BOOK REVIEWS
By Sandy Gostel Perkins


BY THE RIVER PIEDRA I SAT DOWN & WEPT
By Paulo Coelho
I had not heard of Paulo Coelho or his books until two weeks ago. It was one of those "off the wall" kind of encounters, so I pursued it. Two days later I was at Barnes & Noble. I could not find the paper I had written the information on, so I apologized to the woman and said, "Never mind, I don't know the name of the author or the names of the books. All I know is that he is a Latin author and that the title of his latest book sounds both spiritual and passionate. I'll have to come back." She laughed and told me that under other circumstances that would be true, but with the description I gave her, she knew exactly who I meant. Five minutes I was holding the book in my hand!!!!

By the next morning I had read all three books I had purchased, THE ALCHEMIST, THE PILGRIMAGE, and RIVER PIEDRA. It has been said of the work of Paulo Coelho that his powerful stories of self-discovery continue to charm, delight, and enchant an ever-growing readership, leaving all who find their way to him asking for more. I am one of those who will be asking for more. (In fact I did, I e-mailed him before starting this article!)

This Brazilian novelist is hardly an unknown in the U.S. The Alchemist sold 280,000 copies in trade paperback, landing on the bestseller list. He also has worldwide appeal. His four books - appearing in 42 countries, and translated into 26 languages - have sold more than 7.5 million copies. Joel Fotinos, marketing manager for Harper San Francisco, Coelho's U.S. publisher, said, "He is one of the 15 best-selling authors in the world, and nobody in this country really knows that."

BY THE RIVER PIEDRA I SAT DOWN & WEPT is a journey across the Pyrenees with two lovers on a timeless spiritual quest. They discover the deepest secrets of life and love, and glimpse the face of the divine in this moving, exhilarating, and mystical tale. Paulo Coelho offers a romantic adventure that teaches two lovers - a woman in search of spiritual sustenance and the maverick seminarian she has loved since childhood - the secrets of love, suffering, and healing through spiritual communion.

This is a passionate journey of the heart and spirit. The lovers rediscover each other, experience the joyous power at the core of human experience, and glimpse the true nature of God.

Published by Harper San Francisco, this book is available in paperback for $11.00 at your local bookstore.

 

ARE WE BORN TO DIE OR . . .
ARE WE BORN TO LIVE?
3 BOOKS OF THE DEAD

When similar things happen over a short period of time, I've learned to take notice. At the beginning of this year, five of my friends had deaths in their families over a short period of time. I had never experienced that many deaths in so short a time. As I was pondering the meaning and the lessons in it all, my next batch of books arrived for review. Most of the books had the same theme ‹ death. I took notice.

The three books I've chosen have some interesting offerings. They also give hope and bring sense to a topic that most of us don't want to discuss or think about. Why do we have such ongoing fear of something that is a part of each of our lives? Why, as a society, have we chosen to look at death as something final and horrific while at the same time desiring a more evolved knowledge of spirituality and continuance?

Perhaps we should take time to ponder and come to terms with our own belief systems, and once and for all Œlay to rest' the fear instead of the person.

AFTER DEATH:
Mapping the Journey

By Sukie Miller, Ph.D.
with Suzanne Lipsett
Where is that Œsomeplace else' we go after death? Dr. Miller has pondered this question since childhood. As an adult her experiences with dying friends, relatives and clients led her to undertake a study of after-death. Since so many of those she knew had such difficulty in expressing and dealing with these issues, Dr. Miller turned to other cultures that value the conscious contemplation of afterlife.

In compiling the material from various countries, including India, Indonesia, Brazil, West Africa, and the United States, Dr. Miller found that most described active journeys, in which the spirits of the dead move through specific geographies. In all of the systems, she found a common four-stage aspect.

