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 V.18 No.2 | January 8 - 14, 2009 

Book News Reviews

Books To Start Anew

Local librarians and independent booksellers give you the skinny on books to refresh your cold, cold heart

It’s early January, which means you’ve probably identified several areas for self-improvment. But don’t rely solely on yourself to guide you through your reawakening, because let’s face it, you need the help. Thankfully, we have experts to recommend tomes to light the way. Many thanks to all the respondents, who collectively have read approximately 24 million books and have taken the time to help you start your new year off on a hopeful note.

Zen in the Art of Archery

Eugen Herrigel

For anyone needing inspiration, anyone wanting to do better at something they already do, and/or anyone interested in Zen.

Mr. Herrigel went to Japan to study Zen and archery (his wife, Gusty Luise Herrigel, studied Zen and flower arranging, and also wrote a book about it). The archery master with whom he studied could shoot an arrow into a bullseye in pitch darkness.

The book was recommended to me by a drawing teacher at UNM—he said "read this and don't think about it anymore." I did as he said and my drawings improved to the point that he was totally amazed. I passed the book (and the instruction) on to a music student, and he reported that his trumpet playing got rave reviews and his teachers were very impressed.

Over the years (and I'm about to read it again), I have turned to this slim volume when I felt bogged down and in need of inspiration. It's well worth reading.

Ellanie Sampson—Librarian, Alamosa Branch

Finding Your Own North Star

Martha Beck
Three Rivers Press

Anyone struggling with the Big Questions: “Is this all there is?” “What am I meant to do with my life?” “If I have it all, why am I still so unhappy?” will find help and inspiration in this book. By tuning into our own inner “north star” and tuning out societal and family pressures to be a person we’re not, Beck says anyone can find true happiness by living their own “authentic life.”

Amy Lahti—Events and marketing coordinator, Bookworks

The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius, translated by Maxwell Staniforth

I guess you could call it philosophy—Stoic philosophy—but I go back to the book quite often, sometimes just to read "Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be.  Be one." (Book 10, #16)  My copy is dog-eared, underlined, book-marked and generally tattered, which is why I collect other editions of the book.  If you have to have a Bible, this is mine.

Joe Wesbrook—Bookseller, Bookworks

The Unauthorized Guide to Choosing a Church

Carmen Renee Berry
Brazos Press

This book helped me to make an informed decision when I decided to make the leap from Catholicism to Protestantism. I wanted to know in advance which denominations ordained women, where they stood on reproductive issues, and how casually I could dress on a Sunday morning without attracting disapproving stares.

Amy DiBello—Library Paraprofessional, Wyoming Library

The Glass Castle

Jeannette Walls
Simon & Schuster

The Glass Castle is a memoir by a young woman recalling her childhood years with her family as a group of homeless individuals leading an eccentric, non-conventional life.  Ms. Walls' story allows the reader to view the charcters from another perspective.  Their point of view, when compared to my own, allowed me to understand what seems inconceivable.

Esther Hoeferkamp—Circulation Supervisor, Wyoming Library

The Curse of Chalion

Lois McMaster Bujold

"Prayer is a dangerous business."  Lines like this bring me back to this book several times a year.  I relish its adventure and romance, but I treasure its consolations.  Protagonist Cazaril navigates Bujold's save-the-kingdom plot with wits and wisdom honed by loss, perseverance, sacrifice, and grace.

Eileen O'Connell—Branch Manager, San Pedro Library

The Little Prince

Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Wordsworth Classics

A classic for all ages, it is a marvel to share in the Little Prince's journey, searching for what is truly important in life.  My favorite lesson: "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly.  What is essential is invisible to the eye."

Natasha Casteel—Branch Manager, Lomas Tramway Library


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