Aimed at analytical readers, this no-nonsense book delivers basic help for cheerfully navigating the material world.




A debut memoir and guide offers an approach to clearing the mind and filling the heart.

When the pain of a migraine emptied Kelc’s inquiring mind, she was able to integrate her female and male sides, allowing for inner balance. As a result, she discovered how to live from her heart rather than her head. Following a short chapter on that pivotal moment, she offers exercises to clear the mind, including one from the author’s role model and teacher, Phyllis Krystal, originator of a method that uses symbols to contact inner wisdom. In the remaining chapters, the bulk of the book, Kelc shares her key findings, all within the context of commonplace, real-life situations. The “first and foremost lesson” is self-love, writes the author, a graphic designer by vocation and personal coach by avocation. Subsequent teachings build on that bedrock, instructing how to apply this love when encountering daily challenges such as managing guilt and criticism; nurturing relationships with family, friends, and romantic partners; creating psychic borders; and refraining from being controlled by anger and fear. In the final chapter, Kelc comes full circle: felled by the flu, she is voiceless for almost a week yet sees the painful experience as a dictum “to be happy under any conditions.” Kelc’s prose is clear and unadorned, if sometimes a little stern: “My desires should never gain control over me. It is within my power to do that.” Invitingly, her realm is the everyday, and thus her suggestions have immediate, practical application, such as how to realize the connection between anger and discomfort. Audiences who like their spiritual direction straightforward and grounded in the ordinary should be drawn to this work. Kelc’s earnest sweetness is the kind many readers will want to emulate: “I begin with my day only after I’m filled with a sense of happiness and joy.”

Aimed at analytical readers, this no-nonsense book delivers basic help for cheerfully navigating the material world.

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5043-6375-4

Page Count: 132

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2017

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.


The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.


A teacher and scholar of Buddhism offers a formally varied account of the available rewards of solitude.

“As Mother Ayahuasca takes me in her arms, I realize that last night I vomited up my attachment to Buddhism. In passing out, I died. In coming to, I was, so to speak, reborn. I no longer have to fight these battles, I repeat to myself. I am no longer a combatant in the dharma wars. It feels as if the course of my life has shifted onto another vector, like a train shunted off its familiar track onto a new trajectory.” Readers of Batchelor’s previous books (Secular Buddhism: Imagining the Dharma in an Uncertain World, 2017, etc.) will recognize in this passage the culmination of his decadeslong shift away from the religious commitments of Buddhism toward an ecumenical and homegrown philosophy of life. Writing in a variety of modes—memoir, history, collage, essay, biography, and meditation instruction—the author doesn’t argue for his approach to solitude as much as offer it for contemplation. Essentially, Batchelor implies that if you read what Buddha said here and what Montaigne said there, and if you consider something the author has noticed, and if you reflect on your own experience, you have the possibility to improve the quality of your life. For introspective readers, it’s easy to hear in this approach a direct response to Pascal’s claim that “all of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Batchelor wants to relieve us of this inability by offering his example of how to do just that. “Solitude is an art. Mental training is needed to refine and stabilize it,” he writes. “When you practice solitude, you dedicate yourself to the care of the soul.” Whatever a soul is, the author goes a long way toward soothing it.

A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-25093-0

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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