A valuable read for anyone seeking balance, positivity, and a re-energized approach to life.


A debut self-help guide addresses common illnesses and habits that impede readers’ abilities to connect with their own spiritual powers.

Skarvellis sets this book apart from the very beginning by discussing the physical manifestations of stress and how anxieties and tensions can wreak havoc on the body’s muscular and immune system. The work moves from pointing out these problems to thoroughly exploring practices and habits to help people link to their calm, creative centers. Discussing the seven chakras and their individual roles, the author encourages readers to spend more time learning the state of their bodies—from head to toe. Discovering imbalances, he posits, is the key to returning everything to its original, stable state. For example, Skarvellis discusses the fact that Western society has emphasized right-handedness so much that it has elevated the hemisphere of the brain that is the most widely used—the left one, which is connected to the right side of the body. The author encourages readers to expand their mental abilities by using the left hand and foot just as often to combat the dominance of the left brain. Equally important in the book are personal beliefs. Skarvellis is quick to point out that beliefs that are limiting and self-defeating actually slow the body’s energy, lower body temperature, and cause fatigue, illness, and decreased performance. The author asserts: “We need to become aware of our self-chatter and choose wisely regarding what we think about every day. Collectively, every day builds to every week and then every month, forming negative attitudes that attract negative actions toward us, affecting us with many mood swings.” While the occasional negative notion might seem harmless, it can adversely affect the networks of thoughts that form people’s inner worlds and the attitudes they project. To fight this, the author suggests “Destressercise,” a practice that uses breathing, body awareness, and the altering of thoughts to return an individual to a state of harmony. On the whole, the book provides powerful, upbeat ideas. While some theories would be more effective if they were backed by research or study citations, Skarvellis delivers a compelling and credible manual.

A valuable read for anyone seeking balance, positivity, and a re-energized approach to life.

Pub Date: May 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5043-7957-1

Page Count: 112

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2018

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A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.


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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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...


A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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