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Newsletter Number 39 • January 8, 2008

Books

First, it is our pleasure to wish all of our readers, our customers, and our friends a very happy, healthy, and prosperous 2008. We are very grateful for all of our blessings and continue to be most appreciative of those of you who help us stay in business by purchasing books and/or gifts from us either in our store or from our website. We will also gladly take orders by telephone or email. Tony remains a fountain of knowledge and good advice. For those of you who do not know him or never have spoken with him, try giving him a call to discuss books. I think you will be very glad you did. (800-593-2665 or 641-472-5105).

We know you can buy books slightly cheaper from Amazon, but we think we offer substantial “value-added” with our reviews and friendly, personal service. Often we discover obscure books which are true gems and which we hope give you great pleasure in your reading and maybe even contribute to the betterment of your life.

If each of you who has bought and enjoyed one or more of the books we have recommended in our newsletter, but who has never ordered from our store would order 2 or 3 books from us this year it would go a long way towards helping us to be able to achieve financial stability and to be able to continue this labor of love. We are bit asking, nor would we expect, most of you to order all your books from us. However, it would be great for us (and we hope maybe you would feel good about it too) if you ordered 2 or 3 books from us once every year. It is the 25th anniversary of 21st Century Books and we look forward to serving you in the coming decades. We thank you in advance for your consideration and participation.

The Brazilian author, Paulo Coelho is acknowledged to be the world’s most read living author. Because I am a contrarian by nature (and some may even say an elitist snob) ordinarily I would avoid reading something so popular. Thanks to the advice of Tony I did not make this mistake. I have read and enjoyed a number of Coelho’s works. I particularly enjoyed Eleven Minutes, which I have reviewed earlier, and would urge everyone who has missed it to pick it up and read it. This month I read Veronika Decides to Die, which I rate as possibly the best of all of his novels.

All of his works have a kind of mythic quality to them. Often they treat deep and spiritual issues. Veronika is spiritual, earthy, and philosophical in the best ways. Coelho’s treatment of the nature of reality and the issues of sanity and insanity are both profound and simple at the same time. This creates fast moving and very enjoyable reading with very interesting characters. The setting, an insane asylum, brings together some fascinating and very enchanting people.

It turns out, perhaps, that the insane asylum is the only refuge for the truly sane. This book really flows. The characters are wonderful and the story seems to be a perfect length. I really loved this book and recommend it without any reservations at all.

Peter Hoeg is a Danish author, whom I had never heard of. The Quiet Girl, by Hoeg was recommended to me by one our readers responding to one of our earlier letters.

This book is almost impossible for me to describe. It contains a strong element of surrealism, and reminds me of Kafka; only instead of being dark and heavy this is light and uplifting. Moreover, it is very profound and presents a unique view or perspective of reality and its relationship with sound and music.

The setting for the book is Denmark, and the main character is a circus clown of great renown. Kaspar Krone, the protagonist is a man possessing supernatural qualities of hearing, as he can hear life on many levels. I can’t even begin to explain or describe his powers and his insights. The book hangs together with an interesting plot and fascinating characters while it lifts off into the realm of philosophical fantasy.

This novel is very unique and transcends so much of what is ordinary in literature that it really defies description. If you are an adventurous reader and would like to read a very incredible novel that is extraordinary in very many ways, give this one a try. Hoeg may go down as one of the 21st Century’s most insightful authors. On the book jacket this novel is described as a “philosophical thriller” and while that does not do it full justice it is a pointer in the direction of getting to the core of what it is about.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and I think that many of our discerning readers who are interested in sampling something profound and off the beaten track will find this not only entertaining but quite possibly very enlightening.

Paul Theroux is a very prolific writer, having published dozens of works, some fiction and others travelogues. The Elephanta Suite is his latest work of fiction. It is actually three novellas set in India, and tied together by a hotel suite occupied by characters in each story. The suite is in the Taj Palace Hotel, in Mumbai, India, overlooking the India Gate.

Whether you have been to India or not, I think you will find these stories intriguing and enjoyable. The main characters in each of the three are quite different from one another. Because of this the reader gets a unique and well-balanced view of how Westerners of different ages and backgrounds relate to and experience the multi-leveled culture of India.

The first story involves a middle-aged wealthy couple who end up venturing a little too deeply into the seamier sexy underbelly of India. The second story, my favorite, is a very remarkable vignette of an uptight Boston lawyer who discovers his own inner nature for the first time in encounters with a very spiritual Jain businessman on the one hand, and some Indian lower class prostitutes on the other. It is an amazing story and the author does an incredible job of weaving the disparate parts of the experiences together.
Finally, the third novella features a young girl recently graduated from Brown and her encounters with both spirituality and Indian men.

All in all the stories are both remarkable and very entertaining. They are also very revealing of the conflicts of Western and Indian culture and of the old and the new in India and how they all interact in this modern day and age.

I thoroughly enjoyed these stores and highly recommend this book.
I hope some of you will enjoy the above works of fiction
Len

 

Len’s review above of Veronika Decides to Die is right on. I feel this book works on many levels and you will do yourself a disservice to pass it up.

Are you ever happy for no reason?

Well, read former Fairfield resident and best selling author Marci Shimoff’s latest book and you may just find that happiness without attachment.

Coincidently her book is entitled HAPPY FOR NO REASON : 7 Steps to Being Happy from the Inside Out.

