An insightful, often engaging work that will appeal most to readers who already have knowledge of its concepts.



In this debut memoir, the author recounts the origins of her spiritual journey and the challenges she faced while apprenticing with teachers and guides.

Author Kaiser develops this remembrance through scenes of “awakening”—prophetic dreams that delivered important messages—and the teachings of the famed author Carlos Castaneda, an important figure throughout the book. Following the guidance of the “Right Hand Path of the Masters” (in which one aims “to transform the undersoul or the shadow self by transmuting it into a body of light”) and the advice of other teachers and writers, Kaiser developed her personal spiritual awareness. The author vividly tells of her experiences as a young child with an abusive father and a neglectful mother, showing how she started her journey toward higher purpose by moving away from the stress and dysfunction of her family life. Drawn to Reiki, chakra healing, meditation, and other holistic practices, Kaiser began to explore the world around her and how it related to her true inner self. The book is organized into sections detailing major periods of her life when specific transitions occurred, but the story as a whole is told chronologically, often through dreams. She colorfully describes the latter through storytelling, then connects them with what was happening in her life at the time, giving readers insights into both dream interpretation and her waking experience. The book also discusses past-life recollections, some from ancient times. For readers who are unfamiliar with the work and teachings of Castaneda, many of the themes and terms in the book may seem foreign. However, the author helpfully includes a glossary at the end of the text, as well as an index of dreams for reference.

An insightful, often engaging work that will appeal most to readers who already have knowledge of its concepts.

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4568-1946-0

Page Count: 204

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2017

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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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Honest messages from one of America's best known women.


A compilation of advice from the Queen of All Media.

After writing a column for 14 years titled “What I Know For Sure” for O, The Oprah Winfrey Magazine, Winfrey brings together the highlights into one gift-ready collection. Grouped into themes like Joy, Resilience, Connection, Gratitude, Possibility, Awe, Clarity and Power, each short essay is the distilled thought of a woman who has taken the time to contemplate her life’s journey thus far. Whether she is discussing traveling across the country with her good friend, Gayle, the life she shares with her dogs or building a fire in the fireplace, Winfrey takes each moment and finds the good in it, takes pride in having lived it and embraces the message she’s received from that particular time. Through her actions and her words, she shows readers how she's turned potentially negative moments into life-enhancing experiences, how she's found bliss in simple pleasures like a perfectly ripe peach, and how she's overcome social anxiety to become part of a bigger community. She discusses the yo-yo dieting, exercise and calorie counting she endured for almost two decades as she tried to modify her physical body into something it was not meant to be, and how one day she decided she needed to be grateful for each and every body part: "This is the body you've been given—love what you've got." Since all of the sections are brief and many of the essays are only a couple paragraphs long—and many members of the target audience will have already read them in the magazine—they are best digested in short segments in order to absorb Winfrey's positive and joyful but repetitive message. The book also features a new introduction by the author.

Honest messages from one of America's best known women.

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-1250054050

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Flatiron View Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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