May is Mental Health Month

One in every five people in the US carry some sort of “mental Illness” diagnosis – 20% – making it almost twice as common as killer heart disease, yet people hear the term “mental illness” and pictures of unshaven, alcohol-soaked homeless men and babbling old women with uncombed hair and too many cats come to mind (Don’t judge me!).

In reality, that’s far from the common truth. The umbrella term of “mental illness” includes everyone from your depressed cousin, your churning anxiety over political situations, and Uncle Louie, who served in Iraq and spends most days with his friend Jack Daniels. It includes the teen with autism who works down at the laundromat (don’t jump on me; a strong majority of autism includes OCD and anxiety, with phobias topping the list at 30%), the hoarder you drive past on your way to work, that girl on the cheerleading team who wears a baggy size 0, and that guy at work who stays four hours later than anyone else and talks so fast you can’t follow him. It includes celebrities, like Robin Williams, Margot Kidder, Robert Downey Jr, Brittney Spears, Carrie Fisher, Brooke Shields, and so many more.

“Mental Illness” is more common than COVID.

While some introverts have fared well through the pandemic and quarantines, many people have not. Rates of depression in adults went from 8% pre-pandemic to 28% – almost one in three – after. For those who lived alone, the rates approach 40%. Isolation, job loss, poverty, loss of loved ones, anxiety, and long-haul COVID symptoms all play their part in feeling crushed by a microbe. Among children, who can’t always understand the details of what’s going on, rates of depression and anxiety straddled 40%.

Unfortunately, our image of “mental illness” is tainted by historic images of schizophrenia, the king of all mental illnesses, and often the most resistant to treatment. We watch movies such as One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, while not remembering that these movies depict mental illness treatment from as much as 70 years ago, when diagnoses were vague, medications were ineffective and dangerous, people believed in insulin comas and the disaster of lobotomies, and there were no PET or MRI scans to show exactly what the problem was. There was a time not very long ago when the number one treatment for syphilis was mercury. Times have changed, and chances are there’s actual help for that now.

How can something affecting 30% of the population be abnormal? Here’s a fact: it’s not, but our refusal to admit it keeps people feeling ashamed and afraid to seek treatment. If you feel down, if the social distancing and anxieties are getting to you, if your child is fearful and withdrawn and having trouble sleeping, reach out! Help is just a phone call away. No insurance? No worries. There are places to help you get medical coverage, and places that work on a sliding scale. There IS help, for everyone. Don’t be afraid to ask.

If you feel like life is overwhelming you, if you are worried about a loved one, if you are struggling with just getting through your day, CALL the CT ACTION line (Adult Crisis Telephone Intervention and Options Network). It’s available 24 hours a day, because the worst thoughts usually happen during the night.  1-800-467-3135,  or just call 211, which is the general help line for state services.

Don’t want to feel like you’re the only one on the planet feeling down? Check out these popular books and films on people having difficulties. Chances are, yours aren’t that bad.

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with books for all ages

Each year, Americans observe Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of Americans  whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a month long period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15.

The day of September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September 18, respectively.

Check out these books from Cheshire Library that celebrate Hispanic culture and authors!

For  Adults:

For Teens:

For Kids:

The Good and The Bad – Memorable Moms in Literature

(We originally published this list in 2014, updated here to include links to the digital versions of each title where available.)

moms collage

Mothers play a lot of roles in literature, as in life. They can be protectors and nurturers,  oppressors and manipulators, or anything in between. One thing literary moms have in common, they are definitely memorable characters. For better or worse, here are some of literatures most memorable moms:

Sophie ZawistowskiSophie’s Choice. Sophie, a Polish survivor of the German Nazi concentration camps, may be one of the most tragic characters in 20th century fiction.  The plot ultimately centers around a tragic decision involving her children which Sophie was forced to make upon entering the concentration camp.

Mrs. BennetPride and Prejudice. Poor, misguided Mrs. Bennet. With 5 daughters to marry off, she’s got a lot of worries. Her priorities may not always be in the right place,  but she tries!

Charlotte HazeLolita. Falls squarely in the “bad” category.  She invites a pedophile to live in her home, doesn’t seem to think his avid interest in her young daughter is a little weird, then gets hit by a car and leaves said daughter with the world’s most inappropriate guardian. Lolita didn’t stand a chance.

Joan CrawfordMommie Dearest. One of the yardsticks we measure bad mothers against, Ms. Crawford is probably known more for her poor parenting than for her lengthy film career. No Wire Hangers Ever!

Molly WeasleyHarry Potter series. Mother of Ron, Mrs. Weasley is a desperately needed mother figure for our hero Harry. She is the center of a large and raucous family, by turns gentle nurturer and fierce defender. A mom with a magic wand is formidable indeed!

MaRoom. In this shocking and surprisingly tender story, woman and  her child are living in unspeakable circumstances. Jack’s mom, Ma, manages to make one small room feel like a whole world for her little boy, and is ultimately driven by her mother-love to try and break away from a very dangerous man.

Sarah WheatonSarah, Plain and Tall. Sarah answers an ad for a mail-order bride, and travels from Maine to Kansas to meet her future husband and become and instant mother to his two children. A multiple award winner, including the 1986 Newbery Medal.

 

CharlotteCharlotte’s Web.Charlotte the spider is very much a wise and loving mother figure to Wilbur the pig in this classic children’s book. She becomes his staunch defender, eventually saving his life. The end, with Charlotte’s life ending as her babies are coming into the world, is a total tearjerker.

Daenerys TargaryenA Song of Ice and Fire series. A rather non-traditional mom, Daenerys is the Mother of Dragons in George R. R. Martin’s wildly popular fantasy series. She’s had her hands full raising these fiery children. Whether she’s a good or bad mother has been debated, but there’s no doubt she’s her hands full raising these little monsters.

Eleanor IselinThe Manchurian Candidate. Bad mom, no debate here. Creepy and evil, this mom is the mastermind of a sinister plot that involves controlling her brainwashed son to unwittingly act as an assassin on orders from the KGB.

 

The big, BIG list of literary adaptions coming to screens in 2020

There are so many outlets for watching movies and series out there nowadays, the amount of content is a bit overwhelming! With the current glut of original content hitting our big and small screens, it can be a bit of a shot in the dark to find something to watch that’s actually good. Which is why literary adaptations are experiencing a bit of a heyday, movies and TV based on popular books have a built-in fan base from people who’ve read and enjoyed the books, and also introduce the source material to new readers.

Several book-based series are continuing with new seasons this year:  season 5 of the Starz series Outlander, (based on The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon), season 3 of BBC series C.B. Strike, (based on Lethal White by Robert Galbraith),  and season 2 of the HBO series His Dark Materials, (based on The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman) are all coming to the small screen in 2020.

Beyond that, the list of new movies and television set to be released in the coming year is  HUGE. Check out all this book-based programming :

JANUARY

FEBRUARY

MARCH

APRIL

MAY

AUGUST

SEPTEMBER

OCTOBER

DECEMBER

There are still more book adaptations expected to premiere in 2020, with release dates yet to be finalized:

This is not a completely comprehensive list, and is subject to change as the year goes on. What literary adaptations are you most excited to see this year?

 

CPL Staff’s Favorite Reads of 2019

As you might imagine, our library staff reads a lot of books! I recently asked CPL staffers what their favorite reads of the last year were, and the list was varied and long, a mix of fiction and nonfiction, older titles and new releases. If you’re looking for some “librarian-approved” reading, we’ve got quite a few suggestions for you!

Print Fiction:

Audiobook:

Graphic Novel:

Print Nonfiction: