The World’s Least Known Endangered Animal

Do you know what a pangolin is? It’s an adorable little creature that is native to areas of Africa and Asia. It looks a little like an armadillo with similar keratin-based scales. They eat mainly ants and termites and roll up in a ball when they feel threatened. They are odd little guys, with tongues that can actually be longer than their body when full extended, which I suppose is extremely helpful when hunting termites.
pangolin4 Alamy Submission January 2013

pangolinIt is also one of the world’s must hunted and illegally trafficked animals on Earth. This one small animal current makes up 20 percent of the black market involving wildlife.  For more information on this oddly adorable creature take a look at Save Pangolins and the dedicated page on the World Wildlife Federation website.  You can also see some children’s books that include the creatures like Roly Poly Pangolin by Anna Dewdney and What on Earth is a Pangolin? by Edward R. Ricciuti.

The third Friday in February has been named World Pangolin Day to help raise awareness and conservation efforts of this endangered animal. This year it falls on February 18th. People are encouraged to recognize the day by sharing information about the pangolin and to help raise awareness about the danger the entire species is in. I think that is a wonderful idea, but we can take it a step further by learning more about a variety of threatened animals.

Sadly, there are many animals out there that are endangered or threatened that people are unaware of, unless they go looking for the information or stumble across it accidentally. That is how I found out about the pangolin. This in turn made me think about the number of animals and insects that make their way on to the endangered or extinct list every year and what can be done to stop (or at least slow) the process.

pangolinwolfThankfully, more and more information is available about animals at risk, and what we can do to help. This is particularly true with children’s books. There are several publishers making an effort to raise interest and awareness. National Geographic has an entire series of books about making a mission of protecting at risk areas. Thus far we have the books: Mission: Tiger Rescue, Mission: Wolf Rescue, Mission: Elephant Rescue, Mission: Sea Turtle Rescue, Mission: Polar Bear Rescue , Mission: Shark Rescue, Mission: Panda Rescue, and Mission: Lion Rescue.

pangolinbatsAuthor Sandra Markle has also research and written several books about creatures that are at risk. So far we have: The Case of the Vanishing Honey Bees , The Case of the Vanishing Little Brown Bats , The Case of the Vanishing Golden Frogs, The Great Monkey Rescue: Saving the Golden Lion Tamarins, and The Great Leopard Rescue: Saving the Amur Leopards.

While there are many more animals at risk out there, these books are a great way to dive into the information and get kids interested in helping animals, both in our backyard and miles away.

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Seeking Rest in a Busy World

Rest is hard to find. Our homes, schools, and public places are filled with sound and activities. People talk, electronic devices ping, beep, and trill. Machines hum. We are plugged in 24/7.

Our lives have become a hive of constant connection. We are never alone! And quiet time is so necessary for well-being. A recent study looked at the benefits of time alone. It turns out, even extroverts need alone time and that time spent alone makes people feel more rested, which contributes to their well-being.

james_tissot_-_quietAnd the activities that people in the study found the most restful?
1. Reading.
2. Being in a natural environment.
3. Time spent alone.

So grab a book and head outside for some quality alone time. It’s good for body and soul.

 

Want to know more about the benefits of rest? Try these titles. Just want to relax? Check out the downloadable music suggestions at the end of this post. For a full list of relaxation resources, click here.

jacket-aspxSilence : the power of quiet in a world full of noise / Thich Nĥát Hạnh. (Hardcover)
One of the world’s most beloved teachers and Zen masters shares a profound, concise, and practical guide to understanding and developing our most powerful inner resource—silence—to help us find happiness, purpose, and peace.

jacket-aspxThe art of stillness : adventures in going nowhere / Pico Iyer. (Hardcover)
Why might a lifelong traveler like Pico Iyer think that sitting quietly in a room might be the ultimate adventure? Because in our madly accelerating world, our lives are crowded, chaotic and noisy. There’s never been a greater need to slow down, tune out and give ourselves permission to be still.

jacket-aspxStillness speaks / Eckhart Tolle. (ebook)
If you connect to the stillness within, you move beyond your active mind and emotions and discover great depths of lasting peace, contentment, and serenity.

 

 

jacket-aspxRelaxation revolution : enhancing your personal health through the science and genetics of mind body healing / Herbert Benson and William Proctor. (Downloadable Audiobook)
Using the mind to quiet the body not only eases stress, it actually alters the activity of thousands of genes, promoting wellness. Science now proves that relaxation not only changes how a patient feels physically and emotionally, it has the power to transform genes, molecules, cells, and other physiological functions to relieve a variety of afflictions.

vector-musical-1Downloadable Music

Positive thinking, vol. 1 – music for meditation, relaxation & yoga

Guided meditation guided relaxation & guided imagery for the body and mind

Classical music for relaxation vol.1

Spa music: relaxing music for massage therapy, spa, yoga, stress relief, meditation and sleeping

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Reading about Race: Books from the African-American Experience

The highly divisive election 2016 is over, and the Internet has been blowing up ever since. Some of us are feeling victorious and hopeful, and some of us are feeling frightened and hopeless. If your Facebook feed is anything like mine, the usual pictures of babies and cats are scattered among condemnations of riots and also calls for solidarity with those who have felt targeted by the political rhetoric this past election season.

