Do Nothing: how to break away from overworking, overdoing, and underliving

By Janet Twigg,

When the coronavirus lock down occurred I just thought of it as practice for retirement. So many people have warned me that I will need to have projects, something to occupy my time, something TO DO or I would deteriorate into a mental and emotional mess. I watched my friends freaking out on Facebook during quarantine because they were lost without work. As they moaned and lamented I decided that next year I would be a recluse. I was thrilled when I saw the title of this book: Do Nothing. It sounded just right. So many books are about how to be more efficient, how to multitask, how to set goals, all so that we can be more productive. They are mostly wrong. One of the great advantages of old age is that you have seen constant change. Every idea, every theory eventually becomes as obsolete as every new invention. It has taken a long time for efficiency to get debunked. I was skeptical of it from the beginning. I always knew multitasking was a hoax and goal setting makes me shudder.

We have been taught for generations that work is a virtue in and of itself and the American Dream is that if you work hard enough you will have great success. Time is money so we must never waste time. Headlee maintains that idleness can be more efficient than hard work. Being idle frees our brain to daydream, to be creative, to be insightful and to replenish. We can accomplish more by working for shorter periods of time with more breaks. She suggests that asking a lazy person to do a task will get better results because he will find an easier way to do it.

Efficiency tends to be impersonal but we can accomplish more by making more connections with coworkers, community and ourselves and what we accomplish will be more meaningful. Headlee asks “Why do we measure our time in terms of efficiency instead of meaning?” She even goes so far as to say that “people don’t need to work to be happy.” I am counting on it.

Review by Janet T., Reference Librarian

Master of You: a five-point system to synchronize your body, your home, and your time with your ambition

By Janet Twigg,

As the days go by and everyone is stuck inside, it’s nice to have a moment of self-reflection and concentrate on yourself.

Master of You begins with asking the reader what their ambitions are, and working on ways the reader can achieve these ambitions. Stillman has the reader dive into their subconscious in order to figure out what is holding them back. As the book goes on, she talks about using a person’s inner elements to relax and concentrate on finding ways to achieve the reader’s goal. Self-reflection is key for this section.

Stillman next goes into what each of the body’s inner elements are. She begins with Space, where the reader is supposed to refine the environments at their home and workplace. The second element is Earth, which is the structure and stability of one’s life in their current state. The third element is Fire, which represents ambition, and what the reader would like to achieve in the future. Stillman then goes onto Water which is integrity, and Air which represents time.

When all five elements have been mastered, that is when Stillman says the reader should start using them in a seasonal rhythm while always looking to grow personally. The reader should also ask themselves which element they need to personally work on as this transitions into the seasonal rhythm. A person should only do as much as they can, and not try to overexert themselves when working on their five elements.

I felt that this was a good read, and it allowed me to focus on myself rather than everything that is going on. A nice distraction was helpful during this time. It was relaxing to follow these steps, and find a way to better myself while waiting for everything to blow over.

Review by Remington S., Reference Assistant

This title is currently available as an e-book on Hoopla through your library account.

Exposing the 20 Myths of Medical Care: Why everything you know about health care is wrong and how to make it right

By Janet Twigg,

The impassioned political debates followed by a pandemic have placed our medical system front and center in our thoughts and our disagreements. According to the authors we don’t actually have a medical system, just a hodgepodge of programs, services, companies, biases and misconceptions.  Even though health care ranks above the economy, guns, and the environment in the nation’s priorities, after decades of trying to “fix the system” we have had little if any success.  We can mostly agree that Americans pay too much for health care, more than other countries.  Most families are only one medical emergency away from bankruptcy. At the same time our health care is not as good as we would like it to be or as we think it is.  The US ranks 43rd in life expectancy and 55th in infant mortality.

In spite of having worked in the medical field for years, I am totally confused about how doctors, hospitals, insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, and other services interact and especially what that means for me. We have all been discouraged by the confusing insurance plans and high medical bills as well as the political agendas, prejudices, and misinformation that swirl around them.

Exposing the Medical Myths lays out plainly and in detail what medical care is and how it works and doesn’t work in the US. At the end of each chapter, just in case these complex and unfamiliar subjects are still not clear, there is a bulleted summary. Its goal is to be unbiased, nonpolitical and objective. The information is carefully researched and heavily footnoted.

While dealing with the numerous and complex problems involved the authors reject the idea that we can never reduce the cost of medical care and make it more universally available or that our society is too divided and our medical system is too broken to be fixed.

Final Words:  We hope that after reading this book the current problems facing the US health-care system and the possible ways to deal with them will be more understandable.   .  . [W]e need to get past the negative mindset in which we believe that nothing will work, that health care is irrevocably broken but instead proceed toward positive solutions. 

