Currently reading

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Into the Magic Shop: A Neurosurgeon's Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart

This story will make you love Ruth. And like little Jim and root for him. And then hate big Jim. And then come to like big Jim again.

Jim Doty has been both a good guy and a bad guy, and this book tells the story of his journey and encourages others to make the same journey toward good -- surely if a guy that selfish can make the journey, we all can. His primary aim is to make our lives better if we take his advice, but he has a warning against us taking the mechanics but not the spirit of the advice and using it selfishly -- we might turn into the incredibly wealthy arrogant s.o.b. he was before his transformation.

His narrative is thick with a sort of metaphysics, something in common with "the secret" that made the pop self-help rounds a few years ago -- envision it, demand it of the universe, and it's yours, anything you want. I'm not really on board with this, and I think in many cases this guy just lucked out. The people who envisioned it, demanded it of the universe, and didn't get it don't write books. And maybe they're angry, and/or maybe they're much better people than pre-transformation Jim was. But the story here is skewed, and I'm not sold on how effective he says these things are in getting us what we want, making the magic envelope of money appear when we need it or admitting us into the program we really want even when all the rules say we shouldn't get in. So don't read it for advice on how to get anything you want in the world.

But here's the key thing: that's not really the important part of this book, as central as it is to the details of Doty's story. Meditating, calming our bodies, calming our minds, and being intentional in our goal-setting and goal-getting is good for all of us. Having open hearts and ears and focusing on kindness is good for all of us. And this book can remind us of all that. The middle part of Doty's story -- the bad guy part -- is less important as proof of the magic he peddles and more valuable as a cautionary tale of what happens when our hearts and minds are closed off. We may have all the outward signs of success, but we're miserable people. In multiple ways.

So do read it. But read it for advice on how to live your best life, how a better life puts kindness front and center. It's not a how to get rich quick book, even though it feels like it halfway through. I recommend it. Read it. For the right reasons.

I got a free copy of this from Net Galley.