Our first Socrates Café meet up of the season is on the books! <— See what we did there?
The Big Q: Which serves you better: being right-brained (visual/intuitive) or left-brained (analytical/methodical)?
True to form, after our group decided on this question of the day, one participant sought to clarify: is the “you” the personal you, or the collective one? Well, it could be either so we allowed answers to either version.
One of the first considerations came from one who had spent his career as a salesman being methodical and linear in his approach. Later he realized that to better connect with his potential customers required certain creativity. This idea led another participant to cite Leonardo da Vinci.
Da Vinci is an example of one person who gained notoriety in his time as a genius in the fields of art, architecture, anatomy and science, presumably utilizing both the right and left sides of his brain remarkably well.
Want to know how Da Vinci did it, and how you can too?
If so, there are two books in our collection that cover harnessing the power of both sides of your brain that you’ll find interesting. The first, by Michael J. Gelb, entitled How to think like Leonardo Da Vinci : Seven Steps to Genius Everyday, offers the reader thinking exercises. The flyleaf summarizes this book this way.
“Drawing on Da Vinci’s notebooks, inventions, and legendary works of art, acclaimed author Michael J. Gelb, introduces seven Da Vincian principles, the essential elements of genius, from curiosita, the insatiably curious approach to life, to connessione, the appreciation for the interconnectedness of all things. With Da Vinci as their inspiration, readers will discover an exhilarating new way of thinking.”
Another book suggested by a participant is [The New] Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards. Our copy of this book, originally published in 1979, is a 20th anniversary re-issue having sold 2.5 million copies of the former. With 50 percent more material than the original issue, it is not only a book about drawing but it is also a book about freeing your mind to draw.
Care to narrow your reading solely to the left and right brain thing? Check out Chapter 3; Your Brain: The Right and Left of It.
Conversation about this book led us to consider a well-known perception exercise where the subject uses a picture that is oriented upside down as a guide. The person then attempts to recreate a drawing of the picture. This exercise helps to train the person to draw what she sees rather than what she thinks she sees or what the picture “should” look like.
As is often the case at the Socrates Café, the dissection of an idea occasionally veers a little left or right in other ways.
We covered such topics as the power of dominant hands, and why some people who have brain-affecting diagnoses like ADHD or autism tend to do less well on IQ tests (which are designed for left-brain thinking.)
In a study under the NIH, IQ in children with autism spectrum disorders: data from the Special Needs and Autism Project (SNAP), researchers concluded, “ASD [Autism Spectrum Disorder] was less strongly associated with intellectual disability than traditionally held and there was only limited evidence of a distinctive IQ profile.” This study suggests that “different” thinking methodology does not presume a lack of intelligence.
If this assertion holds as a general baseline for most people who are diagnosed with ASD, we might consider that those so diagnosed have the ability to use the right side of the brain in ways others do not. A patron (whose particular form of autism is associated with left side thinking) cited her abilities as an example, and said that she felt odd knowing that while she is a left-brained thinker, she is also very creative. She believes that being left-brained, for example, helps her in her position as a stage manager because she can see small details in ways that others do not.
Every month we cover a new question chosen by the participants and we attempt to answer that question both based on our experiences and by listening to others’ points of view. We look forward to next month’s Socrates Café meetup. We meet monthly (on Zoom for now). Register now and we’ll send you a Reminder Link to access the meetup the day beforehand. See you then!
Time to get your DIY on!
Unique, framed artwork can add interest to your home’s décor. If you enjoy making gifts for your friends and family or creating do-it-yourself projects as a way to earn extra cash, you might want to check out Do-It-Yourself Framed Quilts by Gail Perry.
While quilt making dates far back to ancient Egypt, more recent patterns, from Pennsylvania and Ohio’s Amish and Mennonite communities, might be more familiar to you. These include patchwork, log cabin, crown of thorns, double wedding ring, bear claw, and many others popularized in the 19th century.
The nine small quilts detailed in this book, however, are not your grandmother’s quilts! There are florals, impressionist, landscapes, concentric diamonds and more. You’ll be inspired to create designs of your own.
Sized appropriately for wall hanging in typical frame dimensions:
15” x 15”
16” x 20”
20” x 24”
…as well as a handful of others, they’re not so big as to be overwhelming to a beginner. It is fair to say that some prior sewing ability would be helpful.
The best part of this book is its combination of photos, patterns, clear instructions and detailed information about standard matte sizes and the tools you’ll need when you want to begin framing.
There are 67 titles for do-it-yourself projects at Allentown Public Library. What’s your next project?
