A rambling discussion, redeemed by its intriguing spiritual ideas and sprinklings of practical advice.

The Healer

CONVERSATIONS WITH ALEX TELMAN

A client of an Australian healer shares insights from him as well as her own musings in this debut spirituality guide.

Single mother Sargent first went to Brisbane-based Telman, a self-described “psychic healer,” for life-planning sessions, and then asked him to meet with her for a series of conversations, from which she developed this book. Although the text covers some details about Telman’s childhood in Communist Poland as well as his subsequent world studies and travels, it’s largely concerned with his concepts regarding spirituality. According to Telman, the world is vibrating with the energy of souls created by an “organic spiritual machine” (“It’s alien, I think”), and all those souls have “an instinct to reincarnate” until they’re perfected. He says that he knew since childhood that he had psychic visions and healing gifts, and asserts that “after a healing session with me your energies are raised, and ipso facto so do your life experiences: at the higher level is a greater level of self-confidence and belief, personal productivity, success, happiness and so on.” He details some of the practices that he asks his clients to do, such as “Front Door Activity”—thinking positive thoughts every time they walk in and out of doors. Sargent also offers her own personal commentary on her relationship with her now-deceased father, her ambitions to be a writer, and even a banana bread recipe. She’s crafted a provocative spirituality tome, but it’s somewhat hard to navigate; for example, she offers paragraphs of dialogue without attribution, making it challenging to keep track of when she or Telman is speaking. Still, she touches down on many engaging topics, thankfully offering helpful organization by sectioning her text into chapters on “Karma,” “Free Will,” “Death,” and other concepts. Most significantly, Telman, while making some strange claims (such as that he’s gone on “night missions” in the spirit realm and that he’s “Australia’s most read poet”), ultimately offers bracing wisdom, underscoring the need for people to take ongoing action to be positive, loving, and successful in life.  

A rambling discussion, redeemed by its intriguing spiritual ideas and sprinklings of practical advice.

Pub Date: Dec. 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5144-4244-9

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2016

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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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  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

  • Rolling Stone & Kirkus' Best Music Books of 2020

OPEN BOOK

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

THE ART OF SOLITUDE

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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