Here in our rural-ish town, it’s no secret that we are not as diverse – ethnically, culturally, religiously, economically – as the cities to the north and south of us. It’s possible to not understand why our friends and neighbors are fearful, or why the news articles dissecting the election keep bringing up the uncomfortable topic of “privilege.” And that’s where the Cheshire Library comes in. We have memoirs, novels, and studies by and about African Americans, Latinos/as, Muslims, Jews, LGBTQs, persons with disabilities, documented and undocumented immigrants, and other minority voices which we can’t always hear in our daily lives. Today, we’re listing titles that explore the African American experience in particular. (Not all of us can sit down with print books, so where possible, the links will direct you to a list of the multiple formats in our catalog in our title.)

Let’s start with nonfiction picks:

 

Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward
Jesmyn Ward first came to our attention with Salvage the Bones, which won the National Book Award in 2011. Her 2014 memoir Men We Reaped explores growing up poor and Black in Mississippi, with her story framed by five men she knew who died too young. Make sure you’ve got tissues handy.

Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay
A culture critic with a Twitter absolutely worth following, Gay’s funny and entertaining essays touch on race, feminism, and politics as she dissects Sweet Valley High, The Help, and Chris Brown.

The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore
Two young men, both named Wes Moore, both growing up fatherless in Baltimore. One is a Rhodes scholar, and the other is serving a life sentence for murder. Why did they end up with such different paths, and how close did each Wes Moore come to having the other’s path?

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Another National Book Award-winning author, Coates delivers his thoughts on race, history, and identity in the form of letters to his adolescent son. He dives into the Black Lives Matter movement, his childhood in Baltimore and college years at Howard University, and his views on the concept of race itself.

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
Racism in America, Alexander argues, hasn’t been eliminated, but redesigned. Her book examines the impact of the War on Drugs on African American communities, and how the election of Barack Obama and the resulting “colorblindness” has prevented us from acknowledging the full extent of that impact.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Since its publication in 2010, this has become required reading in high schools and book clubs alike. (In fact, we have a book group in town currently reading this!) Henrietta Lacks’ cancerous cells were taken without her consent over 60 years ago, and they’ve been used for important medical discoveries like the polio vaccine and in vitro fertilization. Yet, Henrietta’s living family members cannot afford health insurance. It’s a great book that explores bioethics and the intersections of race, poverty, and medical research.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Angelou’s autobiography is another required read in many school, and in it she shows her transformation from a young girl subjected to racism, sexism, and violence, to a confident and capable young mother.

The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. DuBois
Essays from one of the most influential African American activists and writers. DuBois wrote it in 1903 as a reflection on racism pervading the U.S. since Emancipation, and it influenced future civil rights movements.

 

And now for you fiction lovers:

 

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
For fans of the classics, look no further than Invisible Man. Ellison is a master writer who draws upon influences like T.S. Eliot and Dostoevsky, while telling a story of a nameless young man’s journey through America in the middle of the 20th century.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
You might know Adichie from her TED Talks on “The Danger of a Single Story” (a compelling argument for reading diverse literature) or “We Should All Be Feminists,” with the latter being featured in Beyonce’s song “Flawless.” This 2013 novel focuses on a Nigerian-born young woman who emigrates to America, and it takes a look at race and immigration in contemporary Nigeria, the UK, and the US.

Jubilee by Margaret Walker
Described as Gone With the Wind through the eyes of an emancipated slave, this novel is based on the life of Walker’s great-grandmother, who was the child of a slave and a plantation owner, and her experiences during the Civil War and Reconstruction.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker
A Pulitzer Prize-winning story that still holds up decades after its publication, it’s told through letters exchanged by two sisters over the course of their very different lives.

Native Son by Richard Wright
Wright’s novel, a bestseller when it came out in 1940 and a frequently-challenged book in schools, shows the systemic poverty and hopelessness experienced in Chicago’s South Side.

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
Morrison is a prolific writer, and Song of Solomon is considered one of her best works. This particular novel tells the story of a rich Black family in the Midwest, from the beginning of the Harlem Renaissance to the beginnings of the Civil Rights Movement.

 

Further reading:

The Joy of Following Your Own Rules

There is significant pressure in the world for us all to be perfect. The perfect employee, parent, student, child, and so on. There is a seemingly endless supply of information available claiming that it can help us get closer to that goal of perfection.  The pressure of this constant pushing can be hard to handle, and some make different choices (good and bad) than they might without the social pressures.

While it might sound easy, it is actually difficult to let go and ignore the people who should really have no say in our lives. Sometimes we need to put the blinders on and focus on doing the best we can with what we feel is important, rather than doing the best we can to fit the expectations of others. It is a challenge, especially now when new is so immediate and our lives feel so interconnected via social media.

I have found that there is a movement out there to help us all focus on what is truly important (the health and happiness of ourselves and those we love) rather than fitting the labels perfect1or expectations others might want to impose on us. Here are a variety of book that encourage us to let go of those restrictions to take care of ourselves and our loved ones in our own way. Fair warning though, there is some censored profanity in some of the titles, and the tone of the book often matches the title.

