By Julianna Joyce Perkins


In honor of Earth Day, I've chosen three books to review that will encourage us to focus on who we are, where we are, and why we are. I hope they inspire you, as they have me, to embrace and value all that this existence offers.

The Cosmos Explained
By David Filkin

Stephen Hawking perseveres as a remarkable man who continues to defy the numerous challenges life has thrown his way. The one thing that has always been a constant is the freedom of his mind to grasp, think, deduce, and envision. He has brought to the world a deeper understanding of the Universe.

This new book is based on the television series of the same name. Stephen's previous book, "A Brief History of Time", has sold over 9 million copies worldwide. Those of us who don't have a physics background struggled through and gleaned some fascinating information. But now, with "Stephen Hawking's Universe", those of us not versed in scientific expertise can sit in awe and actually enjoy a phenomenal learning experience written in everyday language (sort of like-the cosmos for dummies').

With today's communication and educational availabilities, most of us have gained knowledge that continues to bring up more questions ‹ What happens to matter that enters a black hole? How does the Universe work? What exactly is a supernova? And just how do we fit into the scheme of things?

For those with seeking minds, you'll be more than pleased to sit with this book and explore our physical existence. Resplendent with colorful artwork and photographs, the far off reaches of the universe come alive.

Perfect as an educational tool, a fascinating read, the perfect gift, and a high-end coffee table book, "Stephen Hawking's Universe" will meet your book-buying needs better than most books on the subject can. I can testify personally to this, as it has a permanent place in our living room, and has been whisked out to prove, teach, and enjoy with the youngest of guests to the highest of educated minds. And all of us in between benefit just as much.

Published by BasicBooks, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, this book is available at local bookstores. Hard Cover $30.00.


Extraterrestrial Life and Its Implications for Science and Religion
By Joe Lewels, Ph.D.

When Eileen Duhne' contacted me about considering this book for review, I became curious. She said, "Just read it, then we'll talk." Well, of course this really caught my attention. And after reading THE GOD HYPOTHESIS, I now know why she felt so strongly about this book.

Joe Lewels, Ph.D., is a journalist of the highest quality. He researches his topics, presents the evidence, offers possibilities, and then encourages his readers to come to their own conclusions.

Lewels is a ten-year associate professor and chairman of the departments of journalism and mass communication at the University of Texas at El Paso. His specialty is in media law, freedom of the press, and social impact of mass media. He has served as a communications consultant at the U.S. Department of Justice. He is not an attention grabbing Œfifteen minutes of fame' seeker. He is a truth seeker. It's important to know this about him, because the information he reveals in "The God Hypothesis" is startling, controversial, and eye opening.

I found myself constantly checking out his resources when reading the book. At times I knew I had him. Knew that this time he'd crossed the line and misquoted. I'd go to the resource, and sure enough, Lewels was right. Why did I react so? Because he shook up my belief system with information that I couldn't dispute. He didn't challenge my beliefs, I challenged them by determining to keep an open mind through this process. There are things he offers that I've had to place in the Œthink about it later' file of my mind, but for the most part I believe he has given valuable information on a very sensitive, unsettling issue. What I found to be of most value personally wasn't so much his case for ET's and UFOs. The value for me was a deeper issue - one of spirituality, faith, and quest for understanding God.

If you are after a different point of view on a topic that goes to the core of who we are and where we came from, you might consider "The God Hypothesis" to commence your journey.

Published by Wild Flower Press, this book is available at bookstores. Tradepaper $18.95


The Bond Between Women and Animals Edited
by Linda Hogan, Deena Metzger, and Brenda Peterson
This anthology is the work of well-known writers from all over the world ‹ indigenous women, field scientists, journalists, poets, and wildlife sanctuary workers. All have a common bond. The stories, essays, poetry, and meditations will move you to emotion while validating the very real phenomena of the connection between women and animals.

From Susan Chernak McElroy's moving story of a llama named Phaedra to Joy Harjo's Muscogee tribe's history to Cynthia Moss's "Elephant Memories" the reader will enjoy connecting with these women and the animals they love.

As I read "Listening to the Sea Breathing" about Helena Symonds' work with Dolphins, I could almost hear the playful, soulful sounds of these amazing and misunderstood creatures. The facts flow out like the ebb and flow of a concerto, carrying me with it. I could hear the cries of the young brothers when their aged mother of 75 died. (The children of Dolphin mothers stay with them for life.)

And Naomi Mattis' "Moonfire" takes you to the isolated barnyard where she spent hours trapped and injured by a wild ram who would not leave. I felt the pain in her broken bones, the rocks that imbedded in her skin, and the compassion and connection she used with the animal to keep herself alive until she could be found and rescued.

This bond is real. It always has been. We somehow lost it along the way. But women worldwide are giving us heartfelt reminders to re-connect. And the animals themselves are calling out to us. Will you hear and answer?

Published by Fawcett Columbine, this book is available in bookstores. Hardcover $27.00.


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