Archive for the Good Book Category

Sharon enjoys the Solstice Gala with Vegetable Literacy

Vegetable Literacy

Dear Friends,

Thanks you so much for your kind invitation to relax at home with a good book! I am looking forward to attending. Although I will not be available until after 6, you can be sure that I will enjoy every minute of this solstice event. Chef and author Deborah Madison has written Vegetable Literacy which was given to me for my birthday in June.  This earnest endeavor to educate cooks and gardeners about plant families encourages creativity and spontaneity in using just what grows in the garden. I am skipping to page 103 so that I can start with the knotweed family which includes sorrel. This short chapter includes 3 recipes for sorrel sauces so I will break from my reading to gather sorrel in the garden and then prepare a salmon filet with boiled potatoes and creamy sorrel sauce. Once finished, I will return to chapter one, the carrot family…

Again, thanks for the opportunity!  Always, Sharon Maxwell

Ladies Lit and Tea Read for the Solstice Gala

The Ladies Literary and Tea Society

meeting monthly in Santa Cruz since 1996

*Note: It’s not too late to join the fun of the Solstice Gala! RSVP by clicking here.


Ladies and Lit Reads

Title:      The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion

Author:   Fannie Flagg

All Girl Filling Station

I heard a review of this book on National Public Radio and decided to read it even though I don’t often care for the books reviewed there. It starts slowly, meaning I was wondering if I would get as far as page 10. The book quickly picks up. I read until midnight, then woke up really early thinking about it and finished it before breakfast.  The book is in two parts which are woven together to create a contrast between an unbelievably insipid present-day woman and the enchantingly and perhaps unrealistically vivid lives of a family of World War Two era sisters. The book is full of messages; some topics are a little unsavory but even so I imagine it would be an excellent discussion book for a high school class studying America during World War II.  It is well and cleverly written. And I was surprised at how much I learned. I won’t say about what exactly. Read the book and find out.


Denise Becker




Title:  A la Recherche du Temps Perdu

Author:  Marcel Proust

A La Recherche du Temps Perdu

Thanks to one of our book club members who signed up for a “Life-long Learners” course focused on Marcel Proust’s A la Recherche du Temps Perdu (in English, of course), I borrowed her copy when her class was ended. This is a 2002 publication of a translation by Lydia Davis. I am enjoying it more than I could ever have imagined. Perhaps it takes a walk into one’s eighth decade of life to accumulate the patience and understanding required for the fullest appreciation for Proust’s gifts. It stuns me when I read one sentence at least a page long describing a nearly instantaneous but emotional event. He is a masterly word-painter of the kinds of experiences that one forgets, but can be brought forth in an instant with great clarity and joy when reading such a passage that evokes a memory similar to one’s own.

I know the book must end soon: I will delay that eventuality for as long as I can.

Gwen Shupe


Title: The Garden of Heaven

Author:  Hafiz, translated by Gertrude Bell

The Garden of Heaven

Hafiz was a 14th century Persian poet, born in Shiraz. These are delicate love-songs meant to be recited or chanted.  They are wonderfully visual and sensual in the English translation; I would imagine they are even more so in the original Persian. Here is an example:


God send to thee great length of happy days!

Lo, not for his own life thy servant prays;

Love’s dart in thy bent brows the Archer lays,

Nor shoots in vain.

Carolyn Woolston


Howard's End

I read E.M. Forster’s Howard’s End every four or five years.

This novel is a deeply explored examination of the shattering changes that took place in English society during the late 19th  and early 20th century.  The primary question posed by the book is:  “Who will inherit England (Howard’s End)?  At the end, note who that is, and who his parents are.


Lorene Hall


ps:  Howard’s End is one of the great English novels; you don’t have to be

interested in English history to love it forever.


pps:   The film, with Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins  captures the

book beautifully – an uncommon occurrence, unless you happen to

be Merchant & Ivory.

