An innovative, thought-provoking premise unfortunately obscured in a deluge of perplexing metaphors.

Alien Peace Scrolls

Skydore’s debut New Age offering examines the secret to permanent peace on Earth.

The book opens with a preface stating that, in 2012, the author was contacted by the Cosmic Peace Council, an organization that transmitted the Alien Peace Scrolls to planet Earth in hopes that a select few people would follow its teachings and bring permanent peace to the planet. What follows is a discussion on the ideas of pain, war, and how one’s personal choices can either doom or save the world, divided into a series of essays (“Air Did Not Invent the Flower,” “Meaning Beyond Words and Truth Beyond Meaning,” “Peace on Planet Earth,” two essays titled “No Exceptions,” and others). It also includes two pages of definitions of key terms, including “Pain,” “Work (Reduce Pain),” “Peace,” and “Joy.” This unique, conversational work is part stream-of-consciousness, part question-and-answer session and reads much like a lecture. It seems to blend fiction and nonfiction, and readers may sometimes find it hard to determine when the author is being tongue-in-cheek or positing a serious point. Skydore claims that the style of the book, which includes short, sometimes-incomplete sentences and unusually capitalized words, is part of its power; it’s attention-grabbing, but it’s also confusing. The book is at its best when it keeps things simple. The underlying premise is important and worthy of examination: that everything and everyone is interconnected and that to find lasting peace on Earth, one must work to reduce pain. But Skydore spends an inordinate amount of time trying to convince readers why they should read the book instead of parsing out how peace, in her view, can be achieved. When the book does discuss its central theme, it’s oversimplified: “Be an Angel and Reduce Your Pain always and with No Exceptions.” The book’s definitions also generate more questions than answers. Peace, for example, is defined as “A Third Something in Existence, said Third Something including a First Something in Existence and a Second Something in Existence.”

An innovative, thought-provoking premise unfortunately obscured in a deluge of perplexing metaphors.

Pub Date: July 23, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4782-1275-1

Page Count: 130

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

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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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Honest messages from one of America's best known women.

WHAT I KNOW FOR SURE

A compilation of advice from the Queen of All Media.

After writing a column for 14 years titled “What I Know For Sure” for O, The Oprah Winfrey Magazine, Winfrey brings together the highlights into one gift-ready collection. Grouped into themes like Joy, Resilience, Connection, Gratitude, Possibility, Awe, Clarity and Power, each short essay is the distilled thought of a woman who has taken the time to contemplate her life’s journey thus far. Whether she is discussing traveling across the country with her good friend, Gayle, the life she shares with her dogs or building a fire in the fireplace, Winfrey takes each moment and finds the good in it, takes pride in having lived it and embraces the message she’s received from that particular time. Through her actions and her words, she shows readers how she's turned potentially negative moments into life-enhancing experiences, how she's found bliss in simple pleasures like a perfectly ripe peach, and how she's overcome social anxiety to become part of a bigger community. She discusses the yo-yo dieting, exercise and calorie counting she endured for almost two decades as she tried to modify her physical body into something it was not meant to be, and how one day she decided she needed to be grateful for each and every body part: "This is the body you've been given—love what you've got." Since all of the sections are brief and many of the essays are only a couple paragraphs long—and many members of the target audience will have already read them in the magazine—they are best digested in short segments in order to absorb Winfrey's positive and joyful but repetitive message. The book also features a new introduction by the author.

Honest messages from one of America's best known women.

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-1250054050

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Flatiron View Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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