Review by Janet T., Reference Librarian

Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want To Come: One Introvert’s Year of Saying Yes

By Janet Twigg,

I picked up this book because I saw a friend wearing a t-shirt with that phrase on it and I wanted one too.  It would be nice to have a sign that would hint people away. But being an introvert I probably wouldn’t wear it in public.

Pan is a depressed, lonely, and unhappy introvert – and she doesn’t want to be. She doesn’t mind being an introvert; she just doesn’t like the depressed, lonely and unhappy part. She is also brave, intelligent and determined, and she has resources.  After a few false starts, she takes on all of her nightmares: talking to strangers about other things than the weather; giving speeches; traveling alone and making friends on the way; saying yes to social invitations and staying more than an hour; and the worst – performing standup comedy.  She wants to know what she is missing out on in life and if it matters to who she is.

If you don’t know how to do something, you get help, mentors, gurus, coaches, experts.  Did you know there were experts on extroverting?  Aversion therapy seems to be the main approach. Could you go up to an unfriendly stranger in London and ask “Does England have a queen and if so, what is her name?” for the sole purpose of making a fool of yourself?  Could you tell your personal story to an auditorium of 900 strangers? How about performing your own standup comedy routine in a pub?

None of this alarms you?  But you are probably an extrovert anyway.

Review by Janet T., Reference Librarian

The Mosquito: A Human History of Our Deadliest Predator

By Janet Twigg,

“[S]he gently lands on your ankle without detection … She conducts a tender, probing, ten-second reconnaissance, looking for a prime blood vessel.  With her backside in the air, she steadies her crosshairs and zeros in with six sophisticated needles.  She inserts two serrated mandible cutting blades . . ., and saws into your skin, while two other retractors open a passage for the proboscis, a hypodermic syringe that emerges from its protective sheath.  With this straw she starts to suck 3-5 milligrams of your blood, immediately excreting its water, while condensing its 20% protein content.  All the while, the sixth needle is pumping in saliva that contains an anticoagulant preventing your blood from clotting.” p. 7

Although your reaction will probably only be a little, itchy bump, you have just been bitten by the deadliest predator on earth.  Scientists have not found that mosquitos serve any useful purpose.  They do not eat other insects, pollinate plants, or supply a food source. Their only significant impact on the earth is to reduce the size of the human population, and they do that to great effect. Last year mosquitos killed only 830,000 people, much lower than the yearly average of 2 million.

Winegard traces the profound and devastating effects that mosquitos have on human history through their ability to carry fatal illnesses.  It was the mosquito injected diseases that stopped both Alexander the Great and Genghis Kahn. Mosquitos in the swamps surrounding Rome protected it from the invasion of Hannibal but then turned on the city’s inhabitants with periodic epidemics of malaria that would leave 30,000 dead at a blow.

Coffee beans, tea leaves and many spices were first cultivated as antidotes to malaria.  As they became popular for everyday enjoyment and their production spread across the world, it also spread the diseases from their exotic origins.  During the Civil War one of the most important effects of the blockades on the south was cutting off the supply of quinine needed to treat malaria that had been imported along with slavery.

Today we still hear warnings each year to remove all standing water from our yards. We don’t worry much about malaria but we worry about West Nile Virus, the approaching Eastern Equine Encephalitis and Zika.

Review by Janet T., Reference Librarian

 

The Persecution of the Knights Templar by Alain Demurger

By Janet Twigg,

“The trial of the Templars, sometimes known as the ‘Templar Affair,’ continues to intrigue through its sheer magnitude: here was a religious order with a military vocation – powerful, international, protected by the pope – being accused of heresy by the king of France, Philip IV the Fair. On 13 October 1307 the Templars in the kingdom of France were arrested and imprisoned, and their possessions seized and impounded on orders of the king.”

Alain Demurger begins his book by telling what happened to the Templars, what they had been accused of, and what they had confessed to. The book then goes straight into a timeline, talking about the history of the order, its purpose, and why it was founded. With the timeline at the beginning of the book, the reader has an easier time knowing the context of the time period.

Upon reading this book, I quickly realized how unique it was in comparison to most about this topic. Whereas most writers simply take what was said by the Knights Templar to heart, Alain decided he would take one step further. Alain’s goal is not to direct a person on which side they should take, but to give the context of the scenarios for others to determine themselves. He does this through giving the history of the Knights Templar along with mentioning pseudo-history which was exaggerated by other writers. Touching on how the knights were tortured, threatened, or both, the author does a great job in showing how many of the “confessions” could have been forced. Alain will sometimes even take a step further and go into how many historians are wrong for taking the words on the Templars as fact despite them being forced to “admit.”

