Looking for perfect holiday gift? Try new Tri-Valley books

'Voices of the Valley,' 'The American Lab' now on sale

'Tis not only the season to snuggle up with a good book -- 'tis also the weather.

If holiday book-giving isn't already a tradition among your family and friends, this might be the year to start. Visits to Towne Center Books on Main Street or book departments in stores can yield nice gifts -- for oneself or for others. The Museum on Main also sells unique gift items, including history books about Pleasanton.

Two local offerings have hit the shelves just in time for the holidays.

The Tri-Valley Branch of the California Writers Club has published a collection of writings, "Voices of the Valley: Journeys." It has 88 works by 47 local contributors, including short stories, flash fiction, memoirs and poems.

"This anthology has something for every reader," said Eloise Hamann, one of the two branch co-chairs in charge of producing the book.

The anthology is the fourth published by the Tri-Valley Branch since 2011.

"This year's offering forges fresh paths into tales of adventure, whimsy, humor, fantasy, satire, drama and family relationships," said Jordan Bernal, the other co-chair. "The writings in this collection exemplify that life is indeed a journey."

"Life's journeys may be straightforward, but most are filled with twists and turns," Bernal continued. "It is the unexpected sojourns through life's challenges that often showcase not only our differences, but also our similarities."

The book also includes the contributions of 10 high school writers from a contest sponsored by the writers club, which addresses the needs of both professional and aspiring writers. For more information, visit

"Voices of the Valley: Journeys" is available in paperback for $15 at; the Kindle edition is $3.99.

Also out in time for the holidays is "The American Lab," the first comprehensive history of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, written by director emeritus C. Bruce Tarter. The lab was the center of his life for more than 50 years, starting in 1962 when he was an intern. In five years he was on site again as a theoretical physicist and he rose the management chain to his tenure as the lab's eighth director.

"The American Lab" presents LLNL in three parts beginning with the dawn of the Cold War, the founding of the lab and its struggle to break out of the shadows of Los Alamos and Lawrence Berkeley labs. Tarter covers its evolution into laser science, energy, environment, biology and basic science; details the beginning and end of Star Wars, launched by President Reagan in 1983; and the establishment of the Stockpile Stewardship Program.

"It is a place few outsiders came to love, though many respected its level of achievement," Tarter said.

The hardcover edition sells on for $65, with the Kindle edition at $61.

Another nice thing about the gift of books is that they can be paired with other items, such as a cozy throw or a new mug and selection of teas, for a cozy combo to make recipients look forward to January with pleasure.

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