The book reveals a remarkable program to increase your happiness. The book incorporates the latest findings in positive psychology. It provides powerful tools and techniques and moving life stories. The book teaches you the secrets for sustained happiness despite your outward circumstances.

Marci has been featured in the movie The Secret. She is president and cofounder of The Esteem Group.

The Essential Sri Anandamayi Ma: Life and Teachings of a 20th Century Indian Saint
By Alexander Lipski
This is one of the most beautiful books on the great 20th Century saint.
This Illustrated Edition features

  • 125 color & sepia photos and illustrations
  • A concise and sensitive biography written by an American scholar and admirer
  • Edited selections from Anandamyi Ma’s teachings, previously unpublished outside of India

Through her teachings and the example of her life, Anandamayi Ma has inspired millions of individuals of diverse faiths and circumstances—from Prime Ministers, artists, and industrialists to shopkeepers, beggars and monks including Mahatma Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, Jawarharlal Nehru, former Prime Minister of Canada, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the Queen Mother of Greece, and the former President of India, Ragendra Prasad. Without a doubt, Anandamayi Ma is one of the most beloved 20th century saints within her native India, and across the globe. Beautifully illustrated with over 100 color & sepia photos and illustrations, the present book includes a concise and sensitive biography of Anandamayi Ma with important selections from her oral teachings.

And another one for all you fans of the Divine Mother ..

Rock Your World with the Divine Mother: Bringing the Sacred Power of the Divine Mother Into Our Lives by Sondra Ray with an introduction by Marianne Williamson.

“The Divine Mother is known by many names and takes many forms. In Christianity, she is the Virgin Mary. In China, she is universally loved as the goddess of compassion, Quan Yin. In Hawaii, Pele, the goddess of fire, manifests in the form of a woman near the volcanoes. In India, she is embodied by Kali, Lakshmi, Tara, and other goddesses.

The fusion of feminine qualities from all religions and traditions, the Divine Mother can be a nurturing presence and a powerful guide along your individual spiritual path. Through stories, prayers, and teachings, Sondra Ray enthusiastically escorts you into the profound reawakening of the sacred feminine in the hearts and minds of seekers throughout the world.

Ray describes her pilgrimages to holy places where she has sought the divine feminine, from the revered Baca Valley in Colorado to the Himalayan foothills. Her reflections on Amma (the hugging saint), Mother Teresa, Mary Magdalene, and other Divine Mothers, as well as men like Shastriji and Babaji, who embrace the feminine aspect of divinity, provide insight and inspiration as well as suggestions for worship and renewal. Ray’s delightful and awe-inspiring adventures, coupled with insightful teachings and prayers, show how embracing the Divine Mother can help attract more love, abundance, clarity, and wisdom into your life. In Rock Your World with the Divine Mother, Ray demonstrates that the Divine Mother’s presence is essential for both inner peace and peace in the world.”

Have you ever been stressed out driving you car — waiting for that %#@@ light to change or that $#%$ man ahead of you to let you pass?
Then try doing yoga while in your car.

Drivetime Yoga by Elaine Masters is filled with exercises you can do while driving—breathing, centering and slight physical adjustments leaving you feeling energized and relaxed after your commute instead of feeling stressed. Comes in both book and CD format.

Some of the contents include…

  • How to avoid injuries from driving habits that hurt.
  • Simple stretches tailored for driving, stoplights, destinations and passengers.
  • How to tone, energize and relax doing Yoga in your car.
  • Body Specific moves to relieve chronically sore areas.
  • How to increase productivity by recovering quickly from long commutes.
  • Road Rage Antidotes to avoid hypertension, stress and high blood pressure due to challenging driving conditions and more...
  • The fully illustrated book is easy to carry and store.
  • The audio is simple and easy to follow.

Elaine became introduced to yoga Asanas after being initiated into TM. She received her Yoga Certification from the Natural Healing Institute in Encinitas, California as a Kinepathics and Somatics Movement teacher and is a member of the Yoga Alliance. She teaches Drivetime Yoga whether in line at the grocery store or giving presentations for businesses.

My latest novel read is Broken for You by Stephanie Kallos

A moving story of broken people and the healing of the pieces of the fractured self.
It is the story of an elderly woman dying of a brain tumor. She has lived with a dark secret her entire adult life. Her parents died when she was quite young and her husband divorced her leaving her quite alone in an 11 room mansion. One day her loneliness decides to reach out and she takes in a boarder: a lonely young woman searching for her runaway lover, herself abandoned by her parents at a young age. This one decision leads to a mending.a redemption of their lives and the lives of others. Loneliness and the search for unity with another are universal and to varied degrees are shared by us all. Such is the power of a great book. It can allow one to look through another’s eyes and realize we are not so alone in our brokenness.

A beautiful and creative work, fans of The Secret Life of Bees will enjoy this.

Jed McKenna in his latest book Spiritual Warfare states there is only one thing that we can know to be true ...”I Am”.. All other beliefs are recreational fiction... this is the only one thing we can know... The only truth… all other knowledge is subject to change and unreliable and therefore false.

Looking back on my own so called versions of truth, my own “superior” arguments of my rightness, I realized the more fear I had inside the more my version of truth had to be upheld by others. Fear that if I saw my beliefs for the falseness they were I would be left with what??? With who???

When I finally came to realize my ignorance was infinite
my life’s background took on a pleasant underlying sense of unhurried sadness.
And if that is all the gods can offer me this life .. Well I can happily live with that.

Love

Tony

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