Lives Change @ Your Library

Okay, guys. Buckle up! This is going to be a wordy post, but I promise it will be an extremely rewarding read. Last week was National Library Week. Libraries across the country celebrated in various ways, but we all shared the same theme: Lives Change @ Your Library. Here at EPL we talked to you. My colleagues and I, armed with cookies and a laptop, asked you to share your library stories. We asked you to tell us what you love about the library and how it may have impacted your life. I have to say that the experience was both entertaining and very humbling. The shorter stories I tweeted; the longer ones I will share with you here. Know that every single one of you warmed my heart and made me thankful that I’m able to work with people like you.

“I’ve hung out at libraries all my life. I’ve been a big reader, a big fan of the library my whole life. I’m an artist now and use the library to do research for my sketches. I use the copy machines and take advantage of the large tables to spread out my stuff and sketch. It’s all right here.”
–Shawn, Main Library

“I grew up in an at-risk neighborhood where no one read books and some never graduated from high school. However, because of the public library one block from my elementary school, I dreamed of a better future. I graduated from high school and college, and worked as a secretary for insurance and bank company executives.”
–April, Evergreen Branch Library

“I used to come here when I was a kid and sit in the children’s area. I’d read while sitting on the giant stuffed gorilla! Remember that old globe that used to spin? I literally used to check out 30 books at a time and read them all and bring them back week after week. I was a really advanced reader. Now I can’t do anything new without reading a book first. Books are kind of my life.”
–Jessica, Main Library

“This library is a great community resource. And now that I’m unemployed, the library is my main resource for everything.”
–Anonymous, Main Library

“I love how the Everett Public Library is sending the mobile library out to our apartment building. A lot of people really need this service! If we don’t have it we find it very difficult to get our reading material. So keep it coming!”
–Nancy, Outreach Services

“Scott is the coolest reference librarian I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. Cam is great, too! Marge is a jewel. And David in the Northwest Room runs the best historical room on the planet!”
–George, Main Library

“I started going to this library in 1993 when we moved here. I was eight years old. I won the mayor’s reading award several times. My mom and I are still patrons, but now I bring my own kids. They do the summer reading program, too. It’s definitely a wonderful place to be. We also love all the changes.”
–Anonymous, Evergreen Branch Library

“When I was a little girl, my mother used to take me to the Seattle Public Library regularly. then she became ill with tuberculosis and had to go to a sanitarium, leaving my brother and I to live in an orphanage. I cried and cried and wouldn’t eat, I was so sad. That evening, one of the orphanage staff said that they were having story hour and maybe I would like to come. I went with her, still sniffling, to the story room, and there was my librarian from the Seattle Public Library! I knew then that I was going to be okay.”
–Silver, Outreach Services patron


“Ever since we moved to Everett eleven years ago, the Everett Library has been our favorite place in town. Other favorites have come and gone with the ages of our children, but the library has always had something for everyone; from storytimes, to free concerts, to all the history books I’ve wanted for homeschooling, to summer novels, how-to books, friendly children’s librarians–who became household names–to genealogical research tools and theology. The library has enriched our lives in so many ways. We can’t wait to see what it holds for us next!”
–Anonymous, Main Library

“Libraries are the first thing I look for when I move to a new town. A child that has nothing else in their life can go anywhere in the world, thanks to the library. It changes lives. This library has all the best books that I want. I’ll look up current bestsellers and they’re already in the catalog, waiting for my hold. You have a marvelous library! You do such a good job ordering everything that people want. Whenever my friends and I are sitting around talking about the best reasons to live in Everett, the library is always number one. I like to fall asleep in my bed with a library book on my chest. I. Love. The. Library!”
–Sharon, Main Library

“The Outreach program serves a lot of people that could not use the library if it was not offered. There are two ladies working for Outreach that are God-sends. Both of them work hard to provide services to people that need this service.”
–Charlie, Outreach Services

“I like religious books and read a lot about the Amish people. These books help me get a new meaning in life as I walk with Christ.”
–Nellie, Evergreen Branch Library

