Treasures on the Shelves — A time-honored ritual

Published 9:00 am Saturday, August 20, 2022

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This month marks the back to school season for most schools in our area. This is such a time-honored ritual that even if your school days are long behind you, the sense of nostalgia still lingers.

So often people take school and education for granted and it’s easy to forget that for some, receiving even a basic education is an obstacle. “Educated” by Tara Westover was an enormous success when it was published in 2018 and is still being discussed today. Westover grew up in a family environment that included social isolation, poverty, and violence.

Not able to attend school until her late teens, she eventually attended both Harvard and Cambridge universities. Her journey makes for fascinating reading, not only in regards to academic learning but also the personal courage it takes to expand oneself.


Another book that examines the hard-won right to an education is “Trails and Trailblazers” by Shirley Robertson Lee. This book chronicles the integration of the Lunenburg County public school system in the wake of Brown v. Board of Education and includes accounts from the students of the 1970 senior class of Central High School, the first integrated class to graduate.

Two recent fiction books take a more cynical look at education and how it can become an indication of status, for better or worse. “The Gifted School” by Bruce Holsinger examines the competitiveness that can emerge when parents and students vie for spots in an elite new school and “The School for Good Mothers” by Jessamine Chan is a futuristic look at both motherhood and education by envisioning a school for “bad” mothers where they are reeducated in child rearing.

If you are interested in a college degree but worried about the expense, then “How to Earn a College Degree without Going to College” by James P. Duffy might be the book for you. This title explores online learning, proficiency exams and turning life experience into college credits.


But who says learning only applies to those of school age? “Beginners” by Tom Vanderbilt, explores learning new things from an adult’s perspective and rediscovers the joy of following your own interests as a way to become a lifelong learner. Storey’s “Curious Compendium of Practical and Obscure Skills” is the perfect volume for the autodidact or someone who prefers to be self-taught. From learning how to read an animal’s body language to fixing a broken window, this book is a treasure trove of basic but useful life skills.

Visit your library and start on a new learning path today!

Holly Howze is the branch manager for the Ripberger Public Library located in Kenbridge. She can be reached at