Living Outside the Stacks

Navigating through life away from the library


Day 14: A Non~Fiction Book

The Autobiography of Malcolm XI guess if I had to pick one non~fiction book that had the most profound affect on me it would have to be The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley and Malcolm X.  The first time I read it I think I was about 13 or 14 years old and I just remember being totally engrossed in the story.  For years, I’d only heard the traditional story of the Civil Rights Movement:

Rosa Parks was a nice older woman who was tired, so she refused to give up her seat and was arrested.  As a result of her arrest, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others staged a bus boycott.  The end….

As I got a little bit older, I’d hear rumblings about a man named Malcolm X but there were never any details.  He was always whispered about ~ “that militant”, “an ex~con”, “by any means necessary”….  Those were the code words, but no one would ever say exactly why he was so universally disliked by both blacks and whites.  I wanted to know the deal.  So I read his book.

Something within me resonated as I read the story of this willful, red~headed black boy struggling to find his place in the world.  I was, at that time, a willful~red~headed~yellow~skinned~freckle~faced girl who was struggling to find my place too.  I loved reading about his escapades on the trains, his encounters with Redd Foxx, etc.  It was so exciting ~ his life as a hustler, etc.  But I also identified with his desire to connect with something bigger than himself.  But more than anything else, I understood his growing frustration with the world around him.

I was coming of age when Spike Lee was producing movies like School Daze and Do the Right Thing.  People were talking about divesting from South Africa.  Nelson Mandela was sitting in prison.  It was all too much for my young mind to handle.

As I read his words, I learned that he wasn’t violent for the sake of being violent, he was reacting to the violence that was surrounding him.  He was growing tired of watching his brothers and sisters get attacked by dogs just for the right to be treated with the same dignity with which all people should be treated.

Two of my favorite quotes by Malcolm X are:

“My Alma Mater was books, a good library… I could spend the rest of my life reading, just satisfying my curiosity.”


“Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if anyone puts a hand on you, send him to the cemetery.”

What non~fiction book had the greatest impact on you?  Why?


Makeup~Free Mondays

Makeup Free MondaysI love makeup.  Specifically, I love Bare Escentuals makeup because it gives me a flawless face with natural coverage.  And don’t get me started on the glosses (my fave is a Buxom called “Dani” ~ a purply pink)…  Moving on, ’cause this isn’t a post about Bare Escentuals, but if you’ve never given it a try, I’d recommend it.

This is, however, a post about being natural and celebrating “real beauty.”  Ideas I support whole~heartedly as the mother of 3 teenage girls (all of whom I’ve described as being “self~confident to a friggin’ fault”).  Anyway, last week, I came across a post on iVillage about Makeup~Free Mondays, a Real Beauty Movement started by Alexis Wolfer at The Beauty Bean.  The idea is to go makeup free (or as makeup free as you’re comfortable with) on Mondays to “make a difference in the way women around the world perceive their bodies, internalize beauty and feel about themselves.”

So beginning next Monday, 6 December, I will be participating in the Makeup~Free Monday Challenge.  This means I’ll be posting a picture of myself without my makeup and going about my day with a nekkid face.  Eep!  I’ll also post a tip for going makeup free each week.

You can join Makeup~Free Mondays on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.

Let me know if you’ll be joining the Makeup~Free Monday Challenge in the comments below.

Disclosure:  I didn’t receive any compensation for this post, I really do love Bare Escentuals but I also support the idea of women embracing their natural selves.


Day 13: A Fictional Book (That Turned Into My “To Read” List for 2011)

Perfect Peace by Daniel Black

To see read by book reviews, click the picture

Hmmmm…..  I’m not really certain what I’m supposed to write about here.  This is such a broad topic.  Should I write about a fictional book that I hated or loved?  One that was life changing for me?  A book that I could have gone my whole life without reading?  *sound of book pages blowing in the wind as I ponder the possibilities*

Honestly, I think I covered all of my favorite books on Day 4, so I’ll just make a list of  fictional books that I’d like to read in 2011.

