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Two More Read Harder Tasks Down, with a Shared Theme of Adulthood: Tasks 8 and 9

2 Jun

In my last post I wrote about how vacation and illness gave me time to read four books for the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge. These are the two latest books, All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg and An Age of License by Lucy Knisley, which are about two characters wondering if they’re acting their ages.

These two books are different but share the theme of adulthood, and the theoretical questions that come with it. Am I an adult yet? Am I doing things “right”? Am I where I want to be in this point in my life? I realized the books had similar themes as I was writing this post, a pleasant coincidence.

To read past posts about my experience with the Read Harder challenge, click here.

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All Grown Up, by Jami Attenberg

Task 8 was Read a book that is set within 100 miles of your location, for which I chose All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg.

My hold request in Cloud Library for this title came through while I was on vacation, and I downloaded the book to the Cloud Library app on my iPhone. (Click here to learn more about what devices support Cloud Library.) The app has a nice, user-friendly interface. In particular, I like the subtle page-turning animation when reading the eBook. I also used the Cloud Library app to listen to How to Murder Your Life, which I wrote about last month. That foresight proved helpful as I finished another book (The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, which doesn’t fulfill any of the Read Harder Challenge Tasks, but is still a terrific nonfiction read) on the flight home and was able to read All Grown Up on my phone.

All Grown Up follows Andrea, a woman in her early 40s living in Brooklyn (geographically 3 miles from Hoboken) who fumbles her way through men, a job she’s terribly bored at but won’t leave because it pays well, and her evolving friendships–feelings many adults around the world have. Her Brooklyn neighborhood is undergoing gentrification, and she is sad to lose the Empire State Building view she once had from her apartment that is now obscured by a new building. I can relate to that, as two giant cranes now blight the view from my window.

Andrea is a complicated character, and sometimes her behavior can be appalling. For example, she is upset when her mother moves from Manhattan to Vermont to help her brother and sister-in-law care for their severely handicapped child.

Through flashbacks we learn more about Andrea’s experiences, which have shaped who she is in the present and allows the reader to sympathize with her. She aspired to be an artist but abandoned that dream and regrets. This a spare, beautiful novel that features a character with whom you may identify but dislike.

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An Age of License, by Lucy Knisley

For Task 9, Read a Travel Memoir, I chose to read An Age of License by Lucy Knisley. After being invited to participate in a comic con in Norway, Lucy decided to travel through Europe to meet up with friends and pursue a love interest based in Sweden, and her experiences are documented in this graphic memoir.

Lucy features many drawings of food she ate on her travels, which appealed to me as I love trying new food when I travel. (Remember how I wrote about in my last post that reading Crazy Rich Asians has inspired me to travel to Singapore and eat at the food stalls in street markets?) Her drawings of cheese and wine and baguettes she ate while in France made me recall my trip to Paris, which was the best food destination I’ve visited so far. (Maybe until I get to Singapore…)

The title An Age of License comes from what Lucy believed was a French saying about youth being a time when you’re free to do whatever you want. Although the phrase turned out to be folly, it’s an interesting idea to ponder.

I liked this book and following Lucy’s travels through Europe, and plan to read more of her work soon. The author was in her late twenties when she wrote it, and she had a lot of Deep Thoughts about her age and life etc. I will celebrate my 35th birthday later this year and have little patience for the navel-gazing that afflicts many twenty-somethings, so my eyes involuntarily rolled while reading some of these sections. Was I as insufferable at that age? When I’m in my forties will I roll my eyes at thirty-somethings? Time will tell.

Stay tuned for my next post on another completed task.

-Written by Kerry Weinstein, Reference Librarian

Preventing Suicide: Suggested Resources and Contact Numbers

17 May

The new Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, based on the novel Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, has a lot of people discussing teen suicide.  Suicide is an important topic since each year in the United States over 34,000 people die by suicide and over 860,000 people attempt suicide, which averages to a person attempting suicide every 38 seconds.  Too often the topic is viewed as taboo and people incorrectly believe that discussing suicide with a depressed person may put the idea in their head.  When I was in high school a classmate committed suicide; she was a sweet, funny, and smart girl whose loss was felt by many.  For this blog I wanted to give along with some books our library patrons can check out on the topic, some helpful phone numbers.

Remember, whether you yourself are in crisis or you are the family member or friend of someone who is, there is help out there and you don’t have to go through this alone.

NJ Hope Line 1-855-654-6735
New Jersey’s 24/7 Peer Support & Suicide Prevention Hotline

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Nacional de Prevencion del Suicidio 1-888-628-9454
Provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for yourself or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.

Here are some books available from BCCLS Libraries on the Topic of Suicide.

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Understanding Suicide: A National Epidemic, by Connie Goldsmith

Goldsmith examines causes of suicide and its impact on those whose loved ones committed suicide.  Understanding Suicide also looks at coping techniques and warning signs.

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Image via Amazon

Teen Suicide, by Judith Galas

In Teen Suicide, Galas looks at the rising issue of teen suicide, possible causes, and possible preventions.

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Teen Suicide, by Lorena Huddle and Jay Schleifer

The Teen Mental Health Series is written for teens in simple language to give them an overview of common mental health issues.  Teen Suicide looks at some of causes of suicide attempts, how to help someone that may be suicidal and places to look for assistance.

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Eight Stories Up: An Adolescent Chooses Hope Over Suicide, by DeQuincy A. Lezine, with David Brent

Eight Stories Up chronicles Lezine’s own struggles as well as providing expertise from psychiatric expert David Brent about the causes and treatment of suicide in young people.  Eight Stories Up is part of the Adolescent Mental Health Initiative series of books written for teenagers.

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Beyond Bullying: Breaking the Cycle of Shame, Bullying, and Violence, by Jonathan Fast

Beyond Bullying looks at causes of bullying.  Fast specifically looks at the harassment of LGBT teens that can lead to suicide, domestic abuse, and school shootings.  The author also makes suggestions for stemming the tide of bullying.

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Healing Suicidal Veterans: Recognizing, Supporting and Answering Their Pleas for Help, by Victor Montgomery

With a large number or returning veterans having symptoms of post-traumatic Stress Disorder, there has been an increase of suicides among the veterans returning from the Middle East.  Montgomery, himself a veteran, discusses in Healing Suicidal Veterans true stories of veterans’ experiences with mental health issues.  He also discusses warning signs and strategies for assistance.

Veterans in Crisis can call these numbers for help specifically for them:
Veterans Counseling Hotline CALL 1-866-VETS-NJ4 (1-866-838-7654)
Provides 24/7 peer support from Veterans who can relate, and case management – they follow up with you.

Veterans Crisis Line 1-800-273-TALK (8255) Veterans Press 1 or send a text message to 838255
Connects Veterans in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring Department of Veterans Affairs responders.

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How I Stayed Alive When My Brain Was Trying to Kill Me: One Person’s Guide to Suicide Prevention, by Susan Rose Blauner

Blauner herself is the survivor of multiple suicide attempts and in How I Stayed Alive When My Brain Was Trying to Kill Me, she discusses her own experiences as well as coping mechanisms for those experiencing suicidal thoughts including support groups, journaling and creating a crisis plan.

For more information about services that can help for our local readers visit State of New Jersey Department of Human Services Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services: http://www.state.nj.us/humanservices/dmhas/home/

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

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