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 handful of pearls amid a pile of empty oyster shells.

THE COMFORT BOOK

Bestselling author Haig offers a book’s worth of apothegms to serve as guides to issues ranging from disquietude to self-acceptance.

Like many collections of this sort—terse snippets of advice, from the everyday to the cosmic—some parts will hit home with surprising insight, some will feel like old hat, and others will come across as disposable or incomprehensible. Years ago, Haig experienced an extended period of suicidal depression, so he comes at many of these topics—pain, hope, self-worth, contentment—from a hard-won perspective. This makes some of the material worthy of a second look, even when it feels runic or contrary to experience. The author’s words are instigations, hopeful first steps toward illumination. Most chapters are only a few sentences long, the longest running for three pages. Much is left unsaid and left up to readers to dissect. On being lost, Haig recounts an episode with his father when they got turned around in a forest in France. His father said to him, “If we keep going in a straight line we’ll get out of here.” He was correct, a bit of wisdom Haig turned to during his depression when he focused on moving forward: “It is important to remember the bottom of the valley never has the clearest view. And that sometimes all you need to do in order to rise up again is to keep moving forward.” Many aphorisms sound right, if hardly groundbreaking—e.g., a quick route to happiness is making someone else happy; “No is a good word. It keeps you sane. In an age of overload, no is really yes. It is yes to having space you need to live”; “External events are neutral. They only gain positive or negative value the moment they enter our mind.” Haig’s fans may enjoy this one, but others should take a pass.

A handful of pearls amid a pile of empty oyster shells.

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-14-313666-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Penguin Life

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should...

MASTERY

Greene (The 33 Strategies of War, 2007, etc.) believes that genius can be learned if we pay attention and reject social conformity.

The author suggests that our emergence as a species with stereoscopic, frontal vision and sophisticated hand-eye coordination gave us an advantage over earlier humans and primates because it allowed us to contemplate a situation and ponder alternatives for action. This, along with the advantages conferred by mirror neurons, which allow us to intuit what others may be thinking, contributed to our ability to learn, pass on inventions to future generations and improve our problem-solving ability. Throughout most of human history, we were hunter-gatherers, and our brains are engineered accordingly. The author has a jaundiced view of our modern technological society, which, he writes, encourages quick, rash judgments. We fail to spend the time needed to develop thorough mastery of a subject. Greene writes that every human is “born unique,” with specific potential that we can develop if we listen to our inner voice. He offers many interesting but tendentious examples to illustrate his theory, including Einstein, Darwin, Mozart and Temple Grandin. In the case of Darwin, Greene ignores the formative intellectual influences that shaped his thought, including the discovery of geological evolution with which he was familiar before his famous voyage. The author uses Grandin's struggle to overcome autistic social handicaps as a model for the necessity for everyone to create a deceptive social mask.

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should beware of the author's quirky, sometimes misleading brush-stroke characterizations.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02496-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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