January Reviews

Reviews by Len Oppenheim

Happy 2009!! I hope 2009 will bring good health, fulfillment, and prosperity to all. 2008 was a tough year for many of us, in terms of our economic health and well-being. Many are hoping that the economy will recover by late 2009. I hope those predictions are true, but unfortunately it seems to me that our economic malaise may last much longer. In any event each of us who is blessed with good health, good friends, and loving family relationships has a lot for which to be thankful. Hopefully we all will have a positive outlook for 2009 and the coming years.

Nothing is more important than our own attitude and outlook. As the great Sage, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi aptly put it: “The world is as you are.” What we are, or who we are depends upon many factors, some of which we can control and many of which are beyond our control. We have our genes and our experiences which shape our lives. Our experiences include our contacts and relationships with others, what we eat and drink, as well as what we see, hear, smell, touch, and taste. If we have a positive outlook, and an optimistic attitude it seems like we can sail through life with joy and fulfillment.

I have found that what I read can have a major effect on my attitude and outlook. Recently I re-read The Holographic Universe, by Michael Talbot. As much as I enjoyed it the first time, I think I liked it even better this time. I would be hard-pressed to find a book written in the 20th century that I believe is more important or more worthwhile. You can read the review I wrote a few years ago on our website by clicking on the title, above.

If anything, I am even more enthusiastic about this book now. If you have any interest at all in the nature of reality, the interrelationships between mind and matter, consciousness and reality, and the paranormal abilities of the mind; you cannot afford to miss this book.

Not only did I find this book fascinating, more significantly, I feel it brought to me a certain wholeness and left me feeling tremendously positive about myself and life.

I beg, urge, and cajole each and every one of our readers to read this book now. And, if you read it years ago, I urge you to re-read as soon as possible. Some may find the first 50 or so pages slow or difficult to understand. Trust me, and plow on through. Once you get to Part II and beyond, I think you will find yourself enchanted, enthralled, and amazed.

Paulo Coelho, the Brazilian author, is the most widely read author on our planet. His works are translated into many languages. I finally read The Alchemist, probably his best known and most popular work.

Coelho’s works are slightly surreal, definitely mythic, and always delightful. Coelho is a very wise man and an exceptional writer. If you want to be entertained, uplifted, and perhaps even enlightened this is a novel you must read.

There is no way to really “review” this book. It is a remarkable tale about a magical journey and is steeped in universal wisdom.

In addition to The Alchemist, I highly recommend Eleven Minutes, also reviewed on our website.

If you are interested in reading a unique and exceptionally well-written novel by a Japanese author that treats some uniquely Japanese themes, don’t miss Norwegian Wood, by Haruki Murakami. This novel is a rare treat, was recommended to me by my son Sam and by our Tony.

The writing is just outstanding. Death, suicide, love, life, and sex are all themes treated in the almost perfectly written novel. It is a very fascinating novel, and getting a uniquely Japanese slant on these important themes is really precious.

Again, I want to wish everyone a wonderful 2009 and to express our appreciation to those faithful customers who are trying to help us continue as one of the last of a dying breed, the independent bookstore.

Reviews by Tony Kainauskus

I end this year with 2 books that have turned out to be my favorites of 2008.

(“Ha! Tony, don’t you say the same thing about all the books you review?…”

“Not true., if you review my past newsletters you will see that your above statement has no basis in reality”)

White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

Is a brutally satirical look at the country of India, similar in feel to Shantaram and Holy Cow, yet unique in its own way.

This is the story of a man born in the dark (poor rural India) and reaching the light (Delhi).

The book grabs you from the beginning and when you are done you feel that the author has created an almost perfect novel.

Written as a letter to the Chinese premier—the author explains and dissects India in a way that is hilariously funny and deeply poignant.

The main character finds his way out of the darkness of his rural corrupt village to the light of Delhi by becoming a driver for a wealthy Indian. But he finds that corruption does not begin and end in the small villages of rural India but expands and grows in the rich suburbs of Delhi.

This is a classic book, dealing with the weight of materialism and the liberation of spirituality, and of one man’s breaking free of “the chicken coop”.

For those who have experienced India first hand this book will ring true… for those yet to go , this novel will peel away the illusions that one may have of this deeply spiritual yet also deeply corrupt country. This is a must for Jed McKenna fans.. it is like mixing Crime and Punishment and Spiritual Enlightenment the Damnedest Thing. Please make this a must read for 2009.

For fans of Into the Wild and Into Thin Air, Touching the Void : The True Story of One Man’s Miraculous Survival by Joe Simpson surpasses both in intensity and the ability to put you into the psychological fears and sufferings that take place on a high mountain in the Andes.

This is a true story of 2 men attempting the first ever west face ascent of a mountain in the Andes range. While near the summit the author breaks his leg (a virtual death sentence on such a high elevation). This leads to a moral dilemma for his partner that has been a matter of debate by many climbers since the publication of the book.

The book is filled with mounting climbing jargon that may be hard for the lay person to follow (there is a glossary in the back that does explain the terms) but this is a minor point of distraction, for once the reader gets to the point of the fall and the broken leg he or she will not want to put this book down. Even if you have never been above sea level, this book is a must read.

After reading the book, you can watch the fascinating documentary made of this climb on YouTube.

It is divided into 12 parts.

But read the book first.

As I write this newsletter it is a few days before Christmas.

Today I feel gratitude, independent of any circumstance in my life.. I feel the realness of That.

I used to search for happiness… I have given that up. I now wait with humbleness for anything or person that arrives… be it in joy or in darkness… for darkness sometimes leads to joy and joy can unexpectedly lead to darkness… Knowing this… I can be acceptant of all circumstances without fear. Neither impressed with my light nor afraid of my shadows.

Happy New Year to you all.

May it bring you what you need… though how can it do otherwise?