DOG DAYS OF SUMMER: These final weeks of the season are slow ones on the Santa Barbara books and lectures scene: We sit in the trough between the relatively busy spring and the more laidback but nonetheless eventful summer. While regular readers of this column will no doubt seize the moment and take a bit of pre-solstice solace in the books they’ve been meaning to read for the past few months, the stalwart Chaucer’s Books (3321 State) keeps on keeping on with its regular schedule of author appearances. In addition to M*A*S*H star Mike Farrell’s appearance on Sunday, June 28, promoting his road-trippy new book Of Mule and Man (click here for the preview), the S.B. book-lover’s institution hosts three writers with three new releases on a wide range of subjects, from personal development to prewar China. For further details on any of these events, call 682-6787 or visit

DEALING WITH DEMENTIA: On Thursday, June 25, at 7 p.m., at Chaucer’s, John G. Bloomer stops by to discuss and sign What the Heck Do We Do Now? Families Facing Alzheimer’s. The book adds to the important body of literature written to address those who have been taken by surprise by rare disorders. Confusing and unsettling enough by their very nature, diseases like Alzheimer’s are made even scarier by the grim media coverage surrounding them. Its exceedingly plainspoken title alone suggests that Bloomer’s book takes a step toward attenuating, not amplifying, this cloud of fear. A truly local product, What the Heck Do We Do Now? boasts both an S.B.-based author-Bloomer works as an Alzheimer’s care professional in our fair city-and is published by the S.B.-based Carefree Senior Living Press.

LISA SEE’S LATEST: Taking us back to 1937 Shanghai-considered at the time to be a lively, colorful, culturally rich “Paris of Asia”-novelist Lisa See has penned another historical tale of discovery and longing in the vein of her 2007 Peony in Love. Deeply rooted in the real events of both mid-century China and America, See’s new Shanghai Girls traces the paths of young sisters Pearl and May Chin, children of privilege and enjoying it until the fateful day their rickshaw magnate father, the victim of a serious gambling problem, squanders the family wealth. The girls are thus forced to relocate to Los Angeles, newly taken as the brides of rich, strange foreigners. Pearl and May’s struggle to come to terms with this sudden, enormous shift in both their setting and their very way of life plays out against a familiar background, to the readers if not to the protagonists: a backdrop of rapid modernization, looming Communist witch hunts, and flamboyant old Hollywood. See appears at Chaucer’s on Monday, June 29, at 6 p.m.

TURN UP THE HEAT: “Conquer your hidden fear and take life to the next level,” commands the cover of Gay Hendricks‘s The Big Leap. On Wednesday, July 8, at 7 p.m., at Chaucer’s, Hendricks-a psychologist, writer, and president of Ojai’s consciousness-raising Hendricks Institute-shows up to talk about his prescription for fear-conquering and level-jumping. “We have an inner thermostat that determines the amount of love and success we allow ourselves,” according to the Hendricks Institute’s Web site about the book. “When we exceed our setting, we tend to sabotage ourselves so that we can return to the old, familiar zone where we feel secure.” The intriguing promise The Big Leap asserts is that this “thermostat” is, in fact, changeable, and that we need only make the proper adjustments to find our way to a better life, whatever that may mean to the individual seeking betterment. A bold claim? Perhaps. But that’s the beauty of live appearances: You can come prepared with questions.


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