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Holiday Book Suggestions

Review by Lynda La Rocca

Various Books – December 1996 – Colorado Central Magazine

I have to admit, I haven’t read any best sellers recently, nor have I stocked up on the latest New Age self-help tomes. So I can’t comment on Marianne Williamson’s last love fest or Melody Beattie’s current methods for disengaging from codependency.

I can, however, recommend Deepak Chopra’s blockbuster, Ageless Body, Timeless Mind. This is a thought-provoking book, full of fascinating observations about our false (says Chopra) beliefs concerning aging and our bodies. A caveat: Chopra’s more recent work, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, was a snorer for me. I’ve had a copy for a year now, and still can’t force myself to finish it.

But this is a “personal favorites,” not a “personal stinkers” list, so I’ll move on. Since high school, I have been intrigued by the poetry of T.S. Eliot, recently uncovered evidence of his anti-Semitism notwithstanding. Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats presents a different side of a writer best known for his serious, brooding poems.

This slim volume, which is the basis for the long-running Broadway musical Cats, is brimming with wonderfully accurate and immediately familiar feline personalities.

But you don’t have to be a cat-lover to delight in Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. It’s a treasure for the cats’ names alone. There’s Macavity, “a Mystery Cat: he’s called the Hidden Paw;” Mr. Mistoffelees, “The Original Conjuring Cat;” and Jennyanydots, “The Old Gumbie Cat” who “sits upon the stair or on the steps or on the mat; She sits and sits and sits and sits–and that’s what makes a Gumbie Cat!”

I was still in grammar school when I first read Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. This poignant, enchanting book is based on the true story of The Lost Woman of San Nicolas. In 1835, when she was just 12 years old, Karana was left alone on an island after her people sailed away. She remained there, with only wild dogs for company, for 18 years. Although it is really a children’s book, adults will be drawn to this engrossing tale. In fact, just writing about the book has made me decide to read it yet again.

What’s Christmas without Charles Dickens’s classic A Christmas Carol? I read my copy every year (and also watch what I consider to be the best movie version, made in 1951 and starring Alastair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge). No other author captures the true meaning of the season as richly and completely as Dickens.

And so, in the immortal words of Tiny Tim, “God bless us, every one!”–and happy holidays!

Lynda La Rocca