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June 7-14, 2006

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summer 2006 lit issue: beach reads | gary shteyngart | summer book picks


Bookshop Santa Cruz

Photographs by Laura Mattingly
Emo on Every Page!: Jacob Nixon and Maryse Meijer feel the emotion.

Summer Book Picks

Dozens of annotated recommendations from your local booksellers


Staff Picks From Bookshop Santa Cruz

Most Darwinian Summer Read
Intelligent Thought: Science vs. the Intelligent Design Movement
Edited by John Brockman
Vintage; 272 pages; $14 paper
"Join the world's leading scientists as they lay the smack-down on the nonsense that is the Intelligent Design movement. Bite-size chapters make it the perfect summer beach read for the thinking guy or gal--so sit back, relax and thank Darwin for common sense." --Maryse Meijer

Most Emo Summer Read
Miss Misery
By Andy Greenwald
Simon Spotlight; 400 pages; $12.95 paper
"Indeed this book is a fine display of all things emo, including quotes from Death Cab for Cutie, LiveJournal obsessions, boys making mixed CDs for girls, and the insane procrastination of a mid-20s lifestyle. Want to go to NYC this summer but can't afford it? This book will put you there with a vodka in one hand and a cell phone in the other while you come face to face with yourself. Really. Someone finally figured out how to bring talent back to emo! WTG, Andy!" --Jacob Nixon

Most Fucking-Great Summer Read
Birds in Fall
By Brad Kessler; Scribner; 256 pages; $24 cloth
"I picked this book up at random because of the blurbs--all authors I love--and oh my God, is it good. Kessler's prose has a rhythmic grace that carries the novel forward more forcefully than any plot could hope to. Brought together by extraordinary circumstances, the characters in Birds in Fall are true to life in all of their ordinary ways. Kessler 'gets' people, and his dialogue is dead-on. His accuracy made me gasp with surprise and pleasure. An incredible book by an extraordinary writer." --Rachel Meier

Most Humorous/Obnoxious Summer Read
Killing Yourself to Live: 85 Percent of a True Story
By Chuck Klosterman
Scribner; 256 pages; $23 cloth
"This is the perfect summer read if you love road trips, love music and love hearing about other people's failed relationships and broken hearts." --Felicia Gilman

Joe Ferrara of Atlantis Fantasyworld

Mr. Sandman: Atlantis owner Joe Ferrara experiences Vertigo.

Staff Picks From Atlantis Fantasyworld

Most Mind-Blowing Summer Read
"I recommend the Vertigo Imprint, if you want to blow your mind and stretch the boundaries. The books in the Vertigo Imprint are a combination of Gothic, mystical and supernatural, with a little horror. The Sandman is the most recognizable title. It's literate. It's layered. These are not your father's comics. These are not funny books. They're edgy, and meant to make you question your beliefs. In general, women find them more satisfying to read than other comic books, because they're story-driven narratives rather than action-driven." --Joe Ferrara

Most Feminist Summer Read
Y: The Last Man Series
By Brian K. Vaughan; Vertigo
"Here's the story: Every creature, man and beast, with a Y chromosome dies except for this one guy Yorick and his monkey, Ampersand. Realistic sci-fi would be the best way to characterize it. You get a sense of how the characters and society over time deal with the loss of all the men and males, and the way the female population rebuilds the society. It has a lot of feminist theory in it, Butler and others. I think that graphic novels are the up-and-coming genre of the American canon." --Jacquelene Cohen

Gateways

Dharma Clerks: Gateways' Tara Baron, Andrew French and Sarita Benn-Towle

Staff Picks From Gateways

Most Practical Summer Read
The Art of Worldly Wisdom
By Balthsar Gracian; Shambhala; 296 pages; $6.95 paper
"This collection of 300 maxims provokes thought, informs decisions and guides actions in nearly every part of day to day life. And the Shambhala translation recommends reading them in small batches, a practice I find to be effective. It fits in your pocket, reads quickly and always delivers." --Jack Garman

