Friday, September 29, 2017

On school: A wrap-up

This month at The Bibliotaph, our focus has been on school, education, learning outside of a schoolroom, finding new hobbies and passions, and loving learning. We’ve talked about textbooks, about American classics, about charities, and about books about school. We’ve covered more school-related topics than I honestly thought I could scheme up and in that process, I’ve come to appreciate just how much books can teach us.
I think I truly discovered the amount of learning that can be done out of school shortly before I graduated from college. I had recently taken an academic interest in two topics: pornography and eating disorder. I decided that I was going to read as much as I could to better understand these topics.
It was somewhat difficult to find books on pornography (especially at a Christian university), but I ended up finding a couple and hurried through them. The books on eating disorders were equally fascinating and I quickly made it through a few of those as well. I had never realized that non-fiction could be just as captivating as fiction and that I could spend so much time mulling over the information laid out in the books I read.
Since that time, I’ve become increasingly interested in nonfiction, beginning with books on my favorite deceased musician, David Bowie, working my way through some feminist-themed nonfiction, and then eventually reading countless memoirs as I went back to school. I’ve loved seeing how much I’ve learned in my time away from school and how much that knowledge is now benefitting me.
I have a friend who it seems like knows everything. No matter what topic is brought up, she seems to know more than anyone else in the room and have a strong opinion on the topic. I once asked her how she knew so much about everything and she told me, “I read a lot.” She went on to explain that, while she was raising her children, she felt like books and online articles were her only connections to the outside world and that reading made her feel like a part of that world, even when she felt like raising kids was more like solitary confinement.
I’ve been thinking on this conversation a lot since we spoke and I’ve come to realize that I want to be like that - I want to be so well-read and so invested in the things I’m reading that I’ll be able to know a little about a lot of things and that I’ll be a better member of society because of it. School will help with that a lot, but, ultimately, school will end again and I’ll be back to seeking that knowledge for myself. In the end, it’ll be up to me to read and gather that knowledge on my own. I plan on having an endless time in the nonfiction section of the library, reading and learning everything in sight.

What books have you read to learn more? How do you learn outside of school? How do books assist your learning processes?

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

On activism through reading

As a dedicated reader of Book Riot, I’ve been intrigued and delighted by their #literaryactivism and their ability to use books to protest, educate, and change society. Being an activist doesn’t necessarily mean attending every protest and putting bumper stickers on your car for every cause you support - it can also mean being knowledgeable enough about a topic to intelligently discuss it with others or supporting an author who promotes causes you believe in. Below, I have some collected some resources on how you can use your reading to become an activist - and resources to encourage you to become more of an activist.

What resources would you add to this list? How do you use reading to be an activist? What books would you suggest for amateur activists?

Monday, September 25, 2017

On books suggested in my social work classes

Well, folks, I’m back in school. Grad school has a lot of reading involved and I’m loving it. It’s also limited how much reading I can do for fun - all my reading is currently directed at learning more and becoming a better student and social worker. And there's a lot of reading in grad school. Like, a LOT. In light of this, here are some books that you can read that will help teach you about issues that social workers confront and issues in our world in general:

All Souls: A Family Story from Southie
Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs
The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness
Orange Is the New Black
Girl in Need of a Tourniquet: Memoir of a Borderline Personality
The Dark Side of Innocence: Growing Up Bipolar

If this still isn’t enough reading material for you (or if you’re already a social worker who’s read everything on this list), check out this Goodreads list with more suggestions.

What books would you add to this list? Which of these books have you already read?

