2014-01-10 / Community

Library Links

This year I will …
By Rachel Davis

New Year’s resolutions are on many people’s minds. There is no shortage of self-improvement books out there, whether you’re looking to lose weight, get organized, improve your memory, stop procrastinating, slow down, speed up, or just be happier. I am familiar with the allure of the new, particularly where the subject of self-improvement is concerned. If you’re under the impression that libraries only have dusty old classic self-help titles to choose from, I can tell you that Maine’s public librarians are on top of the situation, purchasing for you the latest hot new titles you’d find at your local bookstore. In addition to current bestsellers like Joel Osteen’s “Breakout!” Rick Warren’s “The Daniel Plan,” or “The Gifts of Imperfection,” by Brené Brown, there are many other new self-help titles you might want to consider. All of the titles highlighted here are available through Minerva, the library catalog shared by both South Portland Public Library and Thomas Memorial Library (as well as about 80 other libraries throughout the state).

It seems like weight loss and diet are the most common changes we want to make in our lives. Actress Cameron Diaz has a new book designed to promote a healthy diet, exercise and a positive body image called, “The Body Book: The Law of Hunger, the Science of Strength, the Power of Knowledge, and Other Ways to Love Your Amazing Body” (HarperWave, 2013.) Deepak Chopra also has a new book, “What Are You Hungry For? : The Chopra Solution to Permanent Weight Loss, Well- Being, and Lightness of Soul” (Harmony, 2013). There’s also Mark Bittman’s book that has been getting a lot of attention on talk shows, “VB6 : Eat Vegan Before 6:00 : To Lose Weight and Restore Your Health... For Good” (Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2013). But if celebrity diet books aren’t your style, here are a few others you might want to consider:

 “Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health,” by Jo Robinson (Little, Brow, 2013). While the author makes a case for the health benefits of foods that humans used to find by foraging rather than farming, she also provides sometimes surprising tips on purchasing, storing and preparing food to maximize its natural health benefits.

 “The Fast Metabolism Diet: Eat More Food & Lose More Weight,” by Haylie Pomroy (Harmony, 2013). I guess the title of this one says it all.

 “The FastDiet: Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, and Live Longer with the Simple Secret of Intermittent Fasting,” by Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer (Atrai, 2013). Again, it’s all in the title…

 “Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition,” by T. Colin Campbell (BenBella Books, 2013). The author of “The China Study” makes another powerful case for the optimal nutrition provided by whole-food and a plant-based diet.

If another year passing has you thinking about growing older, here are few titles to help you transform your outlook, and improve your health.

 “Up: How Positive Outlook Can Transform Our Health and Aging,” by Hilary Tindle (Hudson Street Press, 2013). A physician and researcher provides empirical evidence for the healthy effects of positive thinking.

 “French Women Don’t Get Facelifts: The Secret of Aging with Style and Attitude,” by Mireille Guiliano (Grand Central Life & Style, 2013). By the author of “French Women Don’t Get Fat” comes spirited title that reveals aging strategies that avoid surgery and expensive products.

 “Disease-Proof: The Remarkable Truth About What Makes Us Well,” by David L. Katz (Hudson Street Press, 2013). Like last year’s bestseller, “The Power of Habit,” by Charles Duhigg (Random House, 2012), this book reveals how we can change our habits to transform our lives – this time, to prevent illness and improve overall health.

 “Eat Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes,” by Tom Rath. (Missionday, 2013). Like Katz’s book, this one shows how simple lifestyle changes can improve our health and well-being for years to come.

If it’s not aging that has you worried, but your general outlook on life, here are few titles to improve your attitude and experience of life. While happiness might seem elusive, there are several new books that offer strategies for overcoming obstacles to happiness:

 “The Slight Edge,” by Jeff Olson (Greenleaf, 2013). Personal development expert Olson focuses on what he defines as “a way of thinking, a way of processing information that enables you to make the daily choices that will lead you to the success and happiness you desire.”

 “Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence,” by Rick Hanson (Harmony Books, 2013). A psychologist offers practical methods for training your brain to reject negative thoughts and attitudes with positive ones, actually changing the neural pathways of your brain.

 “Forgiveness: 21 Days to Forgive Everyone for Everything,” by Iyanla Vanzant (Hay House, 2013). Again, the title tells you all you need to know about this one.

 “The Four Doors: A Guide to Joy, Freedom, and a Meaningful Life,” by Richard Paul Evans (Simon & Schuster, 2013). A bestselling novelist offers four principles to guide your life: believing in one’s destiny, escaping internal captivity, leading a magnified life, and choosing a love-centered life.

 “Survival Lessons,” by Alice Hoffman (Algonquin Books, 2013). Another popular author offers her own insights into ways to find the beauty and joy in life even in the midst of troubling times.

 “Walk Like a Buddha: Even If Your Boss Sucks, Your Ex Is Torturing You, and You’re Hungover Again,” by Lodro Rinzler (Shambhala, 2013). The author of the Huffington Post’s advice column offers, “tips for living with integrity, compassion,and happiness.”

If it’s not just happiness you’re seeking, but a boost to your creativity or brain power, there are few titles out there to help with that goal as well:

 “Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All,” by Tom Kelley and David Kelley (Crown, 2013). The Kelley brothers, leading experts on innovation and design, offer principles and strategies that allow us to tap into our creative potential at work and at home, and encourage innovation in problem solving in all aspects of our lives.

 “The Muse Is In: An Owner’s Manual to Your Creativity,” by Jill Badonsky (Running Press, 2013). This light-hearted book explains,“how to power up one’s genius, take it for a test drive, troubleshoot problems along the way, and offers tips for proper care and maintenance.”

 “Smarter: The New Science of Building Brain Power” (Hudson Street Press, 2013). Science journalist Hurley offers tips from the latest brain research for people of every age and ability to improve intelligence.

Personally, I have so many books on decluttering at home, they create a whole realm of clutter on their own. I will resist this year’s new crop of decluttering books myself (realizing that having the book in the house doesn’t magically make the clutter disappear) but if you’re game for a trying a new strategy yourself, here’s a couple of (allegedly) good ones:

 “Living Simple, Free & Happy: How to Simplify, Declutter Your Home and Reduce Stress, Debt, and Waste,” by Cristin Frank (Betterway Home Books, 2013).

 “Secrets of an Organized Mom: From the Overflowing Closets to the Chaotic Play Areas: A Room-By-Room Guide to Decluttering and Streamlining Your Home for a Happier Family,” by Barbara Reich (Atria, 2013). Need I say more?

There’s one final self-help book I have to mention that came out in 2013 – as a librarian I would be remiss in not bringing it up. It is “The Novel Cure: From Abandoment to Zestlessness: 751 Books to Cure What Ails You,” by Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin (Penguin, 2013). The authors suggest a novel to read to help you with cope with any number of challenges, be it agoraphobia, boredom or a midlife crisis. Organized alphabetically by ailment, the book offers literary solace for the soul.

We all know that most of us don’t really stick to our New Year’s resolutions. But if saving money is one of your goals, rather than buying that new self-help book that you hope will help you accomplish your goals, why not borrow it from the library instead? Saving money in 2014 – check!

Rachel Davis is assistant director/children’s librarian at Thomas Memorial Library in Cape Elizabeth.

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