Friday, April 24, 2015

Nurses Write!

Two books currently on the New Non-Fiction Shelf are nurses' accounts of what it is like to work in their much admired and appreciated profession. The library  has many books written by doctors about their profession, but  it is harder to find similar autobiographical accounts by nurses or nurse memoirs. I don't know why this is, but I am sure that a statistical look at Amazon or Books in Print would bear me out on this inbalance of health care provider's authorship.* When the local high school students come in to research a profession, which is a perennial assignment, we now have two fascinating new nursing memoirs as well as a few from previous years.

Becoming Nursey: from Code Blues to Code Browns, How to Care for Your Patients and Yourself by Kati Kleber, BSN RN (2014) (@nurseeyeroll on Twitter and the blog (610.73 KLE)
I follow Kati Kleber's Twitter account @nurseeyeroll which I find very amusing. In the last year or so, she has been tweeting about her new memoir 'Becoming Nursey' which is meant to help new nurses understand what it takes to become a nurse after graduating from nursing school. She writes that she could not find any book that helped new nurses make the transition from school to actually practicing nursing. So for anyone interested in the profession, or about to start out, diploma in hand, this book tells not only the practical aspects of nursing, but also the emotional side.

The library also owns a collection of essays by nurses and about nursing:
I Wasn't Strong Like This When I Started Out: True Stories of Becoming a Nurse, edited by Lee Gutkind (2013) (610.73 IWA).
This book would also make a good introduction to anyone interested in the nursing profession.

Books about nursing that have been on the library shelves for a little longer:

Critical care : a new nurse faces death, life, and everything in between by Theresa Brown (2010) (616 BROWN)

Intensive Care, the Story of a Nurse by Echo Heron (1987) (610.73 HERON)

Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth (2002) The PBS TV series is based on this memoir.

And finally, the classic of nursing theory and practice:

Notes on Nursing by Florence Nightingale (1860) (649.8 NIGHTINGALE)

* My unscientific statistical look at published doctor memoirs versus nurse memoirs bears out my hunch that doctors write about what it takes to become a doctor and what it is like to be a doctor more than nurses write their memoirs.
Amazon search of the terms 'doctor memoirs' (1909) versus 'nurse memoirs' (763)
Google Books search of the terms 'doctor memoirs' (1,020,000) versus 'nurse memoirs' (319,000)
BHPL catalog of books, using the search term 'doctor biography' (51) versus 'nurse biography' (25)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Bullets that Remain and the Problems They Cause

 The Bullet by Mary Louise Kelly (2015) is a new thriller by journalist Kelly that kept me so engrossed on my day off that I put off my to-do list til the next day. Georgetown professor Caroline Cashion feels increasing pain in her wrist which turns out to be caused, not by carpal tunnel syndrome, but by a stray bullet buried deep in her neck - despite the fact that she has no memory of ever being shot. The story takes off like a, oh yes, a shot, and provides a page-turning adventure. Cashion finds out how and when she got shot and follows up the cold case that is the story of her childhood trauma. 

This was not the first book I have read about a bullet left in a shooting victim who lives, only to experience side-effects years later. The library book group read Traveler by Ron McLarty a few years ago. The blog review is below. Kelly's book is a thriller in the style of Gone Girl where the plot may sometimes seem improbable, but the suspense about what happens next pushes the reader on quickly. McLarty's book is beautifully told and elegiac in style, so the books are not similar other than the premise of the bullet that was never removed as the driver of the plots. Thanks to Jean F. at Circulation Desk for the recommendation of The Bullet. By word of mouth, the book is circulating well at BHPL and there are several holds on it now. While you are waiting, read Traveler.

Traveler by Ron McLarty

first posted in 2010

The library evening book group will discuss Ron McLarty's Traveler on Tuesday night at 7:30 pm. Traveler, actor and author McLarty's second novel, has lived up to expectations of readers and critics after his critically acclaimed The Memory of Running.

The plot: middle-aged and middling part-time actor and bartender, Jono Riley returns to his working-class hometown of East Providence, Rhode Island, when he hears of the death of Marie, a childhood friend. A bullet left in Marie's body after a random and unsolved shooting in her childhood traveled to an artery and killed her in her sleep. Jono travels home to find that his gang of friends, now dispersed or dead, have changed. Narrated in the first person, Jono's memories of growing up are interwoven with the present day trip. During his visit, Jono and retired policeman Kenny Snowden solve the cases of the unsolved shooting of Marie and several other local unsolved shootings.

The beauty of this book, as with Art in America, the only other McLarty novel I've read, is in the voice of the narrator. Jono Riley's story is told in a conversational style that just flows like someone who can hold a group of friends spellbound with his storytelling ability. The mystery in the plot certainly holds the readers interest, but I felt that the trip down memory lane, revisiting old haunts, remembering old friends from highschool, re-experiencing the old neighborhood and the remaining parents of old friends, all of these things most people will relate to. So many people leave home after highschool graduation and really never live at home again, that the experience of trying to recapture the old days is almost universal. I don't know how it feels to be one of the people who stay in the hometown, but for everyone else, the nostalgia that comes with leaving home will resonate.
Jono Riley after helping Officer Snowden uncover a cache of guns in the old priest's trunk wonders:
"Standing alone, some wind whipping around and gray clouds rolling in, I felt it seemed to be the perfect time to ask myself what the hell I was doing here. Rhode Island. East Providence. The bartender/actor sinking in memories and mysteries...I remain essentially a child of the working class, seeking at the very least a modicum of order." (158) Jono Riley decides he needs to go back to New York City, his girlfriend, his present-day life to get his life in order.

