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Short Takes: January 2012 

Great Space of Desire: Writing for Personal Evolution
Dara Lurie
Transformative Writing, 2011, $18.95
Workshop leader and manuscript coach Lurie inspires with a vibrant mix of memoir and instructional guide. Her personal stories explore biracial identity, bulimia, working in a strip club while attending Vassar, living in Berlin’s political and theatrical fringe, and self-transformation through art; practical exercises prompt budding writers to coax their own stories into the light.

The Natural Health Companion: An Integral Handbook
Using Eastern and Western Techniques
Gregg R. St. Clair
Squire Wing Press, 2011, $19.98
Upstate acupuncturist, Qi Gong/Tai Chi teacher, and natural healer St. Clair set out to write the book he wanted to hand to his clients: a wide-ranging, brisk, and jargon-free guide to healthier living. With appendices including menus, exercise plans, spiritual practices, and healing therapies, this slender but muscular book is one-stop shopping for personal wellness.

Down There: Sexual and Reproductive Health the Wise Woman Way
Susun S. Weed
Ash Tree Publishing, 2011, $29.95
If your clitoris could speak, what would it say? Woodstock herbalist Weed goes below the belt with this frank, joyous, and occasionally wiggy owner’s manual to the female and male genitalia. Uninhibited about sexuality and informative about ailments, offering healing modalities from “wait and see” to herbal support and surgical alternatives, Weed’s words hum with wisdom.

Caregiver Revolution: 5 Easy Steps to Enlightened Caregiving
Grant Abrams & Patricia Elizabeth, drawings by Lin Larsen
Gateways Books & Tapes, 2011, $19.95
New Paltz physical therapist Abrams and terminal midwife Elizabeth have worked with the dying for decades. Their empathetic, affirmative approach will be a godsend for anyone caring for loved ones in need, offering practical advice, exercises, discussion starters, and resources. The authors encourage caregivers to see this important work as a privilege, not a burden.

Bare-Bones Spirituality: Teachings in a Secular Age
Peter Broner
Epigraph, 2011, $14.95
A searching and deeply personal collection of essays and dialogues about religious precepts, consciousness, and metaphysics. Though his perspective is heavily influenced by Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta Hinduism, Broner carves his own spiritual path through God’s “U-Pick-It vineyard,” one that is rooted in inquiry and openness rather than dogma.

Children of the Seventh Fire: An Ancient Prophecy for Modern Times
Lisa A. Hart, illustrated by Joe Liles, foreword by Edward Benton-Banai
McDonald & Woodward, 2011, $18.95
Warm-hearted, respectful, and empowering, this gentle tale of listening to an Anishinabe elder encompasses lessons about Native American spirituality, oral traditions, sustainability, bullying, and the joys of baby spinach. West Shokan author Hart offers young readers, parents, and teachers a homegrown organic antidote to snarkiness.
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