I’ve put them in alphabetical order by author because, well, you know, there has to be some sort of order here:

  1. Perfect Peace by Daniel Black
  2. Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
  3. Room by Emma Donoghue
  4. Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  5. The False Friend by Myla Goldberg
  6. A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
  7. Saving CeeCee Honeycutt:  A Novel by Beth Hoffman
  8. Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence
  9. The Hand that First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell
  10. Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
  11. Some Sing Some Cry by Ntozake Shange and Ifa Bayeza
  12. The Shack by William Paul Young

I’ve chosen the books above for a variety of reasons ~ some because they’re classics and I’ve never read them, others because they were recommended by various book clubs and the rest because the synopsis grabbed my attention.  My goal is to read one book per month and write a review, hopefully, this will work out.  Since I have the Nook app on my Android and I’ve downloaded Nook for PC, I really don’t have any excuses for not having my books with me.

What is your must read book for 2011?

Disclosure:  All of the books link to the Nookbook® versions of the titles on the Barnes and Noble website.  I do not receive any compensation should you decide to purchase the book.  I’m simply providing a link so you can read the summaries.


Day 12: Something I’m OCD About

Shoe ClosetHa!  This is an easy one.  I’m hyper~organized.  I used to be in the Army and one of the first things they drilled into my head was organization ~ socks, tees, undies, they all had to be folded/rolled up so they were the same length as a dollar bill.  I remember taping my things to the bottom of my drawer so they wouldn’t roll around when the drawer closed and using toilet paper roll inserts to keep my tees smooth.  There was nothing worse than failing an inspection.   Anyway, that need for organization has stuck.

I often tell my children that I could get dressed in the dark and still come out matching.  My clothes are organized according to sleeve length, collar type and color.  My pants are separated according to color, weight and purpose.  And everything is hung up facing the same direction (with all buttons buttoned and snaps snapped).  Shoes, boots and slippers are similarly organized (style, heel height, color, etc).

This hyper~organization also extends to my kitchen cabinets.

I don’t make my kids follow my rules (although, when they were little, their clothes were hung on color coded hangers and all of their shoes were organized by color and purpose).  I do, however, insist that they have a path from their beds to their doors just in case of emergency.

So what are you OCD about?  Are your closets  organized or do you have a grab and go system?


My Wish for My Students

Students ReadingI’ve worked in an academic setting for quite a while now and during the course of my years as an instructor and librarian, I’ve come across a variety of students ~ those who are in college to get an education, those who are in college because Mom and Dad said they had to attend and those who are in college because they don’t have anywhere else to go.  And as I’ve encountered the last two groups of students, a part of me wants to reach out, grab them by the shoulders and just shake them.  Instead, of resorting to bodily harm, I think I’ll just share my thoughts here.

It frustrates me to see students not taking advantage of the opportunities before them.  I know that part of the thrill of college is being away from home and discovering who you are but the main point of college is to get an education.  Looking back, I wish that I had asked my professors more questions and participated more in my classes.  I wish that I had taken the time to get to know the librarians at my first college, they really are your best friends when it comes to doing research and writing papers.  But, mostly, I wish that I had taken advantage of the different programs that were offered, especially the study abroad program.  Do you know how awesome it is to have the opportunity to go overseas and study?  To immerse yourself in another culture and learn to recognize the similarities and embrace the differences…  Incredible.

When I’m teaching or working as a librarian, I try so hard not to let my frustration get the best of me but sometimes it’s hard.  I went back to school after a four year stint in the military, marriage and the birth of four kids.  I received my first Master’s in American History and my second Master’s in Library and Information Science.  Going back to school as an adult learner was difficult.  While there were many advantages to returning to school as a nontraditional student (focus, desire, etc), there were also many disadvantages (money, time, familial and occupational obligations).  Studying late at night, with a baby on your hip, or writing papers between stirring peas and frying chicken isn’t easy.  So when I appear a little snappish or I start complaining a little too much, it’s not because I’m angry, it’s because I just don’t want my students to squander their opportunities.  My wish for my students is that they will not look back and wish they had done things differently.

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