“I’ve been coming here since 1997. You’re doing a great job here. The library keeps me sane. Genuinely, I’m reminded of my hometown library in England, which I love. You have a great selection of English DVDs here. I honestly think that a lot of Everett residents don’t realize how fortunate they are with the services the library has.”
–Roy, Main Library

“The library gave me the opportunity to read a great deal more when I was unable to get around, due to the lack of transportation. It’s close to home, within walking distance.”
–Anonymous, Evergreen Branch Library

“You are a wonderful place! Without you, I would not have had any friends here. The library is a place for me to go to work on my patent, and a place to find good books to read. When I was homeless you helped me so very much. I never knew you had it in you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
–Mike, Main Library

“I love books! Books externalize who I am, my very identity. I can have esoteric notions in my head about what I believe, the way I think about things. Then there’s that magic moment when I’m reading a book and the author frames it just right, and I’m like, bam! There it is! That’s why I love reading. Libraries are a vital portion of that because I can come in and find a book and take on it, be two pages in and think it’s so amazing. That’s why I love libraries and that’s what libraries mean to me.”
–Shane, Main Library

“I can lose money going to community college, or I can go to the library. If classes get too tough, I drop out, and that tuition money is lost to me. The Everett Public Library is free and lets me learn at my own pace. I see I can’t get through college, so I’m not going to continue to sign up for classes and lose that tuition money. On my library card it states, ‘To inform.’ The library definitely informs me. I save thousands of dollars.”
–Anonymous, Main Library

“Well, if I didn’t have the library, I would be totally bored! Since I haven’t had a TV for twenty years, that’s about all I do is read. Now that I’m retired from my job I come here more often. I can get the bestsellers, biographies, work on the computers, and read the latest magazines. The library is a good place to go on a rainy day. It’s just great! I love the library! Thanks to everyone who runs it.”
–Anonymous, Evergreen Branch Library

“I lived here when I was doing my schooling. Back around 2002 at City University, they told us to use the Sno-Isle libraries. I said the Everett Public Library has everything you need! They said no, use the Sno-Isle facilities or go to Renton and use CU’s. I stayed here! It had everything I needed, including those books that tell you who is running which businesses. I perused the periodicals, especially Harvard Business Review. EPL definitely had the right kind of resources for students like me doing research on businesses. You don’t have to travel to a different library system or wait for materials to be delivered. At EPL I can walk in and get what I need.”
–Brian, Main Library


“I got caught reading books under my desk in the third grade when I was supposed to be paying attention in class! My teacher sent a note home with me to my dad that said to take me to the public library so I could read to my heart’s content. And that’s what he did! I have always loved books and loved to read. I can’t get enough reading. I worked in the high school library when I was growing up. When I eventually had kids of my own it was difficult to find the time to read, so now I’m always sneaking away a little bit of time to read. I love coming here. It’s a quiet place away from my regular life. I come here not just for entertainment but also for learning.”
–Rose, Main Library

“I’ve been coming to the library for over thirty years! And now it’s so fun to bring my children here and relive all the nostalgia. I love seeing their imaginations run wild as they make new library memories of their own!”
–Charlotte, Main Library

“The library has given me a chance to learn about and experiment with new technology! I have enjoyed trying blogging, photo editing, and web design! And it’s the best place to do my personal research using the library databases for medical information, genealogy, and consumer buying guides. It’s also great to have free eBooks, audiobooks, and digital magazines! The library enriches my life!”
–Esta, Evergreen Branch Library

“I have been going to the library since I was really little and I always used to do the summer reading program. The library has challenged me to read more books and expand my mind about what to look for. The library is always an adventure. I am friends with all the librarians and they have changed me by being there for me in a way I can’t explain. Thank you, Everett Public Library, for being the best library ever.”
–Marisa, Main Library