Friday, September 22, 2017

On how to find a passion to learn more about

This month, we’ve talked quite a bit about learning, why it’s important, how to do more of it. We’ve given you a lot of the how and the why and helped make it very possible for you to keep learning once school is done. One question I had when I first finished school was - what are my passions and interests? For me, school took so much time and energy that I felt like I didn’t have time to pursue many of the things that I loved. For me, it was a bit of struggle to remember what I loved and to find things that new, post-school me was passionate about.
For those of you who are in a similar boat, here are some ideas for how to get started:
  • Think back to what made you happy as a kid - Often, these hobbies and interests are more important to the core of who you are than you realize. If you loved catching bugs as a little kid, try reading a book about different types of insects or visit a butterfly sanctuary. If you loved hiking, try a new trail or follow a blog about outdoor adventures in your area. If you always liked to cook, buy a new cookbook or watch a cooking tutorial on Youtube. Find a way to take your passions as a child and translate them into something you can do today.
  • Talk to your friends - If you’re looking for a new hobby, then see what your friends are doing and tag along. Even if you don’t find something that interests you, you’ll connect more with your friends and they’ll appreciate your efforts to try their hobbies. Go to the poetry slam your buddy is performing at or tag along to the knitting circle your friend frequents.
  • Wander through the non-fiction section of your library - You don’t necessarily have to check anything out (though it’s always nice to read a new book). Just wandering through and looking at the different topics available can really help you see what sparks your interest and what bores you to tears. If the books of different parts of a car engine stand out to you, check one out and see if it’s still interesting or start watching Top Gear to test the waters.
  • Take a class - Many local recreation centers, libraries, community college, and even craft stores offer classes that you can take to learn basics of many different hobbies. I took a 6-week painting class once and, while it was fun, it didn’t ignite any new interests for me. Your story could be different - the 4-week photography class at your local library might be just what you need to get started.
  • Become a renaissance person- If you’re still struggling to find something that truly captivates you, then focus on learning a little about a lot of things. If you end up knowing enough about a broad range of things to get by, chances are that you’ll eventually find something that really intrigues you. Even if you don’t, it’s an opportunity to connect more with people and to learn more about the world. Or perhaps learning new things could become your hobby.
  • Read this list of hobbies from Wikipedia - If all else fails and you’re still desperate to find a hobby, then check out this list and see if anything on it appeals to you.

How do you find new hobbies? Has anything from this list worked for you?

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

On adding textbooks to Goodreads

I’m a student, so obviously, I do a lot of reading - textbooks, journal articles, non-fiction books, Powerpoint slides, syllabuses, notes from class, essays, pertinent newspaper articles….you get it. Once school started, my reading-for-fun time got significantly diminished and that hurt my heart a bit. And then I started to fall behind on my Goodreads challenge. For me, this was the worst part -I was doing A TON of reading, but most of it was not something that I could count for Goodreads...or was it?
Here are my thoughts on why you should add textbooks and other school books to your Goodreads (and why I’ll be adding all my textbook at the end of the semester):
  1. You took the time to read them, didn’t you? If you spent hours reading a huge textbook on human development and you legitimately read every chapter in that book, you definitely deserve to add it. You spent the time and energy to read it and you deserve to show off and reap the benefits for your Goodreads challenge.
  2. Show off your skills. Taking classes on subjects that interest you can be fun, but difficult to find people who want to discuss your new-found opinions and knowledge. Goodreads is an excellent place to not just brag a bit that you’ve done a lot of intellectual reading, but to connect with people who also care about this topic and are interested in discussing it at greater length. A lot of Goodreads comments are more “Oh, that looks like a cool book!” or “Congrats on reading something so long!” but I’ve seen plenty of comments more along the lines of “What did you think of the author’s argument that blah blah blah?” or “I was really intrigued by the final anecdote in this book and the implications of that,” or even “There’s a better textbook out there for this topic.” Goodreads can be your place to start these discussions.
  3. Keeping track and branching out. Learning more about any topic can be difficult and classes help to make that easier. If you’re interested in learning more on a topic (maybe a few years after the class is finished), looking back on the books you needed for a class is a good starting place. Not only will you be able to see which books you’ve already read on a certain topic, but Goodreads can help suggest similar books or guide you to lists on a specific topic. This is especially useful once some time has passed and you’ve forgotten exactly which materials you’ve already consumed.
  4. Teach your children. Even if you aren’t seeking to become a formal teacher, you will be given opportunities to teach individuals in your life. It might be your kids, your nieces and nephews, your friends, your peers, your family, your classmates - whoever. Having access to the materials that you used to learn more about a topic gives you something to reference back to when trying to teach someone else and it also gives you something to suggest to an interested learner. And then, if you are in a position to formally teach a class, you’ll have access to exactly what textbook you used when you learned about that topic and textbooks you used in other classes that may complement the lessons in your less.

Do you add textbooks to your Goodreads? Why or why not?

Monday, September 18, 2017

On a random mix of non-fiction books you should read

Often, you don’t want to delve too far into a topic and it’s a little more fun to get an overview of the generalities of topic rather than spending the next ten years researching it intensely. Sometimes, it’s fun to get to know one small aspect of topic really well, too, instead of having to thoroughly research a topic in order to find that tidbit. The following books are a random mix of non-fiction that should help you learn a bit about a lot of different things - and maybe spark an obsession that’ll lead you to reading much more.

What non-fiction books have you been enjoying lately? What motivates you to read a non-fiction book?