongest (and most feared) male pilot Li Shimin. Zetian, Shimin and Yizhi fall in love and form a bond so strong that they can change the system and fight for equality, so girls are no longer sacrificed.

The Astonishing Color of After” by Emily X.R. Pan is a first-person novel published in 2018. When Leigh Chen Saunders loses her mother with severe depression to suicide, she receives a gift. The gift was sent from the home of her maternal grandparents Leigh has never met in Taiwan. The strange thing about the gift, containing her mother’s favorite jade necklace and letters written in Chinese, is that it arrived with no postmark. Was Leigh sure that she saw a bright red bird fly down and deliver the package? Leigh and her father travel to Taiwan to meet her grandparents and hopefully learn more about her mother and all the places she loved as a girl. Only Leigh knows that the red bird that she still catches glimpses of, is really her mother.

Even though this is the last month for our ReadMHK program, coming soon is our Summer Reading Program with this year’s theme being Oceans of Possibilities. There will be challenges and prizes for kids, teens and adults this summer. Summer Reading sign-up will start on May 23rd.

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