The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning

By Janet Twigg,

Margareta Magnusson describes herself as somewhere between 80 and 100 years old and she has been engaged for some time in decluttering her life – but with a purpose.  Death cleaning is not just a matter of organizing and simplifying your home, it is an act of service for others.  As you grow older your life tends to shrink; a smaller family, a smaller income, a smaller apartment. Your possessions don’t fit anymore and you don’t need as many of them.  Downsizing might be forced on you or it might be a choice, but you can make it a meaningful experience.  Magnusson urges us to be kind to those we will leave behind by not leaving them too many possessions to deal with.  Don’t push the burden of decisions and hard work onto your family. While you are still able, take care of your things yourself.  There may be many things that can be sold, donated to charity or just tossed but the important things take time and thought.  As well as sparing your family work, you can reinforce your relationships. Treasured items are more meaningful when pressed into your loved ones hands by your own.  I have a number of items my grandmother gave to me over the years.  There is a small porcelain rooster I used to play with when I visited her and needed to sit still while the grownups talked.  There is a round knit box she made as a child herself and a beautiful copper pin made from a leaf she had collected from her yard.  How much more these mean to me because she handed them to me and said how much my visits had meant to her over the years.  With the relocating of your possessions is the opportunity to review a life fully lived and to share it with your loved ones.

Review by Janet T., Reference Librarian

 

The Sleep Solution: Why Your Sleep Is Broken and How to Fix It

By Janet Twigg,

“I never sleep!” “I can’t stay awake!” Not so, says Dr. Winter.  With humor, sensitivity, and a lot of science, Dr. Winter explains the true nature of sleep and wakefulness.  For most people our understanding of sleep more closely resembles urban legends and conspiracy theories than physiology or medicine.  And our misconceptions create much of the anxiety that keeps us awake – or asleep.  We persist in our bad habits even when we know they are a lot of the problem.  We drink too much caffeine, stay up late playing video games, leave the TV on in the bedroom all night and then worry about not getting enough sleep.  When we can’t sleep at night we nap during the day.

Sleep is a vital need that we cannot live without. We cannot function well at anything without it. Besides the obvious problems of sleep deprivation such as car accidents, losing a race and not remembering what you read, it can prevent weight loss no matter how good your diet is and ruin your immune system.  At the same time proper sleep can delay Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease and prevent cancer. Nobody seems to agree on how much sleep we need.  They do agree that it is the quality of the sleep as much as the amount that matters. Only, they are not sure how to measure the quality of sleep or even how to define it.

Dr. Winter maintains that sleep is a skill that we can learn. Other than the true sleep disorders such as narcolepsy and sleep apnea, most sleep problems can be fixed with education, self-discipline, and patience.  Well, OK, those aren’t all that easy but they will pay off and better than pills, gadgets and more worry.

See also Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker, PhD.

Review by Janet T., Reference Librarian

Talking to Animals

By Janet Twigg,

“There are so many benefits to learning how to communicate with animals. Love, trust, a spiritual connection that goes to the heart of the human-animal bond. Every time I listen to them, I learn about myself.”

Jon Katz says that instruction is not the purpose of this book. Told largely through the stories of his relationships to the animals on his farm, Katz explains his growth as a person as he learns to relate to the animals. “A trainer once told me that to have a better dog, I needed to be a better human.”

“Animals do not communicate in words . . . they communicate in images.” “We humans tend to use too many words.” So, how do you talk to animals? Katz uses relationships built on trust; a knowledge of individual species and individual animals; and visual cues along with simple verbal commands. Animals are very good at reading body language. They are also quick to pick up on confusion, uncertainty and frustration in their owners. Katz learns to control his own thoughts and emotions in order to communicate clearly with animals. He also learns patience and he learns to listen.

Does it work? To the amazement of his farmer neighbors, Katz brings a 3,000 pound bull to a stop with a gesture and sits with him on the crest of a hill to gaze on the valley below.

