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A relentlessly positive and often convoluted message that will appeal mostly to Chopra’s core audience.

A heady prescription for maximum self-awareness.

Bestselling author and alternative medicine advocate Chopra (What Are You Hungry For?, 2013, etc.) continues his enlightenment crusade with a narrative encouraging readers to reach “beyond the mechanical side of life” and the limitations of their lives in order to “occupy metareality.” The author believes metareality to be the source of all creativity; to become awakened to it and move “beyond the illusion” of everyday perception is to become metahuman, which he equates to “tuning in to the whole radio band instead of one narrow channel.” Fans of Chopra’s spiritual enlightenment philosophies will digest these new dictums easily; others will find it difficult to sift through the great amount of referential supporting material. The text is a stew packed with discussions of neuroscience concepts, mystical Indian poetry, ego examination, psychedelic drug therapy, and discussions of how the “inflated promises” of religion “have lost their power to inspire devotion.” Chopra’s research and dedication to this mind-expanding field are impressive, but the resulting narrative is dizzying and frequently overwhelming. The author incorporates multiple-choice questionnaires, wakefulness exercises, and surveys into the text, and he diminishes his message with frequent subject detours and digressive commentary—specifically, the daily plan at the end, “31 Metahuman Lessons,” which seems separate from the core narrative’s message. Readers who are willing to wade through the dross will find pages of helpful direction on how to focus attention on improving one’s sense of worth and purpose. As always, Chopra’s main focus and intention are self-improvement and untapped personal potential and the discovery of new ways to live beyond current self-imposed limitations. Here, readers are required to make more of an investment of time and thought on a life plan that puts a new spin on more conventional spiritual interpretations of consciousness and reality.

A relentlessly positive and often convoluted message that will appeal mostly to Chopra’s core audience.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-307-33833-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harmony

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should...

Greene (The 33 Strategies of War, 2007, etc.) believes that genius can be learned if we pay attention and reject social conformity.

The author suggests that our emergence as a species with stereoscopic, frontal vision and sophisticated hand-eye coordination gave us an advantage over earlier humans and primates because it allowed us to contemplate a situation and ponder alternatives for action. This, along with the advantages conferred by mirror neurons, which allow us to intuit what others may be thinking, contributed to our ability to learn, pass on inventions to future generations and improve our problem-solving ability. Throughout most of human history, we were hunter-gatherers, and our brains are engineered accordingly. The author has a jaundiced view of our modern technological society, which, he writes, encourages quick, rash judgments. We fail to spend the time needed to develop thorough mastery of a subject. Greene writes that every human is “born unique,” with specific potential that we can develop if we listen to our inner voice. He offers many interesting but tendentious examples to illustrate his theory, including Einstein, Darwin, Mozart and Temple Grandin. In the case of Darwin, Greene ignores the formative intellectual influences that shaped his thought, including the discovery of geological evolution with which he was familiar before his famous voyage. The author uses Grandin's struggle to overcome autistic social handicaps as a model for the necessity for everyone to create a deceptive social mask.

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should beware of the author's quirky, sometimes misleading brush-stroke characterizations.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02496-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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These platitudes need perspective; better to buy the books they came from.

A lightweight collection of self-help snippets from the bestselling author.

What makes a quote a quote? Does it have to be quoted by someone other than the original author? Apparently not, if we take Strayed’s collection of truisms as an example. The well-known memoirist (Wild), novelist (Torch), and radio-show host (“Dear Sugar”) pulls lines from her previous pages and delivers them one at a time in this small, gift-sized book. No excerpt exceeds one page in length, and some are only one line long. Strayed doesn’t reference the books she’s drawing from, so the quotes stand without context and are strung together without apparent attention to structure or narrative flow. Thus, we move back and forth from first-person tales from the Pacific Crest Trail to conversational tidbits to meditations on grief. Some are astoundingly simple, such as Strayed’s declaration that “Love is the feeling we have for those we care deeply about and hold in high regard.” Others call on the author’s unique observations—people who regret what they haven’t done, she writes, end up “mingy, addled, shrink-wrapped versions” of themselves—and offer a reward for wading through obvious advice like “Trust your gut.” Other quotes sound familiar—not necessarily because you’ve read Strayed’s other work, but likely due to the influence of other authors on her writing. When she writes about blooming into your own authenticity, for instance, one is immediately reminded of Anaïs Nin: "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Strayed’s true blossoming happens in her longer works; while this collection might brighten someone’s day—and is sure to sell plenty of copies during the holidays—it’s no substitute for the real thing.

These platitudes need perspective; better to buy the books they came from.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-101-946909

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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