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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

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Growing up in the high desert of California, Jim Doty was poor, with an alcoholic father and a mother chronically depressed and paralyzed by a stroke. Today he is the director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University, of which the Dalai Lama is a founding benefactor. But back then his life was at a dead end until at tw Growing up in the high desert of California, Jim Doty was poor, with an alcoholic father and a mother chronically depressed and paralyzed by a stroke. Today he is the director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University, of which the Dalai Lama is a founding benefactor. But back then his life was at a dead end until at twelve he wandered into a magic shop looking for a plastic thumb. Instead he met Ruth, a woman who taught him a series of exercises to ease his own suffering and manifest his greatest desires. Her final mandate was that he keep his heart open and teach these techniques to others. She gave him his first glimpse of the unique relationship between the brain and the heart. Doty would go on to put Ruth’s practices to work with extraordinary results—power and wealth that he could only imagine as a twelve-year-old, riding his orange Sting-Ray bike. But he neglects Ruth’s most important lesson, to keep his heart open, with disastrous results—until he has the opportunity to make a spectacular charitable contribution that will virtually ruin him. Part memoir, part science, part inspiration, and part practical instruction, Into the Magic Shop shows us how we can fundamentally change our lives by first changing our brains and our hearts.


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Growing up in the high desert of California, Jim Doty was poor, with an alcoholic father and a mother chronically depressed and paralyzed by a stroke. Today he is the director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University, of which the Dalai Lama is a founding benefactor. But back then his life was at a dead end until at tw Growing up in the high desert of California, Jim Doty was poor, with an alcoholic father and a mother chronically depressed and paralyzed by a stroke. Today he is the director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University, of which the Dalai Lama is a founding benefactor. But back then his life was at a dead end until at twelve he wandered into a magic shop looking for a plastic thumb. Instead he met Ruth, a woman who taught him a series of exercises to ease his own suffering and manifest his greatest desires. Her final mandate was that he keep his heart open and teach these techniques to others. She gave him his first glimpse of the unique relationship between the brain and the heart. Doty would go on to put Ruth’s practices to work with extraordinary results—power and wealth that he could only imagine as a twelve-year-old, riding his orange Sting-Ray bike. But he neglects Ruth’s most important lesson, to keep his heart open, with disastrous results—until he has the opportunity to make a spectacular charitable contribution that will virtually ruin him. Part memoir, part science, part inspiration, and part practical instruction, Into the Magic Shop shows us how we can fundamentally change our lives by first changing our brains and our hearts.

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

  1. 5 out of 5

    Maureen

    The power of positive thinking and mindfulness are nothing new, but this is the first time that I've heard of a child learning such things. Jim Doty had a pretty poor childhood both financially, and in terms of nurturing. There's no doubt that HE was the adult in his family - caring and worrying about his mother, father and brother, and then came that fateful day when he met Ruth. Ruth taught him all manner of what he saw as magical things, not only to help him cope with the life he'd been dealt The power of positive thinking and mindfulness are nothing new, but this is the first time that I've heard of a child learning such things. Jim Doty had a pretty poor childhood both financially, and in terms of nurturing. There's no doubt that HE was the adult in his family - caring and worrying about his mother, father and brother, and then came that fateful day when he met Ruth. Ruth taught him all manner of what he saw as magical things, not only to help him cope with the life he'd been dealt, but also how to achieve the future that he wanted. It's truly amazing that against all the odds, Jim became a neurosurgeon, but most of all Ruth's teachings helped him become the caring and compassionate human being he is today. * Thank you to Netgalley and Penguin Group Avery for my ARC*

