Straight off the Shelf: Demystifying Disability by Emily Ladau

“If the disability community wants a world that’s accessible to us, then we must make ideas and experiences of disability accessible to the world.”

I hope all of our dedicated readers are well as the days get crisper, the nights grow longer, and the holidays come upon us! I am excited to start a new blog series titled “Straight off the Shelf,” in which I will feature a nonfiction book straight from our new shelves here at the library and pair it up with similar titles in our collection. This first selection comes from our social sciences section and is titled Demystifying Disability: What to Know, What to Say, and How to be an Ally  by Emily Ladau.

First, a little bit of background about the author. A disability rights activist, writer, and speaker, Emily Ladau began her activism at just the young age of ten when she starred on Sesame Street to teach children about what it is like to live with a physical disability. She continues her advocacy today by providing consulting and editorial services to several disability-focused organizations, as well as by managing a blog (Rooted in Rights) focused on sharing and amplifying disability experiences and co-hosting a podcast (The Accessible Stall) that considers important issues within the disability community. She has also received several honors, including being named a “10 Under 10 Young Alumni” at her alma matter of Adelphi University and being selected as the recipient of the American Association of People With Disabilities’ Paul G. Hearne Emerging Leader Award in 2018.

In Ladau’s words, “[a]ll of my activism is driven by my belief that it is by sharing our stories and making the disability experience accessible to the world that we will reach a world that is accessible to the disability community.” One of the very first statistics presented in this book is that an estimated 15% of the global population, or more than one billion people, lives with a disability, making up the world’s largest minority. With this in mind, Ladau describes this book as a 101 guide or handbook for anyone and everyone looking to better understand various aspects of disability, as well as how to become a stronger ally and advocate. Broken down into six primary parts, it delves into what a disability actually is, how to understand disability as part of a whole person, an overview of disability history, ableism and accessibility,  disability etiquette, and how disability is portrayed in the media. Ladau also includes several additional resources for further reading, including books, films, online videos, and hashtags to follow on social media; a complete list of resources from this title can also be found here: https://emilyladau.com/demystifying-disability-bibliography/

I hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about this new title! If it piqued your interest and/or you would like to continue demystifying disability, here are some similar books housed in our library collection:

About Us: Essays for the Disability Series of the New York Times edited by Peter Catapano

This title compiles several significant and powerful essays and reflections that have been featured in a column entitled “Disability” in the New York Times since its inception in 2016. Here is a brief description from the publisher:

“Boldly claiming a space where people with disabilities tell the stories of their own lives―not other’s stories about them―About Us captures the voices of a community that has for too long been stereotyped and misrepresented. Speaking not only to people with disabilities and their support networks, but to all of us, the authors in About Us offer intimate stories of how they navigate a world not built for them. Echoing the refrain of the disability rights movement, ‘nothing about us without us,’ this collection, with a foreword by Andrew Solomon, is a landmark publication of the disability movement for readers of all backgrounds, communities, and abilities.”

I Live a Life Like Yours: A Memoir by Jan Grue

This memoir provides a searing and insightful look into what it is like to live with a disability and the journey of coming to accept the limitations a disability poses while also loving life. Here is a brief description from the publisher:

“Jan Grue was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy at the age of three. Shifting between specific periods of his life—his youth with his parents and sister in Norway; his years of study in Berkeley, St. Petersburg, and Amsterdam; and his current life as a professor, husband, and father—he intersperses these histories with elegant, astonishingly wise reflections on the world, social structures, disability, loss, relationships, and the body: in short, on what it means to be human. Along the way, Grue moves effortlessly between his own story and those of others, incorporating reflections on philosophy, film, art, and the work of writers from Joan Didion to Michael Foucault. He revives the cold, clinical language of his childhood, drawing from a stack of medical records that first forced the boy who thought of himself as “just Jan” to perceive that his body, and therefore his self, was defined by its defects.

I Live a Life Like Yours is a love story. It is rich with loss, sorrow, and joy, and with the details of one life: a girlfriend pushing Grue through the airport and forgetting him next to the baggage claim; schoolmates forming a chain behind his wheelchair on the ice one winter day; his parents writing desperate letters in search of proper treatment for their son; his own young son climbing into his lap as he sits in his wheelchair, only to leap down and run away too quickly to catch. It is a story about accepting one’s own body and limitations, and learning to love life as it is while remaining open to hope and discovery.”