Shiatsu: Japanese Finger Pressure Therapy, Do-it-Yourself Acupressure by William Schultz
Sometimes older books like this one, published in 1976, are as relevant today as they were when they were brand new.
In 1954 while living in Tokyo, Japan, author William Schultz enrolled in the Shiatsu Institute. While he continued his education, he moved to California where he was also able to continue his exporting business and his practice. He achieved a Master of Shiatsu, and by the time the book was published ten years later, Schultz was one of only two shiatsu practitioners in the United States.
Shiatsu, the author tells us, is “the oldest written form of physical therapy.”
Compelling are the many ways in which shiatsu, once learned, can benefit one’s health. Nearly anyone can learn the basic techniques covered here to alleviate headaches, relieve neck and shoulder pain, address tendonitis, muscle fatigue and more.
A short read unencumbered by heavy medical jargon and accompanied by photos and drawings that best illustrate the details, this book proves its worth.
We like the do-it-yourself aspect of this particular book, but there are several other books in our collection about Shiatsu which are located in the non-fiction section at 615.822. Would you like to learn more? Click below to link to our catalog.
What We’re Reading-February 2021
This month we ask our staff what eBooks and audiobooks they’re reading on Overdrive. Click on titles to view the item on Overdrive.
Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices . . . Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?”
Girl in Pieces
by Kathleen Glasgow
Charlotte Davis is in pieces. At seventeen she’s already lost more than most people do in a lifetime. But she’s learned how to forget. The broken glass washes away the sorrow until there is nothing but calm. You don’t have to think about your father and the river. Your best friend, who is gone forever. Or your mother, who has nothing left to give you.
Every new scar hardens Charlie’s heart just a little more, yet it still hurts so much. It hurts enough to not care anymore, which is sometimes what has to happen before you can find your way back from the edge.
Amanda and Clay head out to a remote corner of Long Island expecting a vacation: a quiet reprieve from life in New York City, quality time with their teenage son and daughter, and a taste of the good life in the luxurious home they’ve rented for the week. But a late-night knock on the door breaks the spell. Ruth and G. H. are an older couple—it’s their house, and they’ve arrived in a panic. They bring the news that a sudden blackout has swept the city. But in this rural area—with the TV and internet now down, and no cell phone service—it’s hard to know what to believe.
After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.
Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.
Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.
Miss Benson’s Beetle
by Rachel Joyce
It is 1950. London is still reeling from World War II, and Margery Benson, a schoolteacher and spinster, is trying to get through life, surviving on scraps. One day, she reaches her breaking point, abandoning her job and small existence to set out on an expedition to the other side of the world in search of her childhood obsession: an insect that may or may not exist—the golden beetle of New Caledonia. When she advertises for an assistant to accompany her, the woman she ends up with is the last person she had in mind. Fun-loving Enid Pretty in her tight-fitting pink suit and pom-pom sandals seems to attract trouble wherever she goes. But together these two British women find themselves drawn into a cross-ocean adventure that exceeds all expectations and delivers something neither of them expected to find: the transformative power of friendship.
by S.E. Hinton
No one ever said life was easy. But Ponyboy is pretty sure that he’s got things figured out. He knows that he can count on his brothers, Darry and Sodapop. And he knows that he can count on his friends—true friends who would do anything for him, like Johnny and Two-Bit. But not on much else besides trouble with the Socs, a vicious gang of rich kids whose idea of a good time is beating up on “greasers” like Ponyboy. At least he knows what to expect—until the night someone takes things too far.
How to be a Bawse
by Lilly Singh
Lilly Singh isn’t just a superstar. She’s Superwoman—which is also the name of her wildly popular YouTube channel. Funny, smart, and insightful, the actress and comedian covers topics ranging from relationships to career choices to everyday annoyances. It’s no wonder she’s garnered more than a billion views. But Lilly didn’t get to the top by being lucky—she had to work for it. Hard.
Now Lilly wants to share the lessons she learned while taking the world by storm, and the tools she used to do it. How to Be a Bawse is the definitive guide to conquering life. Make no mistake, there are no shortcuts to success, personal or professional. World domination requires real effort, dedication, and determination. Just consider Lilly a personal trainer for your life
Maybe you Should Talk to Someone
by Lori Gottlieb
One day, Lori Gottlieb is a therapist who helps patients in her Los Angeles practice. The next, a crisis causes her world to come crashing down. Enter Wendell, the quirky but seasoned therapist in whose office she suddenly lands. With his balding head, cardigan, and khakis, he seems to have come straight from Therapist Central Casting. Yet he will turn out to be anything but.
