For more information visit the Human Library Organization at http://humanlibrary.org
Don't Judge a Book by Its Cover
“Human Books” available to check out may include people who have experienced adversity due to race, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion/belief, culture, profession, and/or lifestyle. See the 2017 photo album on Flickr.
In the news: Manchester Ink Link 3/28/17
For Further Reading
The Addicted Brain by Michael J. Kuhar
Bhutan by Lonely Planet Publications
Born Both: An Intersex Life by Hida Viloria
A Collection of Tales From Bhutanese Refugees edited by Renee Christman and Paula Kelly
Confessions of a Transsexual Physician by Jessica Angelina Birch
Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones
Drug Dealer, MD by Anna Lembke
Her Own Vietnam by Lynn Kanter
Inside Rehab by Anne M. Fletcher
The Sexual Trauma Workbook for Teen Girls by Raychelle Cassada Lohmann
Sexual Violence edited by Amanda Hiber
The Traumatized Brain by Vani Rao, MBBS, MD, and Sandeep Vaishnavi, MD, PhD
The Truth About Prescription Drugs by Basia Leonard
Under Our Skin by Benjamin Watson
Wheelchair Warrior by Melvin Juette and Ronald Berger
Human Book Catalog for April 9, 2017
“Even during incarceration, a parent is still a parent. During my incarceration, staying connected with my children was my primary objective. I was quickly brought back to my childhood memories where the only action I came in contact with was a revolving door of disappointment which haunted me for years to come. I knew I had to change history and be the mother my children needed and deserved. I would jump through hoops to sustain our bond built over the many days that would pass.
In preparation for my sentence, my visualizations would become a clouded, grandiose judgment call. In a moment came the realization that this was their sentence as well; a sentence imposed by my actions. From the outside looking in, it would be easy for people to say it was the result of my selfishness. That just wasn’t the case. I am a good mom, I just made poor choices.
Something miraculous happened to me after a short phone call with my children’s father. After a long night of tears, I awoke to a newfound strength and call to action that would take us through to the finish line: going home. I began to find my heart blossoming with attributes I never knew existed. I remember waking one day with the decision to crochet my daughter a doll blanket and I did! I began crocheting them little gifts, drawing pictures, making them homemade games, all a piece of me and all of which they happily received. They became actively involved in requesting specific items from their imaginations. Natalie wanted a doll. Julian, a robot. Zander, a skateboard dude and Alex was happy with my letters.
My time behind the walls has come and gone. While I would love to say there have been no hiccups, there are moments of reality when society likes to remind me that I am a former inmate. There have been attempts to break the bond I tirelessly worked for and discount my continuous efforts to enforce the boundaries around my children. There are few to nil resources to support a former inmate who continues to be active in her children’s lives. In an effort to break the rules set by confined minds, I have created our own paths behind hope-filled doors where my children continue to flourish with open arms of enduring, forgiving love.”
“My family includes one biological child and three adult children adopted from foster care. All three of my adoptive children suffer from multiple physical and psychological disabilities ranging from moderate to severe. People assume we are “so wonderful” for being part of a different family structure, as if you can choose to only love healthy people. This is my family and my family includes those with significant mental health and physical health problems.
Living in a family with a mentally ill family member, loving someone with mental illness, is hard. I’m not going to sugar coat it. The goal is to keep the love your family shares safe from the frustrations and setbacks out in the world. I hope my story will be helpful to someone who is living with a mentally ill loved one.”
“I am more than people generally choose to see or get to know. People sometimes mistake my silence for ignorance. People are not aware of how secure and confident I am within myself. I have done much more than I speak of in public. I do not brag. Those who have taken the time to get to know me are aware of my accomplishments.
I am a strong woman. I am a woman of color. I am more than what I look like. I am more than what you see.”
“Every day is a challenge, one that I must face no matter how difficult it may be. I am a former Army medic, honorably serving for nearly 10 years. I completed one tour of duty during the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. I was one of 166 member of a Reserve unit from NH that deployed and spent 18 months in a war zone. I survived, but not without invisible wounds. These wounds take their toll every day, on my mental, physical and spiritual self. They also take a toll on my personal relationships with family and friends. I do not define myself by my PTSD or my TBI, but by the strength and resilience I have to overcome daily obstacles.
Since leaving the military, the stereotypes I face are that I didn’t serve over there like the men, that I am not a “real” warrior. I face discrimination from civilians, other military veterans and so-called veteran agencies, all because I am a woman. I do not receive the same acknowledgement for my time in service as male counterparts.
No, I am not what you think a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom looks like. But make no mistake. I am as tough as tough can be. Listen to my story and learn what drives me to find the best in me, day in and day out. Obstacles are everywhere. It’s all about how you face them.”
“Thirty years ago, I was helping my brother paint his house when the staging gave way. I fell 30 feet and sustained a spinal cord injury which left me paralyzed. Being paralyzed never slowed me down nor did it control my life.
Sustaining a life-altering injury inspired me to get involved in disability advocacy, working to make a difference in the lives of others. In an effort to improve my own strength and stay healthy, I got involved in sports and recreation. I have been able to use this involvement to educate people about disabilities. It has also afforded me opportunities I wouldn’t have otherwise had or even considered, like handcycling across the country and around the world in order to raise awareness and funds for organizations that support individuals with disabilities.”
“I have had an interesting life. As a child, many of my experiences were a lot like those of Tom Sawyer; full of mischievous adventures. After high school, I spent four years in the United States Air Force and then went on to college and medical school. I got married somewhere along the way and had two children. My experiences are unique to me but certainly worth sharing.