“As a new father, I discovered that the library had playtimes on Mondays and Wednesdays. During that time, I had to watch my son. So it gave me something to do with him. As a young and naive father not knowing what to do, I saw that the library provided programs like STEM. It gives my son an opportunity to experience things I wouldn’t otherwise be able to expose him to, especially the social atmosphere. He’s learning social dynamics and how to interact with others his age. The library helps me to feel like a productive father in his development. Otherwise, I wouldn’t know what to do for him. Since I’m a homeless guy, it gives me somewhere to be as well. For the homeless community, this is a staple where other services for the homeless have been shut down. Especially on wet, rainy days, the library provides shelter and entertainment. The library has also provided me with crucial internet access that I use to search for services. It gives me a lot of encouragement and faith in the community that this isn’t a solitary endeavor in life. It’s a community effort that improves each other’s lives.”
–Anonymous, Main Library

“Before I started using the Outreach program, I didn’t have access to the library at all. Mobility and transportation problems limited where I could go. Now I can get books I’m interested in on a schedule I can manage. I am so pleased with the Outreach ladies, too. They are courteous and knowledgeable and a pleasure to work with. Without this program I would be quite bored and isolated.”
–Orion, Outreach Services Patron

“We moved to Everett when I was five years old. We rarely had money to buy books and, let’s face it, my public school education was less than stellar. Over the years, I’ve spent thousands of hours in this library, and have checked out and read hundreds of books, for one reason and one reason only–it was free. Now I’m pursuing my Master’s in English, and I owe everything, I believe, to having early access, free-of-charge, to as many books as I could get my hands on. How has Everett Public Library changed my life? The Everett Public Library has made my life what it is today. Thank you, EPL, and support your local library!”
–CL, Main Library

“EPL at both its branches, have been places that I know I can always go to, to obtain a myriad of materials that will either educate or entertain or, most likely, distract me from my life, which happens to be a good thing. I always know that the staff will go above and beyond what they need to do in order to help me in any way possible find what I need. Every time I come to the Main Library for what should be only fifteen minutes, I end up spending two hours here, thoroughly enjoying myself. A big thank you to all the staff here.”
–Denise, Main Library

Working behind the library scenes as a cataloger, I don’t often get to see my impact. This changed everything. Having a reminder of why I do the work that I do was a big boost to my morale and overall work satisfaction. I want to say a big thank you to everyone who made this project possible. To the staff at both library branches and our Outreach crew, and especially each of you who shared these wonderful parts of your lives with me: Thank you.


Did You Know? (Golf Edition)

The word golf actually comes from the Dutch word “kolf” meaning club?


I had always thought that the name GOLF was derived from an acronym for “Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden”, but in researching this I found out that the idea is actually an urban legend. The word “golf” was first mentioned in 1457 in a Scottish edict banning certain games, as they probably distracted people from archery practice. There are several theories as to where the term came from, but no one ever suggested the acronym theory until the 20th century.

All of this information came from the book The Oxford Dictionary of Word Origins. I found several things in this book that are interesting – -“nephew” can also mean grandson, “dude” is from the German word for fool and “tent” actually comes from the Latin tendere which means “ to stretch”,  since tents were made from stretched animal skins. Take a look at this book and see which words surprise you!

arnie&jackYou can use your “kolf” (clubs) and work on improving your game with some of the books published by Golf Magazine about improving your swing, drive or putt. There are many other instructional books and DVDs in our catalog as well.

We have many books about golfers. One is Arnie & Jack: Palmer, Nicklaus and golf’s greatest rivalry featuring (obviously) the famous Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. We also have biographies about Tiger Woods, Michelle Wie, Bagger Vance and Sam Snead among others.

goodwalkspoiledJohn Feinstein used the phrase A Good Walk Spoiled as the title for his tell-all book about being on the pro golf tour in 1993-94. Mark Twain is mistakenly given the credit for defining golf that way, but it is not clear where it originated. Even if he didn’t say it, maybe he would have if he’d been given the chance! Read about some of the witty things he did say and wrote in his 2 part autobiography.

spidersinthehairdoWe have many books about urban legends full of “absolutely true stories that happened to a friend of a friend of a friend.” While I didn’t find G.O.L.F. in any of the ones we have, I sure had fun reading some of the other stories! Urban Legends by Thomas Craughwell, Spiders in the Hairdo by David Holt & Bill Mooney and Encyclopedia of Urban Legends by Jan Harold Brunvand are all good choices.