Think and Grow Rich
by Napoleon Hill
What Do You Want Most? Is It Money, Fame, Power, Contentment, Personality, Peace of Mind, Happiness? The Thirteen Steps to Riches described in this book offer the shortest dependable philosophy of individual achievement ever presented for the benefit of the man or woman who is searching for a definite goal in life.
In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of “race,” a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men—bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden?
Participants at the latest meetup of the Socrates Café chose to tease out the answer to the timely question, “Will racism ever end?”
We acknowledged that at this particular meetup, there were no obvious people of color in attendance, so we recognized the bias in our inclinations and lack of full representation of a more varied point of view. Still, we pressed on to first determine our own definitions of racism.
At the start, time spent trying to determine the differences between the definitions of: race, species, racism, bias, prejudice, discrimination, bigotry, oppression, etcetera carried our consideration. One person detailed the origin of the word “race” from the 1600s (corroborated by The New Fowler’s Modern English Usage which the library keeps in its Reference section) while this NPR article by Gene Demby suggests a much later use of the word “racism” and the ugliness it suggests. An excerpt from Merriam-Webster dictionary states the following.
The History and Dictionary Meaning of Racism
“Racism appears to be a word of recent origin, with no citations currently known that would suggest the word was in use prior to the early 20th century. But the fact that the word is fairly new does not prove that the concept of racism did not exist in the distant past. Things may have words to describe them before they exist (spaceship, for instance, has been in use since the 19th century, well before the rocket-fired vessels were invented), and things may exist for a considerable time before they are given names (t-shirt does not appear in print until the 20th century, although the article of clothing existed prior to 1900).”Merriam-Webster
This passage brings up a good point as we determined among ourselves that the history of racism seems to date to the beginning of human communities. One participant suggested that racism is the “us” and them” differentiation in which one group seeks to control or see itself as superior to the other.
Some of us reported feeling hopeful that people are working toward being better, even working on ourselves to recognize when racism creeps in at first unnoticed. Another also noted how keeping groups apart breeds racism as it sows fear or distrust. This may be a deliberate action for one who seeks to control.
But, if I know you, I am less likely to think of you as being different from me in a negative way, or to consider you as less than me.
As to the simple answer to the question, “Will racism ever end?”
No. But in philosophical questions, there are rarely simple answers. Often, there are more questions that arise.
Some felt that despite efforts to avoid it, racism is a human fault. We noted that it can be argued that we are not born harboring racism, but rather it is taught. This offers hope. Hope that where racism exists, hearts and minds can be changed.
One of the great things that happens at the Socrates Café is that in the course of conversation, participants often recommend books, movies and videos, and other compelling resources. So when you join in, its a good idea to keep a notepad handy to write them down. And its often helpful to make notes for yourself for when its your turn to speak about what’s on your mind.
Here are a few of the titles that were suggested by you on the subject of racism.
Caste : The Origins of our Discontents, a new book by Isabel Wilkerson
“In this brilliant book, Isabel Wilkerson gives us a masterful portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an immersive, deeply researched narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings.” ~ Goodreads
Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World a book by Rita Golden Gelman
Earning 3.5 stars on Google Reviews, this true story follows the 48-year-old on the verge of a divorce, as she leaves an elegant life in Los Angeles to follow her dream to travel the world. She connects with people in cultures all over the globe. (This 2001 book can be obtained by filling out an Interlibrary Loan Request form at the Reference Desk.)
“In 1986, Rita sold her possessions and became a nomad, living in a Zapotec village in Mexico, sleeping with sea lions on the Galapagos Islands, and residing everywhere from thatched huts to regal palaces. She has observed orangutans in the rain forest of Borneo, visited trance healers and dens of black magic, and cooked with women on fires all over the world. Rita’s example encourages us all to dust off our dreams and rediscover the joy, the exuberance, and the hidden spirit that so many of us bury when we become adults.” ~Amazon synopsis
The virally popular YouTube series with Emmanuel Acho entitled Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man
The series spawned his Acho’s book by the same name. Be sure to get your name on the library’s hold list to reserve your copy.
Harvard Implicit Bias Tests
Online tool created by Harvard psychologists to help you determine your implicit associations about race, gender, sexual orientation, and other topics. More than one person at the Socrates Café recommended this.
Crash a movie
From 2004 directed and written by Paul Haggis and starring Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock and Thandie Newton, is the story of “Los Angeles citizens with vastly separate lives collide in interweaving stories of race, loss and redemption.” ~IMDB
Umbrella Academy a Netflix series, specifically Season 2, Episode 1
Current day characters transported through time in rapid succession, arrive in Dallas, Texas in 1960. One, a black woman, walks into Stadler’s Restaurant where she is met with the shock of the diners and where a stunned employee looks at her and points to the “Whites Only” sign above him.
