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Piper Castillo, Times Staff Writer

Piper Castillo

Piper Castillo grew up in Ft. Lauderdale and received her English degree from Florida Atlantic University. As a community news reporter for the Tampa Bay Times, she covers Oldsmar and Palm Harbor. She also writes the "Nightstand" column for the Sunday book pages and thinks the only thing better than a good read is a day in the sun with her family.

Phone: (727) 445-4163

E-mail: pcastillo@tampabay.com

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  1. What's Melissa Kite reading?

    Books

    Nightstand

    Melissa Kite

    We recently caught up with Kite, 43, a columnist for the British magazine the Spectator. Kite, who admits an obsession with comedy that ranges from 30 Rock and Curb Your Enthusiasm to her own country's Monty Python, recently released her memoir, The Art of Not Having It All: True Stories of Men, Sex and Other Disasters. She and her dog, Cydney, live in London....

    Melissa Kite is a columnist for the British magazine the “Spectator.” Kite recently released her memoir, “The Art of Not Having It All: True Stories of Men, Sex and Other Disasters.”
  2. What's Graham Nash reading?

    Books

    Nightstand

    Graham Nash

    On Jan. 12, an hour before his solo performance at the Capitol Theater, we were lucky enough to bump into Nash, 72, on Cleveland Street in downtown Clearwater. Although a light rain was falling, and it was quick, the legendary singer-songwriter and two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee (for his work with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young in 1997, and the Hollies in 2010) was kind enough to share what he's reading with the Tampa Bay Times....

    Graham Nash recently performed at the Capitol Theater in Clearwater.
  3. Famed comedy troupe visits Largo Cultural Center

    Human Interest

    LARGO

    Performers from Second City of Chicago, known for producing some of the nation's top comedic talent, have embarked on a Florida tour. They'll make their one Tampa Bay stop Sunday at the Largo Cultural Center.

    The story goes that in 1959, a group of coffee-drinking, cigarette-smoking Chicagoans realized a need for a venue focused on both comedy and conversation. The result was a nightly cabaret show, and more than 50 years later, Second City has arguably become the nation's comedy powerhouse. Alumni include the likes of Alan Arkin, Joan Rivers, John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey and Cecily Strong, and the list continues to grow....

    Second City members, from left, Jamison Webb, Casey Whitaker, Jasbir Singh, Kelsey Kinney, John Sabine and Blair Beekenfor will bring their comedic stylings to the Largo Cultural Center for one show on Sunday as part of the Chicago group’s Florida tour.
  4. What's Jacquelyn Mitchard reading?

    Books

    Nightstand

    Jacquelyn Mitchard

    Mitchard is visiting St. Petersburg this week as one of the instructors for the 2015 Writers in Paradise, Eckerd College's annual writing conference. She is the author of The Deep End of the Ocean, which became a movie with Michelle Pfeiffer and was the first selection for Oprah's Book Club. Her other books include The Cage of Stars, The Breakdown Lane and The Most Wanted, which received Britain's Orange Prize for Fiction. In 2013, Mitchard, an instructor in the MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts, became editor in chief of Merit Press, a young adult fiction imprint of F&W Media. A longtime journalist and a contributing editor for More magazine, Mitchard lives on Cape Cod with her family. On Saturday, she will be the featured author during Eckerd's Evening Reading Series, and the public is invited to attend. (See Book Talk for details.) ...

    Jacquelyn Mitchard, in St. Petersburg this week for the Writers in Paradise conference at Eckerd College, is author of The Deep End of the Ocean.
  5. Fighting hunger, one Sunday meal at a time

    Human Interest

    CLEARWATER — When she first drove up to the vacant lot on Tangerine Street, eight people were waiting for her. By the time Mildred Burney finished passing out the breakfasts, the crowd had doubled.

    She began by asking them to join her in a circle. One woman, Rosa Bostick, volunteered to lead a prayer. "God, thank you for this wonderful donation of food,'' Bostick said. "And thank you too for the one who brings it to us.''...

    Food stacks up as Burney prepares the meals.
  6. Five questions with Father Anastasios "Taso'' Gounaris

    News

    TARPON SPRINGS — We caught up with Father Anastasios Gounaris, who first arrived in Tarpon Springs as head of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral in June, by phone on Tuesday after the 109th Epiphany Celebration. Known as "Father Taso,'' he took our call as he waited at Tampa International Airport with Archbishop Demetrios for the archbishop's flight back to New York.

    Before taking the helm at St. Nicholas, Father Taso, 57, served as dean of the Holy Trinity Archdiocesan Cathedral in New York City. As he shared his observations of his new home, Father Taso talked about how he enjoyed it when Greek-speaking parishioners asked him in their native tongue how he liked "the village,'' he said. "You don't hear that term used much, and I thought initially, they were putting me on. Why are they calling it a village? But there is that sense of cohesiveness in Tarpon Springs that some people still call it their village.''...

    Father Anastasios “Taso’’ Gounaris, left, watches as Theodora Lialios releases the dove during the 109th Epiphany Celebration in Tarpon Springs on Tuesday.
  7. Third time's the charm for Tarpon Springs youth who retrieves Epiphany cross

    Religion

    TARPON SPRINGS — The night before Epiphany, 18-year-old Kosta Pseftelis and his friends paid a visit to Spring Bayou to scout out the scene of the annual cross dive. In the moonlit darkness, they peered at the dinghies that were anchored in a semicircle, waiting for the divers to perch on the next day.

    This would be Pseftelis' third and final chance to dive for the cross. Next year he'd be too old. He was looking for an edge, and something told him the second boat on the left might give him a prime position....

