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A Call to Character: A Family Treasury of Stories, Poems, Plays, Proverbs, and Fables to Guide the Development of Values for You and Your Children, edited by Colin Greer and Herbert Kohl, HarperCollins, 1995, $4.95, 456 pp. A Call to Character: A Family Treasury of Stories, Poems, Plays, Proverbs, and Fables to Guide the Development of Values for You and Your Children is a multi-flavored package of literature. Stories include: The Story of My Life, by Helen Keller, Wilbur's Escape (Charlotte's Web), by E. B. White, A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle, and Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll. Poets include, Langston Hughes, Dylan Thomas, Gertrude Stein and Robert Frost, while playwrights find themselves in the company of the likes of William Shakespeare, Arthur Miller and Paul Zindel. Proverbs and fables include the Book of Proverbs, The Head Man, by Mark Vecchoise, and You'd Better Believe Him, by Brian Patten. Here's to character.

Canoeing Through Life, by Nick Inman, The Findhorn Press, $4.95. This slim book published on a shoestring offers a refreshing interpretation of life. Inman presents it as a canoeing adventure in which self-knowledge is the key to success. Life is a river, upon which we are but navigators. Simple? Sure. Sage advice? Most definitely. Truth doesn't have to be difficult. Illustrated.

Caribou Rising: Defending the Porcupine Herd, Gwich-'in Culture, and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, by Rick Bass, Sierra Club Books, 2004, $19.95, 164 pp. The Gwich-'in people's culture has been linked to the caribou for 10,000 years. Caribou Rising bears witness to this unique relationship at a critical time in history when several factors - environmental, political and corporate - threaten to wipe it off the face of the earth. It's a fascinating first-hand account of a way of life on the brink of destruction.

Carnivorous Nights: On the Trail of the Tasmanian Tiger, by Margaret Mittelbach and Michael Crewdson, Villard Books, 2006, 320 pp. It is widely accepted that the last Tasmanian Tiger died in captivity in Tasmania's capital on September 7, 1936. Fortunately, Mittelbach and Crewdson pay little heed to such pronouncements of demise. As naturalists, the authors are unconventional to say the least. More at home in the concrete jungle of New York City than the wilds of Tasmania, their approach to discovery orbits around life's comforts: food, espresso and weed. They offer up an inexhaustible supply of Tasmanian natives, each one quirkier than the next. Though the elusive - perhaps extinct - tiger is the catalyst of their journey, in the end it's the locals - human and non - that keep the pages turning.
Casebook of Sherlock Holmes, by A. Conan Doyle, Classic Press, 1968, 281 pp. Book seven in the Educator Classic Library, this book fascinated me as a child. Whether mulling over A Study in Scarlet, engrossed in The Hound of the Baskervilles or lost in one of the short stories included in this volume, Sherlock Holmes was the smartest guy ever. Harry Potter, chill.

Castle Roogna, by Piers Anthony, Del Rey, 1983, $2.75, 329 pp. What would happen if a boy was sent back in time by an 800-year old ghost-become-flesh to find a potion that would restore a zombie in the present? And what if that boy takes on the body of a man as he travels into the past, and encounters the ghost back there before she died and finds her extremely beautiful? Well, a boy would grow up pretty fast, wouldn't he, being in a man's body and all? Thus is the premise of Castle Roogna, a delightful adventure and third in the series of The Magic of Xanth.

The Celestine Prophecy, by James Redfield, Warner Books, 1993, $17.99, 246 pp. Redfield weaves a fascinating tale of Mayans, prophecy and intrigue. His fast-moving testimony - a love letter to the universe - keeps the pages turning. As an allegory, it's fantastic; as Redfield's truth, it's out of this world.

Censored 2003: The Top 25 Censored Stories, edited by Peter Phillips and Project Censored, Seven Stories Press, 2003, $17.95, 299 pp. Project Censored, brainchild of Media Democracy in Action, examines press coverage for the year and determines 25 topics of importance that were under covered. Topics for the year are NAFTA, U.S. foreign policy and corporate malfeasance, among others. Riddled throughout are political cartoons by Tom Tomorrow to lift your spirits.

