An engaging story of an analytical thinker’s evolving relationship with his spirit guides.

Dirt, TRUTH, Music and Bungee Cords


An unconventional memoir about embracing a spiritual life.

Megargee’s debut opens at a pivotal moment in his life. The night before he went to court for his divorce proceedings, he was sleepless, and a vision interrupted his tossing and turning. He recounts that he saw an indistinct glowing portal and imagined a man named Elias floating over his bed. Megargee, a health care professional who describes himself prior to this point as conservative, cautious, and analytical, at first dismissed the vision as nothing more than anxiety about his divorce, but it nagged at his memory as he moved from state to state and from job to job. A group of Taiwanese monks living in Virginia opened his mind to the possibility that his vision might have been an invitation to broaden his consciousness. Later, in Pennsylvania, he met a woman he describes as a powerful oracle, and she helped him establish personal contact with a variety of spirit guides, including two beings named Lazadonton, or “Laz,” and Ucerous, or “U.” Both Laz and U, he says, are spirit guides who help humans along the path to self-awareness. Much of the book follows dialogues between Megargee, his oracle, and his spirit guides, whom he portrays as entertainingly mundane and funny presences, as apt to crack jokes as to dispense enlightenment. Megargee’s descriptions of the slow experience of getting to know his spirit guides personally (and them getting to know him) are the most enjoyable and, in some ways, the most surprising parts of his book. The advice both Laz and U give—about keeping perspective and clearing the mind of self-defeating clutter—will interest even those readers who typically naysay spiritualism and séances and the like. Fans of Carlos Casteneda’s Don Juan series will enjoy Megargee’s depiction of an everyday world rife with hidden spiritual activity.

An engaging story of an analytical thinker’s evolving relationship with his spirit guides.

Pub Date: May 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5060-9117-4

Page Count: 232

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2015

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

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  • Rolling Stone & Kirkus' Best Music Books of 2020


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. One of Kirkus and Rolling Stone’s Best Music Books of 2020.

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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