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Local Author Showcase Part II 

Looking for a locally sourced holiday gift or the perfect book to read on a winter night? TNT’s 2021 fall and winter booklist of local authors and local interest holiday gift books includes an eclectic assortment of genres and subjects this year. These are books that are written by local authors, or share a connection to the local community. Part one of the 2021 local author list is in the November 5 issue of TNT, and is available online.

Local Authors

Mary Crescenzo, The Planet Alzheimer’s Guide: 8 Ways the Arts Can Transform the Life of Your Loved One and Your Own. Topanga resident and artist Mary Crescenzo is the author of this creative approach to meaningfully connect with a loved one who is experiencing memory issues like Alzheimers or Parkinson’s. It’s a welcome addition to the library of anyone coping with a friend or family member who is experiencing a dementing illness, and would be a good gift for a caregiver. $19.99. 

Dawn Navarro Ericson, Nature Unfolding. The series of indispensable and beautiful nature guides by Malibu resident Dawn Navarro Ericson is back in print this year. Dawn lost her home and studio in the Woolsey Fire. While her original artwork was destroyed, she was able to reconstruct and reprint this series of field guides from the files stored on her printer’s server. We are thrilled to see them back in print. These laminated, fold-out nature guides are lavishly and beautifully illustrated and crammed with useful information. We especially love the guides on Coastal Wetlands and Tidepools. They make perfect stocking stuffers, or a beautiful, easy-to-mail gift for a nature lover. Prices range from $6-$8.

Joanne Helfrich, Afterlives. Topanga author and psychic channeler Joanne Helfrich has compiled a collection of mediumistic interviews with historymakers and the people who inspired her in life. These “afterlife accounts” include conversations with Anthony Bourdain, Hunter S. Thompson, Ayn Rand, Martin Luther King, Jr. Harriet Tubman, Albert Einstein, Carl Jung, Hildegard von Bingen, Paramahansa Yogananda, George Harrison, Douglas Adams, and former Topanga resident Robin Williams. “Afterlives is evidence that there is life after death, that we are surrounded by helpful spiritual energies, and that life is precious and limitless,” the author writes. $19.94,

Ernest Marquez, Rancho Boca de Santa Monica: The 1839 California Land Grant—A History. Ernest was born and grew up in Santa Monica Canyon on what remains of Rancho Boca de Santa Monica, the Mexican land grant awarded to his great-grandfathers in 1839. This book is the culmination of years of research. It’s a treasure for local history enthusiasts. The only catch? It’s not available in stores, but can only be ordered directly from the publisher at this time. $40,

Emeran Mayer, The Gut Immune Connection. Topanga resident Emeran Mayer is an expert on digestive health and a pioneer in the field of food-based and probiotic approaches to treatment. His new book The Gut Immune Connection offers an in-depth look at the latest studies, but also some useful dietary guidelines and even recipes to help improve health. Emeran is also the author of The Mind-Gut Connection. $27.95,

Haven Scott McVarish, Last Chance to Save American Democracy. Topanga resident Haven Scott McVarish is a political strategist who has worked as a community organizer and union leader on numerous political campaigns in California. In this book, he shares his fears of fascism and his roadmap for a more positive future. $16.99,

Paul Watson, Urgent! Save Our Ocean to Survive Climate Change. For many years, the Sea  Shepherd Conservation Society maintained an office on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu and it’s founder, Captain Paul Watson, was a familiar presence in the community, so we are naming him an honorary local author. His latest book is a call to arms for environmentalists. In plain language, the author outlines an appalling catalog of man made environmental catastrophes—he’s seen plenty of them firsthand during his years as a hands-on, frontline activist battling whaling ships. It may seem an unlikely choice for a gift book, but Watson’s message is ultimately positive: we can all take action to help save our oceans and our world, and we can’t let the onslaught of bad news paralyze us. $12.95,

Local Interest Gift Books

This year’s book gift list includes some of our favorite topics: art, architecture, nature and history. The criteria for the list is that it must be a new book on a subject or theme that is relevant to our readers and, most importantly, that we enjoyed reading it. We hope you will enjoy reading them, too!

Architecture and Art

Paul R. Williams: Classic Hollywood Style, by Karen E. Hudson (Author), Benny Chan (Photographer), Michael S. Smith (Foreword). Williams, a pioneering Black architect who had a major influence on the look of Mid-Century Los Angeles, gets the coffee table book treatment, with a thoughtful, lavishly illustrated art book on his life and work. The author, Karen E. Hudson, is Williams’ granddaughter, who is the keeper of the family’s records and has done extensive research on her grandfather’s work and life. Photographer Benny Chan has lovingly and beautifully captured the architect’s vision. A great gift for anyone interested in Los Angeles architectural history and Williams’ amazing legacy. $65.

Art in California, by Jenni Sorkin. Part of the World of Art series, this volume is a welcome overview of modern and contemporary California artists and art. It’s organized thematically and chronologically, with plenty of full color images, and the author covers most major art movements and a dizzying range of artists, including Yun Gee, Helen Lundeberg, Henry Taylor, Richard Diebenkorn, Albert Bierstadt, Chiura Obata, and Judith Baca. $24.95.

Nature, History and the Environment

The Forgotten Botanist: Sara Plummer Lemmon’s Life of Science and Art, by Wynne L. Brown. This is an exceptional book about the remarkable, pioneering woman botanist Sara Plummer Lemmon. Plummer Lemmon was an explorer, mountain climber, scientific illustrator and botanist in an era when women weren’t supposed to do any of those things, and she did them all in long skirts. It’s thanks to this remarkable woman that the California poppy is our state flower, and her  name is memorialized in the rare and beautiful Calochortus plummerae, Plummer’s mariposa lily, an endemic species that grows right here in the Santa Monica Mountains. Author Wynne Brown has tracked down never before published correspondence and even a selection of Sara Lemmon Plummer’s delicate and precise watercolor illustrations of plant specimens. $27.95,

The Hermits of Big Sur, by Paula Huston, foreword by Pico Iyer. A meditative and surprisingly compelling look at the history of the New Camaldolese Monastery in Big Sur. Many of us have stopped over the years to visit this tranquil retreat and to buy cards and cakes in the tiny gift shop, and we have watched with horror when this beautiful and special place, perched high above the Pacific in the Santa Lucia Mountains, has been threatened by fire and flood, but we weren’t expecting its story to be un-put-downable. It was. The author captures the beauty of the location and the determination of the men who founded and continue to maintain this contemplative retreat, despite challenges that include repeated battles with wildfire and changing times that have required the members of this ancient order to adapt. $24.95,

Women on Waves: A Cultural History of Surfing: From Ancient Goddesses and Hawaiian Queens to Malibu Movie Stars and Millennial Champions. A decade-by-decade overview of women surfers, a group of athletes who are often overlooked. It’s a fun and inspiring book, and clearly a labor of love by author Jim Kempton, the former editor of Surfer magazine and president of the California Surf Museum. $29.95, 

Islands through Time: A Human and Ecological History of California’s Northern Channel Islands, by Todd J. Braje, Jon M. Erlandson, and Torben C. Rick. This is not a light read but it is a fascinating one. The authors tackle 13,000 years of human history on the islands, chronicling the development and history of the Chumash people and the islands’ biome, and this remarkable ecosystem’s unique resilience in the face of climate change and environmental challenges. $38,

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