VENTURA COUNTY WEEKEND : 3,000 Years of Wisdom Collected in 'The Word' : Noah ben Shea of Santa Barbara will read quotations and teachings from Jewish sources at Ventura Bookstore.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Noah ben Shea of Santa Barbara, who charmed readers with his enormously successful books about Jacob the Baker, will read from his just published "The Word: A Spiritual Sourcebook," from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Ventura Bookstore, 522 E. Main St.

"The Word" is a sweeping collection of quotations and teachings spanning more than 3,000 years of Jewish wisdom. For example: An ancient admonition from the Talmud, "You are not allowed to go into a house of learning with weapons" is an eerie reminder of current problems in the schools.

And from centuries-old Rabbinic literature, a modern political parable: "Be cautious of the fool who is pious, and of a sage who is a sinner."

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The Thousand Oaks-Conejo Valley Poetry Society offers an array of holiday events to encourage and promote talented local poets, beginning at 8 p.m. Friday at the Poetry Shop, 1321 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd.

The 12 winners of the society's poetry contest will read their work. On Saturday, J.P. Gorham will lead a cowboy and nature poetry hike at 10 a.m. On Monday, Verve Magazine editor Ron Reichick will host a literary poetry reading at 8 p.m. in Roxanne's Coffee & More, Simi Valley. On Wednesday, the poetry discussion group will meet at 7 p.m. at the Poetry Shop. Call 800-994-9220.

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Local authors and illustrators David Birchman, Marla Frazee, Marilee Heyer, Valerie Hobbs, Ellen Jackson and Meredy Maynard will sign their books from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at Adventures for Kids, 3457 Telegraph Road, Ventura.

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Traveling, cooking, hiking, history, geography and how to quit smoking are the subjects of books by Bob Carter, Mary Embree, Gail Hobbs, John Krist, David Lavender and Gary McCarthy, who will be at the Local Authors reception from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday at Barnes & Noble, 4360 E. Main St., Ventura. At 3 p.m., seniors will present traditional and original holiday poetry in the bookstore.

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April Smith will sign her new novel, "North of Montana," which features FBI agent Ana Grey, at 11 a.m. Saturday in Mysteries to Die For, 2940 Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks.

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Calvin Cayetano Contreras will perform his latest collection of poetry at 1 p.m. Saturday at Artists at Work Gallery, 433 E. Main St., Ventura. Call 653-1460.

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Jim Woodard's regularly scheduled storytelling program, which airs at 11:30 a.m. Sunday on KCLU 88.3 FM, will feature the legend of the first Christmas tree.

Woodard will also tell Christmas stories from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley. In addition, he will appear at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Barnes & Noble, 4360 E. Main St., Ventura. Woodard can be contacted at 658-6697.

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UP THE COAST

Poets are encouraged to participate in an evening of open poetry readings, which begin at 7 tonight in conjunction with the "Women/Beyond Borders" exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Forum, 653 Paseo Nuevo, Santa Barbara. Sojourner Kincaid-Rolle will host "The Poetry For and About Women" event. Lorraine Serena, founder of the project that honors artists from around the world, will describe the exhibition's global reach. The fee is $3. Call 966-5373.

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Jonathan Winters, in a rare bookstore appearance, will be at Earthling Bookshop, at 1:30 p.m. Sunday to sign his short-story collection, "Winter's Tales," and "Hang Ups," featuring his art work and photography. The store is at 1137 State St., Santa Barbara.

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Information on literary events should be sent to Frances Halpern at least two weeks in advance. Write to her at 93 S. Chestnut St., Ventura 93001, or send faxes to 653-7576.

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