Reading Recs – September 2021

We’re trying something new here at Hack Library School. Once a month, we’ll bring you an update from a few Hackers on things we’ve been reading, enjoying, and learning from that month, whether that’s fiction, non-fiction, an interesting article, or a series of social media posts. We hope you’ll join along with us and share your most interesting reads in the comments!

Erika Whinihan

The Practice of Groundedness: A Transformative Path To Success That Feeds-Not Crushes-Your Soul by Brad Stulberg

I suspect many of you who are in an MLIS program are type-A personalities and high functioning individuals who strive to achieve your goals through hard work and dedication. But with the pressures of graduate school and life, many of us (myself included) often feel anxiety, pressure to go beyond conventional success, feeling pulled in too many directions, distracted, and unable to focus. I knew this book was written for me by page 10 when I read about “heroic individualism” which can manifest itself in different ways but includes many of these concerns listed here. The one that struck me the most is not always wanting to be “on” but struggling to turn off and not feeling good when I do. Enter the practice of Groundedness, which is “unwavering internal strength and self-confidence that sustains you through ups and downs” (p.13). Stulberg provides six principles that are well-researched with real-life examples that are proven to work: Accept Where You Are to Get You Where You Want to Go; Be Present So You Can Own Your Attention and Energy; Be Patient and You’ll Get There Faster; Embrace Vulnerability to Develop Genuine Strength and Confidence; Build Deep Community; Move Your Body to Ground Your Mind. I definitely recommend reading this one with a highlighter handy!

Lauren Bauer

Can’t Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation by Anne Helen Petersen

As I mentioned in this post, I followed closely the deep dive the journalist Anne Helen Petersen did into grad students, precarious labor, and student loan repayment. After reading those articles, I discovered she had also written this book, which touches on a lot of the same topics. I found myself nodding along page after page, recognizing in myself that nagging, persistent feeling in the back of my mind whenever I’m ‘having fun’ or ‘goofing off’ (on my own time!) that I really should be more productive. Petersen calls it out for what it is – a capitalist mindset that ingrains in us from a very young age that we’re worth what we produce (for a company, for an employer, for pay) and that time spent not working toward that goal is wasted time. Which isn’t true! Our bodies and minds need (and deserve) rest and relaxation and time spent doing things just because we like them, not because we can turn a profit on them. But it’s a hard habit to break, and as Petersen points out numerous times, our current work system is designed to make it as difficult as possible. 

Somewhat related, I’m taking a class this semester that assigned this article and required a discussion post about it. My classmates and I went back and forth on the idea that volunteering may be what works best for some people (retirees who don’t need or want a paycheck, for example), but that when entire projects are designed and implemented with a zero dollar staffing budget because they expect free work from volunteers to get it done, that’s a problem, for both the institution and the volunteers.

Categories: Reading

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