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I'm Melting! I'm Melting!: Alice Hoffman comes to the Capitola Book Cafe July 13 to read from her new novel about witches.

Beached Wail

Attention, lit lovers: Pick up the book and back away from the sand castle

By Jessica Neuman Beck

As temperatures rise and the skies turn a lovely shade of California blue, many of us gaze from our office windows and find ourselves consumed by one thought: if only I were at home right now, curled up with a good book.

This longing for a place in the shade is natural during a heat wave, but it may be exacerbated by an olfactory aversion to the scent of coconut, which for some unknowable reason is a central component of many brands of sunblock. Can we not venture into the outside world without smelling like a pina colada? (It's a different story if one is actually drinking a pina colada, but I am told that this does little to protect against sunburn.)

UV concerns aside, the outdoor world is rife with sun-related dangers. Sticky, hyperactive children, fresh from the Boardwalk, hoards of giggling, Hurley-clad preteens, sweating middle-aged men sans shirt. By comparison, the cool, well-lit interior of a bookstore is a beacon of relaxation and calm.

Aside from escaping the heat, there are lots of reasons to venture into the world of books this month. On July 13 at 1pm, Dia Michels will be appearing at Bookshop Santa Cruz in support of her children's book At the Synagogue, part of the popular Look What I See! Where Can I Be? series. Michels will be helping kids make their own picture books at the event.

Alice Hoffman will be at the Capitola Book Cafe on July 13 at 7:30pm, reading from her new book, The Probable Future, which sounds like it could be a science fiction novel, but nope, it's a story about the supernatural (not surprising from the woman who wrote Practical Magic) which brings together three generations of women descended from a colonial-era witch to solve a mystery.

Monday, July 14, at the Capitola Book Cafe John Maclean will be reading from Fire and Ashes: On the Front Lines of American Wildfire. Just in time for dry season, Maclean's newest book begins with the worst tale of arson in wildfire history (the 1953 Rattlesnake Fire in Mendocino) and continues to present-day, profiling fighting techniques, firefighters and destroyed property.

Tuesday, July 29, at 7:30pm sees the continuation of Poetry Santa Cruz's bimonthly readings at Capitola Book Cafe. Get there early to secure a seat. Also at the Book Cafe, on July 3, Jennifer Leo reads from her collection of traveler's tales, Sand in My Bra--which, incidentally, is yet another compelling reason to stay away from the beach. Stories by people like Christine Nielsen and Anne Lamott shed light on the funnier side of travel, chick style.

Now, if only I could find a combination bookstore/bar, where I could sip a tall, frosty drink while perusing the latest releases. Smelling all that sunblock is making me thirsty.

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From the July 9-16, 2003 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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