Censored 2005: The Top 25 Censored Stories, edited by Peter Phillips and Project Censored, Seven Stories Press, 2005, $17.95, 381 pp. That nagging feeling you're not getting all the news is not without base. In the 2005 edition of The Top 25 Censored Stories, Phillips uncovers buried issues such as America's growing disparity of wealth, US policies that support regime change abroad, the environmental and economic fallout of Bush's energy policy and more.

Censored 2006: The Top 25 Censored Stories, edited by Peter Phillips and Project Censored, Seven Stories Press, 2005, $18.95, 432 pp. These stories read more like elements of a John Clancy novel than the real operations of a democratic government. A sampling: Covert plans to mandate mental health screening of America's children to boost sales of pharmaceuticals; efforts to make government less transparent; financial fraud that threatens to collapse the US economy; a sinister plot to steal the 2004 election (which worked, by the way).

Censored 2007: The Top 25 Censored Stories, edited by Peter Phillips and Project Censored, Seven Stories Press, 2006, $18.95, 432 pp. The underreported news of 2007: Homeland Security detention centers on US soil; The Iraq-Cheney-Haliburton license to print money; Dangers of genetically modified food; Multi-national-sponsored war in the Congo over mineral rights. And that's just a sampling.

Centaur Aisle, by Piers Anthony, Del Rey, 1983, $2.75, 295 pp. Anthony has a play on words with Centaur Aisle, volume four in The Magic of Xanth series. When the king of Xanth fails to return from Mundania - our world - Dor, the reluctant heir to the throne, sets out on an adventure to find him. Of course, he hasn't a clue where Mundania lies. A great story about duty and perseverance.

Chain of Command: The Road From 9/11 to Abu Ghraib, by Seymour M. Hersh, 2004, Harper Collins, $25.95, 394 pp. Through a series of pieces written for The New Yorker, Hersh follows the chain of command for prisoner abuses committed by US soldiers at Abu Ghraib backwards, finally resting on the desk of Donald Rumsfield. That's only the beginning. He goes on to catalog the cavalier attitude displayed by the Bush administration while taking missteps on issues like nuclear proliferation and the war on terrorism.

A Chain of Voices, by Andre' Brink, Penguin Books, 1983, $5.95, 525 pp. Brink uses the written word to advance social equality. Born and raised in South Africa, he doesn't balk at criticizing injustice when he sees it. In A Chain of Voices, he writes about an early nineteenth century slave uprising. He presents his characters and their various points of view with compassion and insight only a writer of his background could achieve. A Chain of Voices is just that: literally a chain of stories written in the voices of three generations connected to the uprising of 1825.

Change We Can Believe In: Barack Obama's Plan to Renew America's Promise, by Barack Obama, Random House Audio, 2008, $19.95 This audio book may not be the panacea for all of America's problems, but it's a step in the right direction. Narration by Andre Blake. Also available in print.
Charles Rennie Mackintosh, by Fiona Davidson, Pitkin, 1998, 29 pp. This publication reveals very little on the private life of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, but at 29 pages what can one expect? It does offer a concise history of Mackintosh's professional life though, crammed with 73 illustrations. What it lacks in fancy design it more than makes up for in plain, useful information, making it an excellent companion to The Life, Times and Work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, by K. E. Sullivan.

Chefs-d'ceuvre de L'Imressionnisme, by Diane Kelder, Abbeville Press, 1997, 227 pp. Don't let the size of this book (4" x 4.5") fool you; it's big. Packed with over 200 reproductions by the masters of French Impressionism, it is a feast for the eyes. Unless you read French, that will do.

Chekhov: The Major Plays, by Anton Chekhov, Signet, 1969, 380 pp. It can be said of Chekhov that his plays have a consistent melodramatic pattern: conflict between despoiler and victim. The action usually follows the dispossession of victim from his/her inheritance. This volume includes Chekhov's classics: The Sea Gull, Uncle Vanya, The Three Sisters and The Cherry Orchard.
Children of "The Troubles": Our Lives in the Crossfire of Northern Ireland, by Laurel Holliday, Simon & Schuster, 1997, $11.66, 366 pp. Children of "The Troubles" contains letters collected by Seattle writer Laurel Holliday, written by the children of Northern Ireland. They're at once both hopeful and bleak, driving home the point that Ireland's unrest effects more than just headlines. In their own words, the afflicted share their dreams for Ireland's future, effectively speaking truth to power. Out of the mouths of babes, eh? This is the second book in Holliday's Children of Conflict series.

