Higher Learning

With school back in session, it’s time to phase out of summer mode and put those thinking caps back on. Of course, learning doesn’t doesn’t always have to mean memorizing more grammar rules and math formulas. Here are some materials available with your Livingston Library card that can educate and enlighten in different ways…

SchoolOfThoughtSchool of Thought
Video available on Hoopla
This short film looks at Fairfield, Iowa, home of the Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment, where all young students practice daily Transcendental Meditation. To be honest, School of Thought isn’t so much a “documentary” as much as it is a highly sympathetic portrayal of the school and its benefactor, Oscar-nominated director David Lynch. But considering how happy and well-adjusted everyone here seems, I can’t really fault it for that. Plus, as a long-time fan of Lynch’s films and his writings on meditation, I love seeing how the man behind such dark and unsettling cinema has helped spread so much bliss not just throughout Fairfield, but the world.

The Essential Lectures of Alan Watts
Video series available on Hoopla

For years, I had heard many writers, artists, and thinkers I admire praising the teachings of Alan Watts. Yet it wasn’t until a few months ago, during the early stages of quarantine, that I discovered these lectures on Hoopla and finally absorbed them for myself. This Zen-influenced series, where Watts discusses topics like meditation, God, death, and time, has been extremely illuminating and comforting for me, especially during these turbulent times.

Creative Unity – Rabindranath Tagore
ebook available on Hoopla

This collection of essays by the Nobel Prize-winning “Bard of Bengal” reflects upon the union between art, nature, and spirituality. Though it was published nearly a hundred years ago, the centuries-old wisdom Tagore draws upon here remains valuable today for anyone seeking knowledge about timeless ideals such as truth, beauty, and freedom.

GulpGulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal – Mary Roach
print book and CD audiobook (read by Emily Woo Zeller) available through Livingston Library ; digital audiobook available on Hoopla ; ebook available on Libby / Overdrive
Biology class was never this fun, nor this funny. Mary Roach takes us on an educational yet highly amusing journey around the world and through the digestive system, to find scientific answers for questions like “Why do people love crunchy food?” and “What goes on at a pet-food taste-test lab?”

Death by Black Hole, and Other Cosmic Quandaries – Neil deGrasse Tyson
digital audiobook (read by Dion Graham) available on Hoopla and Libby / Overdrive
Superstar astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson makes learning about the cosmos a colossal joy– even while he’s describing, in painstaking scientific detail, what would happen if you got sucked into a black hole.

LiarTemptressLiar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War – Karen Abbott
print book available through Livingston Library; digital audiobook (read by Karen White) available on Hoopla
Anyone who has had a history lesson on the Civil War likely knows the names of military men like Ulysses Grant, Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and William Tecumseh Sherman. But far fewer folks probably know the names Belle Boyd, Emma Edmonds, Rose O’Neale Greenhow, and Elizabeth Van Lew– four women who risked their lives as wartime spies. Author Karen Abbott is brilliant at bringing history to life on the page, and she intertwines her subjects’ stories with the edge-of-your-seat style of a master novelist.


– Joe, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian

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