Kate reads My Bookstore

I  am  reading My Bookstore, a collection of famous writers reflections on their favorite places to browse and shop. We are collecting advice on making the Friends Bookstore the best it can be. Come by and see us.

-Kate Canlis, FSCPL Board Member

Kate read My Bookstore

Ralph Reads The Java Script Ninja at the Solstice Gala

Title: Java Script Ninja
Author: Resig and Bibeault

When the programming language JavaScript was introduced, those of us who coded in what we called “powerful languages”, such as C or Fortran, sneered at this wimpy new language. Twenty years later, JavaScript has grown up: more new applications are being coded in this language than all other languages combined. It is true that C and Fortran are still the way to code supercomputers, but JavaScript has become the way to go for apps that run on devices that you put in your pocket or backpack. So here I am trying to come up to speed on the language of the day.

-Ralph Carmichael

Ralph and Ginger

Ralph reads with Ginger.

Laurie R. King explores the English Mysteries of Josephine Tey at the Solstice Gala

I have an entire bookshelf–note: not a shelf, a bookshelf unit–of books I’ve bought and will someday read. It’s my own personal library, waiting for me to run my eyes down the spines, take one or two from its neighbors, and finally choose the story that will fill the next handful of free hours. But to have the luxury of a whole day of lazy reading, knowing in advance that it’s waiting for me? That may call for a Josephine Tey marathon. Starting with Brat Ferrer, and going on to Daughter of Time, I will wend my way through a December day, walking England in the company of complex and thought-provoking companions. If I don’t run out of hours and my eyes are still happy, I will pass on to Love and Be Wise, and paddle down an English stream to a bittersweet conclusion.

-Laurie R. King

Laurie R. King is the New York Times bestselling author of 22 novels (all of which are waiting for you in the Santa Cruz library system) and a number of nonficition works and anthologies. She was given her first Santa Cruz library card in 1956, and still has the pin she won for completing the Summer Reading challenge.

Cindy brings The Lowland to the Solstice Gala

The Lowland book cover

The Lowland is Jhumpa Lahiri’s most recent book and comes highly recommended by my book club friends. I’ve been wanting to read it and the gala gives me a chance to set aside an extended period of time to delve into it instead of reading in bits and pieces. What a luxury!

-Cindy Jackson, Board Member

Cindy will be attending from the comfort of her favorite armchair. She will be bringing her cat, Mabel, as her plus one.

Cindy's chair

Cindy's cat

What Phil will bring to the Solstice Gala

I read like I eat.

I’ll be starting with my fave mag, The Economist. Like tapas, I’ll have something spicy from the Americas section, traditional fare from Europe and something exotic from the Asia pages. A bit from Books and Art before the main course, Edward Tufte’s Visual Display of Quantitative Information. Tufte is so into using graphics to help the reader understand the implications of loads of data. Ever see those election maps with each county in red or blue? Thousands of bits of info in a neat picture. But beware, his mantra is, less ink is better. While this seems like a heavy meat and potatoes entrée, his use of examples and samples gives this book a beef Wellington with garlic infused mashed potatoes yummyness. A little bit of Tufte goes a long way so a chapter or two and its doggie bag time. But wait, there’s desert. And my special treat will be working my way through Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy, Foundation, Foundation and Empire, Second Foundation. A story of the fall of the Galactic Empire might sound like a retread but this one tells the tale of one man’s plan to do a Phoenix like rebirth within a millennium. Hari Seldon, our main character, starts with getting the emperor to commission the Encyclopedia Galactica. He assembles the greatest minds to work on the project thereby saving and cocooning the intelligencia from the great fall. Just like my totally favorite après dinner treats of dark chocolate, strong black coffee and port, these books have it all. Intergalactic battles, palace intrigue, science as magic, heroines and surprise plot twists all told over a thousand years. And where will this repast be laid out? I’ll be in my patio (weather permitting) and then parked in front of my crackling fireplace dining on this feast of the printed word. Bon appetite!