New and popular titles at Juniata County Library

With so many good books being released all the time, it can be hard to determine what to check out next. Every week, I offer a run-down of significant releases available here at the library.

Visit our online card catalog at juniata.sparkpa.org to search today or call (717) 436-6378 to have a helpful library staff member assist you.

“The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life” by David Brooks

I have followed David Brooks’ work for many years. It started with his second book, “The Social Animal,” which I read in print and listened to on audio CD (it was that good). Next, I read “The Road to Character” (2015) and enjoyed both his commentary on Sunday Morning’s Meet the Press as well as his twice-a-week column in The New York Times. A center-right political columnist with The Times since 2003, Brooks can take wide-ranging topics, ancient wisdom, and current events and turn it into articles and books that are accessible for the general population to read.

Brooks starts out “The Road to Character” with a metaphor from the Book of Genesis. Borrowing from a rabbi named Joseph Soleveitchik, Brooks points out that Genesis contains two opposing depictions of Adam in the two depictions of Creation, which represent two different sides of human nature. “Adam I is the career-oriented, ambitious side of our nature,” Brooks writes. “He wants to have high status and win victories.” Adam II, in contrast, is more internally focused. “Adam II wants to have a serene inner character, a quiet but solid sense of right and wrong–not only to do good, but to be good.” Brooks fleshes out the Adam I/Adam II metaphor by offering profiles of a broad set of historical figures. Not all of them are paragons of virtue. But they are paragons of character.

Brooks now starts “The Second Mountain” with a metaphor based on two mountains. “Many of the people I admire lead lives that have a two-mountain shape,” Brooks states. He continues: “They got out of school, began their career, started a family and identified the mountain they thought they were meant to climb — I’m going to be an entrepreneur, a doctor, a cop. They did the things society encourages us to do, like make a mark, become successful, buy a home, raise a family, pursue happiness.” People on the first mountain spend a lot of time on reputation management. They ask: What do people think of me? Where do I rank? They’re trying to win the victories the ego enjoys.

Many people have lives that only have one mountain. Brooks focuses on the second mountain. For many of us, life throws us into a valley. We lose a job, which takes away our identity. We suffer a scandal, which rocks our world. We tragically lose a loved one. In the end, we suffer, go adrift, and are broken open.

Many of us can take these experiences and become cynical, selfish and remain in the valley. Brooks encourages us to take these experiences and discover the first mountain was not meant for us. There is a second mountain with our true journey.

Some people radically change their lives at this point. They quit their corporate jobs and become focused on helping people (this type of theme is seen in many Hallmark movies). Brooks states that “their moral revolution points toward a different goal. On the first mountain they went for happiness, but on the second mountain they are rewarded with joy. What’s the difference? Happiness involves a victory for the self. It happens as we move toward our goals. You get a promotion. You have a delicious meal. Joy involves the transcendence of self. When you’re on the second mountain, you realize we aim too low. We compete to get near a little sunlamp, but if we lived differently, we could feel the glow of real sunshine. On the second mountain you see that happiness is good, but joy is better.”

I strongly encourage you to read everything Brooks puts out. His works have changed my life for the better and I hope he can help you, too. You can find this book in the New Adult Nonfiction section.

Bookshots …

Here are some quick book recommendations that include star ratings I give them or whether you should skip it, borrow it, or buy it.

“Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years” by MacCulloch, Diarmaid (borrow it)

“Broke Millennial Takes on Investing: A Beginner’s Guide to Leveling Up Your Money” by Lowry, Erin (buy it)

“Duped: Double Lives, False Identities, and the Con Man I Almost Married” by Ellin, Abby (borrow it)


Vince Giordano has been the director of the Juniata County Library since 2015.


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