Big Girl: How I Gave up Dieting and Got a Life by Kelsey Miller

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck: How to Stop Spending Time You Don’t Have with People You Don’t Like Doing Things You Don’t Want to Do by Sarah Knight

Instant Mom by Nia Vardalos

Better Than Normal: How What Makes You Different Can Make You Exceptional by Dale Archer

jacket-aspxF*ck Feelings: One Shrink’s Practical Advice for Managing All Life’s Impossible Problems by Michael I. Bennett, MD, and Sarah Bennet

The Tao of Martha: My Year perfect2of LIVING, or Why I’m Never Getting All That Glitter Off of The Dog by Jen Lancaster

Helping Me Help Myself: One Skeptic, Ten Self-Help Gurus, and a Year on the Brink of the Comfort Zone by Beth Lisick

Fat Girl Walking: Sex, Food, Love, and Being Comfortable in Your Skin– Every Inch of It by Brittany Gibbons

Do you have a favorite read that helps remind you to just be you and ignore the critics of society? Please share it with us in the comments!

Thanksgiving 101

It’s approaching. The holiday where we have to cook for large groups of people. People moreover, to whom we are related. Talk about nerve-racking! (At least it’s nerve-racking to a non-cooking introvert like myself!)

So all you other non-cooking introverts, take a moment and give thanks for the library, which has all the recipes, tips, tricks and  expertise to get us all through the Big Dinner.

 

thanksgiving-101Thanksgiving 101 : celebrate America’s Favorite Holiday with America’s Thanksgiving Expert / Rick Rodgers.
This book asks the important question: When was the last time most of us made dinner for such a big crowd?  Exactly! But whether you’re looking for new ways to cook turkey; traditional trimmings, chutneys, or chowders; a vegetarian entrée; or fresh ideas for regional classics, including Cajun-or Italian-inspired tastes, Thanksgiving 101 serves up a delicious education for novice and experienced cooks alike.

 

The holidays are a time for family and friends.  Thanksgiving can also be a time of stress, anxiety, and slaving over a hot stove.  No kidding! The editors of Fine Cooking magazine know all about the problems and pitfalls of preparing a full-course holiday meal…and they are here to help! This cooking survival guide presents all the reader needs to know to make things go smoothly, look great, and taste delicious. Phew!

 

jacket-aspxThanksgiving : How to Cook it Well / Sam Sifton
From the planning of the meal to the washing of the last plate, Sam Sifton says Thanksgiving poses more—and more vexing—problems for the home cook than any other holiday. (Let’s hear it for truth in cookbooks!) In this smartly written, beautifully illustrated, recipe-filled book, Sam Sifton, the New York Times’s former restaurant critic and resident Thanksgiving expert, delivers a message of great comfort and solace: There is no need for fear. You can cook a great meal on Thanksgiving. You can have a great time.

 

jacket-aspx2Williams-Sonoma Thanksgiving / Michael McLaughlin
Williams-Sonoma Thanksgiving offers easy-to-follow recipes, making it a fave on my list. In these pages, you’ll find inspiring first courses and a tempting variety of side dishes and desserts as well as some new ideas for the main course. This vividly photographed, full-color recipe collection will become an essential addition to your kitchen bookshelf.

 

jacket-aspxThanksgiving : Recipes for a Holiday Meal / Lou Seibert Pappas
This  book offers dozens of favorite traditional and contemporary holiday dishes including a variety of vegetarian options, organizing entries by course while sharing tips for staying organized, carving a turkey, and using leftovers. Any cookbook that tackles leftovers is a winner!

 

pioneerThe Pioneer Woman Cooks : A Year of Holidays : 140 step-by-step Recipes for Simple, Scrumptious Celebrations / Ree Drummond
Ree’s recipes are accompanied by fun instructions and hundreds of her signature step-by-step photos. Filled with creative and flavorful ideas for intimate dinners, group gatherings, and family meals this cookbook includes dozens of mouthwatering dishes (with nineteen recipes for Thanksgiving alone!)

 

chewThe Chew, a Year of Celebrations : Festive and Delicious Recipes for Every Occasion / edited by Ashley Archer and Jessica Dorfman Jones
This cookbook will guide you through the planning, cooking of the year’s most celebrated events. With a complete spread for each celebration, including drinks, appetizers, entrees, sides, and desserts, the guesswork is taken out of menu creation; all that’s left to do is prepare and enjoy the fantastic food. And Carla Hall’s Pumpkin Pecan Pie will finally eliminate the toughest Thanksgiving decision: classic pumpkin or classic pecan?

 

bettyBetty Crocker Complete Thanksgiving Cookbook : All You Need to Cook a Foolproof Dinner
Kudos to Betty Crocker who admits, “Thanksgiving can be the most challenging meal to prepare-even for the most experienced cooks.” Truth! However, whether you’re cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the first time or have hosted this celebration for years, Betty comes to the rescue with this complete do-it-yourself guide to making Thanksgiving delicious. Here are the treasured recipes with all the trimmings that you grew up with, plus plenty of great new twists on the traditional.