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Shake Some Action: Mark Kurlansky, author of '1968: The Year the Rocked the World,' will appear at Bookshop Santa Cruz Jan. 27.

Paging Your Future Self

If the ancient Babylonians are right, your schedule for 2004 is all booked up

By Jessica Neuman Beck

As the clock ticks ever closer to midnight on New Year's Eve, we find ourselves concerned with one thing. Well, two things, if you count kissing your crush after everyone yells "Happy new year." But once the snogging's over, we're left with the burning question: what we will resolve to change in 2004? Will we quit smoking? Will we drink less? Will we wake up in the morning next to our crush?

Where did this tradition of New Year's resolutions come from? As with so many things, we can blame the Babylonians. Apparently, the ancient Babylonians believed that whatever you do on New Year's Day affects what you'll be doing for the rest of the year. This means that many of us can look forward to several hangover breakfasts in the next twelve months. Back when the Babylonians were searching for the last aspirin, the new year began at the beginning of the planting season in March; it wasn't until Julius Caesar came into power that the calendar began on January first. So, technically, we still have three months to get that gym membership or start budgeting our finances. Good thing, too, since January brings the return of the author events at bookstores. Forget the gym--I'd rather work out my brain.

* Thursday, January 8 at the Capitola Book Café, Max Arax will be reading from King of California at 7:30. Arax, a Los Angeles Times writer, tells us the long-secret history of J.G. Boswell's cotton empire.

* January 14, also at the Book Café, Kevin Danaher and Jason Mark examine the growing movement of protesters and demonstrators against corporate sponsored globalization with their book Insurrection: Citizen Challenges to Corporate Power.

* Thursday, January 15 at the Book Café, Anthony Swafford reads from Jarhead, a memoir of his experiences in Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War in 1990.

* Tuesday, January 20 at 7:30 at the Capitola Book Café, Vijay Vaitheeswaran reads from Power to the People. Vaitheeswaran, the energy and environment correspondent for The Economist, takes an independent and entertaining look at the energy crisis.

* January 21 at Bookshop Santa Cruz, UCSC alum Elizabeth Kadetsky tells of her experiences studying yoga at the institute of the renowned B.K.S. Iyengar in India with her book, First There Is A Mountain. Also on January 21, at the Capitola Book Café, acclaimed novelist Ron Hansen presents Isn't it Romantic, a comedy in which Parisian sophistication collides with the affability and simple pleasures of the Great Plains.

* Thursday, January 22, David Mas Masumoto will sign copies of his newest book Four Seasons in Five Senses at the Bookshop Santa Cruz at 7:30. Masumoto, a farmer as well as an author, presents growing food as a full sensory experience.

* Television and radio personality Dr. Dean Edell will be at the Capitola Book Café on Sunday, January 25 at 2:30 p.m. with his new book, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Healthiness. Edell's book contains the answers to 500 pressing health questions and includes quizzes, recommended reading lists, and symptom checklists.

* Mark Kurlansky tells a tale of social upheaval in his book 1968: The Year That Rocked The World. He will be appearing at Bookshop Santa Cruz on January 27 at 7:30.

* Thursday, January 29 brings us a conversation with Saul Landau at the Capitola Book Café. Landau, one of the left's leading scholars and writers, will be discussing US foreign policy. His latest book is The Pre-Emptive Empire: A Guide to Bush's Kingdom.

If the Babylonians are right and what you do at the beginning of the year affects you for the next twelve months, my future will involve a lot of reading.

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From the December 31, 2003-January 7, 2004 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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