An uneven self-help book that still offers a solid starting point for those trying to discover why romantic happiness eludes...



From the Wake Up to the Consciousness of Self-Love series , Vol. 1

Meditations on the true nature of love.

We’re all looking for love in all the wrong places, according to Chen (Door to Inner Voice, 2015). In this book, she writes that she used to wonder why she was “always starving for love” and playing “the role of deserted woman,” so she looked inward and discovered that she needed to learn to love herself before she could find love with another. She shares her resulting insights in this brief volume. “All of your troubles will evaporate at once,” she explains, “if you allow self-love to heal that broken piece of your heart and restore the healthy version of yourself.” Her process of self-love starts with meditation, which she outlines in the first two chapters. Specifically, she urges readers to practice both static and dynamic meditation, although she doesn’t clearly explain the difference between the two practices or how to engage in them. She also discusses how to recognize signs of low self-esteem that can cause one to seek out unhealthy, unbalanced romantic relationships. The book’s latter half consists of notable quotes on love from Mother Teresa, St. Francis of Assisi, Zora Neale Hurston, Lao Tzu, and others, followed by Chen’s analysis. Throughout, she offers the sensible message that if a person can’t nurture and care for a healthy self, he or she will never be able to develop a healthy romantic relationship. However, its emphasis on karmic debt and the law of attraction is troubling; statements such as, “If someone mistreats you or hurt you badly…somewhere and sometime in the past you have done something wrong to that person” and “We all get the love that we deserve” seem dangerously close to rationalizing abuse and victim blaming. Some awkward phrasing may also trip up readers, such as, “Something that defines self is the key for the love to pierce through the hurdles of our days and years and remain long lasting.”

An uneven self-help book that still offers a solid starting point for those trying to discover why romantic happiness eludes them.

Pub Date: April 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5327-0274-7

Page Count: 78

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 8, 2016

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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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Honest messages from one of America's best known women.


A compilation of advice from the Queen of All Media.

After writing a column for 14 years titled “What I Know For Sure” for O, The Oprah Winfrey Magazine, Winfrey brings together the highlights into one gift-ready collection. Grouped into themes like Joy, Resilience, Connection, Gratitude, Possibility, Awe, Clarity and Power, each short essay is the distilled thought of a woman who has taken the time to contemplate her life’s journey thus far. Whether she is discussing traveling across the country with her good friend, Gayle, the life she shares with her dogs or building a fire in the fireplace, Winfrey takes each moment and finds the good in it, takes pride in having lived it and embraces the message she’s received from that particular time. Through her actions and her words, she shows readers how she's turned potentially negative moments into life-enhancing experiences, how she's found bliss in simple pleasures like a perfectly ripe peach, and how she's overcome social anxiety to become part of a bigger community. She discusses the yo-yo dieting, exercise and calorie counting she endured for almost two decades as she tried to modify her physical body into something it was not meant to be, and how one day she decided she needed to be grateful for each and every body part: "This is the body you've been given—love what you've got." Since all of the sections are brief and many of the essays are only a couple paragraphs long—and many members of the target audience will have already read them in the magazine—they are best digested in short segments in order to absorb Winfrey's positive and joyful but repetitive message. The book also features a new introduction by the author.

Honest messages from one of America's best known women.

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-1250054050

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Flatiron View Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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