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Books for Christmas gifts, part 2


Part two of Lesley Thomson’s reviews on books that will make interesting Christmas gifts, featuring…

The Next Person You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom. The sequel to the classic Five People you Will Meet in Heaven. How every life has a meaning, and every person in it. Inspiring.

2020 Sky Guide Africa South: An Astronomical Handbook for Southern Africa. A must-have for every novice and professional who looks at the sky. With charts of sun and moon settings and risings, diagrams, concise explanations – this is a book for the whole year.

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert. Known for her best-seller Eat, Pray, Love, this is light holiday reading with a message at the end. Set in New York in the 1940s, it is frivolous, while being significant at the same time.

**The Next Person You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

In Mitch Albom’s much loved book, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, we met Eddie, a rough and gruff war veteran turned amusement park mechanic who passed away in the act of saving a little girl named Annie. In heaven Eddie meets five people who had the most impact on his life, answering question about the meaning of life.

In The Next Person you Meet in Heaven, Annie’s story is told. The accident that killed Eddie left an indelible physical and emotional mark on Annie. Injured, scarred, and unable to remember why, and haunted by what the truth may reveal, Annie’s life is completely changed as she battles with her over-protective mother and struggles to find acceptance among her peers. When, as a young woman, she reconnects with Paulo, her childhood love, she believes she has finally found happiness.

Now read: Books for Christmas gifts, part 1

The novel opens with Annie marrying Paulo. But an unimaginable tragedy happens and, while trying to save Paulo, Annie finds herself in heaven. One of the five people in heaven she will meet, and who will show her how her life mattered, is Eddie.

Poignant and beautiful, filled with unexpected twists, The Next Person You Meet in Heaven reminds us not only that every life is important, but that every ending is also a beginning – we only need to open our eyes to see it. It reminds us of how our lives inter-connect and how much we affect each other.

You do not have had to read The Five People You Meet in Heaven (published in 2003) first, as this powerful short novel stands alone.

Uplifting, people will find a little of themselves in this gentle reminder of extra empathy and understanding for all.

Mitch Albom has published seven books, among which is the classic Tuesdays with Morrie, a memoir of his relationship with his mentor, a retired college professor.

ISBN 978 0 7515 7189 9 Published by LittleBrown rrp R330

**The Sky Guide Africa South 2020 – An Astronomical Handbook for Southern Africa.
Annually the next Sky Guide is eagerly awaited by amateur and professional astronomers. Produced by the Astronomical Society and now in its 74th year, this is an invaluable and practical resource for everyone who looks up at the sky or watches the sun and moon rise and set.

This easy-to-follow guide, with photographs and diagrams, is a wealth of information about the Sun, Moon, planets, comets, meteors and bright stars. Star charts show the evening sky for each of the four seasons. There are separate schedules of sun and moon rise and set with times centred on Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg and Harare.

The Sky Guide also covers planetary movements, predicted eclipses and meteor showers for 2020. There is a wealth of knowledge in this small book that covers all things to do with the sky.

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Included is a very useful glossary, advice on basic observing skills, the history and information of the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa, and the Royal Observatory, Cape of Good Hope – with a replica of a photograph of the Royal Observatory, being the first photo of any observatory in the world. This was published in the Illustrated London News 21 March 1857.

This annual publication is an invaluable guide for anyone who has even a passing interest in the night skies of southern Africa – an absolute must for first-time stargazers and professional astronomers alike.

Published by Struik Nature/Penguin Random House and the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa (ASSA). ISBN 978 1 77584 6666 rrp R145

**City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

Vivian Morris, a “poor little rich girl” and dropout from Vassar College, is sent to live with her Aunt Peg, owner of a rundown theatre in New York in 1940. Enamoured of her freedom and the lifestyle of the showgirls, dancers and actors, Vivian rushes into a life of hedonism with innocence.

The book is written as a letter to Angela, who wanted to know what Vivian had been in her father’s life. Vivian tells Angela of her life, the good, the bad and the ugly, the lessons she learned along the way, and the eclectic characters that helped her become the contented old lady she now is.

Eccentric Aunt Peg’s disintegrating, but once lovely theatre, the Lily Playhouse, churns out rather corny musicals and shows for the people living in their crumbling district. Even that doesn’t fill the seats and to Olive’s continuous horror, money is always short. Vivian becomes involved with making costumes and, discovering sex and through a naive mistake, learns about shame and guilt.

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Along comes Edna, a famous beautiful English actress displaced because of the war, who with her husband joins Aunt Peg’s menagerie of people living above the theatre. A show, City of Girls, with the help of Aunt Peg’s errant husband, is met with huge success and everyone’s life takes a turn – some for the best, some for the worse. With the coming of WWII, the world becomes tougher.

The portrayal of the varied characters in this book is vivid, making City of Girls more meaningful. Nobody is unique, and if you want what others don’t, such as close friendships, brief flings and companionship, that is fine.

“There is no point in being anything other than what you are.”

Published by Bloomsbury ISBN ‎9781408867044 rrp R250

**For info, contact Lesley Thomson – 072 640 2737;

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