One thing this book excels in is taking a neutral stance on whether the Templars had a fair trial, and pointing out the facts rather than taking a side. As the author stated earlier, he did not wish to take a side, but to explain the situation that the Knights Templar were in. The author will sometimes go as far as criticizing other writers for taking the words of the Templar to heart.

The book itself is very engaging, and will keep you wanting to read more as you learn what the Templars went through as they stood trial. You’ll learn of their hardships, what they had to do to survive, and what they were forced to admit.

If you are someone who enjoys reading about the Middle Ages, enjoys hearing a different perspective, or just loves history in general, then this is definitely a book you should check out!

 

Review by staff member Remington S., Reference Assistant

Breaking and Entering: The Extraordinary Story of a Hacker Called “Alien”

By Janet Twigg,

This book is an educational, entertaining and terrifying look at the profession of hacking.

“Here is what you probably don’t know,” she continued. “Only about thirty percent of hacks target a specific individual or institution.  Some seventy percent are opportunistic – hackers trying to break into anything they can, and pursuing opportunities behind any open door.  If your information is valuable to you, it’s valuable to someone else.  No one is too ‘boring’ to be hacked, and everything has a price on the hacker black market.”

Hacking did not begin with computers or even telephones.  Alien’s first experience at MIT was with the original high-risk physical trespassing.  The spirit of hacking is to go into forbidden places, break through locked doors and scale acrophobic heights.  And to do it without anyone ever knowing you were there.  Her very personal story shows not only the intellectual level and determination needed to pursue this lifestyle to its limits but also the toll it takes, physically, emotionally and morally.

I love exploring caves, musty basements, abandon building – and the internet.  I like seeing things others don’t see and finding out things others don’t know.  But I do it on a safe, superficial level. There are limits not only to my abilities but to the risks I am willing to take. When I had finished this book, like the author who interviewed Alien in order to write it, I was ready to move off the grid.

Review by staff member Janet T., Reference Librarian

 

Joyful: the Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness

By Janet Twigg,

There are a lot of books out lately about being happy.  Everyone wants to feel satisfied and content with their life.  Joy is a little different.  Lee describes it as “an intense, momentary experience of positive emotion”.    Lee says, “At the heart of this book lies the idea that joy isn’t just something we find.  It’s also something we can make, for ourselves and for those around us.” So, what causes these little perks in our day? Surprisingly, Lee says, much of our mental health comes from our physical surroundings.  She discusses a number of things that we can seek out to bring us joy some are obvious and others are opposites: orderly patterns and harmony, but also magic, the unexplainable and surprises. Others are celebrations with family and friends and renewal such as we experience each spring

Color is not surprising.  We all know that bright cheerful colors lift our spirits. Play is not surprising either but it is harder to capture as an adult.  I remember taking my niece to see the original Mary Poppins.  She thanked me for bothering to take her to a children’s movie when I was a busy adult.  She didn’t realize that the main reason for having nieces is so that aunts can re-experience the joys of play.

Transcendence: – no, not the spiritual experience – rather balloon ascensions or balloons in bouquets, airplanes, treehouses, anything that lifts our view or makes us look at the world from a new perspective.  I hadn’t thought of balloons much until I picked up a bunch of them for a library program.  I was surprised by the joyous feeling it gave me.

Abundance: such as having a large assortment of goodies to choose from.  A bag of Jelly-Bellies seems to fit the bill.  It offers an abundance of colorful, tasty, little surprises. Or better, a trip to Good’s or Abbott’s Candy where I can select my favorite chocolates piece by piece from a large variety.

I went to see Mary Poppins Returns last week.  Its appeal may be that it covers so many of Lee’s recommendations for joy.  I didn’t take my niece but I hope she took her granddaughter.

Review by Janet T., Reference Librarian

We Fed an Island: The True Story of Rebuilding Puerto Rico, One Meal at a Time

By Janet Twigg,

“We were just a couple of chefs, who know how to cook, trying to feed the many.”

Few natural disasters have done more damage or been harder to recover from than hurricane Maria that struck Puerto Rico.  Andrés saw that the most immediate problem was to feed the people.  Surely food and water are the most essential needs in any emergency.  But how do you feed over 3 million people isolated on an island that has been stripped of both natural and manmade resources?

Andrés came with experience in Haiti and Houston as well as a number of other places.  Chefs of million dollar restaurants have the management, leadership and cooking skills to get the job done.  Supplies, inventory, logistics, distribution and marketing are their trademark – as well as cooking.  They can handle chaos.