A Child's Christmas in Wales, by Dylan Thomas, New Directions, 1959, $3.95. 26 pp. I was first exposed to Thomas' writing through his play Under Milkwood. It was poetry (literally) in motion, painting a picture of a Welsh town and its occupants through the lyrical language of his characters. Dylan has the same success with A Child's Christmas in Wales, the popularity of which has sent it into perpetual reprint. Filled with charming woodcuts by Ellen Raskin.
Christmas Designs for Stained-glass Windows, Grossett & Dunlap, 1978, $1.95. 20 pp. This simple craft book puts the emphasis on doing. With simple instructions, it provides the know-how to create Christmas themed "pseudo" stained-glass. (They're entirely made of paper.) Four designs.

A Christmas Memory, by Truman Capote, Random House, 1966, $3.55, 45 pp. Memory plunges headlong into the Christmas season. It reminisces on an unconventional friendship, while avoiding the pitfalls of waxing too nostalgic. It's a difficult balance to strike, yet Capote manages it well, writing of Christmas memories as if they happened a minute ago.

A Christmas Memory, One Christmas, & The Thanksgiving Visitor, by Truman Capote, Random House, 1996, $13.95, 107 pp. Simultaneously described as a literary icon and national embarrassment, Truman Capote, was perhaps, both. Born Truman Streckfus Persons, Capote had the illustrious claim of having been the childhood friend of Harper Lee (To Kill A Mockingbird, Go Set A Watchman). Born in New Orleans, a tumultuous family life landed him in Monroeville, Alabama, in the house next door to Lee's. Originally published in 1958, the first story in A Christmas Memory, One Christmas, & The Thanksgiving Visitor appeared in Capote's critically acclaimed novel Breakfast At Tiffany's. A Christmas Memory works through Capote's fractured family life. It is written through the eyes of a child, and with breviloquent prose describes an emotionally engaged childhood with his best friend, Miss Sook, a distant, unmarried cousin in her sixties. Although Buddy (Capote) and Miss Sook share their residence with other relatives, they exist apart from them in a sort of on-premises self-imposed exile. One Christmas, the second story, was written some twenty five years later. It recounts a Christmas when Buddy was summoned to spend the holiday in New Orleans with his estranged father. It was the last place he wanted to spend Christmas, and having never been out of Alabama since his arrival in Monroeville, he was terrified. Upon arriving in the Big Easy, Buddy is met with disappointment. There is no snow in New Orleans (he was told there was). His father, a tall, strapping man, has a gift for charming the ladies, not at all what Buddy was expecting. He's a bit of a womanizer (married six times), with a penchant for older women - or, as Buddy came to realize years later, older women's money. On this trip - at Christmastime no less - Buddy learns Santa Claus isn't real. We feel Buddy's disappointment. We sense his retraction from faith in anything and everything; even a lack of trust in his own thoughts. The third, and final story in the collection is The Thanksgiving Visitor. It's a gear-shifter, exploring the nature of friendship, hatred, and common decency. When Miss Sook invites the school bully - Buddy's nemesis - to attend Thanksgiving dinner, Buddy doesn't think too much of it, figuring the bully (oddly named Odd Henderson) wouldn't accept anyway. When Odd unexpectedly shows up, it turns the holiday on its ear. This collection, by and large, avoids moralizing. With Visitor, however, there is a lesson to be had, and Miss Sook, in characteristic understated wisdom, conveys it beautifully.

The Cider House Rules, by John Irving, William Morrow & Co., 1985, $18.95, 560 pp. A friend of mine recently said of John Irving, "I always feel like he's saying more than he is." Credit that to Irving's ability to seize hold of broad themes and customize them to his characters. In The Cider House Rules, he tackles the subject of abortion, telling his story with smartly turned phrases while saying so much more. This may be Irving's most perfect novel.

