Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Jocelyn Rowley

Top off your holiday shopping with recent releases from Left Hand Valley authors


December 7, 2018

Courtesy Photo

Top off your holiday shopping with recent releases from Left Hand Valley authors

The tradition of giving books as gifts is practically as old as the printed word itself and, in fact, books were among the first items mass-produced and marketed specifically as Christmas gifts, back in the 1820s.

Nearly 200 years later, books remain a popular choice for both givers and receivers, and not just for the holidays. A book can be a token of intimacy, of friendship, or even of just shared interest. A book can sometimes say what we can’t, and giving one at just the right time can make all the difference.

Purchasing and giving books as gifts is also an excellent way to support local creators and small business owners. So if there are still some names on your gift-giving list to check off, consider a book from one of these award-winning authors, who might also be your next-door neighbor.

Jim Ringel49 Buddhas

Jim Ringel came to Boulder County in the 1990s after stints in New York and Boston, and moved to Niwot five years ago. He took up writing full-time around then, and, in 2014, published his first novel, Wolf, which he describes as a “sales-noir werewolf thriller.”

While finishing Wolf, Ringel hit upon the idea of a Buddhist detective who solves a grisly murder while also transcending the Six Realms of Existence, adding a second layer of intrigue for the reader. The series debuted earlier this year with 49 Buddhas, which finds the main character, Lama Rinzen, reborn into the Hell Realm and charged with solving the murder of Denver insurance man Sonny Heller.

“It’s a mysterious mystery,” Ringel explained. “There’s the mystery of the whodunit, and then there’s the mystery of what is it he really needs to learn to get to the next Realm. You don’t need to be Buddhist to get into it, but you probably will get into it if you have an inquiring mind, which a lot of mystery readers do.”

Ringel credits Buddhism for inspiring the novels and the related practice of meditation with helping him to successfully navigate the journey of novel writing, which he took up after a successful career in television broadcasting. That experience, too, has also proved beneficial to his writing.

“Particularly, the editing reinforced in me a sense of rhythm,” he said. “I like listening to voices, the way they sort of sing. Everybody’s got their own way of communicating, and some of it’s the words, but a lot of it’s really the way they speak.”

Ringel is working on the second book in the series, which he hopes to release in late 2019. He warned that readers should not bring many preconceived notions about Lama Rinzen to book two.

“Each time he’s reborn he’s really a different character,” Ringel said. “I have to get to know each of them as I’m writing.”

49 Buddhas is available at Inkberry Books and the Tattered Cover. To learn more about Ringel’s novels or his lessons on meditation, visit his website.

Ellen Korman Mains — Buried Rivers, A Spiritual Journey into the Holocaust

Gunbarrel-based author and teacher Ellen Korman Mains grew up in Montreal as the daughter of Polish Holocaust survivors, an identity that proved to be complicated when, as a college student, she tried to make her own way in the world.

Buried Rivers, A Spiritual Journey into the Holocaust is Mains’ chronicle of her attempts to reconnect with her family’s roots in Lodz, Poland, and to confront the trauma of their imprisonment in Auschwitz. But it is more than just a second-generation Holocaust memoir.

“Interwoven in the story is also this conflict between my family being Jewish and me being Buddhist and a healing of that,” she explained. “There’s interesting generational conflict that also has to do with religion. For me, it’s about not identifying so strongly with any one group of people that you’re incapable of connecting with other people from a group.”

Mains met Tibetan Buddhist master Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche while at university, a connection that would have a profound influence on her life’s path and eventually bring her to the Boulder area. Now, she is an experienced Buddhist and Shambala practitioner who often teaches and leads retreats. She is currently specializing in Inner Relationship Focusing, a technique related to meditation.

She visited Poland for the first time in 2006, and has returned regularly over years, often staying for months at a time. Buried Rivers was inspired, in part, by the one of the more surprising lessons she learned on her quest to reclaim her family’s history there.

“The driving question in the book is how can you believe in basic goodness,” she said. “But at a point I realized that it was really about finding that in myself. What I discovered in Poland, such a strong ancestral connection….The feeling of love that I felt coming from my ancestral line was completely shocking.”

Buried Rivers, A Spiritual Journey into the Holocaust is available at Inkberry Books. Korman Mains will be speaking about and signing copies at the Boulder Bookstore (1107 Pearl St.) on Jan. 10. To read excerpts of Buried Rivers or learn more about Korman Mains’ other work, visit her website.

Jeremy Jaeger — This Is Love

In 2015, former Courier contributor Jeremy Jaeger published This is Love, a novelistic memoir about his time growing up in Colorado and his extensive travels in adulthood, to places such as Portland, Tokyo, and Austin.

In the book, he describes his “idyllic” childhood in Niwot, where he lived with his parents and sister until age 11.

“…The neighborhood with its modest homes on large plots of land, the streets without sidewalks, the strips of black asphalt that bleed into the grass that pool into cul-de-sacs….The world is a safe world; the world is a protected joy.”

Jaeger recently returned to the Niwot area and is working on a new project about a fictional society called Limbic City. This is Love is available at Inkberry Books.

Connie McIntyre — The Grannie Annie Family Story Celebration

In 2005, former educator Connie McIntyre turned her passion for helping families record their memories into The Grannie Annie Family Story Celebration, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that encourages students to learn more about their ancestral roots and then share that history through a written account.

“I thought, wouldn’t it be fun to have young people learn something from their family’s history and write that down in their own words and it becomes part of who they are,” the Niwot resident said of the inspiration behind Grannie Annie. “They understand themselves better, and they understand their families better and when they share those stories…then that helps them have a connection with the wider world.”

Now in its 14th year, The Grannie Annie Family Story Celebration receives more than 500 submissions each year from students around the globe, and then collects 30-35 of them into an anthology published every summer. Volume 13 was released in June of this year, and included the work of two students from Longmont’s Blue Mountain Elementary School.

Courtesy Photo

Gunbarrel author and teacher Ellen Korman Mains recently released a memoir about connecting with her mother’s family in Lodz, Poland, 60 years after the Holocaust.

McIntyre said that students don’t necessarily need a knack for history to participate in the Grannie Annie Program. Though the submitted stories do span the ages—she has read stories set more than 400 years ago—many are of a more recent vintage. “Very early on, we had to decide what is an historical story. What we realized is that for these young people looking back and learning about their families, it’s anything that happened before they were born.”

Previous volumes of the Grannie Annie anthology are available at Inkberry Books, including their 10th Anniversary collection, Echoes from World War II.

The deadline for submissions for the 2018-19 anthology is Feb. 1. To learn how to submit a story for consideration, visit thegrannieannie.org. There, you will find submission guidelines and forms, as well as an index of stories from previous years. You can also purchase the books or make a donation. The organization and their work was recently featured on St. Louis Public Radio. 


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