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The heart does your body and soul good

The heart — both physical and metaphorical — is so important to us as humans, we have countless phrases and idioms to express its condition: A heart can be full of joy or sorrow, can be broken and then mended, can be cold or warm. February is American Heart Month, and the Brainerd Public Library has books to nourish yours.

The Mayo Clinic has been producing many excellent health guides in recent years, and a new one has just been published: “Mayo Clinic Healthy Heart for Life!: The Mayo Clinic Plan for Preventing and Conquering Heart Disease.” This illustrated guide is full of diagrams to explain in layman’s terms how the heart works and what happens when something goes wrong. It also details the various interventions that your doctor may recommend in case of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, or heart failure. The part I most appreciate is the listing of simple lifestyle changes that are easy to add to a routine, but add up to a major health improvement over the years.

Those who have lost a spouse or other loved one know that to suffer a broken heart feels just like that, and worse. Grief is a powerful emotion, and not one to be ignored or taken lightly. We have many books on grief and loss, both fiction and nonfiction, but two new ones stand out from the crowd. “The Essential Guide to Grief and Grieving” by psychotherapist Debra Holland explains the varieties of grieving experiences, the stages of grief and practical methods for coping and finding a new normal after your loss.

The much-lauded author Joan Didion wrote “The Year of Magical Thinking” after her husband’s unexpected death of a heart attack in 2003. Her new memoir, “Blue Nights,” is a look back on the life of her daughter, Quintana Roo, who died shortly after “The Year of Magical Thinking” was released. It is a quiet but potent examination of Didion’s experiences as a mother, and what it means to outlive your child. It is by no means an easy read, but very rewarding.

On the lighter side, they say that laughter is the best medicine, and who better to make us laugh than professional comedians? Last year was a great one for memoirs, and one my favorites was Tina Fey’s “Bossypants.” She tells stories of her foibles as a youth in Pennsylvania, her time with “The Second City” comedy tour, and making it big on “Saturday Night Live,” including her portrayal of vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin. Irreverent yet sweet, Fey has a promising career ahead of her as a writer and actress. Legendary funnyman Dick Van Dyke tells tales and drops names in his memoir “My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business.” He reminisces about “Mary Poppins,” “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and his relationships with Mary Tyler Moore and Carl Reiner. Former talk-show king Regis Philbin also wrote the story of his life in show business, “How I Got This Way.” He shares memories and lessons learned on his way to the top.

For more entertainment and learning opportunities, look no further than the library! Join us for a great opportunity to meet one of the great Minnesota authors, William Kent Krueger. He pens a mystery series set in the north woods of Minnesota, featuring former sheriff Cork O’Connor. He will be at the library at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 28.

If you want to push yourself to finally get to work on the great idea in your head for a novel, sign up for Jess Lourey’s Writing and Publishing a Novel Workshop at 10 a.m. March 10.

We are still looking to sign up area residents for our At Home Service, for those who have difficulty traveling to the library when they would like. It’s a friendly, personalized program that helps you get the books you love to read! Please call Laurel at 829-5574 to learn more or to sign up.

LAUREL M. HALL is the senior outreach coordinator for Kitchigami Regional Library System.