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

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Self-Love

THE GREATEST LOVE OF ALL

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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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

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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

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