A sincere effort and just possibly a dim reflection of profound truths.




Drawing on the professed wisdom of wealth and happiness-now motivators, Samuels tells in this slim volume how to put the universe to work fulfilling clearly expressed personal wants.

Samuels, inspired initially by a Tony Robbins infomercial to quit living with his parents and strike out on the high toad to success, witnesses convincingly about the universe’s largesse once he went from nay-saying pessimist to true believer. Having reaped asked-for rewards for himself, he seeks here in serviceable if sometimes simplistic prose to share the good news about the universe’s unfailing willingness to give us everything we desire if we can just follow a few simple steps. Step one is writing down a list of specific wants; ask not merely for a new car but for a particular make and model, and don’t forget to say what color interior. Next, command the conscious mind to pass along this want list to the subconscious mind. Then wait patiently while the universe, which Samuels defines as everything and everywhere, handles the rest. Throughout, just make sure to maintain a positive attitude; the universe doesn’t like a whiner. No need to wonder how and why it works; without apology, the author doesn’t. After all, Samuels argues, do we need to think about why a light goes on every time we throw the switch? Neither is chanting, meditating or New Age babble required. Samuels dislikes these sorts of things. He does toss around the term karma, but shows limited understanding of this esoteric law. The book, readable in under an hour, is, at bottom, Samuel’s personal distillation of the sagacity of seers who say wealth and happiness is the mind’s to create. Napoleon Hill, Wallace D. Wattles and The Secret author Rhonda Byrne join Robbins and many likeminded others as his teachers. Samuels is to be commended for giving credence to his thesis in at least one regard—writing the book fulfills an item on his want list. The universe has apparently delivered, in a credible if barebones fashion.

A sincere effort and just possibly a dim reflection of profound truths.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2011

ISBN: 978-0615501291

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Michael Okon

Review Posted Online: Oct. 24, 2011

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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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