    Kosta Pseftelis, center, of Tarpon Springs is congratulated Tuesday by his grandmother Katina Mehas at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral after Pseftelis retrieved the cross during the annual Epiphany celebration.
  8. What's Donald Hall reading?

    Books

    Nightstand

    Donald Hall

    We thought we'd start out the new year with Hall, 86, a former U.S. poet laureate and author of more than 50 books. His newest collection, Essays After Eighty, could inspire resolutions like visiting old houses in the country, growing a long beard or finding goodness in adding extra garlic to your entree. After graduating from Harvard, Hall served as the first poetry editor at the Paris Review and held court with the likes of Dylan Thomas, Robert Bly and Robert Frost. He also taught English at the University of Michigan until he gave up the post to write full time. For 40 years, he earned his living as a freelance poet, critic and essayist. In 1983, he received the Caldecott Award for his children's book Ox-Cart Man, and in 2010, President Barack Obama presented him with the National Medal of Arts. We recently caught up with Hall by phone from his beloved Eagle Pond Farm in New Hampshire....

    Poet Donald Hall, 86, received a National Medal of Arts in 2010. His newest collection is Essays After Eighty. Concord Monitor photo/Ken Williams
  9. What's Bill Heavey reading?

    Books

    Nightstand

    Bill Heavey

    Heavey, 59, is an editor at large for Field & Stream. His most recent release is You're Not Lost If You Can Still See the Truck: The Further Adventures of America's Everyman Outdoorsman. He studied English literature and writing at George Washington University and currently lives in Maryland.

    What's on your nightstand?...

    Bill Heavey, 59, is an editor at large for Field & Stream.
  10. What's Kerry Cohen reading?

    Books

    Nightstand

    Kerry Cohen

    Cohen, a writer, psychotherapist and faculty member for the Red Earth MFA, a low residency program in Oklahoma City, recently edited Spent: Exposing Our Complicated Relationship With Shopping. It is a collection of essays by 30 women. Since we spoke to her during the holiday shopping high season, we asked if she had a takeaway on gift buying. "I would say when you shop, rather than focusing on that brief, short-term gratification to instead think about what would be the more thoughtful (purchase) and the kind of thing someone will use or grow from or grow through. Of course, I want to say that the best thing is to buy books as gifts,'' she said. Cohen, 44, lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband, James Bernard Frost, and their four children. She is also the author of Loose Girl, Dirty Little Secrets, Seeing Ezra and the young adult novels Easy, The Good Girl and It's Not You, It's Me....

    Author Kerry Cohen recently edited Spent: Exposing Our Complicated Relationship With Shopping.
  11. Christine Wigfall Morris, Clearwater's first African-American librarian, dies at 92

    Human Interest

    CLEARWATER — It was easy for two of Christine Wigfall Morris's great nieces to recall their countless visits to her library. "We would walk there after school, but we knew we were not there to play,'' said Carla Johnson, 45.

    "She wouldn't even let us read comic books,'' added Louisa Perry, 52. "We had to read a real book and then do a book report. Millions. I wrote millions of book reports for her.''...

    Mrs. Morris continued to visit the library near her home up until the last several months.
  12. Belleair Causeway to get new $700,000 bait house

    News

    BELLEAIR BLUFFS — Just like he does whenever he goes fishing at the Belleair Beach Causeway, A.J. Marino, 63, stopped at Publix on Saturday morning and purchased $10 of frozen shrimp.

    "There's no place to buy bait, so that's what I have to do,'' said Marino, who has fished the Intracoastal for more than 30 years. "I wish we could get something open here again near the bridge.''...

    A computer-generated image shows the 800-square-foot bait house that will be built on the northeast side of the Belleair Beach Causeway in the coming months.
  13. What's James Anderson reading?

    Books

    Nightstand

    James Anderson

    Anderson is a former publisher who oversaw Breitenbush Books, a publishing house he founded in Portland, Ore., in 1975. Early next year, Anderson, 62, will see his own book published when Caravel Books releases his novel, The Never-Open Desert Diner. Anderson describes the book as "a literary noir hybrid.'' Set in the high desert of southwestern Utah, it is the story of Ben Jones, a truck driver whose life takes a mysterious turn when he comes across a woman playing a cello....

    James Anderson will release the novel The Never-Open Desert Diner early next year.
  14. What's Diane Roberts reading?

    Books

    Nightstand

    Diane Roberts

    Roberts, who grew up in Tallahassee and is an English professor at Florida State University, is a former member of the Tampa Bay Times editorial board. Her work has also appeared in the New York Times, the Times of London, the Guardian and on air for National Public Radio, as well as online at contextflorida.com. She's the author of three books, including Dream State: Eight Generations of Swamp Lawyers, Conquistadors, Confederate Daughters, Banana Republicans, and Other Florida Wildlife. Her new book on college football will be published by HarperCollins in October 2015....

    Diane Roberts, who grew up in Tallahassee and is an English professor at Florida State University, is a former member of the Tampa Bay Times editorial board.
  15. Florida Botanical Gardens lights up the holidays

    News

    LARGO

    With so much flora — both exotic and native — the Florida Botanical Gardens on any day is a sight to behold.

    There's the angel trumpet tree and the mile-high bamboo on the tropical walk. There's the black-eyed Susan and the Arabian jasmine in the vinery. There are the roses and the bougainvillea in the wedding garden.

    Add more than 750,000 twinkling lights, dozens of artistic displays of brightly lit reptiles, amphibians and other critters, as well as a 7-foot gingerbread house, and the 30-acre Florida Botanical Gardens off Ulmerton Road becomes downright enchanted....

    The Holiday Lights in the Garden extravaganza kicks off at 5:30 p.m. today and continues through Dec. 31. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be in the Palm Garden for nightly entertainment, up until the big day, that is.