Santa Cruz Good Times

Oct 07th
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Top Winter Reading Picks

ae_booksJust Kids
The Autobiography of Mark TwainUnbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption
The Essential New York Times Cookbook
Half Empty
Cleopatra: A Life
Too Much Happiness
All Is Forgotten, Nothing Is Lost

Bookshop Santa Cruz recommends:
Just Kids by Patti Smith. Musician Patti Smith’s fantastic memoir of her relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe begins as a love story and ends as an elegy. Chronicling their lives as young artists in late-’60s and ’70s New York City, this book just won the National Book Award.

The Autobiography of Mark Twain. Edited by Harriet Elinor Smith Mark Twain is his own greatest character in this brilliant self-portrait, the first of three volumes collected by the Mark Twain Project on the centenary of the author's death.

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival. Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand, In her long-awaited new book, Hillenbrand writes with the same rich and vivid voice she displayed in her bestseller, “Seabiscuit.” Telling an unforgettable story of a man’s journey into extremity, “Unbroken” is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit.

The Essential New York Times Cookbook. Edited by Amanda Hesser. Looking for a wonderful new general cookbook? Here it is! Hesser, a food columnist for the New York Times, offers “a superb compilation of the most noteworthy recipes published by the paper since it started covering food in the 1850s. It should grace the shelves of every food-lover,” says Publishers Weekly.

Capitola Book Café recommends:
Half Empty by David Rakoff. It’s not surprising, given the state of things, that some of us are a bit testy, but David Rakoff reminds us that irritability is best processed with good cheer. Whether deconstructing creativity or childhood, he brings opposing forces together: humor and pathos, joy and pain, apathy and awe—all the things decency is made of.

Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff, Cleopatra was the ultimate rock star, larger than life in a way that only fans (and enemies) can imagine.  In elegant, expansive prose, Stacy Schiff unravels the facts from the agendas of those who have told her story, bringing this remarkable queen back down to earth and into her rightful place as a complex, formidable woman.

Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro. In yet another profound collection of short stories, Alice Munro continues to till the soil close to home, lending such an air of surprise to simple truth that the known world dawns on us unexpectedly. You’d swear you’re overhearing these conversations in the next room. Such is her gift.

All Is Forgotten, Nothing Is Lost by Lan Samantha Chang. This is a lovely book for the artist in all of us. Centered around two writers, and begun in an Iowa Workshop-like setting, it muses on how one can be a poet as well as a friend, lover, and teacher. It’s a subtle but deeply felt book.

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A Ritual & Initiation

The Pope has come and gone, but his loving presence ignited new hope and goodness in many. While he was in NYC, China’s ruler arrived in Washington D.C. East (China) and West (Rome), meeting in the middle, under Libra, balancing sign of Right Relations. The Pope arrived at Fall Equinox. Things initiated at Fall Equinox are birthed at Winter Solstice. The Pope’s presence was a ritual, an initiation rite—like the Dalai Lama’s visits—offering prayers, teachings and blessings. Rituals anchor God’s plan into the world, initiating us to new realities, new rules. The Pope’s presence brings forth the Soul of the United States, its light piercing the veils of materialism. The Pope’s visit changed things. New questions arise, new reasons for living. A new wave of emerging life fills the air. Like a cocoon shifting, wings becoming visible. The winds are different now. Calling us to higher vision, moral values, virtues that reaffirm and offer hope for humanity. A changing of the guard has occurred. Appropriately, this is the week of the Jewish Festival of Sukkoth (’til Oct. 4), when we build temporary homes (little huts in nature), entering into a harvest of prayer and thanksgiving, understanding our fragile and impermanent existences. We are summoned to reflect upon our lives, our humanity, our nature, our spirit and each other. Offering gratitude, becoming a magnet for others. We observe. We see the needs. We love more.
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