Empathetic and persuasive—one of the better books on psychotherapy and meditation in recent years.

THE ZEN OF THERAPY

UNCOVERING A HIDDEN KINDNESS IN LIFE

A psychiatrist with 40 years of practice in psychotherapy and meditation shows how both can achieve the same goal: to reclaim the kindness that’s at the core of all of us.

Epstein draws on a lifetime of personal and professional experience to deliver a profound and optimistic examination of the links between psychotherapy and meditation. Drawing on influences as diverse as psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, the Dalai Lama, and composer John Cage, Epstein offers a warm and accessible explanation of topics that defy easy explanation. The book is part memoir and part account of one year (pre-pandemic) with Epstein’s patients. In the early 1980s, as part of a medical research trip, he met the Dalai Lama. “His inspiration,” writes Epstein, “helped me rise above the Western emphasis on mental illness to encompass an appreciation for the possibilities of mental health.” He was drawn to vipassana, or insight meditation, which he compares to therapy in its goal of “deliberately confronting one’s own innermost prejudices, expectations, habits and inclinations,” and his personal goal as a therapist mirrors the further aims of insight meditation: to help his patients move from self-generated internal judgments toward a more loving attitude toward themselves and others. The author combines stories of his patients—a child of Holocaust survivors, an anorexic anesthesiologist, an actor, a medical worker for Mother Teresa’s organization—with his own search for the appropriate guidance to help them. Epstein makes abstract concepts understandable, and his accounts of his patients’ struggles and progress are laced with humor and hope. When our constructed minds drop away, he writes, “even for an instant, all kinds of latent interpersonal possibilities emerge—for connection, empathy, insight, joy, and dare we say, love.” It’s a message receptive readers will embrace in these dark and difficult times.

Empathetic and persuasive—one of the better books on psychotherapy and meditation in recent years.

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-29661-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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