A vivid but meandering guide that tackles several serious subjects.

IT'S ALL ABOUT PERSPECTIVE

In this debut self-help book, a writer offers personal anecdotes about self-discovery.

“Some refer to me as a teacher, others call me a shaman, Reiki Master, psychic, seer, empath, energy worker, or healer,” writes McVeigh. But she sees herself as “just Katy,” a woman who has overcome horrendous adversity by changing the way she looks at life. When she was 11 years old, she was raped. But by forgiving her rapist (without excusing his horrendous deed), she managed to free herself from years of mental torture. In this short, easy-to-read guide, the author cobbles together several anecdotes from her life that taught her lessons—for example, after uncovering a suppressed memory, she realized why her mother was emotionally distant. Skimming several weighty topics—such as dream analysis, death, reincarnation, hypnosis, astral projection, and past life regression—the manual cites few sources. McVeigh’s proof relies mostly on her own opinions and life experiences, giving the book a journallike tone. For example, her beginning chapter on dream analysis is inspired by a class she took in college. During hypnosis, she discovered she had committed suicide in a previous life, and this revelation helped her in her present existence. Some of her anecdotes feel like scenes from The X-Files. McVeigh claims to have had an out-of-body experience in which she reached inside her sister’s back and pulled out handfuls of disease or “thick black-tarry-guck.” That’s not the only time the author relates extraordinary events. During a seminar, a beautiful woman wiped “Indian tears” from the author’s face. McVeigh found out that she was a young Native American seer in a past life. Readers who are into subjects like psychic healing or cosmic consciousness will discover a kindred spirit here, especially if they enjoy fanciful life stories. But nonbelievers won’t find the work convincing.

A vivid but meandering guide that tackles several serious subjects.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-982236-32-8

Page Count: 108

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: April 23, 2020

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A lucid (in the sky with diamonds) look at the hows, whys, and occasional demerits of altering one’s mind.

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THIS IS YOUR MIND ON PLANTS

Building on his lysergically drenched book How to Change Your Mind (2018), Pollan looks at three plant-based drugs and the mental effects they can produce.

The disastrous war on drugs began under Nixon to control two classes of perceived enemies: anti-war protestors and Black citizens. That cynical effort, writes the author, drives home the point that “societies condone the mind-changing drugs that help uphold society’s rule and ban the ones that are seen to undermine it.” One such drug is opium, for which Pollan daringly offers a recipe for home gardeners to make a tea laced with the stuff, producing “a radical and by no means unpleasant sense of passivity.” You can’t overthrow a government when so chilled out, and the real crisis is the manufacture of synthetic opioids, which the author roundly condemns. Pollan delivers a compelling backstory: This section dates to 1997, but he had to leave portions out of the original publication to keep the Drug Enforcement Administration from his door. Caffeine is legal, but it has stronger effects than opium, as the author learned when he tried to quit: “I came to see how integral caffeine is to the daily work of knitting ourselves back together after the fraying of consciousness during sleep.” Still, back in the day, the introduction of caffeine to the marketplace tempered the massive amounts of alcohol people were drinking even though a cup of coffee at noon will keep banging on your brain at midnight. As for the cactus species that “is busy transforming sunlight into mescaline right in my front yard”? Anyone can grow it, it seems, but not everyone will enjoy effects that, in one Pollan experiment, “felt like a kind of madness.” To his credit, the author also wrestles with issues of cultural appropriation, since in some places it’s now easier for a suburbanite to grow San Pedro cacti than for a Native American to use it ceremonially.

A lucid (in the sky with diamonds) look at the hows, whys, and occasional demerits of altering one’s mind.

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-29690-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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