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Travel tips and armchair journeys

“The Pilgrim’s Italy” and “The Pilgrim’s France” by James and Colleen Heater. “By visiting sacred sites, we are able to immerse ourselves in their powerful vibrations and have a direct, personal experience of divinity.” Pilgrimage is an internal journey, and these books are not travel guides. The books are each organized by region and include the cities that are home to the saints and their shrines. There are biographies describing the lives of each saint, points of interest and details about the shrines, maps, and information on getting there. There is also a guide to basic meditation techniques and “how to experience the saints.” These books are essential to “making your pilgrimage a deep, personal experience.”

“It’s In The Bag: The Complete Guide to Lightweight Travel” by Barbara Des Champs. This compact book covers all the basics of traveling light, from luggage options and lists of what you’ll need, to wardrobe and money concerns. The author has more than three decades of overseas travel experience, making her a bit of an authority on travel fashion, the art of packing correctly, and what you really need (or don’t need) to pack.

“Barcelona The Great Enchantress” by Robert Hughes. Hughes’ second book on Barcelona expertly weaves his personal memories of the city together with the incredible, 2,000 year history of Barcelona. Having inadvertently gotten “hooked” on this grand location, he keeps coming back to this magnetic Mediterranean city. Lucky for us, he’s chosen to write about it. Beginning with his marriage in the historic Town Hall, he chronicles both the sacred and profane with singular respect and passion for his muse.



“Yoga For People Who Can’t Be Bothered To Do It” by Geoff Dyer. From New Orleans, by way of Cambodia and points in between, to the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, Geoff Dyer takes us along for the ride. His goal is, it seems, to “dissolve the separation of the viewer from the view.” His confessions and digressions make for an engaging and rollicking read.

“The Mindful Hiker: On The Trail To Find The Path” by Stephen Altschuler. This is so much more than a travel narrative. “The Mindful Hiker” is an incredible journey into nature, clearly and honestly recounting lessons learned from a spiritual relationship with Sky Trail at Point Reyes. The author describes his feeling that “love saturates the trail.” When he walks along it, he has a sense of being “more available” to himself, that the trail “cares for” his soul. This is his search for himself and for ways to fully embrace the trail. This book is a wonderful integration of mind, body, and spirit, as well as a beautiful illustration of the poignant bond between man and nature.




“Already Home: A Topography of Spirit and Place” by Barbara Gates. This is the kind of book that does it all. As a memoir, it is wise and truthful. As a history of place, it is a treasury of all that Berkeley offers – from social dynamics, to geological history, to the very soul of all its interconnected world full of intertwining lives. Mindful and moving, “Already Home” is a brave and beautiful work that everyone should read.

“Wild Moments: Reveling In Natures Signs, Songs, Cycles and Curious Creatures” by Ted Williams. Nature lovers, rejoice! In this collection by one of America’s most respected nature writers, we are led on an inviting and entertaining jaunt through the seasons. Each page offers concise, informative pearls of wisdom meant to be shared and examined up close. Get out there and explore!

“Wildflower Walks and Roads of the Sierra Gold Country” by Toni Fauver. Everything you need to know to locate and identify plants native to the Gold Country. Fauver’s clearly written instructions and descriptions are educational and accurate. Detailed drawings by Martha Kemp and Peggy Edwards-Carkeet are conveniently arranged by flower type and color. Historical anecdotes by Helen Breck further enrich and enliven this handy guide, making it a joy to read.

“A Cafecito Story: A Story of Love, Coffee, Birds, and Hope” by Julia Alvarez. This charming little story contains a powerful message – one of hope for the future and possibility in each small choice. The “Cafecito” is coffee, and that is the focus here – how each cup contains a story, and how that story is not the same for any two cups. This book is a call to action for all conscious consumers. Delightful woodcut illustrations accompany the story of one small farmer. His coffee plants are sung to by birds and grown in the shade – it “will put that song inside you.” Also, find excellent fair trade resources in the back of the book.

“Unforgettable Places to See Before You Die” by Steve Davey. International travel writer and photographer Steve Davey has compiled an incredible list of 40 amazing places. Beautifully illustrated with breath-taking color photographs, this book also contains helpful travel tips, a short background on each place, and useful Web site information for the countries featured. Davey’s message is clear – he hopes “that this book inspires you to travel to at least some of these unforgettable places and to create some indelible memories of your own.”

Compiled by Crystal Miller at Odyssey Books, 989 Sutton Way, Grass Valley. Hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. The phone number is 477-2856.


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