A mystical foray into our ancestral shadows—not for nonspiritually inclined readers.

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THE ANCESTRAL CONTINUUM

UNLOCK THE SECRETS OF WHO YOU REALLY ARE

Spiritual counselor and psychic O’Sullivan and journalist Graydon provide guidance toward connecting with the gallery of heroes, villains and everyday folks who comprise our physical, psychological and emotional heritage (and baggage).

As the authors endeavor to help readers find their place in and path through their particular family tree, they give advice on how to tap into the flow of the past to the present, primarily through meditation and prayer and perhaps in association with a healer or other member of the spiritual community. Although O’Sullivan and Graydon suggest readers remain open to intuition and incorporeal voices, to “allow ourselves to cross the bridge between our day-to-day awareness and higher consciousness,” they also have much to say to the spiritually clueless among us. Curiosity about your forebears is certainly a near-universal condition. There are many quotidian avenues to explore genealogy, and neither O’Sullivan nor Graydon disavow them. Still, feeling the potency of a familial landscape, for instance, isn’t a great surprise, and it affords us an opportunity to keep an open mind and pay attention to premonitions, dreams and sudden empathies. The authors present dozens of stories about people visiting in one form or another with deceased family members, which will appeal to a limited audience of readers. Although a certain passivity occasionally interrupts the proceedings—“The secrets of our inheritance...lie in our genes. They contain the memory of all that we are and all who have gone before us”—it is more likely that O’Sullivan and Graydon espouse active engagement, to seek and interpret your past to both fill yourself out and to disentangle yourself from any ruinous family script.

A mystical foray into our ancestral shadows—not for nonspiritually inclined readers.

Pub Date: May 21, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4516-7454-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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

THE ART OF SOLITUDE

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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