A charming collection of advice for creating a life that provides self-satisfaction and brings happiness to others.


Las inspiraciones y motivaciones del Sr. Castillo

A Spanish-language collection of inspiring meditations guiding the reader through a happy, fulfilled life.

In this spirituality book, Castillo (Las Reflexiones del Sr. Castillo, 2012) presents a series of short anecdotes and reflections that offer inspiration and religious guidance. The subjects of these brief stories, many just a paragraph long, are varied, from father-son relationships to unrequited love to the meaning of success, but they are linked by a central theme that emphasizes religious faith as the core of existence. While the book’s recommendations for contentment will be familiar to readers of inspirational literature—“El respeto hacia los demás es el respeto hacia ti mismo” (Respect for others is respect for yourself)—Castillo presents them in an engaging manner. Some of the book’s prescriptions for life are less common and seem rather ineffective: “Cuando mires a un niño o niña en la calle vendiendo cualquier cosa para ganarse la vida, no te sientas mal, triste o culpable, al contrario cómprale algo para que ese niño se incentive y sea una persona de bien” (When you see a girl or boy on the street selling something to earn a living, don’t feel bad, sad, or responsible, on the contrary, buy something so the child is incentivised and becomes a good person). Yet Castillo provides some justification for the book’s avoidance of broader social justice questions and enhances its plausibility by situating his writing within his own experience as an immigrant. The tone of the narrative is generally plainspoken, but there are occasional bursts of lyrical writing: “Si los arboles sueltan sus hojas para revestirse y mostrar su belleza ante la naturaleza en la cual tienen vida, ¿por qué los seres humanos no podemos hacer un pequeño cambio para mostrar que podemos ser mejores seres humanos cada día más de nuestra existencia?” (If the trees let go of their leaves to redress themselves and show their beauty before the nature in which they live, why can’t humans make a small change to show that we can be better humans each day of our existence?) Readers in search of inspiration and everyday guidance are likely to find them in these stories linked by their repeated exhortations to embrace kindness, reject bitterness, and act only after considering the effect one’s behavior will have on the rest of the world.

A charming collection of advice for creating a life that provides self-satisfaction and brings happiness to others.

Pub Date: March 20, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5089-4859-9

Page Count: 94

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2015

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


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

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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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