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Books we are grateful for


For our November 2010's Trusted Source Program we asked members of our community to pick out the book they are most grateful for.

Join the conversation on our blog and let us know what book you are most thankful for and why.

Tandy Beal dancer, choreographer

My partner (and co-conspirator in all things) says I am a reading slut, and that I'll read almost anything for the pure pleasure of reading--backs of cereal boxes, ads, old copies of Field & Stream . . . but I do prefer the good stuff. Soooooo which book to write about? War and Peace--for me this past summer’s delicious dive into humanity? Annie Dillard’s For the Time Being which wove its way into the making of HereAfterHere, my recent meditation on the afterlife? The Odyssey which can be read as a manual on Odysseus' mythic encounter with the feminine? Or John le Carre for that matter!!! Nope . . . day and night I can always count on The Joy of Cooking . . . thousands of perfect short stories--each one with a happy ending. Sometimes they are even haiku poetry . . . start with a few spare ingredients and end with an unimaginable treat . . . the book to have for a lifetime and to read at least one story each week. . . .

George Blumenthal Chancellor, UCSC

When I was a new physics student in college, I was quite curious about how philosophers had come to view the universe around us, but I was too busy or intimidated to actually take a philosophy course at the time. So I bought a copy of Bertrand Russell's A History of Western Philosophy, and though the book was a thick one, I devoured it quickly. It provided a great overview of the threads of philosophy as they developed in the West, as well as a historical background for those ideas. While other's might not agree, I resonated with Russell's own perspective throughout the book. My only regret was the absence of Eastern philosophy as well.

Christina Cuevas Program Director, Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County

I am thankful for A Grief Observed by C. S. Lewis because of the impact this book has had on me, my family and friends after the loss of a loved one. For those who have experienced the passing of a spouse, child, sibling, parent, or close friend, grappling with the mix emotions and the loss of faith that accompany this sad event are not unusual.While each experience of grief is unique, there are similarities that we all experience. The book helped me accept the emotional, physical and spiritual dimensions of grief as a normal process—one that helps us to heal and proceed with our own lives in a more conscious way.

Sam Farr Congressperson, 17th District

I’m thankful for two influential books that helped shape my life. The first is The Other America by Michael Harrington, which helped set the stage for antipoverty initiatives and social safety net programs that remain vital today. The other is The Ugly American by William Lederer and Eugene Burdick, which showed how much good an individual can do in a needy community.

Clifford Henderson Author, comedian

I am a person who gets intimidated when science writing gets too technical or full of words I have to look up, so I am thankful for A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. His straightforward language allows me to swim in the wonder of physics, astronomy, and biology; to cozy up to the Big Thoughts. He takes me on a ride from the ever-expanding universe to the peculiar habits of the microscopic dust mite, from a whirling DNA molecule to the swirling thoughts of some of science’s greatest thinkers. Bryson’s book gives me a whole new way of thinking about myself and the tiny part I play in this vast cosmic mystery. It is a book to be read over and over, and one that I find oddly comforting.

Cynthia Mathews Santa Cruz city councilmember

The Family of Man by Edward Steichen is a remarkable collection of photographs capturing the broad sweep of human experience -- transcending the differences of time, geography, culture, class and age. First published in 1955, it remains a compelling expression of the photographers' art and the universal qualities of human experience. Always thought provoking.

Annie Morhauser glass artist, Annieglass founder

I love a good story, one I can sink my teeth into that will transport me into the vivid world an author creates. I enjoy being pulled into a well written story that absorbs evry bit of my attention. I am grateful for contemporary Southern literature, Ellen Gilchrist, Pat Conroy, Rebecca Wells, Larry particular I am grateful for Rick Bragg's It's All Over But The Shoutin'. It has some of the most powerful yet lyrical remembrances of a violent, impoverished childhood that will haunt you. He credits his escape by walking out of it "up the spine of my mother". Rick Bragg went onto a Harvard education (" I was fulfilled their white trash quota that week") and Pulitzer prize for journalism.

Ron Slack Publisher, Good Times

Think on These Things by J. Krishnamurti. As I was finding my way in the world way back in the ’70s, I was introduced to the writings of J. Krishnamurti. He forever changed the way I looked at myself and the world. I am most thankful because he gave me a much deeper understanding of what is to be human, and made me realize that I had to take total responsibility for my thoughts and my actions, and that I was not simply a product of my upbringing and my formal education. He brought much clarity to my life, and my real role as a human being, and made me put into perspective what is truly important in this life. For this I am eternally grateful.

Geoffrey Dunn author, local historian

When I first read Steinbeck’s delightful novel Cannery Row as a teenager, it opened up the world of possibility to me—an immortal work of great fiction written about the Monterey Bay waterfront in which I was born and raised. As I have grown older, perhaps wiser, I’ve realized that the book is written on many levels, one of which is a dark parable on the human condition. It continues to reside as a place in my mind, somewhere just beyond the fog-bank on a summer day, the sun breaking through and revealing the joys and magic and mysteries of our lives.

song of the dodoFrans Lanting award-winning nature photographer

Song of the Dodo is a monumental book, and one of my personal favorites. What I try to do with images, David Quammen has accomplished with words. He has put together an authoritative, superbly written narrative that weaves together stories about amazing people, places and creatures. If
you wonder what biodiversity is all about—and why you should care—read this book.

long walkGary Griggs Director, Institute of Marine Sciences, and UCSC professor

The Long Walk by Slavomir Rawicz is a powerful story of a group of prisoners who escaped from a WWII POW camp in Siberia and walked 4,000 miles through snow, desert, and over the Himalayas to India, reminding us of the internal strength people can find in order to survive and be free.