Most Transformatively Sensual and Deeply Healing Summer Read
The Passion of Mary Magdalen
By Elizabeth Cunningham
Monkfish; 640 pages; $29.95 Cloth
"Mary is portrayed as Jesus' soul mate and equal on a vastly unique yet parallel path to his. This book melds the worlds of magic, sexuality, personal transformation, spirituality and the journey from trauma to wholeness. I read half of it in one sitting!"--Tara Baron

Most Humorous Summer Read
Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia
By Elizabeth Gilbert
Viking; 352 pages; $24.95 cloth
"Geniusly honest, divinely funny, internally adventurous. A must for any human, especially an evolving woman." --Sarita Benn-Towle

Most Punk Summer Read
Dharma Punx
By Noah Levine; Harper; 272 pages; $12.95 paper
"Set in Santa Cruz, this novel is 'The Perks of Being a Wallflower meets Buddhism.' The Gen X punk scene takes the forefront in this work with protagonist Noah, in his adventure that moves from California to Tibet and back again. Moving. Inspiring. [Noah currently leads youth groups in Santa Cruz.]"--Andrew French

Most Mind-Blowing Summer Read
The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consiousness, Matter and Miracles
By Bruce Lipton, Ph.D.
Rosetta; 388 pages; $19.95 paper
"This is a really mind-changing book by a medical school professor who suddenly realized that the new research on genetics totally contradicted the medical establishment's views. The news is your cells believe what you believe and this can change your life." --David Garbacz

Literary Guillotine

Cutting Crew: Linda Frazho and owner David Watson

Staff Picks From Literary Guillotine

Most Satirical/Reckless/Tasty Summer Read
Cooking With Fernet Branca
By James Hamilton-Paterson
"I can tell you for sure, it's the funniest cookbook ever written, and I can say that as a graduate of the California Culinary Academy. It's the worst cookbook I've ever read but it's the best mystery--ever, bar none. I never read mysteries but I thought it was a cookbook so that's why I read it." --David Watson (owner)

Most Grueling Summer Read
Decline of the West
By Oswald Spengler
"I love to recommend that one for a summer read. It's better now that there's an abridged version because it used to be two volumes and take all summer. Now it only takes half the summer. It's just as good now as it was a hundred years ago." --David Watson

Staff Picks From Capitola Book Cafe

Most Epic, Monstrous and Inspiring Summer Read
Miracle in the Andes
By Nando Parrado
Crown; 304 pages; $25 cloth
"The book and movie Alive first brought the world the story of the 1972 Uruguayan rugby team and their families whose plane plummeted into the Andes and who struggled to survive for 72 days in the bitter, volatile mountains. Now the man who took the treacherous 45-mile hike across the frozen wilderness to search for help tells his tale--from the survivors' desperate need to eat the flesh of fellow crash victims to the stunning, inspiring love for his father that kept Nando alive." --Janet Leimeister

Best Book to Read by Candlelight in the Bathtub in the Summer Read
Blue Nude
By Elizabeth Rosner
Ballantine; 224 pages; $22.95 cloth
"Poetic, captivating, luminous--this book is wonderful to sink into after a long day. An Israeli artist's model and a painter born in postwar Germany cross paths at an art school in San Francisco. The result is breathtaking, an exploration of mind, body, and art." --Melissa Reeser

Capitola Book Cafe

Capitola Gang: Cafe owner Marcia Rider, Marsha Frederick, owner Gwen Marcum, and Janet Leimeister

Most Mind-Blowing Summer Read
Atomik Aztex
By Sesshu Foster (former UCSC prof!)
City Lights; 224 pages; $15.95 paper
"This brilliant book is similar to Slaughterhouse-Five, yet utterly different at the same. Zenzo, an immigrant worker at the Farmer John meat-packing plant in L.A., is losing his mind. He is imagining himself in an alternate reality where the Aztecs beat the Spanish and now rule the Western Hemisphere--or is he an Aztec warrior plagued by the nightmare of working at a slaughterhouse?" --James Moran

