Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Friday, March 27, 2009
In case you didn't know, HBO is premiering the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency mystery series this Sunday based on the books by Alexander McCall Smith. Set in Botswana where McCall Smith taught at one time, these books feature the memorable character, Precious Ramotswe, a lady of ample proportions and clever wit, who is just looking for a good man as she solves her cases. The New York Times today has a nice article about the author, his stories and the upcoming television show.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
The Green Dog by Suzanne Fisher Staples is a light read. It's the story of one girl's summer, her dog, and her family. It's also a book about growing up. The Green Dog would definitely make a good summer reading choice.
Habibi by Naomi Shihab Nye tells the story of a young girl born and raised in the United States who moves to her father's homeland, Jerusalem, when she turns 13. Although there is a little bit of romance in the story, the book also provides great deal of insight into the Middle East conflict. The author has given Habibi a terrific teenage voice, and this is a book that is guaranteed to keep a young person interested.
I read Number the Stars by Lois Lowry because it is one of my daughter's favorite books. Number the Stars is about the role that Denmark played in World War II, including the smuggling of Jews across the sea to Sweden. Told through the eyes of a young Danish girl, this is a very moving book.
Newbury Award winning The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, was engrossing, although it did leave me wondering about a few of its twists and turns. Sequel maybe? I also heard that the book CD version of The Graveyard Book is excellent. It's read by the author, and while author-read books sometimes fall flat, this one seems to be a winner.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Gerry Van Tassel, readers' services staff member at Bernardsville Public Library, admires one of our customized book group bags shown above. These bags were made possible last year by a grant from Bernardsville patron, Jean Horton, who is a book group leader herself. Thanks to her gift, the library has been able to assemble a number of bags which are available for checkout to book group leaders. These bags may be borrowed for one month at a time.
photo source: Bernardsville Public Library
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Called the Saturday Crafters, this group will meet again on Saturday, April 18th, at 3 p.m. in the library's Community Room. If you like to do handcrafts, please join us at that time and bring your own project. Here are some photographs taken at the last meeting held Saturday, March 14th.
Our group size varies with the day, but including myself, there were seven happy crafters. What was so interesting to me was that each person brought a different craft.
Ann has started to do bargello needlepoint again after completing many such projects in the past. Her daughter tells her that bargello is back in style, so Ann has picked up her needle again.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Monday, March 9, 2009
Olivier Ameisen is a notable French cardiologist who practiced medicine and taught at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Weill Cornell Medical College. A talented pianist, Ameisen was urged by no less than Arthur Rubenstein to pursue music rather than medicine as his intended career. He was also the first and only student to pass the French baccalaureat without having finished his last two years of high schooling. In addition, President Jacques Chirac awarded him the Legion of Honor for his "contributions to the image of France abroad and to cardiology." But Olivier Ameisen is also an alcoholic whose disease brought him to deepest despair, ruined his practice, and almost killed him.
The End of My Addiction, published in January 2009, chronicles Dr. Olivier Ameisen's desperate attempts to save himself from a hopeless descent toward incapacitation and likely death due to his advanced alcoholism. Having severely injured himself repeatedly in drunken falls, Ameisen found himself admitted to city emergency rooms where he risked having his secret condition discovered by fellow doctors. Personal relationships suffered, and his successful career as a New York cardiologist came to an end when he decided that he could no longer practice. Although he checked himself into numerous rehabs and participated in recovery programs, none of these therapies worked for him.
Some colleagues turned away from him, wondering why he just couldn't stop; a few tagged him as a hopeless case; others gave him encouragement and support. One man in particular, his M.D. thesis advisor Phillipe Coumel, expressed compassionate understanding, saying to him, "As a physician, how can you be embarrassed about having a disease?" This good mentor also motivated Ameisen's scientific curiosity, stating, "I cannot believe that a man of your intelligence cannot find the solution." And Olivier Ameisen did find a solution that worked for him.
The End of My Addiction is a compelling story about the terrible struggles and discrimination facing individuals with an alcohol addiction. It is also a work of medical detection recounting the author's self-experimention with an older medication, baclofen, approved as a fairly harmless muscle relaxant, but found to quell the cravings of cocaine addicts in a University of Pennsylvania study. Ameisen learned about this small study and ran with it, medicating himself with higher and higher doses of the drug until he reached a level where his brain no longer responded to any typical triggers and thus no longer created the cravings which drive addicts deeper into their addictions. Baclofen had completely suppressed the symptoms of his alcoholism, and no serious side effects were experienced. Dr. Ameisen believes this drug deserves a large-scale study, but points out that baclofen is an off-patent product and fears that pharmaceutical companies will not be interested in this kind of study. He has written this book to encourage investment in such a study and has provided chapters on the science behind his experiments.
At the same time The End of My Addiction offers a vivid, but compassionate portrait of what it is like to be an alcoholic today. It was very moving to read about the author's struggles with this disease, and he clearly makes the point that "willpower" is not equivalent to medicine. If people with other diseases were asked to will away their conditions, we would say that was absurd. The author does support the 12 step programs for their helpful behavorial adaptations, and he believes that attention should be given to underlying depression and anxiety when treating patients. Ameisen makes us rethink our assumptions about alcoholism, and he has demonstrated that there may be real hope of a successful medical treatment for this addiction. ~ Evelyn Fischel
Monday, March 2, 2009
Be sure to browse through the wonderful assortment of Irish literature and modern fiction found there. To help make your selection, you may also consult our brand new Bernardsville Library bookmark devoted to Irish Writers. The bright green bookmark contains a list of Irish authors such as Edna O'Brien and Malachy McCourt. You'll find copies of the Irish Writers bookmark at the circulation desk and also tucked among the shamrocks in this display.