An ambitious, wide-ranging guide to harnessing one’s entrepreneur at heart and inner guru.



A self-help book marries the tenets of New-Age spirituality and Silicon Valley visionaries.

This debut work from Vidyangi centers on attaining vertical living, an always-on lifestyle adopted by thriving performers and innovators in all walks of life. Organized into 10 chapters of moderate length, the book first outlines the essential features of vertical living, then considers some of the common traits shared by high achievers across cultures. The book most often draws from biographical examples from noted Silicon Valley entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk, though it also looks to Indian luminaries like mathematics genius Srinivasa Ramanujan and Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan. Exemplars of vertical living can also be found in other fields, including surgeons, martial arts experts, and actors. From there, the book focuses on practical techniques and habits readers can adopt at work and in their personal lives. These include public speaking, easing into intimidating social situations, cultivating focus, and setting specific goals. The guide closes with two chapters focusing on the importance of creativity in vertical living, encouraging exploration of art, spirituality, and philosophy, and envisioning positive futures and outcomes. Throughout, Vidyangi draws from a staggeringly impressive range of examples from art, literature, philosophy, politics, and business to illuminate her points. (A comprehensive glossary at the end helps to make it accessible for all readers.) The central premise of vertical living is an intriguing one, bringing together two ends of the spectrum of self-improvement, spirituality, and business success, and would certainly appeal to overworked, spiritually undernourished workers in Silicon Valley’s tech sector and startup world. But the project can sometimes feel scattershot in its attempts to appeal to a broader audience, because the emphasis on matters such as public speaking and assembling a team seem only tangentially relevant to situations like dating and child rearing. Tips, charts, and even biographical anecdotes are sometimes repeated multiple times from one chapter to the next, which can disrupt the flow of reading and cloud understanding of the book’s central concepts.

An ambitious, wide-ranging guide to harnessing one’s entrepreneur at heart and inner guru.

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4828-7549-2

Page Count: 264

Publisher: PartridgeIndia

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2017

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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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