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Newsletter Number 9 • July 13, 2005

 

21st Century Books is not a big corporation with a “mission statement” or 5 year plan to grow revenues and increase profitability. We are a family enterprise dedicated to serving our local community. We can’t compete with Amazon and others on price or selection, but we hope to provide enough “value added” to sell sufficient product on our website or by telephone orders to maintain our business and continue to enjoy ourselves.

We know many of you continue to support our store even though you could obtain the product for less money elsewhere. Jews use the term “mitzvah” to describe an act of charity or kindness that is done out of the goodness of the heart (usually anonymously or without recognition). We think every time you buy product from us you are performing a mitzvah, and we offer you our ongoing thanks and appreciation!

If we do have a “mission,” I guess it would be, as it says on our site, to be Purveyors of books that matter for people who care. It is often the little things in life that matter most, so if we help you to discover a book that enables you to have a few moments of joy, a week of pleasure, or in that most rare occasion, an experience that really enriches your life, then we are accomplishing our goal.

Usually when I write my section of the monthly newsletter I select a few books that I have recently read and recommend them. In general I try to find books that are not current best-sellers, or are out of the mainstream, so I can bring “value added”. This month the only books I read which I think are worth recommending are both quite popular and quite mainstream. As is our policy on many hardbound issues, our prices are 20% off the list price.

Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell (Author of The Tipping Point) is simply one of those “must read” books for just about everyone. We all use snap judgments, hunches, or instincts to make decisions “in the blink of an eye.” This book uses wit and charm along with great science to explain how and why this method of choosing is often superior to intensely arduous scientific research driven decision-making. The examples chosen are brilliant and entertaining and I give this book my highest recommendation.

Freakonomics, by Steven D Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner has been highly recommended in many circles. The book was written, and the title chosen to be a best seller. This book is very well-worth reading because it demonstrates how often conventional wisdom is way off base. It also does a good job of explaining just how important incentives are in modifying behavior. This is a good book, and I enjoyed it, but I don’t think it quite measures up to all the hype and accolades it has received.

What the Bleep do We Know?! is a DVD that is a true treasure. If you did not see this in the theater (and it did not receive wide distribution, so there is a pretty good chance you missed it) then you are in for a real treat! The movie deals with the latest connections between science, physics, and spirituality. It is most enjoyable and entertaining while at the same time serving to expand one’s boundaries and perhaps “blow your mind” a little. Featured in this film, among other luminaries, is Fairfield’s John Hagelin. You will want to watch this movie over and over, as well as share it with friends and family.

Finally, I would like to re-recommend two of my favorite books. Shantaram is an opus, an epic, a blockbuster or whatever term you would choose for one of those huge novels that come along about once a decade. It is a first novel which is autobiographical and includes everything that makes reading so special. There is drama, love, war, humor, pathos, the whole nine yards. When I first recommended it I was wondering if my own love for Bombay (the setting for the novel) had colored my impressions. Now, having had feedback from a number of friends who have read it and shared my joy, I will guarantee you will love this book. For those of you who may be highly sensitive, I would warn that some of the prison and war scenes are very graphic in their details of cruel and inhuman punishment and conditions.

We recently received a shipment from India and re-stocked A Search in Secret India, by Paul Brunton. Virtually every seeker I have met agrees that Autobiography of a Yogi was a major influence in his or her life. I would say that Brunton’s book ranks a close second to Yogananda’s book as a classic work about the path of a seeker. This is another book I guarantee will be a favorite of anyone who reads it.

Enjoy the summer, Len Oppenheim

 

Last month my thoughts were on death. July being my birth month this time my thoughts are on birth.

Birth is as mysterious as death… with the dying process a person is here and then gone.

With birth there seemingly is no person and then there is.

But what is born and what dies?

Deep inside Who am I really?

Tony?

In reality there is no Tony and birth and death are a fiction that belong to a play in several acts called “Tony’s Life.” This play has a birth and a death but the audience (me) is present before the beginning and is there when the curtain falls on this play… when the final act is completed I will applaud and say jolly good play this “Tony” was.

The play is always beginning and ending, the critics always having their field day with it.. there is much laughter and crying. but after the play is over the observer audience remains… always remains… there is an intermission, maybe some popcorn is purchased with a Diet Coke tm and the observer sits down again. The lights slowly fade and the second act begins.

To get a glimpse of who you really are: an observer of this comic drama, I recommend the following translation of the Ashtavakra Gita : THE HEART OF AWARENESS. It is a beautiful expose of truth.

Another title I highly recommend is THE CONCISE YOGA VASISTHA

This wonderful book has been our best selling title for the past 22 years. An added treat is the extensive review of this book we have just put on our site submitted by my friend Michael Baxter. Michael is a student of Gyan Yoga (the path of knowledge) who considers himself a disciple of Sri Ramana Maharshi, the foremost 20th Century teacher of Advaita Vedanta (lit. ‘non-dual end-of-knowledge’). Originally trained as a Physicist, Michael’s specific interest is in presenting Sri Ramana’s technique of direct self–enquiry, or atma vichara, in such a way as to be more widely appreciated by contemporary seekers… if ever a Ph.D were given out for Advaita, Michael would surely be Dr. Baxter.

We have recently received copies of the brand new book TRANSLUCENT REVOLUTION by Arjuna… it is about the huge transition taking place with many people finally waking up to the reality of who they are.. you might find this book of much interest. It is fast becoming a 21st Century Books best seller.

 Also for all you Dr. Hawkins fans.. his fourth book has just been released: Truth vs Falsehood : How To Tell The Difference

Enjoy the movie

Tony

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