A successful, soulful, and enjoyable account of recovery, redemption, and reverence for healing.


In this debut memoir, an author explores his epiphanies over seven years.

Beginning with his childhood, Ford presents an intimate account of the struggles of his youth, which bred insecurity and disconnection. Feeling out of place and alienated, he found solace in motorcycles. This led in his teenage years to drug abuse, drinking, and other forms of escapism. But later, Newburyport, Massachusetts, provided the author with an oasis to engage with his consciousness and beat his demons (“This town reminds you of the pictures you see in history books, of early settlements along the river,” where people “flourished because of the easy access to the Atlantic Ocean”). He connected spiritually with his surroundings and searched deeply for inner peace and purpose. Ford beautifully and nostalgically describes the landscape and his time there, showering admiration on the town that steered him toward harmony and fulfillment. On a path to sobriety and recovery through a 12-step program, the author began a journey to healing and bettering himself. Using fasting and meditation to foster feelings of contentment and happiness, he discovered the force of his own spirituality. Many readers should relate to his road from destruction to redemption, and the way that Ford began to view his life as a field of possibilities rather than a dreadful burden. The appealing volume features lovely black-and-white photographs depicting the author’s coming-of-age, friends, and family. A tribute to the healing process, the book reads as a celebration of the hard work and introspection required to arrive at a place of forgiveness and tranquility. In these pages, Ford praises the number 7 and its transformative power in his life. Filled with inspiring, spiritual quotes and guidance from other thinkers, the title is a refreshing entry in the memoir genre, as it resists telling endless anecdotes about a personal experience and instead brings out the true meaning and depth of the author’s odyssey from addiction to serenity.

A successful, soulful, and enjoyable account of recovery, redemption, and reverence for healing.

Pub Date: Nov. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5043-9184-9

Page Count: 164

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2018

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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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  • New York Times Bestseller

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  • Rolling Stone & Kirkus' Best Music Books of 2020


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. One of Kirkus and Rolling Stone’s Best Music Books of 2020.

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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