An enthusiastic New-Age autobiography of one woman’s journey to enlightenment.




Becker reflects on the wonders of the spiritual world in her autobiography.

For Becker, traveling the road to spiritual awakening has taken a lifetime. In what the debut author dubs a “spiritual autobiography,” she compiles the moments of her life that helped her become a healer and teacher. This is by no means a typical memoir, if there can be such a thing. Becker does touch on some big moments — her divorce, changing jobs, finding new love — but mundane, everyday life isn’t her concern. It’s her spiritual journey of discovery that she hones in on. She begins with the moment that catalyzed her awakening: a car crash, which led her, for the first time, to access her higher consciousness. Becker entered a world beyond the normal, logical world most people inhabit to contact her guardian angels, become a reiki master, take up tai chi and become a healer. Skeptics or those who don’t agree with Becker’s worldview may question her stories and beliefs. Becker’s “spiritual autobiography” is definitely not for doubters. But she does offer amazing anecdotes about the spiritual world that will inspire believers and may lead skeptics to reconsider. Becker undergoes jin shin jyutsu healing, a practice of creating harmony between life energy and the body. After her treatments, Becker is finally free of the harsh allergies that plagued her, as well as the emotional residue of her past. Likewise, Becker tells a story about helping her friend heal from a surgery while also helping her heal from past-life injuries. A trip to Peru allows her to banish her fears and anxieties about money. While the autobiography is inspiring, it bears a few stylistic flaws: It doesn’t give the reader a very good sense of the chronology or scope of events in the author’s life. Also, many points in Becker’s journey are mentioned briefly, leaving one wanting more, and conversely, some get more ink than seems warranted.

An enthusiastic New-Age autobiography of one woman’s journey to enlightenment.

Pub Date: Nov. 20, 2012

ISBN: 978-1470048754

Page Count: 196

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2013

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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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