May assist those looking for a bibliography of serious works about the afterlife.


Free Will after Life


This short read presents ideas and speculation about the nature of freedom in the afterlife, without delving into any one particular theory.

Brinkman’s debut collection of various views on the afterlife focuses on the possibility of free will for disembodied souls, astral bodies, spiritual selves or whatever is left after our flesh dissolves. For such a hotly debated concept, both within religious and secular contexts, the author believes there’s surprising consensus about what happens after death. She begins by discussing free will and consciousness, briefly summarizing various current and past philosophers and psychologists, New-Age authors and Eastern mystics. Brinkman doesn’t provide much context for engaging with these works; each author’s opinion is weighed equally, regardless of discipline or authority. In lightly addressing long-standing philosophical questions about the nature of the soul, as well as the arguments for and against free will, the first half of the guide seems incomplete. This weakens the foundation for the latter half, in which Brinkman discusses how New-Age and Eastern thinkers perceive the stages of the afterlife. Brinkman does offer her step-by-step opinion of what happens when we die. She invokes some familiar, even archetypal ideas, such as the judgment of the dead (here framed as a calm discussion with the spiritual self) and contact with various entities. Luckily for us, if we have lived a life without harming others, many pleasant afterlife activities may be available, as well as perfect homes and other amenities. Most of all, we will have time to make decisions about what we’ll do, including whether we’ll re-enter the physical world. The question of free will after death, however, hardly seems paramount in this worldview. The afterlife looks much like life itself, except better, without all the pain of the body or the problems of movement, physical health or sleep (though apparently, we may rest). Academics may consider the work unsupported, while New Agers may find the relentless citation of other thinkers to be tiring.

May assist those looking for a bibliography of serious works about the afterlife.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2013

ISBN: 978-1452568317

Page Count: 150

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: June 16, 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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