Being Seen: One Deafblind Woman’s Fight to End Ableism by Elsa Sjunneson

This autobiography provides an acute analysis on living with a disability in an ableist world and considers how ableism is deeply embedded in our culture. Here is a brief description from the publisher:

“As a Deafblind woman with partial vision in one eye and bilateral hearing aids, Elsa Sjunneson lives at the crossroads of blindness and sight, hearing and deafness—much to the confusion of the world around her. While she cannot see well enough to operate without a guide dog or cane, she can see enough to know when someone is reacting to the visible signs of her blindness and can hear when they’re whispering behind her back. And she certainly knows how wrong our one-size-fits-all definitions of disability can be.

As a media studies professor, she’s also seen the full range of blind and deaf portrayals on film, and here she deconstructs their impact, following common tropes through horror, romance, and everything in between. Part memoir, part cultural criticism, part history of the Deafblind experience, Being Seen explores how our cultural concept of disability is more myth than fact, and the damage it does to us all.”

On-Demand Streaming Videos

Winter is coming.

The time to bundle up, lay down on the couch, and be entertained by your television is almost upon us.  But what to watch?

Consider Kanopy.

The library recently added this on-demand streaming video service to our offerings.  You might choose a classic movie, such as the John Wayne feature “McLinktock!”  Or the 2019 Best Picture winner “Parasite.”  Whatever your cup of tea, with its over 30,000 movies, you are sure to find something to suit your tastes.

Whether using the Kanopy desktop software or the app, you can select from feature films, classic movies, foreign films, and documentaries to while away the cold winter evenings.

Davenport Library cardholders may logon using their library card number and their password/pin for their account.  After that you’ll need to Sign Up for a Kanopy account by providing a name, an email address, and then make up a password.

Kanopy operates on Play Credits.  Each time you begin to watch a movie, a Play Credit is deducted from your account.  You may use up to four (4) Play Credits a month.  Play Credits reset at the beginning of each calendar month.

Once you Watch a video, you will have access to it for 48 or 72 hours, depending upon movie.  During that period, you may watch it as many times as you like without using another Play Credit.

There is a section of Kanopy that is designed especially for children, Kanopy Kids.  It offers educational and entertainment content for children ages two to eight.  There are parental controls that can be set up, so that you can allow your kids to browse the site.

The Great Courses are also available. Once you begin a Great Course you have 30 days to complete it.

Films can be streamed from any computer, television, mobile device or platform by downloading the Kanopy app for iOS, Android, AppleTV, Chromecast or Roku.

Grab a cup of cocoa, put on your pajamas, and stream the night way.

Online Reading Challenge – December

It’s December! That means it’s time for our final 2020 spotlight author. This month it’s: Lisa Gardner!

Lisa Gardner is quite popular, writing crime novels and psychological thrillers. These are the kind of books that keep you up past your bedtime because you can’t go to sleep until you know what happened! Some of her popular series include ones about Boston homicide detective D.D. Warren, FBI Profilier Pierce Quincy and Tess Leoni, a private detective in New England, as well as several stand alone titles.

There are quite a few authors that are similar to Gardner so if you have already read all of her titles, or would like to try some else, here are a few suggestions.

You Don’t Want to Know by Lisa Jackson

Cop Town by Karin Slaughter

Suspect by Robert Crais

Broken Promise by Linwood Barclay

Roadside Crosses by Jeffrey Deaver

Lie to Me by JT Ellison

There are lots more titles and authors to choose from. Be sure to stop by one of our locations for more ideas on display.

I am planning on reading  Before She Disappeared by Gardner. It’s the first in a relatively new series by Gardner that follows the cases of a woman who searched for missing persons.

Now it’s your turn – what will you be reading this month?

 

Online Reading Challenge – November Wrap-Up

Hello Challenge Readers!

How did you do with our November spotlight author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie? Did you read one of her books, or one similar?

