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Author Archive for Tom Jordan



Help Yourself

by Tom Jordan on July 24th, 2014

The thought of reading self-help books makes me uncomfortable.  I imagine sitting down in an office with Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer (both of whom I’m sure are wonderful people) and having this feeling that something really bad is about to happen and that it’s going to involve their teeth. However, when I speak to people I trust who’ve read self-help books, it sounds like I’m missing out.

ScottAdamsSo I read one. How to fail at almost everything and still win big by Scott Adams. He’s best known for being the Dilbert creator. Adams is funny and values simplicity a great deal. Throughout the book, he reminds the reader to be skeptical of the wisdom he’s imparting; he’s a cartoonist, not a guru.

Here are some of the topics he covers: why systems are better than goals; your programmable mind; the importance of tracking your personal energy; and doing sleep, fitness, and diet right (avoid relying on willpower).

Adams also writes quite a bit about his own life. He’s self-deprecating and owns up to his mistakes. “Some of My Many Failures in Summary Form” is the title of Chapter Four.

A revelation for me was in a section entitled Simplifiers Versus Optimizers. He makes the “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good” argument in a way that validates the worthiness of simplifiers in a world that tends to appreciate optimizers. This section alone makes the book worth reading.

You’ll find most self-help books in the 158.1 area. This one, both memoir and self-help, is in with the biographical works about cartoonists and graphic artists at 741.5092.

Searching for the right language

by Tom Jordan on May 1st, 2014

A patron wanted help finding books and articles to use for writing her paper.  The topic, she told me, was to be about young adults living with their parents and how this was a good thing.  What terms were we to use for the search?  “Parents of adult children,” I thought, and I used it as a subject search.  No, that wasn’t the right language.  As a keyword search, it brought up quite a bit.  We scanned through the titles and subtitles of the results list, and I realized we’d have to dig a little to find support for her point of view.  Phrases like “When will my grown-up kid grow up?” and “a revealing look at why so many of our children are failing on their own” were notable.

Some of the titles in the list, like Boomerang kids and The accordion family, looked promising.  So we took a closer look at the records for these two.  Both had “Parent and adult child” as a subject heading.  A subject search with this term brought up a decent looking list and two related subjects.  One of the two subjects was “Sandwich generation.”  The other one, “Adult children living with parents” looked like a winner.  However, ICPL had only one book with this subject heading.

We turned to Ebscohost, one of the Library’s online resources which provides access to magazine and journal articles.  There, “Adult children living with parents” as a subject search yielded a nice looking list of full text articles for her to use.