Continued Coverage of Holiday Reading Cheer!

So, it’s still the holiday season, and guess what? More holidays! More traditions! More awkward small talk with your extended family you  only see once a year! Today, we discuss a number of classic holidays, from religious to cultural to just plain fun; it’s amazing how many ways people celebrate during this season! Hey, it beats talking about finals again so let’s take a look!

Hanukkah! [ BM695.H3 F685 1999]

  It’s a pop-up book! About Hanukkah! Alright, so it’s a kids book, and it’s informative and tells the story of Hanukkah, but look at the pictures! They`re so pretty and they pop up! So ok, the actual book tells the story of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. Here’s the CliffsNotes version: Basically, around 2000 years ago, the Jewish homeland was being occupied by the Greek army, and even worse, the Greek army vandalized the sacred Jewish temples, threw out the Jewish worshippers, and sacrificed pigs on their altar. Which, to me, sounds pretty gross no matter your culture, but to the Jewish faith, it’s an especially big insult. So, tired of being oppressed, a guy named Judah Maccabee and a small group decided to fight back. Long story short, they kicked the Greeks out, and held a celebration in their temple. In this book, this story has a lot more details, and, more importantly, it’s full of great pictures! But the big moment is when they try to light the Menorah, and realize they only have enough oil for one day! And it will take days to run to ancient Walmart to get more! Luckily, a miracle happens, and the candle burned for eight days straight, until the Walmart run could come back with more oil. So yeah, the whole story is much cooler than a quick summary, so check it out- in pop-up form!


For some reason, it seems like if you want any good information on holidays, the best place to look is children’s literature with exclamation points in their titles. I guess they just work better with pretty pictures, I don’t know. Like in this book, which is talking about the many traditions of the African American holiday of Kwanzaa. It takes the reader step by step through the multiple-day celebration of African American culture and African heritage, complete with sayings, games, and pictures. Each chapter takes you through one of the 7 days of Kwanzaa, telling about each one’s meaning (unity, purpose, faith, creativity, etc.) and what everything they do symbolizes (candles, African sayings and songs, handmade gifts and books). This book also has a number of stories in it, both old African folk tales, and more modern real-life stories of great African Americans, along with lots of pictures. And at the end, it shows a number of Kwanzaa games, foods, and other fun things for kids to do. If you’re interested in learning more about the history of how Kwanzaa came to be, with its ties to the black power movement in the 1960s, this book sort of skips over a lot of the political stuff that came with the creation of this holiday, so it might not be for you. But if you’re interested more in the actual traditions and cultural ties to Africa and African American culture, this seems like a good place to start!
  Dear lord does that sound like an exciting read! But honestly, as something of a history dork, I love learning about the lives of average people living in the past, or people living in different places. That includes how people celebrate their holidays! Unlike the previously mentioned kids’ books, this is pretty dry information about various holidays, but it’s still good reading. You can learn about the winter holidays of everyone from the ancient Norwegians, to the colonial Americans to the South Americans’ Moon Pie Festival. There are lots of discussions of traditions, histories, and cultures, which, while not super exciting, will give you lots of good information if you’re looking to learn more ways to celebrate! Not to mention this is a pretty nifty encyclopedia for that multicultural speech in CMST 101!

 Well, looks like I’m signing off for 2012. It’s been a blast being your blogger, and I can’t wait to continue next year! Have a good break, and be sure to stop by the library (and my blog) when you get back! See you guys!


Christmas Time Reading

It’s Holiday season! Gifts, decorating, family, friends, music- it’s a great time of year! And what better way to celebrate than at the library! There are lots of things right here full of stories, information, and history of just about every holiday you can find. In order to continue spreading that holiday cheer, I’m here to show you some great reads for your holiday season. Whether you want to learn more about the history of certain holidays, get some yummy recipes, or just chill with a good holiday story, there are tons of places to look for that festive read. May I offer you some Christmas hors d’oeuvres?

Encyclopedia of Christmas [ REF GT4985 .G79 2000] 
Ever had a desire to know why we write letters to Santa, use holly and ivy to decorate, or why Christmas in America was at first condemned by the early church? Then check this book out, which gives tons of information about the holiday season, and all the wackiness that seems to follow it. It talks about how we have gotten most of our Christmas traditions, as well as traditions from other times and places. For example, did you know that the mistletoe as a Christmas sign comes from Norse mythology, but kissing under it comes from Britain? Did you know that when “The Nutcracker” debuted in 1892, audiences hated it, and the ballet was almost closed down? The only reason we know about it today is because Tsar Alexander III happened to like it and insisted it continue. Did you know that pretty much everything we know about Christmas tree decorating comes from Germany? Flip through this book to learn even more little-known facts to amaze your friends during awkward pauses at your Christmas party!

Plum Pudding Murder-Joanne Fluke  [available in Popular Reading, 1st floor]

 Looking for a nice light read to take a look at in between wrapping presents and drinking that third thing of eggnog? This paperback, part of Fluke’s Hannah Swensen mystery series, is the tale of said Hannah, a small town baker who almost always seems to stumble into mysteries, in between baking cookies, dealing with her wacky town, and looking for love. In this story, a Yuletide murder takes place in the middle of her town’s Christmas carnival, and Hannah has to figure out who the killer is before the 12 days of Christmas ends! It’s light and breezy and cozy, a perfect little book to read when you just want to unwind. It also has several Christmas recipes in it, that sound quite tasty and a lot easier than most of what I have attempted off of Pinterest! And more festive!