I had mixed results this month. I had planned to read Americanah, but I just couldn’t connect with it. That doesn’t mean I won’t someday pick it up again and find it delightful and inspiring, but that wasn’t happening at this time for me so, instead of forcing interest, I set it aside and picked up another book by Adichie – Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions.

It’s a little bit of a cheat – this book is short and a very quick read (less than an hour), kind of a taster of Adichie’s writing and philosophy. Still, it is gracefully written and packs a punch.

Asked by a friend on how to raise her newborn daughter to be a feminist, Adichie sends a letter with fifteen suggestions. Her advice ranges from straightforward – teach her to read and to love to read, make sure both parents are involved in her upbringing – to more thought provoking ideals such as teaching her that gender roles are nonsense, that differences among people are okay, to reject the idea of conditional female equality. I was especially struck by the importance of language and what a difference words and how they’re phrased can make in our outlook and how we treat ourselves and others. “Language is the repository of our prejudices, our beliefs, our assumptions.”

Of course, the values described in this slim volume apply to anyone, young or old, male or female. Enlightening and valuable lessons.

Now it’s your turn – how was your November reading?

 

Five Total Strangers by Natalie Richards

A teen thriller that keeps ratcheting up the tension, in the midst of a blizzard Iowans will understand all too well, Five Total Strangers is a suspenseful tale of not-so-chance coincidences and danger that creeps in from every direction.

For Mira, nothing has ever been the same since her aunt died last Christmas – especially since she had to leave her grieving mom to go back to school across the country. Now, it’s Christmas again and Mira is desperate to get home and be there for her mom, but the weather isn’t cooperating. Her connecting flight was just grounded, so the only way to get home in time is to accept a ride from her charming seatmate and her friends. But once underway, Mira realizes that none of her fellow passengers know each other, and she just can’t shake the feeling that something sinister is going on – especially when their things start to go missing. And all the while, the roads just keep getting worse…

The genius of this book for me is the tug-of-war between logic and instinct, as Mira struggles between what her primal, gut-level feelings tell her about a situation and what her logical, civilized brain says. I thought this brilliantly captured what it’s like to be in a scary situation in today’s world, where we know the odds of danger and catastrophe are low…but never zero. The descriptions also vividly conjure up all the unpleasantness and otherworldliness of road travel, including car sickness, dingy rest areas, and dicey gas stations, all overlaid in this case with an unspecified menace, coupled with the frustrating uncertainty and powerlessness that comes with being young. Interspersed with the chapters are ambiguous handwritten notes which suggest nothing is as coincidental as it appears, and which help the tension build to a twist you probably won’t see coming.

Those who like thrilling, suspenseful mysteries, locked room mysteries (with a mobile twist), and vivid casts of characters (all hiding secrets) will want to try Five Total Strangers – if only to remind themselves why winter road trips are an absolutely terrible idea.

This book is also available on Overdrive.

When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain

Paula McLain has written an intense historical thriller detailing the life of a seasoned detective haunted by cases from her past. While in the past McLain has written historical fiction that takes place further in the past, this title is still set in the past, albeit the 1970s to the 1990s. This book is also sprinkled with true events, but it is a decided shift from her other novels.

When the Stars Go Dark digs into the life of missing persons detective Anna Hart. After a tragic event rocks her life, Anna is desperate for an escape. She heads to Mendocino, California to grieve and process what has happened. Mendocino is the closest town Anna has to home. Having grown up in the foster care system, Mendocino was the place where she found two of her most supportive foster parents. When she arrives, she expects comfort, safety, and most importantly solitude, but instead Anna finds that her work has followed her. A local girl has gone missing, leaving Anna feeling like she has to help.

This new missing persons case reminds Anna of her childhood when a local girl in her community went missing and was later found murdered. That case is still unsolved and has left the community changed. Anna volunteers her services to help with the new missing girl case. The more she works, the more the past and present interfere with each other. During her career as a missing persons detective, Anna focused on how victims come into contact with violent predators. Her knowledge of that process comes in handy as she begins searching for the missing girl. Her search slowly becomes an obsession. Anna will do anything to find this girl and to not let the past repeat itself, but soon realizes that she needs the help of others if she wants to solve this case and bring the girl home.