Each meetup of the Socrates Café gives participants an opportunity to hear other points of view, and to offer their ideas about the question of the day.
What We’re Reading – December 2020
We asked our staff what they’re reading this month. Click on titles to view the item in our catalog.
Wynn Beauchene has a thriving business, a great kid and a mildly embarrassing crush on the guy next door—local cop Garrick McCabe. She’s a strong, independent woman who can’t help dreaming what-if about a man she barely knows. Until he needs her help…(Goodreads)
Where does the story of the Owens bloodline begin? With Maria Owens, in the 1600s, when she’s abandoned in a snowy field in rural England as a baby. Under the care of Hannah Owens, Maria learns about the “Unnamed Arts.” Hannah recognizes that Maria has a gift and she teaches the girl all she knows. It is here that she learns her first important lesson: Always love someone who will love you back. (Goodreads)
Lucy and Jake live in a house by a field where the sun burns like a ball of fire. Lucy has set her career aside in order to devote her life to the children, to their finely tuned routine, and to the house itself, which comforts her like an old, sly friend. But then a man calls one afternoon with a shattering message: his wife has been having an affair with Lucy’s husband, Jake. The revelation marks a turning point: Lucy and Jake decide to stay together, but make a special arrangement designed to even the score and save their marriage–she will hurt him three times. (Goodreads)
This is the story of Maurice Hannigan, who, over the course of a Saturday night in June, orders five different drinks at the Rainford House Hotel. With each he toasts a person vital to him: his doomed older brother, his troubled sister-in-law, his daughter of fifteen minutes, his son far off in America, and his late, lamented wife. And through these people, the ones who left him behind, he tells the story of his own life, with all its regrets and feuds, loves and triumphs. (Goodreads)
(Winternight Trilogy #3) Now Moscow has been struck by disaster. Its people are searching for answers—and for someone to blame. Vasya finds herself alone, beset on all sides. The Grand Prince is in a rage, choosing allies that will lead him on a path to war and ruin. A wicked demon returns, stronger than ever and determined to spread chaos. Caught at the center of the conflict is Vasya, who finds the fate of two worlds resting on her shoulders. Her destiny uncertain, Vasya will uncover surprising truths about herself and her history as she desperately tries to save Russia, Morozko, and the magical world she treasures. But she may not be able to save them all. (Goodreads)
It’s no secret, but we are judged by our bookshelves. We learn to read at an early age, and as we grow older we shed our beloved books for new ones. But some of us surround ourselves with books. We collect them, decorate with them, are inspired by them, and treat our books as sacred objects. In this lighthearted collection of one- and two-page comics, writer-artist Grant Snider explores bookishness in all its forms, and the love of writing and reading, building on the beloved literary comics featured on his website, Incidental Comics. (Goodreads)
Until Tecumseh’s death in 1813, he was, alongside Tenskwatawa, the co-architect of the greatest pan-Indian confederation in history. Over time, Tenskwatawa has been relegated to the shadows, described as a talentless charlatan and a drunk. But award winning historian Peter Cozzens now shows us that while Tecumseh was the forward-facing diplomat–appealing even to the colonizers attempting to appropiate Indian land–behind the scenes, Tenskwatawa unified disparate tribes of the Old Northwest with his deep understanding of their religion and culture. No other Native American leaders enjoyed such popularity, and none would ever pose a graver threat to the nation’s westward expansion than Tecumseh and Tenskwatawa (Goodreads)
The Seven Storey Mountain tells of the growing restlessness of a brilliant and passionate young man, who at the age of twenty-six, takes vows in one of the most demanding Catholic orders—the Trappist monks. At the Abbey of Gethsemani, “the four walls of my new freedom,” Thomas Merton struggles to withdraw from the world, but only after he has fully immersed himself in it. At the abbey, he wrote this extraordinary testament, a unique spiritual autobiography that has been recognized as one of the most influential religious works of our time (Goodreads)
Know what I do at night while you’re asleep? Eat your trash, that’s what! See those bags? I smell breakfast!
With ten wide tires, one really big appetite, and an even bigger smell, this truck’s got it all. His job? Eating your garbage and loving every stinky second of it!
And you thought nighttime was just for sleeping. (Goodreads)
My Truck Is Stuck. Rotten luck. Can’t go! My truck is stuck. Tug and tow. Two engines roar. But the truck won’t go. Not one inch more. Does anyone know how to make my stuck truck go? In this lyrical read-aloud, young drivers are introduced to the ins and outs of hauling, beeping, and repairing — get ready for a fun ride! (Goodreads)