Here are a trio of good reads for the holiday season

Lately the weather has not been the kind that encourages you to go to the park, or take a walk, unless you like singing in the rain.  It’s supposed to be the beginning of summer, but nothing about the weather is predictable anymore.

Reading is always a good pastime when the weather isn’t great.  You can read almost anywhere, anytime. (I used to hide in the corner between the dresser and the wall to read in peace and avoid housework when I was a kid).  What to read is another matter, and I have three suggestions, both for your pleasure and for ideas for gifts.

One book I contributed to, and one I just finished reading and loved. All three books are by writers who live in Costa Rica.

The first is “Costa Rica Kaleidoscope, an anthology of stories about and by expatriates in Costa Rica.”  There are seven of us who met and wrote and chose the stories to be included.  You probably will know at least one of the writers (besides me) if you live in Costa Rica.  Some of the stories are funny, some pretty scary, others are wonderful insights into the culture from an outsider’s view and others are informative and helpful.  Greg Bascom who wrote several of the stories, also – with the help of Robin Kazmier, another of the contributors – edited the volume.  The book will soon be available on Amazon.  You can go for more information about the book and the authors.

If you are in the mood for a thriller, get “Lawless Elements.” It’s Greg Bascom’s award winning mystery adventure and is now available at  Or if you order before Christmas you can get it  with discount code 9CA2JEMX.

If you live in Costa Rica, are thinking about moving here, or just wonder what there is about Costa Rica that is so luring to many gringos, read “Kaleidoscope.”  If you want a good thriller and to learn about a part of the world you probably know nothing about (I didn’t), read, “Lawless Elements.”

And finally, if you want to read a book that just might change your life, I recommend Harry Strachan’s“Finding a Path:  Stories of my Life.”  It is by a man who today has been or is a successful businessman, consultant, professor, philanthropist and crackerjack poker player.

Harry came to Costa Rica as a child with his parents who were dedicated evangelical missionaries. His grandfather began, as a clinic for women, what later became Hospital Clinical Biblical.

But this is not so much the story of his family as it is about the author’s search for his own faith and future and coming to terms with the challenges and opportunities in his life…overcoming the first, which include some serious illnesses, and taking advantage of the second, learning many lessons on the way.  They are lessons that are easy to adapt to one’s own life because there are so many experiences that Harry has had that one can say, “I know how that feels.”  And he is willing to face with honesty, his shortcomings.

The author is likable, intelligent, curious, creative and even pragmatic in his search for and finding his own mission in life and someone to love and share it. His story is always interesting and will leave you satisfied. This book, too, is available in various forms, including at Amazon.  You can go to for information on how and where to buy it.

If, on the other hand, you plan to eat drink and be merry throughout the season, remember the immortal words of Cato, who, being a Roman should know whereof he speaks:

“If, at a banquet, you wish to dine a lot and enjoy your dinner, then eat as much cabbage as you wish, seasoned with vinegar, before dinner, and likewise, after dinner eat some half-dozen leaves.  It will make you feel as if you had not eaten, and you can drink as much as you like.”

I have not tested this prescription so I cannot vouch for it.  But I have tested by reading, the above recommendations, so if your taste is similar to mine, check them out.  Either way, enjoy the holiday season, which is upon us.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Jo Stuart may be too shy to plug her own book for Christmas, but we should mention that she has written “Butterfly in the City: A Good Life in Costa Rica” that gives her own interpretation of this exciting and interesting country. The book is available at local stores or by writing Jo at the email address above.

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