This book is also available in the following formats:

The Librarian of Saint-Malo by Mario Escobar

Mario Escobar’s latest novel The Librarian of Saint-Malo tells the story of a French librarian’s stand against the German occupation as they descend upon the small coastal village of Saint-Malo. While World War II novels are plentiful, the timeline covered as well as the perspectives shown during this particular title were refreshing and set this novel apart.

Jocelyn is determined. Having just married her high school sweetheart Antoine in August 1939, Jocelyn wishes to begin their married life in bliss. But soon after they are married, Antoine is drafted to fight against Germany, leaving Jocelyn behind in the village of Saint-Malo to manage the tiny library there. World War II brings destruction to their doors, while Jocelyn works to bring comfort and encouragement to those residents who can escape to the library to check out books.

Wanting to do more, Jocelyn begins writing secret letters to a famous author who lives in Paris. Having someone smuggle those letters to him is a great risk, but Jocelyn is desperate that her story, as well as that of Saint-Malo, lives on in the face of the war’s destruction. When France falls and Nazis start to occupy Saint-Malo, Jocelyn wants to do more. With the city now a fortress, the devastation only worsens.

Across the country, Nazis begin to destroy libraries. Armed with lists of unsuitable books, Nazis burn books and even steal the priceless and more rare books. Jocelyn refuses to let her library be destroyed, so despite the risk to herself, she manages to hide the books the Nazis seek to destroy. While terror reigns around her, Jocelyn waits for news from Antoine, who is now a prisoner in a German camp.

The more Jocelyn writes, the more readers see that all she wants is to protect people and her beloved books. This novel tells the story of those who were willing to sacrifice anything to save the people they loved, as well as the true history of their lives.

The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill

I recently read the gentlest of all gentle reads. If you like beautiful art, dragons, and stories of friendship and found family, this series may be for you.

In volume one, The Tea Dragon Society, a young apprentice blacksmith named Greta encounters her first tea dragon – a miniature, domesticated dragon which grows tea leaves from its horns – and brings it back to its home. There she joins the small family devoted to the care and keeping of tea dragons: healer and teamaker Hesekiel, his partner Erik, and their recent houseguest Minette, who’s troubled by a lack of memory. Greta and Minette learn not only about tea dragons, but about friendship, craftsmanship, and how to honor ancient traditions.

In volume two, The Tea Dragon Festival, we’re seeing an episode from Hesekiel and Erik’s younger days, as they go home to Erik’s mountain village for the Tea Dragon Festival. The main character of the story is Rinn, a skilled gatherer of vegetables and herbs that grow in out-of-the-way places. One day as they’re out gathering, Rinn discovers a full-size sleeping dragon. When he wakes, the dragon Aedhan says he’s the guardian of their village, mysteriously asleep for eighty years. Rinn helps him honor the past and learn how to be a part of the village, while Erik and Hesekiel investigate the cause of Aedhan’s long sleep.

Volume three, the Tea Dragon Tapestry, is out now in our Rivershare libraries, and picks up the story of Greta and Minette as they learn about growing up. Greta is still working hard to learn blacksmithing, while trying to bond with tea dragon Ginseng – and her challenges give her lots to learn about craftsmanship and grief. Minette, meanwhile, learns more about her past, her gift of prophecy, and her future. All the while their family and friendship gives them each the support they need to find their paths forward.

For a devoted tea drinker like me, the whole concept of tea dragons was utterly charming, and the slow, unhurried pace of the story was deeply restful. I think the author also works in some good meditations on craftsmanship, progress, tradition, and friendship. If you need a healing break, read these graphic novels! While the first two volumes are available on Overdrive, I do recommend the physical copies for the full immersive experience.

November’s Celebrity Book Club Picks

It’s a new month which means that Jenna Bush Hager and Reese Witherspoon have picked new books for their book clubs! Reminder that if you join our Best Sellers Club, these titles will automatically be put on hold for you.

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Jenna Bush Hager has selected The Family by Naomi Krupitsky.

Curious what The Family is about? Check out the following description provided by the publisher.

In the vein of an American Elena Ferrante, a captivating debut novel about the tangled fates of two best friends and daughters of the Italian mafia, and a coming-of-age story of twentieth-century Brooklyn.

