ON THE SHELF: Adult nonfiction for the introspective mind

Published 8:00 am Sunday, July 3, 2022

This column was submitted by Evangeline Cessna, Local History Librarian at the Warren  County-Vicksburg Public Library.

This week’s column features New Adult Nonfiction.

Author Gregory Scott Brown brings us “The Self-Healing Mind: An Essential Five-Step Practice for Overcoming Anxiety and Depression and Revitalizing Your Life.” Studies have shown that self-care is a powerful medicine for the mind. Mental health is the primary force behind every decision we make. It affects how we live, work and love. Those of us who suffer from depression and anxiety find ourselves unsure of our choices and quality of life. Though mental health drugs abound, the number of people across the globe who suffer is on the rise. Practicing psychiatrist Gregory Scott Brown offers a path of self-care that goes beyond drugs and talk therapy. This holistic approach to emotional and psychological healing focuses on how evidence-based self-care strategies can be used to improve and sustain mental health. While he agrees that prescription drugs and talk therapy in many cases are important for healing, he has come to the conclusion that lifestyle interventions are also important to help us sustain our mental health. He outlines what he calls the Five Pillars of Self-Care: breathing mindfully, sleep, spirituality, nutrition and movement. These purposeful lifestyle practices — that have been backed by science — can be adopted by everyone.

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“You Mean It or You Don’t: James Baldwin’s Radical Challenge” is by Jamie McGhee and Adam Hollowell. After a speech at the University of Massachusetts Amherst on Feb. 28, 1984, James Baldwin was asked by a student: “You said that the liberal façade and being a liberal is not enough. Well, what is? What is necessary?” Baldwin responded, “Commitment. That is what is necessary. You mean it or you don’t.” This book takes up that challenge and draws from Baldwin’s fiction, nonfiction, poetry and interviews and is meant to spur today’s progressives from conviction to action. The authors posit that it is not enough to hold progressive views on racial justice, LGBTQ+ identity and economic inequality. True and lasting change deserves a response to Baldwin’s radical challenge for moral commitment. They mean this book as a call to move from mere dreams of justice to living it out in our communities, churches and neighborhoods.

Whether you’re moving into your first home or you’re inspired to tackle a particular home project, author Chris Peterson and the editors of Cool Springs Press have you covered with “Essential Home Skills Handbook: Everything You Need to Know as a New Homeowner.” This plain-language resource has instructions, not for experts, but for anyone looking to learn more about their home and make improvements. Inside you’ll find directions for more than a hundred common home repairs and maintenance tasks, with a concentration on the most common issues people have in their homes. Whether you need to fix a leaky faucet, cure garbage disposal odors, stop a door from squeaking, or bring a dead electrical outlet back to life, everything a novice DIYer needs is here. Some more projects are: insulating an attic or crawl space, hanging a new door, replacing a windowpane, installing a touchless faucet, installing a dimmer switch, hanging a floating shelf, fixing a roof hole, repairing damaged siding and more. The clear, easy-to-follow instructions are accompanied by photos of each step for reference. This book can give you more control over your home and save you frustration and money as well.

Scott Ellsworth tells the story of one of the most violent racial injustices in modern history with his book “The Ground Breaking: the Tulsa Race Massacre and an American City’s Search for Justice.” Over the course of less than 24 hours in the spring of 1921, Tulsa’s infamous “Black Wall Street” was erased from the map, along with restaurants and movie theatres, churches and doctors’ offices, a hospital, a public library, a post office and countless homes. Official records were purposefully “lost,” researchers were threatened, and the worst incident of racial violence in American history was kept hidden for more than fifty years. This is the story of not only the riots and the subsequent cover-up, but also the ongoing archaeological story and the search for the unmarked graves of the victims of the massacre, and the fight to win restitution for the survivors and their families.

Keri Blakinger delivers an unforgettable memoir with “Corrections in Ink.” Keri always lived her life at full speed. Growing up, she threw herself into competitive figure skating and her passion led her to nationals. When her skating career suddenly fell apart, she fell just as hard into self-destructive behaviors and spent the next nine years going from one dark place to another. She lived on the streets, sold drugs and sex, and shot up between classes all while trying to hold herself together while attending Cornell. One day during her senior year, the police caught her walking down the street with a container full of heroin. The arrest made the front page of the local newspapers and landed her in jail for nearly two years. There, she struggled with the consequences of her missteps and mistakes as she began to sober up and began searching for a better life. Along the way, she met women from all walks of life who were struggling with the same messed-up world of corrections. Keri began to understand how broken the justice system is and who that brokenness hurts the most. After being released, Keri became a reporter and dedicated her life to exposing our flawed prison system. This is not just a story of getting out and getting off drugs, but a memoir of second chances and about those our society throws away and those who are allowed to reach for redemption.