Discover A Children’s Book Author: Laura Vaccaro Seeger

ideal-bookshelfdownloadLaura Vaccaro Seeger is known as “the queen of the concept book,” and young children around the world are overwhelmingly glad that she creates beautiful books that bring new life to familiar subjects. She is famous for making books that appear simple and straight forward at first glance, but when you look closer they reveal deep, rich layers that enhance your enjoyment. Using signature die-cut art and wonderful painting, readers are invited to take a step back and ‘see’ a concept through fresh eyes. Seeger’s books encourage readers to re-examine the world they think they already understand.

index (5)Seeger’s first published work was the American Library Association notable children’s book Walter Was Worried. It’s a great launching pad for discussions about emotions. But wait! Upon closer examination you see that Seeger used the letters from different emotions about a pending storm to make up the facial features of these children. Do you see the w on his cheek, that his mouth is a “D” and his eyes are ‘o’ and ‘e’? Walter really was worried.

index (6)Black? White! Day? Night! is a very cool and colorful opposites book. Through a series of ingenious die-cut pages, the reader discovers things that are the opposite of what they seem. The format includes eighteen questions and answers which creates an element of surprise. Kids love surprises and they will surely love this book.

indexSara London of the New York Times wrote that the “playground of perception seems to be Seeger’s most natural arena,” calling her picture book, First the Egg “a feat of ingenuity.” Using simple text and illustrations, this book shows how animals and objects change (including tadpoles to frogs and seeds to flowers) in a book with cutouts so that certain colors from the previous picture help create the next picture. This book would be a good spring-board for discussions with small children.

index (1)Her book, The Hidden Alphabet, is an outstanding and artful alphabet book. It is a ‘lift-the-flap’ book which is a visual delight. This video gives you an idea of how the flaps lift and reveal the letter: where before there was an object such as an arrowhead (A), balloons (B), and a cloud (C). This book would be an excellent addition to your home book shelf as there’s more to see each time you open it and it really is quite lovely.

index (2)index (3)Her Dog and Bear books are different from her others in that they are narratives, that is, stories. Each of these books contains three stories about the close friends Dog, who is a dachshund, and Bear, who is, well, a bear. These are wonderful picture book stories for the pre-school set.

index (8)One Boy is a die-cut book exploring counting and words-within words. At the start, readers see a sad boy surrounded by empty lonely chairs. At his feet is a bag with paint brushes peeking out. The text reads “ONE boy” which-with a turn of the page and a look through a cleverly cut hole-turns into “all alONE.” Page after page, the book becomes populated with seals, apes, and monkeys, all examples of words-within-words. Finally, we come back to “ONE boy” who is “all dONE,” and we discover where all the characters came from.

index (7)What If? is like one of those movies where different choices cause different endings. What if a boy found a beach ball and kicked it into the ocean? What if two seals found it and began to play? What if a third seal appeared on the beach looking for a friend? Enjoy this visit to the beach and the chance to guess what happens when different choices are made.

index (31)This is a video of her picture book, Green. Challenged by her editor to create a book with this title, Seeger kicked around the idea and thought of the environment at first, but then settled on the color green and all its many permutations. I was expecting the typical shades of green but was pleasantly surprised to see the clever takes on wacky green, slow green, and no green at all. This book seems to be asking, “How many different ways can you look at the color green?”

index (4)In her most recent work, Bully, there is a bull who doesn’t know how to make friends. He’s been bullied by the other bulls and when asked to play by some other animals responds in the same way. He puffs himself up and calls them all names until one little goat stands up to him and calls him a bully. Then he realizes the way that he’s been acting. He returns to his regular size, no longer puffed up and mean, and apologizes to them. Luckily, they are still willing to play with him. With the book having few words, most of the bullying is conveyed by the artwork and the bull’s posture and size. While capturing the feeling of being bullied, this book also shows that if you are bullying others, you can self-correct and still be friends.

