Book Reviews, 2014

by Diane Holcomb, East West's Book Buyer

(see older reviews here)

The South Asian Health Solution, by Dr. Ronesh SinhaThe South Asian Health Solution
By Ronesh Sinha, MD
Dr. Sinha, an internal medicine specialist at Palo Alto Medical Foundation and former TEDx speaker, offers a "culturally tailored guide" to lose fat, increase energy and avoid disease. According to the doctor, many South Asians are at a high risk for diabetes and heart disease. The culprits? Inflammation and insulin. In reader-friendly analogies, Dr. Sinha explains how insulin resistance leads to inflammation, obesity, diabetes and heart problems. He presents a detailed dietary, exercise, and stress-reducing approach to combat high blood pressure, excess tummy fat, and the effects of carb-heavy meals on the body. For the tech-savvy, he suggests apps and computer programs to assist you in reaching your goals. This book is the next best thing to an appointment with an ideal doctor: one with a generous heart, who works holistically. His healthy living plan is applicable to anyone who wants to prevent or reverse cardiovascular disease.
Primal Blueprint Publishing, $25.99

Storytellers, by Anita GaneriStoryteller Series
By Anita Ganeri
Storyteller is a collection of tales that introduce young readers to some of the most significant beliefs, values and traditions of the world's six main faiths. Each book contains photographs, watercolor illustrations, and fact boxes about people, places, objects and events.
Tulip Books, $10.99

Titles in the series:

Hindu Stories
Tales about Hindu gods and goddesses.

Jewish Stories
Stories from Jewish history.

Sikh Stories
The lives of the gurus.

Buddhist Stories
The life of the Buddha.

Christian Stories
The life of Jesus and the stories that he told.

Islamic Stories
The revelation of God's message through the prophets and angels.

Cooked, by Michael PollanCooked
A Natural History of Transformation
By Michael Pollan
Reviewed by Martha Dahlen
Based on his previous books, we know that Pollan always speaks important truths, in a lucid, thoroughly engaging way. Cooked is no exception. Here Pollan records experiments in his own kitchen, tutored by four masters, in the techniques of barbeque, braising, making bread, and fermenting. In each case, he records the what, why, and how of all that he learns. At the same time, a thread of comment on America’s food culture winds throughout, documenting in yet more ways how Americans are eating more but enjoying it less.
Penguin Books, $17.00

The 7 Secrets of Happiness, by Gyles BrandrethThe 7 Secrets of Happiness
A Reluctant Optimist's Journey
By Gyles Brandreth
What a good read. Short, refreshing, intelligent, surprising, charming. Author Brandreth’s thoughts and observations span centuries and continents. Originally, “happy” meant to have a good hap—to be lucky. Only after Jefferson’s assertion in the Declaration of Independence did it become a right, a goal. Today? After traveling widely, asking all sorts of people, “What makes you happy?” Brandreth has compiled what he learned in 107 pages. Yes, the book includes seven secrets, as promised, but all point to a simpler conclusion. How to find happiness? Just be happy.
Open Road Media, $10.99

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, by Greg McKeownEssentialism
The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
by Greg McKeown
I want to do it all: write my novel, read, blog, practice yoga, prepare healthy meals, meditate, socialize, take classes…the list goes on. I feel overwhelmed. There are too many choices! The upshot? Outside of work, not a whole lot gets done. So I was eager to read Essentialism, and learn how to live "in pursuit of less." Essentialists are people who only engage in what is…essential. "But isn't everything?" Not so. There are ways to determine what's important (and unimportant) to you. There are ways to set boundaries and build buffers of time and say "no" with grace. There are questions to ask, like: "What amount of time or money would I invest in this if it wasn't already mine?" Greg McKeown lays it all out in his book. You'll learn to discern the "vital few" from the "trivial many," eliminate the nonessentials, and remove obstacles "…so the essential things have clear, smooth passage." The way of the Essentialist is illustrated in every short chapter. You'll want a highlighter or pen to mark the key points. And trust me…there are many key points to ponder in this inspiring guide.
Crown Business, $23.00

The Alchemist, 25th Anniversary Edition, by Paulo CoelhoThe Alchemist
25th Anniversary Edition
by Paulo Coelho
Santiago, a shepherd boy, travels from Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure, prodded along by a king, a Gypsy woman and an alchemist. The boy dreams of riches, but the treasure he finds is much, much more valuable. This timeless story of a boy in search of his Personal Legend went unnoticed when it was first published twenty-five years ago. Now the book has graced the New York Times bestseller list for more than three hundred weeks. Now the book has been purchased and gifted and treasured by millions around the world. Now the book is considered one of the ten best of the twentieth century. Reading The Alchemist is like hearing a wise storyteller spin a captivating tale in simple, yet poetic, language. For your library or for a special someone, East West carries a limited supply of this enchanting anniversary edition, newly repackaged and signed by Paulo Coelho.
HarperOne, $16.99