With an approach far removed from that of the government and the Red Cross, Chefs for Puerto Rico did more than provide basic, unappealing calories.  “Yes, we need water, food, and shelter.  But we need our food to represent something more than food, if we are to rebuild our lives.  Meals need to be cooked for our communities to come back together.”  Hundreds of local volunteers and dozens of local chefs prepared local supplies for a total of 1,500,000 meals, as many as 150,000 meals a day. Working from small restaurants and school kitchens as well as large facilities they were able to reach distant community and supply the volume needed.  By listening to and involving the local people they also fed the spirit and helped to rebuild the economy.

“People wanted to help, but they had no experience. Yet there’s a world of difference between wanting to do good and knowing how to make it happen.”  With certainty that there will be more disasters ahead, we need to learn from those who have dealt with them successfully.

Check out  www.worldcentralkitchen.org

Review by Janet T., Reference Librarian

The Big Fella: Babe Ruth and the World He Created

By Janet Twigg,

“Sometimes I still can’t believe what I saw. This 19-year-old kid, crude, poorly educated, only lightly brushed by the social veneer we call civilization, gradually transformed into the idol of American youth and the symbol of baseball the world over – a man loved by more people and with an intensity of feeling that perhaps has never been equaled before or since.”  – Harry Hooper (teammate)

My brother pitched two no-hit seasons in high school and wanted to go professional. My mother, who never raised her voice at any other time, was loud when she listened to the baseball games on the radio. We listened to all the games. My father traveled for his work and any time we weren’t in school we went with him.  All my pleasure in the trips was overridden by the games on the scratchy car radio.  I thought the worst words in the English language were double header.  I hate baseball.  But I love history, and Babe Ruth was history. As Jane Leavy describes he changed the game: he changed the culture of baseball and the country. He didn’t just win, he won in spectacular ways.  He didn’t just set new records, he broke and reset them over and over.  Some of his records still stand today. But more than that, he was a showman.  He was big and he did everything big.

“How to hit home runs: I swing as hard as I can, and I try to swing right through the ball. . . I swing big, with everything I’ve got. I hit big or I miss big. I like to live as big as I can.” (Babe Ruth)

His huge hands swung a heavier bat; he took more risks and stole more bases. He was the first player to hire a manager.  In the off season he broke traditional contracts and ran vaudeville circuits and barnstorming tours.  Lou Gehrig was often his opponent on the tours, one man who could beat the Babe’s records.  Ruth’s endorsements brought in more income than his salary which was already the envy of other players. Ruth played to the press and the newly developing mass media of radio. He was never still until his early death from cancer.  There is still a Babe Ruth League here in New Castle.

 Review by Janet T., Reference Librarian

For more information on The Babe go to: http://www.baberuth.com/

 

How To Be Everything: a Guide for Those Who (Still) Don’t Know What They Want To Be When They Grow Up

By Janet Twigg,

Some people have one passion.  They know what they want to be at an early age and pursue it with efficiency and enthusiasm.  Others may take a little longer to find their passion but when they do they are locked in.  And it provides them with a good living.  Others of us have a hard time limiting ourselves to one or even two interests. We are accused, by ourselves as well as others, of being lazy, unfocused, unproductive, and not-good-enough.  But according to Wapnick we are multipotentialites – and that is a good thing. We have figured out that all knowledge is useful, all experience is valuable and they can combine with kaleidoscopic beauty and fulfillment.

Wapnick addresses how to make the multipotentialite thing work. There are a lot of ways of moving from one job, or career, or interest to another.  There are also a lot of pitfalls to manage.  Some jobs come with opportunities for variety and growth.  Some skills are of universal value if you know how to adapt them to new situations.  We can supplement our need for expansion with hobbies and community involvement.  “This book is not about career planning. It’s about life design.”

This book was written for me. I started college as an art major and switched to biology.  I worked in medical research for ten years while maintaining a hobby in dress design.  I switched to bookkeeping and ran a nonprofit publishing company while I did a graduate degree in classical Greek.  What on earth do you do with a background like that?  You become a librarian.

Review by Janet T., Reference Librarian

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry

By Janet Twigg,

“We are stardust brought to life, then empowered by the universe to figure itself out – and we have only just begun.”

Why would a book on astrophysics, even a small book, be on the best seller list for 58 weeks?  Do that many people want to know that much about the physical laws of the universe? But then it is by Neil DeGrasse Tyson who is well known for his TV shows on the cosmos. Tyson was awarded the Public Welfare Medal by the National Academy of Sciences for his “extraordinary role in exciting the public about the wonders of science”.

If you ever wanted to know: why round is the perfect shape; what lies between the galaxies; how there can be invisible light; what is dark energy; or how it all began, Tyson answers all your questions and then some.  With humor and a light touch he covers the heaviest principals of science.  Don’t be deceived by its size this book is as compact as a pulsar with the energy of a cosmic ray.

Review by Janet T., Reference Librarian