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Library Notes: Reading to reflect on what mattered most this year

By Stephanie Reister
Rowan Public Library

This year has been difficult for everyone, for many beyond measure. As it draws to a close, there is hope for better days ahead. There’s also time to ponder the people and things that have meant the most to us during this unexpected year.

I look back on the opportunities I had this year to build awareness of crucial issues and strengthen relationships. I’m grateful to the people who are expanding my understanding of racial experiences. I also put more effort into cultivating the bonds with people who I respect and care about.

This holiday season, I’m finding books at Rowan Public Library that focus on positive concepts I can use to look back on the year, appreciate the present, and use in the future.

“The Book of Ichigo Ichie” by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles reminds us that every moment in our lives only happens once. Ichigo ichie (pronounced itchy-Go, itchy-A) can be translated as “In this moment, an opportunity.” This year has been filled with pivotal moments, some with missed opportunities. The authors coach us to slow down and use all five senses in the present so we can enrich ourselves and those around us.

In “The Thank-You Project,” Nancy Davis Kho documents her method and reasons for writing letters of gratitude to key people and places in her life. After this year, I know my list includes a few more people to whom I will send letters. A handwritten letter is so personal and it’s safer than a hug nowadays. I also enjoy the eclectic mixtape lists Kho includes at the end of each chapter with old and new songs that fit the gratitude category.

In “How to be Fine,” Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer share their experiences of living by the rules of 50 self-help books. It’s an extension from their podcast “By the Book” where they discuss their two-week book experiments. With Greenberg being optimistic about self-help and Meinzer being a skeptic, they each give honest, amusing anecdotes about their results. I don’t know if there are enough self-help books to fix this year, but I can appreciate that the authors have made it faster to read through a pile of advice.

These books basically sum up my year, along with the benefit of having worked at all three RPL branches. I had the chance to get to know many of my coworkers better. My time at each location confirmed for me that RPL’s greatest strength is its staff. They support and motivate each other while providing responsive public service.

This has been a year that none of us will soon forget. Here’s to turning a corner in 2021 that puts us on a better path. Whatever the year brings, RPL is dedicated to serving you.

Stephanie Reister is children’s librarian at the South Branch of the Rowan Public Library.

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