Two daughters. Two families. One inescapable fate.

Sofia Colicchio is a free spirit, a loud, untamed thing. Antonia Russo is thoughtful, ever observing the world around her. Best friends from birth, their homes share a brick wall and their fathers are part of an unspoken community that connects them all: the Family. Sunday dinners gather the Family each week to feast, discuss business, and renew the intoxicating bond borne of blood and love.

Until Antonia’s father dares to dream of a different life and goes missing soon after. His disappearance drives a whisper-thin wedge between Sofia and Antonia as they become women, wives, mothers, and leaders, all the while maintaining a complex and at times conflicted friendship. Both women are pushing against the walls of a prison made up of expectations, even as they remain bound to one another, their hearts expanding in tandem with Red Hook and Brooklyn around them. One fateful night their loyalty to each other and the Family will be tested. Only one of them can pull the trigger before it’s too late.

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Reese Witherspoon has selected The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak.

Curious what The Island of Missing Trees is about? Check out the following description provided by the publisher.

A rich, magical new audiobook on belonging and identity, love and trauma, nature and renewal, from the Booker shortlisted author of 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World.

Two teenagers, a Greek Cypriot and a Turkish Cypriot, meet at a taverna on the island they both call home. In the taverna, hidden beneath garlands of garlic, chili peppers and creeping honeysuckle, Kostas and Defne grow in their forbidden love for each other. A fig tree stretches through a cavity in the roof, and this tree bears witness to their hushed, happy meetings and eventually, to their silent, surreptitious departures. The tree is there when war breaks out, when the capital is reduced to ashes and rubble, and when the teenagers vanish. Decades later, Kostas returns. He is a botanist looking for native species, but really, he’s searching for lost love.

Years later, a Ficus carica grows in the back garden of a house in London where Ada Kazantzakis lives. This tree is her only connection to an island she has never visited – her only connection to her family’s troubled history and her complex identity as she seeks to untangle years of secrets to find her place in the world.

A moving, beautifully written and delicately constructed story of love, division, transcendence, history and eco-consciousness, The Island of Missing Trees is Elif Shafak’s best work yet.

This book is also available in the following format:

Join our Best Sellers Club to have Oprah, Jenna, and Reese’s adult selections automatically put on hold for you!

In Deeper Waters by FT Lukens

Did I just pick up this book because of its beautiful cover? Yes. Yes I did. But luckily it turned out to be as lovely a story as its cover.

In Deeper Waters by FT Lukens is a coming-of-age story, a romance, an imaginative fairy-tale-inspired fantasy, and a rollicking adventure. Tal is the fourth in line to the throne, and he’s on his coming of age tour around the kingdom. The kingdom is tense and war is threatened, which doesn’t help to ease Tal’s anxiety: he secretly has magic which he fears will be used as a weapon. Just as his tour is getting underway, his ship encounters a mysterious derelict with an abandoned prisoner inside – the mysterious Athlen. Athlen treats Tal more like a person than anyone has in a while, but before they can explore this connection, Athlen makes a shocking escape. When he reappears miraculously in a later port, Tal follows him, determined to get answers. And it’s not a moment too soon, as Tal is then kidnapped by pirates. He must escape if he wants to prevent a war, and he needs all the help he can get.

The familial love is on-point, messing with some stereotypes, the magic is captivating, and in my opinion the world-building is expert. In some fantasy novels, a page or three at the beginning of the story is taken up by explanations of what the world is and how it works and who the players are; in this case the story starts right up and details about the world are revealed gradually and organically, so that your picture of the world your in grows and gets colored in as you read. I found that very effective for keeping readers hooked and sharing just enough detail so things make sense as they’re happening.

One thing that struck home for me was that although Tal is unsure of himself, and a lot of decisions are out of his hands, he gradually takes more control of his life and decides what kind of person he’s going to be. I always love a story where a character forges their own path. I also thought the depiction of politics, and how complicated monarchy can be depending on your perspective, was a good nod to realism without being too dark. In short, hope is a theme running through most parts of the story – and the world needs more of that.

Sweet, exciting, and thought-provoking, this book is recommended for those who liked The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, Pirates of the Caribbean, or similar fantasy adventure romps.

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