Area Bear Seeks Chair

Bear Taking the Trash Out
I posted these bears-in-fact-and-fiction thoughts a few years ago. Don't worry, there are no bear reports at this time in the area as far as I know. I am more careful about leaving my back door open though, just saying - in case any Bear Burglars are reading the library blog.

'The blinking telephone message light greeted me last night when I got home from work. The police reverse phone emergency system informed me that a "free-ranging" bear had been spotted near Summit Middle School and was last reported heading in a "westerly" direction.  Last time I got that message was the day I had left the outside door propped wide for my dog and forgot to close it when I left for work;  what if a  bear had headed into my house and found a "just right" sized bed or chair or perhaps raided the cupboard looking for porridge? I wonder what they mean by a "free-ranging" bear. Would that be something different from a bear with a plan or a GPS? While I was pondering that mystery, I started to think about how bears are portrayed in children's books, so cute and cuddly and, well, human. Some well-known literary bears spring to mind:

The many versions of the story of Goldilocks and her nemeses, the Three Bears, who I think of as Mr. and Mrs. Three and Little Three, Jr.
The Berenstain Bears, whose eponymous (always wanted to use that word in a sentence) series features moral lessons for young children about proper behavior in school, at the doctor, with the babysitter, on a boat, at night etc. There's no situation these books don't address. Every day has teachable moments for these poor bears. My son was addicted to this series; me not so much. I prefer:
Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson as a read-a-loud for preschoolers, Michael Bond's Paddington series is fun to read to older children. My (now grown) kids still refer to Paddington "having a tussle with a sticky bun" in the station cafe. It is one of those family catch-phrases. Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey is a classic; I love McCloskey's illustrations and the old-fashioned 3-tones pictures. And Daniel Pinkwater's stories about Larry the Polar Bear who floats on an ice flow and ends up in Bayonne, NJ is a must read.
If approached by a real bear, remain calm and report it to the NJ bear hotline    
For more information about real bears, read the NJ Department of Environmental Protection's 
Bear Facts page.'

[Originally posted April 2011]

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Cozy Mysteries Set in Nice, France

What could be better than to escape from a rainy, northern climate to the warm southern coast of France? For a bookish escape to Nice on the French Riviera, try 'Not Quite Nice' by Celia Imrie or 'Toured to Death' by Hy Conrad. Ms. Imrie, a well-known British actress, has written a fun story of escapism about a divorcee and grandmother. Short on money, under-appreciated by her awful grown daughter and bratty grandchildren, Theresa decides to sell her London house and retire to a small seaside village near Nice. There she meets a merry band of eccentric ex-patriots, starts teaching cooking classes to make a little money and becomes involved in solving some criminal capers with a little romance thrown in. It's all here: beautiful scenery, fun friends, a new lease on life and a little adventure, plus a few recipes to  try. Read the review on 'We Love This Book' for a few more plot details.
By coincidence, the next mystery I picked up at random off the library shelves was also set in Nice, at least in the beginning. 'Toured to Death, an Amy's Travel Mystery' by Hy Conrad follows a group of mystery fans who have signed up for a mystery tour that starts in Nice and wends its way through Italy ending up at the solution in Rome. Along the way, a few people really are murdered of course. The mystery was rather clever and the escapist element of travel and acting out a mystery made this book appealing for a dreary winter or chilly wet spring.

Below is one of my favorite paintings of 'The Riviera' by Pierre Bonnard. His beautiful colors and paintings of dreamy vistas in the south of France are mesmerizing. This painting is owned by the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC.

The Riviera by Pierre Bonnard, Phillips Collection

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Spring at the Berkeley Heights Public Library

Winter into Spring, 

a slide show made with Animoto's free video maker app for iPad.

Just a few weeks ago, the Berkeley Heights Public Library, and most of New Jersey, was covered in snow. Now spring is beginning to appear as a few intrepid daffodil shoots poke up through the bare, muddy ground. The days are getting a little longer and a little warmer.
I searched our 'Columbia Granger's World of Poetry' database for a poem to express the feeling of relief that the winter of 2013 - 2014 is over. I found hundreds of poems about spring and April. Willliam Leighton's 'April' tells it like it is, don't you think?

'Gusty March is dead and gone!
 April heard his parting sighs,
 Smiling through her tearful eyes
At the sweet days coming on.'

There's more to this poem. To find this and other poems by first line, last line, subject or poet, search the Granger's Poetry database from our  'Databases and Articles' webpage. Type in your Berkeley Heights Library barcode number at the prompt.

Leighton, William. “April.” Columbia Granger's World of Poetry Online. 2014. Columbia University Press. 4 Apr. 2014.

[Originally posted on this blog in April 2014 ]