A feel-good book of hope and wonder that will appeal most to readers who believe in divine intervention.



A generous collection of nonfiction medical stories from distinguished doctors.    

Illinois doctor and debut author Kolbaba draws on three years’ worth of interviews with more than 200 physicians to deliver this book of extraordinary anecdotes about patients that doctors “could not explain medically.” The stories are, by turns, emotional, inspirational, and incredible, and they highlight the medical community’s patience, care, and dedication to public health. The book opens with Kolbaba’s own modest, briskly written history, covering his early days as a student who received discouraging advice from the dean of a Chicago medical school, to his thriving, 35-year career as a practicing physician. In this introduction, he notes that “holding the hand of a distressed patient…telling a bad joke to lighten up the often somber mood…or saying a prayer with a spiritual family are the intangibles in medicine that help heal the human spirit.” He also shares a few resonant patient-care stories from his own practice. The first set of other physicians’ tales tell of apparent godly interventions when modern medicine wasn’t enough. These are followed by haunting stories of people who say that they had helpful visions of deceased relatives, near-death experiences, and moments of eerie coincidence. Elsewhere are recollections of seemingly miraculous recoveries and healings. One may read this book in a single sitting, or one may savior the individual stories one by one for quick dashes of inspiration. Many of the tales tap into the need for human empathy that nearly everyone feels when injured or ill. That said, the collection as a whole is often spiritually heavy-handed, which may alienate irreligious readers, and many entries are just a few scant pages long, which will leave some people wanting more details. Still, this uplifting volume does successfully capture “the true essence of the doctor’s experience,” as it promises.

A feel-good book of hope and wonder that will appeal most to readers who believe in divine intervention.   

Pub Date: July 24, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5308-4157-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2017

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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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  • 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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