An honest, emotionally gut-wrenching, and ultimately soul-satisfying memoir.

SOULBBATICAL

A CORPORATE REBEL'S GUIDE TO FINDING YOUR BEST LIFE

A corporate executive offers an account of her journey to find her true soul.

This debut memoir couldn’t be timelier: As American businesses flounder under the weight of a pandemic and society suffers upheaval, it seems perfectly appropriate to question one’s own trajectory. Approaching age 50, Paxton decided to follow a boldly unconventional path by leaving an executive-level position at a large corporation to take a “soulbbatical”—her cleverly devised term for an extended period of self-discovery. The book is divided into four distinct sections (Fulfillment, Authenticity, Courage, and Purpose), but it is essentially a memoir with a strong connecting thread from chapter to chapter. Peppered with salty language that Paxton admits is “raw, from the soul,” the volume traces the author’s experiences, pre- and post-corporate life, until she became aware that, once she helped herself, her end goal was aiding others. It is compelling to look over Paxton’s shoulder as she agonizes about her awakening, a realization that there is more to life than her career. Plenty of soul-searching ensued, both before and after the author departed her high-powered marketing position at Harley-Davidson (that’s important, because later in the book, riding a motorcycle becomes symbolic). In order to make her own experiences instructional to readers, Paxton ends each section with “Soul Search,” a series of reflection questions that are “not meant to confirm your existing beliefs; rather, they’re designed to stir up what’s deep inside you.” She exhorts readers to employ a “S.O.U.L. Process…Show up.…Own it.…Unleash it.…Live it.” Gimmicky, yes, but apt. Paxton’s introspective journey literally took her across the globe—from the Midwest to New Zealand and back—in search of her next phase. This aspect in particular may stretch the credulity of those without the financial security afforded the author. Still, her fervor is palpable: The courage it took for Paxton to detach from corporate life, the fear and uncertainty she candidly reveals, and the verve and vitality of her prose all serve to make this a most memorable book.

An honest, emotionally gut-wrenching, and ultimately soul-satisfying memoir.

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982131-33-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Tiller Press/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2020

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A satisfyingly heartfelt tribute to a thoroughly remarkable man.

A WILD IDEA

Investigative reporter Franklin recounts the life of the free-spirited millionaire entrepreneur who used his fabulous wealth in the fight to save nature.

One constant in the epic life of North Face founder Doug Tompkins (1943-2015) was his enduring love of the outdoors. The son of a successful antiques dealer, he grew up in the countryside of Millbrook, New York (Timothy Leary was a neighbor), where he cultivated his love of the natural world. His contrarian ways eventually led to his expulsion from high school just weeks before graduation. Tompkins headed West, where he baled hay in Montana, raced Olympic skiers in the Rockies, and took up rock climbing in California. He also “hitchhiked by airplane throughout South America.” Tompkins ended up in San Francisco, where, by the mid-1960s, the skiing and climbing supplies business he started with the help of Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard suddenly began to boom. He was a charismatic businessman, and every one of his ventures after that—from his wife’s Plain Jane dress company to his own Esprit clothing brand—was successful. But his Midas touch never changed his passion for travel and adventure—e.g., flying his Cessna, sometimes with his family, but often, to the detriment of his marriage, solo. In the early 1990s, Tompkins bought property in southern Chile and fell in love with its pristine beauty. His outrage over the resource extraction–based nature of the Chilean government’s policies fueled his desire to protect the land. In the years that followed, he became an outspoken, sometimes reviled conservationist dedicated to using his fortune to transform thousands of acres of Patagonia into national parks. The great strengths of this timely, well-researched book lie not just in the author’s detailed characterization of Tompkins’ complex personality, but also in the celebration of his singularly dynamic crusade to save the environment.

A satisfyingly heartfelt tribute to a thoroughly remarkable man.

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-296412-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: HarperOne

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

STILLNESS IS THE KEY

An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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