I can hardly wait to see what fabulous book Seeger will come up with next, but in the meantime, come on down to the Everett Public Library and check out her books!

Welcome to the Jungle

There is no doubt about it. Spring is here. So, is the glass half empty or half full? If full, you might see this time as a period of wonderful regeneration with the earth awakening from its slumber and bursting into life. If empty, you might cast your gaze at all that bursting life and see a tide of noxious weeds attempting to drown all that is desirable. Whichever position you take, a certain fact remains: weeds exist and must be dealt with. Luckily, the library has a wide variety of materials to help you in your dealings with these undesirables.

gardeningPerhaps it isn’t surprising, but books whose sole topic is the art of weeding are few and far between. Don’t despair, however. Contained within the many books we have on gardening, are myriad chapters on weeding. Interestingly, they tend to shy away from the term ‘weeding’ and instead go for the more broad ‘garden maintenance.’ A good example is Gardening: The Complete Guide by Miranda Smith where you will find weeding information in the chapter titled ‘Maintaining Your Garden.’ There is a lot of good, practical information in this chapter and, as a library worker, I especially appreciate the author’s knowledge is power approach to weeding:

You’ve no doubt heard the cliché about weeds being nothing more than plants ‘out of place.’ But no matter what your relationship to the weeds in your garden, you’ll be able to control and, believe it or not, use them better if you understand them.

weedingwithoutchemicalsIn addition to the more general gardening books, we have an excellent weed-specific title that should be of service. Weeding Without Chemicals by Bob Flowerdew is a handy little tome that points out the many ways you can keep weeds at bay without resorting to harsh chemicals. Don’t think this is a weak-willed approach to weeding however. Some of the techniques, my favorite being open flame, are pretty hardcore. The author is also an advocate of what he terms ‘weed exclusion’ but which I’ve always thought of as ‘find a dog who’ll eat a dog.’ Heather, which is so dense that it essentially smothers anything underneath it, is an ideal candidate. In fact, my yard could easily become all heather one day.

waroftheworldsLet’s face it, once you are suited up and ready to weed, the act itself isn’t the most exciting of activities. Sure there is a certain primal satisfaction when you yank out the final tendril, you hope, of horsetail, but the thrill tends to fade with time. I find distraction is necessary and turn to audiobooks to help me. We have a large selection of audiobooks in both CD and downloadable format from which to choose. Recently, I’ve found that radio programs provide the perfect balance between distraction and the limited concentration necessary to yank out the weeds. The library has great collections of radio programs to try out, including classics like Dragnet and the Orson Welles broadcast of War of the Worlds, as well as programs produced by the BBC and NPR.

feastofweedsFinally your weeding shift is over and you have a large pile of the creatures at your feet. You could compost them, but a new trend is emerging that offers a surprising alternative: dining on their interloping bodies. If you choose this option, The Front Yard Forager: Identifying, Collecting and Cooking the 30 Most Common Urban Weeds by Melany Vorass Herrera will show you how. In addition to having many recipes this book is a concise and detailed field guide that helps you select your victims appropriately. If you need some more ideas, definitely check out A Feast of Weeds by Lugi Ballerini which gives a definite Italian and literary slant to the concept with recipes for Nettle Risotto and Spaghetti with Prickly Pear and Yogurt.

In the grand scheme of things, it is probably true that the weeds, and nature herself, will win out in the end. Armed with information from the library, however, we can go down swinging.

Is Poetry Literature?