The Flawless Mirror, by Kamala SilvaThe Flawless Mirror
by Kamala Silva
As a teenager, Kamala Silva attended lectures given by the great spiritual master Paramhansa Yogananda. In her deeply moving story, now back in print, she shares her twenty-seven year journey as the Master's direct disciple. Included in this volume are many letters Yogananda had written to Kamala, early poems that later were published in Whispers from Eternity, and the story of how Yogananda was first inspired to create a new scripture: his revelatory commentaries on the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. For those who have wondered what it was like to know Yogananda, and how the Master would have acted in personal moments and great occasions alike, The Flawless Mirror offers rare insights. Crystal Clarity, $17.95

Second Wind: Navigating the Passage to a Slower, Deeper, and More Connected Life, by Dr. Bill ThomasSecond Wind
Navigating the Passage to a Slower, Deeper, and More Connected Life
by Dr. Bill Thomas
The Baby Boom generation is starting to burn out. A frenzied lifestyle of career, parenting, striving, and constant doing is having a ripple effect on future generations. Dr. Thomas, an expert on aging, warns that we are "living in a way that calls for another way of living". In Second Wind he traces the beliefs that have led to our current imbalance, beginning with the Postwar Generation. Through four composite characters he dramatizes the turning points in life, and the effects of history, society, and demographics on shaping a generation. Boomers are entering a third age, beyond adulthood—an opportunity for renewal and deep healing. Dr. Thomas shows how to "navigate the passage," rebalance one's life, put a positive spin on aging, and pave the way for a healthy cultural change.
Simon & Schuster, $25.00

Grow Harvest Cook, 280 Recipes from the Ground UpGrow Harvest Cook
280 Recipes from the Ground Up
By Meredith Kirton & Mandy Sinclair
“Fast, fresh and fabulously modern,” the recipes in this book from Australia offer unique, tantalizing suggestions for what to do with familiar and unfamiliar produce. And not too many recipes either. Each of the 90 entries, covering an encyclopedic range of vegetables, herbs, fruits and nuts, includes one recipe for preserving it and one or two recipes for cooking it right now. They represent global cuisine, from classics (e.g., Baklava) to the unconventional (Bay-infused vodka?!), from curries to quick breads. The growing information is general, but can, like the recipes, “rekindle the thrill of a home harvest.”
Hardie Grant Books, $39.95

Make a Stand, by Vivienne HarrAnd Then...
Story Starters: 20 Imaginitive Beginnings
by M. H. Clark & Alexandra Ball
"Tell me a story," your child pleads at bedtime. You settle back and say, "Once upon a time…" and come up blank. Not everyone knows how to get a good story going. But everyone loves a good tale. Do you know a budding fiction writer who spends more time doodling than writing because he or she doesn't know how to start? No worries. Just open the magic box and draw a card. And Then… is a treasure trove of story beginnings designed to spark the imagination. What happens after you journey beyond a secret door, join the circus, explore an underground tunnel, or turn invisible for twenty-four hours? There's no end to the stories to tell, or how to tell them. For ages 4 to 104, these sturdy, oversized, delightfully illustrated cards can be used at bedtime, on the road, in the classroom, or with a group. Pick one, begin reading, and make up your own ending.
Compendium, Inc. $24.95

Make a Stand, by Vivienne HarrThe Hero's Journey
Joseph Campbell on His Life and Work
By Joseph Campbell
On Joseph Campbell's final lecture tour before his passing, people in the audience, enchanted by what they had heard, wanted to know more about the man and how he became who he is. The Hero's Journey—both the film and the companion book containing additional material—sheds light on one of the greatest mythologists of the twentieth century. In conversations with anthropologist Angeles Arrien, poet Robert Bly, Doors drummer John Densmore, psychiatric pioneer Stanislov Grof, and others, Campbell reflects upon topics ranging from romance and marriage, to art, ritual, metaphor, transcendence, and the origins and purpose of myth. "Myths have to do with how you live your life," he said. Readers will journey along with Campbell as he explores our mythic traditions and follows his bliss. New World Library, $19.95

Kaddish, by Michal Smart and Barbara AshkenasKaddish
Women's Voices
By Michal Smart and Barbara Ashkenas
For centuries, Jews have turned to the Mourner's Kaddish prayer when experiencing loss. Typically led by men in front of a congregation, this responsive prayer is recited for a year as a means to praise God, honor the deceased, guide the passage of the soul to eternal rest, and facilitate healing and comfort for the mourner through community. With candor and generosity, women from diverse backgrounds reveal what it's like to say Kaddish. They share their struggle to balance demands of family, work, and grieving, what it means to find structure and comfort in tradition, and how this mourning ritual prolongs a connection to the deceased while strengthening a connection to God.
Urim Publications, $27.95