The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol Rescued his Career and Revived our Holiday Spirits– Les Stanford  [ebrary Academic Complete Online Access]
You’ve read A Christmas Carol right? The timeless, much adapted, much parodied tale of a grumpy old rich guy who is shown the true meaning of Christmas by three spirits, and then vows to change his ways. It’s an archetypal Christmas story, and has shaped not only what we know about Christmas, but also what we know about the time period it’s set in, The Victorian Era, a time of street urchins, top hats, and endless emotional and sexual repression. But what’s really interesting is the story behind A Christmas Carol, and how much of an impact it really had. In this e-book, it discusses more about how Dickens began his career as a writer, his early life, and how he came to write his classic novel. Dickens’ novel wasn’t just huge, it changed Christmas and how we celebrate it forever. It’s an interesting read if you like Dickens, history, or are interested in how Scrooge, Tiny Tim, and the rest of the gang changed culture forever.  

Temporarily turn off your left brain and turn on your right

Looking for a way to unwind a little before finals? Tired of my constant blog posts that are turning quickly into a metaphor about my increasingly stressful schedule?  Well, the library can help! Again! Starting today, Thursday, the library will be having its Unplug and Unwind program, dedicated to helping students release stress, and have a little fun in between studying, papers, and coffee breaks. First off, there is the Wall of Frustration! The library has put up big sheets of paper in Labs A and B, that are basically big Facebook Walls, totally dedicated to complaining about finals and how much they rot.  Grab a pen and rant, rave, and vent about the many horrors and pains of finals season. Or, if you feel like being more positive, just write your name, draw a picture of a puppy, start a game of tic-tac-toe, or wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Show everyone that finals won’t get you down! Or at least, you’re going to try not to let them get you down. Read what other students are feeling, and agree or disagree with them. It’s nice to know that as the finals week madness descends, at least we aren’t alone.

Done writing “Finals are LAME” and drawing pictures of your professor with horns on his head? Grab a coloring book and get creative! The library is offering coloring books, crayons, and puzzles to play around and release your inner child, who has never even heard of finals! You can come and color with books featuring Christmas, Disney, and Sesame Street! That’s just hard to beat! Then grab a puzzle book and play some games, fun puzzle game that have absolutely nothing to do with finals. While just little things, it’s great to just do something fun and silly to get your mind off the most stressful time of the year. Play with a puzzle, color some pictures, and vent out some frustration. All these goodies are on the map cases in Popular Materials on the first floor.

Sounds pretty good right? But wait, there’s more! Hanging out at the library, and suddenly in need of some holiday cheer? Well, our buddy Archie the Eagle will be flying around the library, handing out candy canes to students who look like they could use some cheer! So come hang with Archie, eat some candy canes, play games, color pictures, or vent about finals. Oh, and let’s not forget to be nice and respectful to your fellow students at the library this week. It’s cool to try to lighten up the mood, but don’t be too loud with talking or music, no one needs the extra distractions this week as they try to stare a hole into their anatomy book. If you find yourself stuck by someone who doesn’t really get this, you can pick up some earplugs from the front desk! Or if you just want complete quiet in the library, whatever helps you most. Just remember, while normally I am sure everyone on the third floor would love to hear your weekend plans, or that awesome “Jingle Bells – Call Me Maybe” remix, save those ’til after finals. Don’t be that guy/girl.


A Continued Guide to Fighting Finals

So I don’t know if I have mentioned this yet, but it’s finals season. Finals season is not very pleasent. I have already written two blogs here about ways to make this week and a half just a little less like one giant emotional break down, but I can’t lie, it’s going to be tough, no matter what you do. However, there are ways to get through it. I have already talked about movies to watch, and music to listen to, now it’s time to talk about some other easy ways to relax, relieve a little stress, and at least take a few calming breaths.


You may or may not have heard about Aromatherapy, which is basically the science of using scents to solve problems. Well, that’s the shortened version. But certain scents have been known to make people really feel better, calmer, or even healthier. There are a lot of different places to look if you want try Aromatherapy, including right here! One place to look is the internet, which has lots of sites to find directions on using Aromatherapy in the best way possible. a newsletter that has an excellent list of different oils and scents and how to specifically use them to cure anything from stress to headaches to memory problems. These scents can be found anywhere, even Wal-Mart, so go ahead and check it out. Worst case scenario, you walk into finals smelling like vanilla. Maybe your professor will appreciate the smell as you turn your test in.


You might not think about it very much, but exercise actually is very important when you’re trying to get a lot of school work done. Exercise can reduce stress chemically, with the sweat and motion relieving your body of negative energy. At least, according to the internet. This is what led me to yoga, a relaxing exercise routine that combines stretching, meditation, and movement to be both a workout, and a stress reliever. If you don’t have time to take one of the classes offered at the REC, here are a few books we have here to help you get started on your own!

15 Minute Gentle Yoga– Louise Grime: [e-book from Safari Online]

Yoga: A Gateway to Curb Social EvilsRamesh Kumar [e-book from ebrary]   p.s. the title alone should make you want to bend yourself like a pretzel!

Alternative Medicine


 If you are interested in learning more about Aromatherapy, yoga, or any other ways to calm yourself before you start banging your head against the nearest hard surface, there are many places to go to get more information. Check out Complementary and Alternative Medicine ( REF R735 .C66 2010) by Amy L. Sutton. It’s filled with information on meditation, music therapy, dietary therepy, and herbal remedies. It’s a pretty clinical book, so if you wanted to learn how to actually practice a lot of these things, you might want to look around a bit more for information, but this is a very good place to start! Now you might be rolling your eyes a bit at all the “New Age” stuff, but it’s not a bunch of just pointless techniques that hipsters like to throw around, this is all pretty legit. At least give some of them a try. Again, better than damaging your wall as you smash your head against it.