Cactus Eaters and “Reading in Good Company” in Atherton (new and improved posting)

Thank you, everyone, for a great event. There is always that scary moment — just before starting — where you wonder: “Are people going to show up??” That’s how I felt right around the starting time. “Where is everybody?” Then, right at 1 p.m., a good crowd came in all at once, bearing platters of cheeses, breads, tortilla chips, salsa and a home-made torte with almond flour, orange peel and chocolate. I met people from throughout the Peninsula including a ranger who patrols a nearby park (I was glad to see he was in the middle of reading David Wicinas’s Sagebrush and Cappucinno, which he saw on my list of reading recommendations at the back of The Cactus Eaters.) and a Palo Alto resident who is just about to through-hike the Pacific Crest Trail with her college-age daughter. She is a veteran of the Camino de Santiago — in fact we were both talking about Jack Hitt’s excellent book about his own camino journey, which she read in her tent during that European trek.

It was a really good, candid conversation. In fact, we talked about quite a few things that I would hesitate to post online. We discussed place writing, creating a voice in a nonfiction work, the weird history of this project and more.

Anyhow, thanks to everyone for showing up and to Annie Pena for setting this up. I also want to encourage everyone to stick with Atherton’s brand new book group. Lately, we’re seeing a sad decline in the number of places where people can meet, talk books and have a bit of orange-almond cake together. (Too many community centers, libraries and post offices are closing down or being consolidated, especially the smaller branches.) Anyhow, here’s a list of their upcoming book choices:

March: Sex with the Queen: 900 years of vile kings, virile lovers and passionate politics by Eleanor Herman
April: The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner.
May: Pink Brain, Blue Brain: How small differences grow into troublesome gaps by Lise Eliot
June: Reader’s Choice
July: Shake off the Devil: A true story of the murder that rocked New Orleans by Ethan Brown
August: The Forger’s Spell by Edward Dolnick
September: The Lost City of Z by David Grann
October: The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester
Check here for more information about the book club and contact information

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