I Can See Clearly Now, by Wayne DyerI Can See Clearly Now
by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer
"I know I came into the world with what I call 'big dharma,'" writes Wayne Dyer in his memoir, "—with a blueprint to teach self-reliance and a positive loving approach to large numbers of people all over the globe." From his vantage point of some seventy years on earth, the renowned motivational speaker and bestselling author can see clearly now the patterns in his life. Through a series of scenes from his childhood to adult years he reveals the blueprint, the Divine presence that has steered him along, and the lessons that his sometimes painful journey has taught. In typical Dyer fashion, with a combination of earnestness and reflective wisdom, his memoir reads like a self-help manual. By reading it, you may be inspired to look back on your own life and uncover your purpose on earth. Hay House, $27.95

Chinese Healing Exercises, by Steven CardozaChinese Healing Exercises
A Personalized Practice for
Health and Longevity
by Steven Cardoza
From his wealth of experience with qigong and Taoist masters, Cardoza has specifically selected exercises that can be taught in a book, learned quickly, and have profound effects. Line drawings neatly illustrate, and the clear, friendly text gives both Western and Eastern perspectives on how the exercises work. The book covers all the major organ systems and common complaints, and includes suggestions for designing your personal exercise routine. If you do them, these deceptively simple practices can gradually reverse unhealthy conditions, restore health and ensure you will enjoy life as long as you live. Llewellyn, $21.99

The Turning Point, by Gregg BradenThe Turning Point
Creating Resilience in a Time of Extremes
by Gregg Braden
The world is changing in big ways. From the climate to the economy to our resources, it's no longer business as usual. Are we prepared to meet these challenges? Gregg Braden believes we can be, and provides the strategies to do so. It begins with acknowledging that change is upon us, and then shifting our thinking to make room for what already exists in the world. The solutions are here, he says, to create a society where energy is clean, food is plentiful, and every human lives a comfortable, meaningful life. Through easy-to-understand science and the wisdom traditions of the past, The Turning Point offers an optimistic yet realistic view of how we can survive nature's lessons and thrive in the greatest transformation of our time.
Hay House, $24.95

Finding Happiness, by Swami KriyanandaFinding Happiness
Day by Day
by Swami Kriyananda
Happiness is within, Kriyananda taught—a choice, a state of mind. It's up to us to cultivate this state, and one way is through a simple program of positive thinking and expansive living described in this book. "I suggest you take one thought at a time from the following pages," he wrote in the introduction. "Keep it before you throughout the day, as a reminder. Repeat it out loud, or mentally, letting it sink into your subconscious. And look for situations in your life to which you can apply it creatively." These short inspirational quotes are meant to guide the reader to a life of joy, emotional healing, inner freedom, self-acceptance, magnetic communication, success, peace, and prosperity. This treasury is small enough to slip into your backpack or purse, or to keep next to your bedside for a morning dose of wisdom.
Crystal Clarity Publishers, $12.95

Spiritual Yoga, by Gyandev McCordSpiritual Yoga
Awakening to Higher Awareness
by Gyandev McCord
Gyandev McCord, the director of Ananda Yoga, presents simple-yet-powerful keys to self-transformation through a unique yoga practice, integrating the inner workings of energy and consciousness. Beyond the purely physical, Spiritual Yoga is not just a workout; it's a "work-in," combining postures with energy-control techniques and meditation. You'll find user-friendly instructions for proper alignment in each pose, affirmations to reinforce the positive effects, sample routines for all levels, and valuable insights into customizing a practice to help you find the inner fulfillment you seek.
Crystal Clarity Publishers, $24.95

A Year of Miracles: Daily Devotions and Reflections by Marianne WilliamsonA Year of Miracles: Daily Devotions
and Reflections

by Marianne Williamson
The author of A Return to Love offers 365 meditations to help you attract miracles in your life through the power of love. She teaches that by changing your thinking from thoughts of anxiety, fear, shame, guilt, or other distractions to ones of love, you can transform your life, and the world. Start the day by filling your mind with positive messages, and notice the shift in your energy. These reflections speak of a loving universe, the power to choose happiness, to be all that you are capable of being, to forgive, to accept things as they are, and much more. Williamson invites the reader to think on these things and watch life change.
HarperOne, $24.99

Love Perfected, Live Divine, by Swami KriyanandaLove Perfected, Life Divine
A Novel
by Swami Kriyananda
Why would God plant within us such a deep longing to be loved, not only impersonally by Him, but also personally by a single other, if He did not also intend to fulfill that desire? In this romantic novel, one of the great spiritual teachers of our time answers that question. This is the story of one soul's search for her eternal mate: God. And also the story of two divinely destined lovers—twin souls—who meet, separate, meet and separate again, in countless tumultuous, dramatic lifetimes. Never until now has the question of soul-mates been raised and answered with such a perfect blend of poetry, romance, and wisdom.
Crystal Clarity, $16.95