Code Green: Experiences of a Lifetime, Lonely Planet Publications, 2006, $18.00, 215 pp. Known for world-class guidebooks, Lonely Planet focuses on environmentally beneficial destinations in Code Green. Whether it prompts the wanderlust in you or not, you'll find it easy to get lost in this beautiful full-color guide.
Coffee: A Guide to Buying, Brewing & Enjoying, by Kenneth Davids, 101 Productions, 1991, 254 pp. In it's fourth edition, Coffee is an informative book on the subject of America's favorite cup of brew. It begins with the history of coffee cultivation and finishes with modern lingo for today's ever-expanding beverage menu.
Coffee: A Connoisseur's View of Coffee, Its Lore, Varieties, Brewing Methods, Equipment & Companion Foods to Perfect Your Taste, by Charles and Violet Schafer, Yerba Buena Press, 1977, $4.95, 124 pp. Way before Starbucks took America (and the world) by storm, The Schafers had a passion for the bean. Coffee celebrates their passion with recipes, history and diverse styles for consuming what's become a truly global beverage.
Coffee Makers: 300 Years of Art & Design, by Edward and Joan Bramah, Quiller Press, 1989, 166 pp. Edward Bramah is a former coffee broker turned coffee making machine inventor turned museum curator. He lends his expertise on coffee makers - 300 years of them - while his wife Joan translates it into prose. Fully illustrated, this is a treasure for any, uh, coffee table.

The Colored Pencil, by Bet Borgeson, Random House, 1993, $29.95, 144 pp. With The Colored Pencil, Bet Borgeson raises that lowly instrument of childhood color-time to its deserved place of respectability. The colored pencil is versatile, forgiving, and a too often overlooked medium in the artist's tool chest. Topics covered include: using water and solvents with your colored pencils; layering; shading; and burnishing to intensify the colors in your palette.

A Coloring Book of American Indians, Bellerophon Books, 1990, 3.50, 48 pp. Despite its name, the illustrations of Native Americans in A Coloring Book of American Indians have dignity. Taken from historical illustrations done by America's First Peoples themselves, and sketches by early explorers, there's nary a wide-eyed, buck-toothed, tomahawk-at-the-ready native among the whole lot.

Come Out Fighting: A Century of Essential Writing on Gay & Lesbian Liberation, edited by Chris Bull, Thunder's Mouth Press, 2001, $18.00, 336 pp. This collection promises to be the definitive anthology of the gay liberation movement. With such heavy hitters as Gore Vidal, Armistead Maupin and Susan Sontag in the mix, it just might live up to its claims.

Communication with All Life: Revelations of an Animal Communicator, by Joan Ranquet, Hay House, 2007, $16.99, 249 pp. Communication with All Life is an autobiography as much as it is a teaching tool. Well written, Ranquet uses humor to sell her subject, poking fun at herself along the way. A lesser writer might come across as falsely self-effacing. Ranquet does not. She brings to the pages a truly genuine desire to help others. The author recounts how she almost ignored her calling, pursuing instead a career in acting, until little by little the pieces fell into place that would steer her into animal communication full-time. The result, a candid accounting of her process dealing with a gamut of issues from behavioral problems to people just wondering what's going on in the heads of their animal friends. Either way, the outcome usually results in a deeper connection between human and animal.

Compare Legal Drugs With Illegal Drugs, by Robert G. Owen, Washington Hemp Education Network, 1995, $3.00, 32 pp. A call-to-arms by the hemp industry, this "pamphlet" points out various shortcomings in the American judicial system pertaining to drug offenses. Though slim, it makes a compelling argument for drug reform arguing the state's own statistics. Includes an extensive bibliography. For a copy, check with your local hemp store or contact the publisher.
The Complete Guide to Cigars: An Illustrated Guide to the World's Finest Cigars, by Steve Luck, Parragon Books, 2008, 176 pp Cigars is a revealing - often surprising - look at the premium tobacco trade. While cultivation is almost entirely limited to tropic zones (the Carribbean, South America, Africa, Canary Islands, Micronesia) some of the best wrapping leaf (the outer shell of the cigar) is grown in Connecticut. While Cigars is a great reference tool for the cigar afficionado and student alike, it's also easy on the eyes. Its luxurious layout, and the use of thick paper, make it a delight to the senses. The back pages contain an exhaustive cigar directory (with the same keen eye for design) filled with industry info. intermixed with entertaining anecdotes that take it - as a directory - to a whole new level.