Is poetry literature? Should one consider written verse, poems or prose, to be classified as literature? For someone not really big into labels, I am going to give the tie to the runner in this case so that I can cross off yet another of my self-imposed reading resolutions:

  1. Read something a library patron recommends
  2. Read this year’s Everett Reads! book 
  3. Read something difficult, either due to subject matter or writing style
  4. Read an award-winning book
  5. Read something that is super-popular
  6. Read a book that was the basis for a TV series or movie
  7. Read a classic work of literature (see below)
  8. Read an annotated classic work of literature
  9. Read something that will help me plan for the future
  10. Read something that will help me reconcile the past
  11. Read a graphic novel 
  12. Read an entire series that is new to me

So, why poetry? Poems are, in a word, transcendent. Badly written verse can make even the most pleasant person go a little mad. But well-written poems can take the reader on a journey into a corner of their soul they haven’t yet seen before.

Pretty crazy, right? Well, not really. Take my favorite poet, Emily Dickinson. What makes her my favorite is partly due to the fact that my mom gave me a book of Dickinson verse when I was a teenager. Once I actually started reading Dickinson, however, I did feel a bit transformed. As Thomas Wentworth Higginson once said,

In many cases these verses will seem to the reader like poetry torn up by the roots…flashes of wholly original and profound insight into nature and life.

Who doesn’t crave a little insight? That’s the thing about Dickinson: it’s like she knew me, what was going on inside of me, things I didn’t even know how to express myself. As a teenager, this was my favorite poem:

My friend must be a bird,
Because it flies!
Mortal my friend must be,
Because it dies!
Barbs has it, like a bee.
Ah, curious friend,
Thou puzzlest me!

What teenager has a favorite poem? Apparently, this girl! My love for poetry waned over the years, but I always come back to Dickinson. In January the library acquired The Gorgeous Nothings. The book contains actual scans of Dickinson’s handwriting on the backs of envelopes. This is truly an exciting look at this poet’s process:



These scans really don’t do the book justice. Check it out and behold the genius that was Emily Dickinson’s reclusive scribblings. Hold in your hand a tome of untold wonders. Celebrate National Poetry Month.


The Hit by Melvin Burgess

Oh God, I hope my mom doesn’t read this. Usually she’s busy being retired and teaching our dog tricks. Don’t read this, Mom. I’ll give you $5 not to read this. I think the dog pooped in the hallway. You better go check that situation out. I don’t think you want to hear that the only reason your kid doesn’t do drugs is because she’s too lazy to go find them.

I don’t do drugs. I don’t avoid them because they’re bad for me and will lead my life down a path of ruin and eventual death. I don’t do drugs because I have no idea where I would get them and I’m too lazy to seek them out. The hardest drug I do is Benadryl. And caffeine.

thehitMelvin Burgess’s The Hit is about a drug unlike any other. It’s called Death and it’s in high demand. You swallow it and have 7 days to live, but those 7 days are the best days you could ever hope for. You wake up euphoric, a burst of energy unlike any high you’ve ever felt. Any dream you’ve had, whatever you wanted to become in life, you pursue it with passion (instead of what I do which is ‘I think I want to write a book except my favorite episode of American Dad is on and I’ve only seen it 17 times.’)

Adam comes from a poor family. His dad is disabled and unable to work and his mom works so many shifts that all she can do when she gets home is sleep. His brother Jess, a chemist, hasn’t been heard from in days. England is on the edge of anarchy, goaded on by a terrorist group known as the Zealots who want to bring down the capitalist regime. Adam’s girlfriend Lizzie comes from money and it’s the same old story: boy from the wrong side of the tracks and the rich girl falling in love. Adam doesn’t think his life is going to get any better. He’s going to have to drop out of school and find a job.

He takes Lizzie on a date to see their favorite rock star Jimmy Earle who caps his performance by saying he’d taken Death 7 days before. At the end of the concert, Jimmy Earle drops dead on stage. A near riot ensues on the streets of Manchester. Crowds of people caught up in the fervor of bringing down the government clog the streets. Someone is handing out Death. Adam and Lizzie watch people pop the drug into their mouths. Someone hands Adam Death. He pockets it. It had been the perfect night.

