A charming, knockabout travelogue and meditation on the 1970s international yoga scene.

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A debut memoir chronicles a young man’s journey to learn yoga and see the world.

Brandão was a 23-year-old yoga instructor in Brazil in 1976 when he decided to further his studies with a six-month training session at the Yoga Institute in Mumbai, India. The first part of his narrative is an atmospheric account of his voyage there on a cargo ship through rough weather—“Moving up to the top of a large wave….One has the impression that the hull will not be able to resist the impact and the ship will break in half”—and the dank monotony of maritime life. He was then bowled over by India’s color, bustle, and poverty; its chaotic streets full of vehicles and livestock; and its haughty, corrupt bureaucrats who hassled him endlessly about his travel documents. At the Yoga Institute, devoted to the teachings of founding guru Shri Yogendra, the author found an oasis of calm and learning. Brandão draws piquant thumbnails of students and teachers along with evocative scenes of yoga procedural. (“Seated on the floor with legs crossed and eyes closed, I feel my entire body expand and gain volume in an unusual way, as if I were turning into a giant that weighed tons.”) The final section of his memoir covers his ensuing overland trip by train, bus, and ferry from India to Wales, much of it an odyssey of grand sights, squalid accommodations, and gastrointestinal crises, including an emergency pit stop in Iran during which the bus drove off, leaving him stranded with no money, luggage, or passport. Writing in brisk, limpid prose based on his travel diaries, Brandão’s book keeps his picaresque adventures low-key. He’s raptly attuned to the physical and cultural adjustments he had to make as a stranger in strange lands, but he also enlarges his focus by twining in brief, digestible meditations on yogic philosophy. (“Attachment, that terrible killjoy, comes camouflaged in a great variety of guises and prevents our living to the full….We delude ourselves into believing that we are in control when, in reality, we are but passengers in transit through this life, and nothing actually belongs to us.”) The result is an exuberant and engaging fish-out-of-water story that’s a bit more thought-provoking than the norm.

A charming, knockabout travelogue and meditation on the 1970s international yoga scene.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-72839-368-1

Page Count: 244

Publisher: AuthorHouseUK

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2020

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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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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