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How Modern Society Warps Our Perception of Self: Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino

25 Aug

If you’ve been around for say, more than a decade, then you may have noticed that our world and the way we interact with each other and with ourselves has changed drastically over a relatively short period of time. In my case, I knew a time before computers were a household item, but began using them as I became an adolescent. I grew up online, addicted to blogs and instant messaging. Just a few years later, we were introduced to social media and smartphones and now spend an alarming amount of our time online and in constant communication with the entire world. Everything we do online is watched, whether it be by friends, by strangers around the world or by corporations and governments. Try as we may, we can never truly be off-the-grid. Sometimes I wonder, how does this constant vigilance affect our personalities? When I came across Trick Mirror, I knew I had to read it, since I had been contemplating this new world we now live in and how it has affected the way we communicate, express and see ourselves.

Trick Mirror is a collection of essays written by Jia Tolentino, an American writer and editor. This book is a cultural comment on how today’s society warps our perceptions of self. The topics covered by the essays span from social media’s hold on us, to her experience on a reality show as a teenager, from the connection between drugs & religion, to how weddings have evolved into their modern (horrifying?) forms today.

I particularly enjoyed the first and last essays (“The I in Internet” and “I Thee Dread” respectively), and I must be honest: if this weren’t a library book, I would have highlighted and underlined almost every other passage. So, if you’re the type of person who also likes to do that, fear not. In addition to physical copies, we have plenty of digital copies available on eBCCLS and eLibraryNJ. You can use ebooks to highlight your favorite passages!

Written by:
Samantha Evaristo
Library Assistant, Grand St. Branch

Looking for a New Hobby for the New Year?: Birdwatching

23 Dec

The pandemic has changed us in a lot of ways. Some of us have become aware of the things we took for granted, some of us have experienced a great shift in our priorities, many of us have gone through great grief and anxiety. This period has been very unsettling for me, but one positive thing it brought me has been a new appreciation for nature. 

When we began quarantining way back in March, I began paying more attention to what was out my window. I noticed birds that I had never seen before. Where had they come from? How come I had never noticed them before? Suddenly, I found myself interested in birdwatching. 

When you get a new hobby, you often get obsessed with finding new information on the subject, and the library has a ton of resources for this pursuit in particular! 

On Kanopy, Birders: The Central Park Effect is a great look into activity of birdwatching. Kanopy also has a very informative series entitled The National Geographic Guide to Birding in North America, which is part of The Great Courses. This means you won’t spend any credits watching videos from this series! 

The Bird Watching Answer Book, available on eBCCLS, is a great resource if you’re starting out with backyard birds and feeders. Then, hop onto Hoopla for an enormous variety of resources! A few titles you can check out from Hoopla include The Birds of New Jersey, The Warbler Guide, Birdsong for the Seasons, Identifying Birds of Prey, and that’s just the beginning of it! The Hoboken Library also carries the Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America, which is a wonderfully illustrated and enlightening field guide. 

Birding has really helped me get my mind off of these stressful times and it has made me feel more connected to our planet than ever before. If you want to give it a try, a lack of resources is no excuse. The library’s got you covered! 

Written by:
Sam Evaristo
Circulation Assistant, Grand Street Branch

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