The next day Adam and his parents receive a letter from the Zealots saying his brother Jess has been killed. Jess was working for the Zealots as a chemist, manufacturing Death. His parents are horrified and Adam sinks into a depression. What does his life mean now? He’ll have to quit school and take some crap job and live a crap life. There will be no university. In his despair he swallows the Death he’d pocketed the night before and begins his own countdown. He makes a bucket list for the next 7 days:

1. Loads of sex with loads of girls. Several of them at once.
2. Get rich. Leave my parents and Lizzie with enough money so they’ll never have to work again.
3. Drink champagne till I can’t stand.
4. Do cocaine.
5. Do something so that humanity will remember me forever.

Yeah, that first to-do is definitely a teenage boy’s top priority.

Mixed in with the Zealots is a gangster. Isn’t there always a bad dude in the midst of everything: one hand out for cash in exchange for a bad deed, the other hand holding a machete? This gangster (sorry, entrepreneur ) is named Florence Ballantine and he has a psychotic 46-year-old son Christian who thinks he’s fourteen. Christian wears a baseball cap with the bill flipped to the side, baggy jeans, expensive t-shirts and has a bodyguard named Vince who likes to put his anti-psychotic medicine in a glass of milk. This father and son team manufacture Death. Who cares that it causes people to expire in 7 days? There’s money to be made.

Adam and Lizzie trip through the criminal underworld and get caught up in a race to accomplish everything on Adam’s bucket list all the while counting down the days and hours. While Adam is trying to make the first to-do on his bucket list happen, Christian sees Lizzie at a party and demands that she be his new girlfriend. Nobody wants to be his girlfriend because the dude’s brain is fried. And he’s terrifying.

Is Adam brave enough (or dumb enough) to take on the Zealots, Florence the gangster and his cuckoo for cocoa puffs son? Does Lizzie love him enough to survive a week of knowing he’s going to die? Why was Jess so secretive about what he was working on for the Zealots? Wait until you read the ending. I did not see it coming.

If I Could Turn Back Time

counterclockwiseExcuse me for inviting you to buy into our youth-obsessed cultural stereotypes, but have you ever wanted to look, feel, or actually be younger? Turns out all of these are possible, although the last may only happen if you lie about your age. Also, they take a lot of work, maybe more than you’re willing to do. Counter Clockwise: My Year of Hypnosis, Hormones, Dark Chocolate, and Other Adventures in the World of Anti-Aging by Lauren Kessler will take you along on one woman’s journey to reacquire youthfulness.

The author investigates and personally tries many ways to remain young, some of them expected and some quite surprising or relatively unknown. Of course many of the things she does are behaviors you’ve always been told will keep you healthy: eating unprocessed food, consuming more fruits and vegetables and, of course, exercise. Turns out these will also keep your body young. The goal is to keep your body healthy into old age and then suddenly die quickly, ideally in your sleep (and in bed with your much younger lover). Warning: don’t do it because Madison Avenue tells you to, do it because you want to be healthy.

Kessler learns about many different philosophies of eating with the goal of keeping you young for as long as possible. These include the idea of eating fewer calories than necessary-that is, semi-starving yourself for life. In studies, this practice has been shown to maintain the health and increase the longevity of rodents, but no studies have been done on humans. Guess they can’t find volunteers to be hungry the rest of their lives. No one would want to be around them, they’d always be so crabby.

She speaks with experts about the various food-specific diets that have you eat or avoid certain things. We also visit the big world of supplements. A lot of it seems natural, altruistic (they only want to make you feel better) and kind of hippie-granola-crunchy, but it is a big business with very little oversight.

And we can’t forget detoxification. Apparently we all need to do it, according to the popular press. The scientific community thinks it’s a load of bunk, and questions what it means and whether it is an effective or healthy activity.

Spoiler alert (but not really): Kessler finds that the things that work best to keep you young also keep you healthy and are the things your mother nagged you to do (or she should have). Don’t eat junk food! Get off the couch and get some exercise! Don’t let the TV turn you into a zombie (for real-brain activity and positive thinking can help keep you young and healthy)! Now go call your mom and thank her.