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Mar 05th
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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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Week of Festivals: Full Moon, Lantern Festival, Purim, Holi

It is a week of many different festivals along with a full moon, all occurring simultaneously. Thursday Chinese New Year celebrations end with the Lantern Festival (at full moon). Thursday is also the Pisces Solar festival (full moon), Purim (Jewish Festival) and Holi (Hindu New Year Festival). Sunday, March 8, Daylight Saving Time begins at 2 a.m. The festival of Purim celebrates the freedom of the Hebrew people from the cruel Haman (a magistrate) seeking to destroy them. Esther, the Queen of Persia, who was secretly Jewish, saved her people from death. The sweet cookie hamentaschen celebrates this festival. Friday, March 6, is Holi, the Hindu Spring Festival celebrated after the March full moon. Bonfires are lit the night before, warding off evil. Holi, the Festival of Colors, is the most colorful festival in the world. It is also the Festival of Love—of Radha for Krishna (the blue-colored God). It is a spring festival with singing, dancing, carnivals, food and bhang, a drink made of cannabis leaves. Holi signifies good over evil, ridding oneself of past errors, ending conflicts through rapprochement (returning to each other). It is a day of forgiveness, including debts. Holi also marks the beginning of New Year. At the Pisces Solar festival we recite the seed thought, “We leave the Father’s home and, turning back, we save.” Great Teachers remain on Earth until all of humanity is enlightened. The New Group of World Servers is called to this task and sacrifice. Sacrifice (from the heart) is the first Law of the Soul, the heart of which is Love. This sacrifice saves the world.

 

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