Review by Janet T., Reference Librarian

Woolly: the true story of the quest to revive one of history’s most iconic extinct creatures

By Janet Twigg,

When the motion picture comes out, it won’t be Jurassic Park or Ice Age. Bestselling author Mezrich didn’t write a book about Woolly Mammoths or genetic engineering. Instead, Mezrich tells the real story of a number of different groups of scientists, using different methods, who are attempting to restore the Woolly Mammoth. There is genetic theory, yes, but also a lot of academic rivalry, clashing politics, and human drama. Wildly passionate scientists and less wild but equally passionate billionaires struggle between conflict and cooperation to revive the species made extinct by humans.This book shows that the scientific process is messy, dangerous and very complicated.

“[Dr. Church] believed it was scientifically possible to bring back a Woolly Mammoth. But why would you want to?  Why would you need to?” The scientists believe they need to do this to save the earth, and are driven by a great feeling of urgency. They believe that the loss of the animals that once roamed the tundra is contributing to the thawing of the arctic permafrost, which in turn contributes to global warming. A greater problem is that when the permafrost completely melts, it will release enough carbon atoms into the atmosphere to suffocate the world. What seems like science fiction could be a reality within a few years.

“People used to say that the mammoth died because the environment changed. The reality is that it’s the other way around. We ate the mammoth, the mammoths died, and the environment changed.”

Review by Janet T., Reference Librarian

 

PLAYDHD: Permission to Play… a Prescription for Adults with ADHD

By Janet Twigg,

Dr. Milliken begins her book with this disclaiming: “Warning: This book may cause you to play more. The consequences of this can include enjoying work, looking forward to coming home, dealing effectively with challenges and being happy.”

The main problem for the ADHD brain is a lack of dopamine…and what makes our brains produce dopamine? Play! And there are no bad side effects. It works for people who aren’t ADHD, as well. Want to be more creative, more productive, and have better relationships? Try playing. The problem for most adults is that they have forgotten how to play. The pressure to be taken seriously, to act mature, and to appear responsible has crushed our natural ability to play. Dr. Milliken shows why better play results in better work, as well as a more satisfying and successful life generally. Play means something different to everyone. Introverts, adventurers, artists and computer geeks alike -all of us- have different prompts that produce the reward hormones. The book offers a number of exercises and questionnaires to help us remember what used to drive our enjoyment of life, how we used to play as children, and how to incorporate that into adult activities and even into work. Anyone for dress-up?

Review by Janet T., Reference Librarian

The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter

By Janet Twigg,

When analog was necessary the goal was to go digital, go paperless, go easy, fast and simple, without boundaries or limits, with instant access and for cheap, if not free. Now analog is a choice and it is what many people are choosing.

David Sax asks, when there are computer games with intense graphics, unlimited fantasy, and worldwide opponents, why would anyone play a dumb old board game? And yet, people are lining up for three hours to get into a board game café. If you can collect all of your favorite music on one small, portable device, with near perfect quality, almost for free, without leaving your computer, why would anyone spend hours in stores to buy vinyl records? But vinyl is making a comeback.

The people going for analog aren’t old fogies who have never touched a computer and never will. They are young and techie. They love digital for what digital does; they just recognize that analog has its own virtues. It supplies experiences that digital can’t. As Scott Nicholson, owner of a board game café explains, “You have a social contract when you sit down to play a game.” Computers basically bring an experience that does not fill the human need for contact and relationships. Neither does digital provide the full experience of finding, choosing, owning, or of holding, hearing and smelling the product. When you read an article on the internet there is no paper crinkling in your hand, no smell of ink, no finishing the unending content. The digital experience can also lose the imperfections that make things real. Software that fine-tunes the quality of music can also remove the rasping pain in the voice of a country singer, Sax says.

We still have a number of misconceptions about technology and there are areas where it has not fulfilled its promises. An industry that focuses on using fewer people, with higher skills, to replace more of the workforce will not be a good source of jobs. Likewise, recent studies have shown that technology has not improved education and may actually interfere with it. Sax notes that Steve Jobs didn’t let his children play with iPads and Evan Williams, cocreator of Twitter, lives in a technology-free house with a huge library.

Review by Janet T., Reference Librarian