Generally splendid reading and potentially life-changing for readers willing to go beyond the normal.


Far More than We Think


A journey from ego to spirit and from fear to love, described with humility by a debut author who’s still on the path.

This is a wonderful book about what really matters; the rest is nit-picking. Le Houx—an accountant, former finance director and recovering alcoholic—contritely spills his guts about his train wreck of a former life, but in a restrained way and without all the messy details. His intent is not autobiographical per se, but rather, for the benefit of his readers, to relate his own spiritual discoveries and the spiritual science behind them as he rose from his personal nadir. In seven sections, mirroring the seven chakras he might have once dismissed as nonsense, the narrative ascends from the science-based basics to the apex of pure spirituality. Never overly directive (except to prescribe regular meditation as essential to spiritual growth) or sectarian (God isn’t mentioned until Chapter 57 of 68), he suggests that all human beings have the choice to take a spiritual path of their own devising; given what he considers to be the evermore clearly emerging true facts of existence, we would be wise to do so. Le Houx is broadly well-informed, current, and able to outline difficult scientific theories and esoteric beliefs in understandable fashion. Still, he makes arguably too liberal use of repetition as mortar, and his frequent use of quips, clichés, truisms and double entendre can border on tiresome. Here and there, he reveals a somewhat limited understanding, as when in Chapter 40 he describes the law of karma without reference to reincarnation. But he excels throughout in making a case for undertaking the struggle to overcome the fear-driven ego and to quiet the mind so that the spirit, love and true understanding can begin to shine through. And not in many books does one find a description of the mid-brain pineal gland as both the seat of the mystical third eye and quite possibly the “Wi-Fi connection point to the unified field.” As the author notes, using a venerable British expression, “The penny drops when ancient wisdom slots perfectly into a modern scientific framework.”

Generally splendid reading and potentially life-changing for readers willing to go beyond the normal.

Pub Date: Nov. 25, 2013

ISBN: 978-1452584881

Page Count: 360

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: Feb. 21, 2014

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.


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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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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