Compost: The Natural Way to Make Food for Your Garden, by Ken Thompson, DK Publishing, 2007, $24.95, 192 pp. Passive or hot? What goes into it? How long does it take? These and other questions are answered by motivational composting expert Ken Thompson.

Confessions of a Mask, by Yukio Mishima, James Laughlin, 1958, $10.95, 254 pp. First published in 1958, Confessions of a Mask has enjoyed the rare distinction of never having fallen out of print. Now in its twenty-sixth printing, it brilliantly captures the isolation of a homosexual Japanese adolescent during World War II. Translated by Meredith Weather.

Congressional Record: Proceedings and Debates of the 88th Congress, First Session, Government Printing Office, 1963, 263 pp. Dated December 5, 1963, the Congressional Record: Proceedings and Debates of the 88th Congress, First Session is the document of record for the session of Congress held in the wake of JFK's assassination. Tributes and business surrounding the President's slaying abound.

Consuming Kids: The Hostile Takeover of Childhood, by Susan Linn, New Press, 2004, $24.95, 288 pp. With $15 billion spending per year as the prize, is it any wonder children are marketed to from birth through their high school graduation? Linn exposes just how pervasive it is.

Country Landscapes in Watercolor, by John Blockley, Random House, 1982, 144 pp. Accomplished watercolor artist John Blockley shares his expertise on painting landscapes in Country Landscapes in Watercolor.

Country Scenes: Coloring Book, by Dot Barlowe, Dover Publications, 2005, $5.99, 31 pp. Country Scenes is a collection of 31 pictures to color. Drawn by artist Dot Barlowe, this isn't the simple coloring book of your childhood. Details abound, on one-sided pages, perforated for easy removal to be put on display once finished. The covers - inside and out - feature completed scenes in full-color to offer inspiration. Being an adult has never been so much fun!

The Courage To Be Yourself: True Stories by Teens About Cliques, Conflicts and Overcoming Peer Pressure, by Al Desetta, Free Spirit Publishing, 2005, $13.95, 145 pp. This slim volume is a good start for kids dealing with that time in their lives when they don't fit in and are most vulnerable to the predatory inclinations of peers, culture and politics.

The Covenant, by James A. Michener, Random House, 1980, $4.95, 1238 pp. This masterful effort by James A. Michener traces the history of South Africa from its original cave dwellers through Dutch colonization to twentieth century apartheid. Helpful genealogical charts included.

Crashing the Gate: Netroots, Grassroots and the Rise of People-Powered Politics, by Jerome Armstrong and Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, Chelsea Green, 2006, $25.00, 196 pp. According to Armstrong and Zuniga, there's a swelling populist movement about to unleash its power against ineffective business-as-usual politicians. Where, you might ask is this massive force assembling? On the internet in chatrooms and blogs.

Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism, by Muhammad Yunus, PublicAffairs, 2007, $26.00, 261 pp. What is a "social business"? It is a business which has as its goal the greater good of society. A Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Yunus pioneered the practice of microlending which has improved the lives of more than 100 million families. A big believer in tailoring capitalism as a solution to problems faced by developing nations, Yunus not only talks the talk, but walks it too.

Creating True Peace, by Thich Nhat Hanh, Free Press, 2003, $23.00, 208 pp. The founding father of the Engaged Buddhism movement delivers a guide for peaceful living with Creating True Peace. In a challenge to pacifism, he contends peace is active, created through the personal choices each of us make. Pacifists, get busy!

Crimes of the Heart, by Beth Henley, The Viking Press, 1986, $4.95, 125 pp. This absorbing comedy in three acts was Henley's first play. That it won her a Pulitzer is impressive. That it's entirely forgettable is baffling.

Cyrano de Bergerac, by Edmond Rostand, Bantam Books, 1978, $1.50, 196 pp. Cyrano de Bergerac is the classic tale of unrequited love Hollywood's been enamored with in recent years. It follows the large nosed Cyrano as he expresses his love for the play's heroine by ghostwriting for her suitor. In the end he is discovered and his physical peculiarities are over-shadowed by his purity of heart. Engrossing through the fifth and final act.

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