Serendipity from NCIBA

REVIEW: Ridge Writers on Books

Serendipity from NCIBABy DONNA MCCROHAN ROSENTHAL

Last month’s NCIBA (Northern California Independent Booksellers Association) Discovery Show introduced new titles to retail buyers. Among surprises that deserve admiring mention:

In “Hypercapitalism” (illus., The New Press, large-format paperback, 240 pgs., 2018, $19.95), bestselling cartoonist Larry Gonick and psychologist Tim Kasser draw from contemporary research to explore global privatizing and where it might lead. They present the “Five Commandments of Hypercapitalism”; they quote Thoreau, “The cost of a thing is the amount of life which is to be exchanged for it”; they consider “time affluence”; and more. Their clever, intelligent approach may look lightweight but in fact, instructs, entertains and offers solutions.

“A Hundred Billion Stars” (Seth Fishman, color illus. by Isabel Greenberg, Greenwillow, large children’s hardback, 32 pgs., ages 4-8, 2017, $17.99) explains really gigantic numbers. How many stars? (100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 – a hundred billion trillion). How many raindrops in an average thunderstorm? (1,620 trillion). How many you? (Only one!). Playful pictures spell out the details, down to ants crawling underground beneath a city street.

“Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus” (Dusti Bowling, Sterling Children’s Books, hardback, ages 8-12, 266 pgs., 2017, $14.95) has abundant heart, humor and attitude. It tells the story of Aven who, born without arms, can do almost everything. But when her family moves to another town, she can’t find friends until she meets a classmate who has Tourette syndrome. So what do they do? They join forces to tackle and solve a mystery. Their tale positively inspires.

“Handmade: Creative Focus in the Age of Distraction” (Gary Rogowski, B&W photos, Linden Publishing, trade paperback, 2017, 180 pages, $18.95) gets straight to the point: how do we unlock the secret to artistic mastery? He answers: no key, no tricks. Instead of magic beans, he offers his experience as a hiker, a mountaineer and a woodworker who learned his craft through persistence, resilience and commitment to quality. Today an acclaimed furniture maker and teacher, he has a ready response for students who say to him, “I wish I had your life.” He replies, “I wish I had your second house.” He paid his dues, lesson by lesson. He shares them in this elegant paean to human labor and the pursuit of beauty for its own sake.

These quiet surprises deliver with a big bang. Remember, you heard it here first.

This monthly column is written by members of Ridge Writers, the East Sierra Branch of the California Writers Club. Meetings are held the first Thursday of the month at Ridgecrest Presbyterian Church and programs are offered throughout the year. Ridge Writers’ book “Planet Mojave: Visions From a World Apart” is available at the Historic USO Building, Jawbone Canyon, Maturango Museum and Red Rock Books.

Story First Published: 2017-11-17