Most Satirical/Hilarious/Depressing Summer Read
Civilwarland in Bad Decline
By George Saunders
Riverhead; 192 pages; $13 paper
"In this collection of short stories, Civilwarland is an amusement park complete with candlemaking and wagon rides. Unfortunately, the local gangs don't appreciate its quaintness; they keep starting knife fights in front of the blacksmith's shop. This painfully hilarious book is great to read out loud on long car trips." --Camille Campbell

Most Fanciful and Fun for the Whole Family Summer Read
The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Blue Bear
By Walter Moers; Overlook; 704 pages; $26.95 cloth
"Follow the adventures of little Bluebear, an intrepid azure-furred seagoing bear, as he tangles with Minipirates, giant spiders, witches, Bolloggs without heads and all sorts of other eccentric creatures on the land and in seas of Zamonia. Fatter than Harry Potter and full of fabulous illustrations." --Lori Dillow

Most Thrilling and Politically Relevant Summer Read
Moonlight Hotel
By Scott Anderson
Doubleday; 384 pages; $24.95 cloth
"A New York Times war correspondent, Anderson (Triage and War Zones) has written from Beirut, Northern Ireland, Chechnya, Israel, Sudan, Sarajevo, El Salvador and other war-torn areas. His novel is reminiscent of a John Le Carré work, a dark-humored look at the consequences of American empire and the ordinary people caught in political conflict. As the kingdom of Kutar backslides into tribal conflict, midlevel diplomat David Richards is ordered to stay, even as most Americans and foreigners flee, abandoning the local population to their violent end." --Gwen Marcum

Most Convincing-Reason-to-Stay-on-the-Beach Summer Read
The Devil's Teeth
By Susan Casey; Owl Books; 304 pages; $14 paper
"This startling, educational read describes the great white shark's September migration to the Farallones. Susan Casey presents a well researched story of the toothy gray suits and a fascinating history of the 211-acre archipelago 27 miles west of the Golden Gate."--Marcia Rider

Most Romantic and Harrowing Summer Read
The Wild Girl
By Jim Fergus; Hyperion; 368 pages; $14.95 paper
"The author spins a tale of romance and adventure while nudging the reader to contemplate one's perceptions about culture and the meaning of friendship. A book depicting the Depression-era West and the sorrows and fates that befell whites and Apache Indians alike, this vivid book will hold your attention no matter where you vacation." --Marsha Frederick

Logos

All Booked Up: Logos' Loren Mueller

Staff Picks From Logos Books And Records

Most Prescient Summer Read
Watchmen
By Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
DC Comics; $19.99
"1987 graphic novel in which multiple lives in New York are sacrificed and disguised to affect a larger strategy. You make the call." --Graham McGrew

Most Epic Summer Read
The Royal Family
By William T. Vollmann; Penguin; 800 pages; $17 paper
"'An epic is a poem with history.' This image-dense novel's poetically voluptuous sentences shape echoes of archetypes in a seedy present. Disturbing, strange, compassionate. The Great American Novel?" --Graham McGrew

Most Mind-Fuck-y Summer Read
Mulholland Drive
By David Lynch
"Not actually a book but we do sometimes get in a used DVD. Limbers up your mind to leap from corporeal, time-bound lanes to the undifferentiated white hum." --Graham McGrew

Most Politically Relevant Summer Read
Frekonomics, Revised Edtion
By Steven D. Levitt, and Stephen J. Dubner Morrow; 320 pages; $27.95 cloth
"Economics and data mining have never been so compelling! This book will change the way you think about politics and social issues. A quick and enjoyable read." --Amy Wolitzer

Most Adventurous Summer Read
The Brief History of the Dead
By Kevin Brockmeier; Pantheon; 272 pages; $22.95 cloth
"A rip-roaring adventure through a dreamlike nether world that provides fun for the whole family. Every page has such profound moments of sensitivity and genuine heart-felt emotion. A real tour de force." --John Wolfe

Most Inspiring Summer Read
Nine-Headed River
By Peter Matthiessen
Shambhala; 288 pages; $19.95 paper
"Inspiring and deeply personal history of the development of Japanese Zen in America." --Terry Sullivan


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