A short and simple but, alas, way too rhetorical look at our collective curiosity.

READ REVIEW

CURIOUS?

One man’s attempt to provide a short answer to a tall question.

Like the best words in the English language, “curiosity” can mean several different things. Most often, we use it to denote a certain eagerness for information: What is Simmons’ booklet really about? Meanwhile, there’s also an implication of novelty, strangeness even: How can Simmons possibly explain himself in a mere 72 pages? Finally, curiosity can be just another word for prying. (After all, remember what happened to that cat?) Apropos, more than a few sections come off as unduly inquisitive. Writing in the first person, Simmons’ initial response to his title query is to overshare. As the author, too, of a self-help book (Finding Your Inner Will, 2010) perhaps that’s to be expected. His intentions seem pure, though, and when Simmons decides later to turn his gaze outward—looking at how others view curiosity—the book becomes a slightly better, more universal read. As a writer, Simmons is at his best when he’s explaining the ideas and research of others. When contrasting some of the sources he cites (e.g. various arcane inventors, Dr. Michio Kaku, the Max Planck Institute), he uses a clean, no-nonsense prose that truly invites the reader into the discussion. Too bad that’s not a good thing. In fact, the extra-curious out there will need to keep a pen and pad handy; “What does it mean to be curious?” is hardly the only line of inquiry Simmons pursues. Ultimately, the author poses more questions than his word count can answer. Socrates he’s not. And unlike the Rey couple’s brown monkey, it seems Simmons’ curiosity is but a red herring.

A short and simple but, alas, way too rhetorical look at our collective curiosity.

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0984397129

Page Count: 72

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

OPEN BOOK

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more