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



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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Well-told and admonitory.



Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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A satisfyingly heartfelt tribute to a thoroughly remarkable man.


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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