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Our Incredible Bodies and the Importance of Homeostasis

By Public Service Associate Autumn

Everyone knows that humans (unlike much cooler reptiles) are warm blooded, or homeothermic.1 Our bodies try very hard to keep us at one consistent temperature, normally about 98 degrees. Even a four degree change in body temperature in either direction can cause us irreparable harm and a spiral into death. Understandably, this means that humanity has a pretty universal “comfortable” living temperature, between about 68- and 77-degrees Fahrenheit,2 where maintaining your core temperature isn’t too metabolically taxing. Despite this, humans live in basically every ecological niche there is, from Siberia and Northern Canada to the Sahara. Some of this adaptability is technological,3 but a fair amount of it is our bodies’ astonishing ability to cool us off and heat us up. What’s most interesting, to me at least, is how the body does this and what happens when those adaptations fail.

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Genre Spotlight: Cozy Fantasy

by Public Service Associate Autumn

Photo by Pavan Trikutam on Unsplash

February makes me want nothing more than to sit and read, wrapped in a blanket, with a mug of tea (or hot chocolate). It’s mucky, wet and still fairly chilly outside, so inside I stay. And, as I learned last year, there is a book subgenre that gives you that same warm, cozy feeling as snuggling inside while the wind rages outside: Cozy Fantasy.

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Booklists Recommendations

Hibernation

by Public Service Associate Autumn

All living things adapt to the onset of winter.1 Birds tend to migrate.2 Foxes, hares, bison and plenty of other animals grow thicker, denser coats, often in cooler, more winter-camouflaged colors. Humans bundle up in thick winter coats and gloves and complain about having to preheat their cars in the morning. Some creatures like bears, however, hibernate. 

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International Cat Day

by Public Service Associate Autumn

In late 2015, several news outlets, including USA Today, announced scientists had determined that if housecats were larger, they would kill and eat their human companions. A nice, snappy headline, but strictly speaking not true. The actual study1 does not say that our beloved kitties are just waiting for their moment to strike. It just says that personality-wise, a cat is a cat, whether they’re hunting the laser you point for them or stalking prey across the African Savannah. This was probably obvious to anyone who has seen photos of jaguars, tigers or pumas sitting in cardboard boxes. Or this lion sitting in a wheelbarrow.  I should acknowledge here that I am not an ailurophile (a lover of cats). I have dogs. However, August 8th is International Cat Day, and we here at the library do not want to make our individual cat overlords unhappy by not acknowledging it. 

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All Roads Lead to Rome

by Public Service Associate Autumn

Or maybe all roads just lead to Roman troubles. A large swath of problems facing the United States today, also faced the Romans at some point during their thousand years of civilization. Climate change made growing food and combating disease harder. People everywhere were divided on how to live and who to believe. Countries invaded their neighbors. Money swayed politics. Violence broke out in the streets. Swelling inequality made living harder and bred distrust in political systems. People scrabbled to reach the top or to just support themselves in an ever shifting world. So today, on the anniversary of the assassination of Julius Caesar and the change it ultimately sparked in Rome’s government, take a break from the turbulence of today and dive into the machinations and turmoil of Rome. Learn how the Romans handled, or ignored, their problems or just enjoy reading about problems that are already solved by checking out some of the following books.

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Booklists

International Mysteries

by Public Service Associate Autumn

Nelson Mandela once remarked that “When we read, we are able to travel to many places, meet many people and understand the world.” While these wise words apply to basically every book, they seem especially true about international mystery novels. Such novels allow readers to explore a culture and a world beyond their own, helpfully with a clear focal point.  Not only are these books filled with brilliant crimes and more brilliant detectives, but they show people and societies at the extremes, revealing all the little cracks in characters and in human societies. They can manage to reveal both the fundamental differences between cultures and the universality of human nature.