I wrote and published a book called “Confessions of a Transsexual Physician” under the pen name of Jessica Angelina Birch. It was therapeutic for me, but as much as I want to write now, I can’t seem to find the emotion again. Maybe that’s okay. In addition to my practice, I take dance classes a few nights a week and I’m learning to play the piano.
Being me has always been a work in progress. I don’t think about personal discrimination much these days but I remember a time when certain medical personnel didn’t want to be put on the same shift with me in the ER. I never knew who they were, just that there were objections. I have always tried to be a good physician and focus on my patients, so having heard this has always bothered me.
I would like to be a human book so I can give others a glimpse of my thoughts and dreams. Everyone has a story to tell.”
“Being an LGBT person in the internet age definitely comes with pros and cons. I am seeing more people like me but I wish more people would use available resources to learn about us and be informed. We are seeing a lot of miscommunication and hate in the world and I think talking to real people about real experiences is a way to combat that. I very much want to have open conversations with people of all beliefs and lifestyles.
Currently, I am actually “out” only to some people in my life due to issues that have arisen because of how I identify. Starting in middle school and high school, I was told I couldn’t be a lesbian because I didn’t look right or wasn’t popular. My identification was treated as a fad or a phase. My sister has outed me to relatives in whose homes I am no longer welcome. To them, anything homosexual in nature is disgusting.
I started questioning my gender about three years ago. Most recently I have had a lot of comments from people in my group, confused as to how I appear and who I’m attracted to. Recently I’ve started identifying as Queer and I hear things that people say about transgender and gay people that are incorrect and insulting. I don’t always notice that they are being directed at me but I am also not out to everyone yet. I think part of why I am not is because I hear these hurtful things around me all the time.”
“I have always enjoyed the way a library provides stories, points of view and knowledge. Having people be the point of communication can give more emotion and connectivity to the story.
I have a chronic illness, called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which has changed how I work with people. The illness also caused a delay in my life, putting me in the awkward situation of being older than many of my peers but in the same place as them. Many times when explaining my illness I was told simply to “man up”, “drink coffee” or “take some medicine”, which served to minimize what I was dealing with. I’ve also made friends with others who have similar illnesses and have seen their issues take root.
My story is the life and times of someone who is sick and tired of being sick and tired. Each day, I deal with the ramifications of a relatively unknown illness, social pressure, self-actualization and trying to be useful. Success for me is winning the battle of energy efficiency in order to do the simple things in life. Failure is spending the day in bed unable to do anything.
In coming to terms with CFS, I have discovered more about myself and why just being able to be awake and active can be a blessing. Just because you look healthy doesn’t mean you are.”
“Most people look forward to their 21st birthday with joy at becoming an “adult”. They can now go to clubs and drink with their friends at the bar. As a recovering addict/alcoholic, social options like these are no longer available to me. I have restructured my social life to exclude alcohol and all the things that go with it, even if it means I miss out on going to my favorite club to dance. No one assumes someone at the age of 24 is committed to their sobriety, and I find myself having to explain more and more frequently why I can’t do this or that. There are many young people in recovery, and understanding the challenges we face as this specific demographic can help them continue their sobriety.
Addicts are notorious for lying, cheating, and stealing and as a recovered addict I face these assumptions on a fairly regular basis. I have found that the best way to promote understanding is to answer questions honestly. As someone who is in recovery from drugs and alcohol, I have had my fair share of these discussions with friends and family, trying to clear the wreckage I left behind and trying to mend relationships.”
“I was born in a small village in Bhutan, a small, landlocked country bordered by China and India and located entirely within the Himalayan mountain range. In the 1990’s, a government reign of terror began with arrests of innocent citizens, torture, rape, looting and death. Along with my parents, four siblings, and 120,000 other Bhutanese, we fled the country for a refugee camp in eastern Nepal. I was 2 years old.
We had no money. Shelter in the camps consisted of bamboo huts with plastic roofs and mud floors. We had no electricity of personal water supply. Humanitarian agencies provided minimal amounts of food. Life was very pathetic.
In 2013, with the generosity of UN refugee agencies and the US Government, I came to this country in search of a future. After arriving in NH, I began working for the Bhutanese Community of New Hampshire, a vibrant ethnic community-based non-profit formed to create an enduring legacy of the New American heritage for future generations through successful integration and community contributions. My involvement is geared toward supporting families and individuals to achieve self-sufficiency. Some of the services I provide are crisis intervention, counseling, educating refugees and immigrants on post-resettlement needs for medical, employment and family issues. Other services include providing transportation to appointments, case management, naturalization and citizenship orientation and home visits. We provide an outlet and resource for seniors, youth and teenagers to socialize and integrate meaningfully.
In 2014, I began serving as a residential instructor for Easter Seals where I work with adolescents on communication skills, self-help skills, sensory issues and any additional individual activities that will lend themselves to inclusion in a variety of community settings for recreational and vocational pursuits.
I have lived through many ups, downs, struggles, confusion and hopelessness. I want to guide growing immigrant communities, make a difference in the lives I serve and to be a voice for the voiceless. I am a human being and want to serve any other human being who is searching for the hands that will help them succeed.”
“There is a stigma surrounding addiction. People believe that being an addict makes you a “bad” person or that addiction only happens to a certain kind of person.
When I passed the bar exam and became a lawyer, I believed I had made it. After trying heroin for the first time, the law and its practice became meaningless. My life has run the gamut of human experience. I couldn’t have known the places my journey would take me; from graduating law school to conducting jury trials to opiate dependency, being a convicted felon, going to jail and detoxification.
The journey continues as I help to raise addiction awareness.”
The Human Library was conceived in 2000 by a Danish youth organization called Stop the Violence in response to intolerance and violence within their community. The concept quickly gained a foothold and since then, Human Libraries have been held in over 70 countries. Please visit www.humanlibrary.org or on Facebook for more information.