A collection of well-written, perceptive, and quietly powerful essays, meant to be savored.

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THE SOUND OF WATER

A PSYCHOLOGY OF THE SOUL

Linden, in his debut nonfiction work, shares insights gleaned from his years of reflection on the nature of the soul.

The book begins with a fable that serves as a metaphor for awakening. In it, a human named Turtle Wolf, using patience and stealth, moves through the jungle to the “‘living water’” that comes from freeing oneself from the ego (“the ultimate tyrant”). Numerous short chapters follow, containing brief essays on the nature of ego, “Mind,” “Soul,” and “the Source.” Among other things, the book touches on reality and unreality, and says that unrealities arise only when one isn’t truly present in the moment. However, it cites the ego as “a necessary and important unreality,” which can lead to awakening; when one ceases to identify with the ego-based view, it says, the Mind can finally merge with the Source. Linden notes that the ego seeks problems, and that the solutions to those problems only reinforce the ego; he also says that thinking and analysis are ego-based processes that are “fundamentally forms of competition.” As a result, he says, ego-directed creations are likely to be mediocre, while Soul-directed creations are great works of art. He goes on to say that the disintegration of the ego is a necessary, significant passage in human development, often called “the Dark Night of the Soul”: “The Soul is at peace when the Mind and the Source are one in and of the present.” In this book, Linden effectively shows that even unrealities have a purpose, as they serve as tools for abandoning illusion. His primary sentiment, however, is that people should be present without judgment and without resistance—one that’s also espoused by Eckhart Tolle (author of the 1997 spiritual self-help guide The Power of Now) and fellow author Esther Hicks. Ultimately, his book gets across the message that reality is the experience of “living life awake.” Although Linden’s text sometimes echoes the teachings of the aforementioned Tolle, its message organically arises from the author’s personal experience and process—a clear, simple approach to life that uses straightforward language throughout. However, it’s not a quick, easy read; instead, its weighty statements invite readers to pause and ponder, and ideally, to be present.

A collection of well-written, perceptive, and quietly powerful essays, meant to be savored.

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1618520883

Page Count: 154

Publisher: Turning Stone Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2015

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The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

THE LAWS OF HUMAN NATURE

A follow-on to the author’s garbled but popular 48 Laws of Power, promising that readers will learn how to win friends and influence people, to say nothing of outfoxing all those “toxic types” out in the world.

Greene (Mastery, 2012, etc.) begins with a big sell, averring that his book “is designed to immerse you in all aspects of human behavior and illuminate its root causes.” To gauge by this fat compendium, human behavior is mostly rotten, a presumption that fits with the author’s neo-Machiavellian program of self-validation and eventual strategic supremacy. The author works to formula: First, state a “law,” such as “confront your dark side” or “know your limits,” the latter of which seems pale compared to the Delphic oracle’s “nothing in excess.” Next, elaborate on that law with what might seem to be as plain as day: “Losing contact with reality, we make irrational decisions. That is why our success often does not last.” One imagines there might be other reasons for the evanescence of glory, but there you go. Finally, spin out a long tutelary yarn, seemingly the longer the better, to shore up the truism—in this case, the cometary rise and fall of one-time Disney CEO Michael Eisner, with the warning, “his fate could easily be yours, albeit most likely on a smaller scale,” which ranks right up there with the fortuneteller’s “I sense that someone you know has died" in orders of probability. It’s enough to inspire a new law: Beware of those who spend too much time telling you what you already know, even when it’s dressed up in fresh-sounding terms. “Continually mix the visceral with the analytic” is the language of a consultant’s report, more important-sounding than “go with your gut but use your head, too.”

The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-42814-5

Page Count: 580

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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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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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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