Stage I is the waiting place in the transformation from physical to spiritual in order to make the trip. Stage II is the time of evaluating the traveler's life and determining the destination as an outcome of that life. Stage III is the realm of possibilities, enjoying or enduring the fruits of the judgement; or simply existing within the landscape of afterdeath. Stage IV is the return or rebirth.

Dr. Miller also noted that it was not so much the systems themselves but the way people gained access to them that seemed to be significant. She came to believe that this is a universal psychic function that offers a way of considering the afterdeath by seeing what lies beyond simple sense perception.

In AFTER DEATH, the reader is invited to complete a rather involved questionnaire ‹ an inventory ‹ to clarify his or her own belief system. The intent is to assist the reader in opening up to other possibilities, in order to offer choice in place of a belief system based on fear and trauma.

Published by Simon & Schuster, this book is available in hardcover for $23.00 at your local bookstore.

THE DREAM MESSENGER How Dreams of the Departed Bring Healing Gifts
By Patricia Garfield, Ph.D.
When we lose a loved one, many times we wish we could have had one last chance to resolve unfinished emotional business, or to merely say "I love you." Is death the end of communication with the deceased person? According to clinical psychologist, Patricia Garfield, communicating with the dead may be as near as our pillows.

Well known for her book, CREATIVE DREAMING, Dr. Garfield has proven herself to be in the forefront of dream research. In THE DREAM MESSENGER she describes nine basic elements that dreams of the dead have in common. She offers fascinating examples from actual dreams about the dead, and notes each message's frequency and importance. These messages are often unsettling and unpleasant in the initial stages of grief, but over time, become increasingly satisfying and uplifting.

Death touches us all. What is crucial is maintaining the connection. Dr. Garfield helps readers to understand and enhance their exchanges with the departed. The techniques enrich the relationship, no matter if the loss occurred long ago or just recently. She invites us to "hear these ancestral voices, to remember them, to honor them, and to bless them . . . and allow their blessing to flow into our lives."

Published By Simon & Schuster, this book is available in hardcover for $22.00 at your local bookstore.

COMPANION TO GRIEF
Finding Consolation When Someone You Love Has Died

By Patricia Kelley
When someone we love dies, the intensity, anger, or isolation that we feel can be both unexpected and overwhelming. Those grieving do not always know where to turn for help and solace.

Patricia Kelly is a hospice nurse and grief counselor. In COMPANION TO GRIEF Patricia provides sensitive, sound information in non-clinical language. Topics include remembering the person who died, how long grieving will last, learning to live without the one who died, helping children grieve, etc.

Patricia is a compassionate, caring person. Her experience and training equips her with the ability to understand those places where we hurt, and to reach in and bring a healing balm.

Published by Simon & Schuster, this book is available in hardcover for $21.00 at your local bookstore.

 

8 WEEKS TO OPTIMUM HEALTH
By Andrew Weil, M.D.
Andrew Weil, M.D. has been called an extraordinary phenomenon, a pioneer in the medicine of the future, the guru of alternative medicine, and the voice of reason in a deeply divided world. His latest book, 8 WEEKS TO OPTIMUM HEALTH, continues to prove that all those statements about this remarkable humanitarian is true.

I first heard of the 8-week program over the Internet, prior to the book coming out. In an attempt to make his information as available as possible, Dr. Weil actually offered to walk us through the 8-week process. At no cost to the individual, Dr Weil sent an e-mail each week describing the step for the week, encouraging our success, and making himself available through the web site to answer questions and give ongoing feedback. Even having all this available to me, I couldn't wait until the book came out. I wanted to keep it handy for myself and for those I know and love.

There is no longer an excuse. You can accomplish your optimal state of being. Dr. Weil has made it as simple as living your daily life. He has made it available. He has made it do-able'. There is only one thing you have to bring ‹ your own commitment! I encourage - I challenge - I implore you to give yourself a chance.

Buy the book! Those interested in connecting to the web site can reach it at: http://www.drweil.com 

Published by Alfred A. Knopf, this book is available in hardcover for $23.00 at your local bookstore.


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