  2. 4 out of 5

    Best Eggs

    If this had been subtitled "What meditation and positive thinking have done for my previously crappy life" I would have known to say away from the book. I don't need 6-steps to relaxation, I don't need to still the voices in my head (no one else talks to me anyway), what I wanted was the author's experiences as a neurosurgeon. The magic shop in question is a place that sells paraphenalia for magicians. The lady who keeps the store sees something special in this very poor and hungry child and tea If this had been subtitled "What meditation and positive thinking have done for my previously crappy life" I would have known to say away from the book. I don't need 6-steps to relaxation, I don't need to still the voices in my head (no one else talks to me anyway), what I wanted was the author's experiences as a neurosurgeon. The magic shop in question is a place that sells paraphenalia for magicians. The lady who keeps the store sees something special in this very poor and hungry child and teaches him how to meditate. I got bored after this and skimmed through his biography. There wasn't a lot of neuroscience and what there was was influenced by the author's Positive Thinking which had brought him skills and riches beyond compare. I'm very happy for him. He has a lot of talents, writing isn't one of them.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay - Traveling Sister

    4 stars! This was an enlightening read with a simple but powerful message. There are two stand out words for me in this book: COMPASSION and KINDNESS. Among other things, this book explores the power these two simple words can have. This is a memoir by Dr. Jim Doty, the director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University, of which the Dalai Lama is a founding benefactor. He is also a clinical professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at Stan 4 stars! This was an enlightening read with a simple but powerful message. There are two stand out words for me in this book: COMPASSION and KINDNESS. Among other things, this book explores the power these two simple words can have. This is a memoir by Dr. Jim Doty, the director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University, of which the Dalai Lama is a founding benefactor. He is also a clinical professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at Stanford University. Dr. Doty has an interesting story to tell – his life is full of struggles and successes, challenges and accomplishments. As inspiring as his story is, I found my connection with him wavered throughout the book. I found his theories and beliefs were positive and encouraging but I had a disconnect with his personality more than a few times. This book won’t be for everyone, but it really touched me deeply at times. I will provide some of the quotes that stood out for me and perhaps they will inspire you as well. “Compassion and kindness, it turned out, was good for your health.” “The extraordinary thing is that research is now finding that your act of kindness not only benefits those who receive your kindness but benefits you as well. The act of kindness ripples out and makes it more likely that your friends and those around you will be kinder. It is a social contagion that puts our society right.” “I learned that by listening to my patients, just by giving them my time and attention and focus, they felt better. I let each of them tell his or her story, and then I acknowledged my patients’ struggles, their accomplishments, and their suffering. And in many cases, this relieved their pain more than any medication I could offer and at times even more than my surgery.” “Giving love is always possible. Every smile at a stranger can be a gift.”

  4. 5 out of 5

    Darth J

    There's just something so sapioromantic about this book. You just have to stop and revel in the gorgeous wonder of the brain, the sheer capacity of all it can do. While there are graphic depictions of brain surgery here, the focus is mainly on neuroplasticity and the importance that presence and concentration can have on our health. (view spoiler)[ (hide spoiler)] I also like the early nostalgic bits of when the author was a child in the 60s and learned from Ruth at the novelty shop. It reminded m There's just something so sapioromantic about this book. You just have to stop and revel in the gorgeous wonder of the brain, the sheer capacity of all it can do. While there are graphic depictions of brain surgery here, the focus is mainly on neuroplasticity and the importance that presence and concentration can have on our health. (view spoiler)[ (hide spoiler)] I also like the early nostalgic bits of when the author was a child in the 60s and learned from Ruth at the novelty shop. It reminded me of those summery movies in the early 90s that were all weirdly focused on those retro decades like The Sandlot or A League of Their Own. Spoiler Alert: The author does not get to kiss Wendy Peffercorn.

  5. 5 out of 5

    drmglw

    I've read this book because it was recommended by BTS and one of the songs on their new album is called "Magic Shop" and it's been hinted clearly that it's about the psychological process used in therapy where a patient and the psychiatrist play out a magic shop, the patient exchanging past traumatic and painful memories with happier ones. Basically, this is what this book has at its starting point. It sounds... intriguing, but unfortunately, I never had any contact with psychology before and no I've read this book because it was recommended by BTS and one of the songs on their new album is called "Magic Shop" and it's been hinted clearly that it's about the psychological process used in therapy where a patient and the psychiatrist play out a magic shop, the patient exchanging past traumatic and painful memories with happier ones. Basically, this is what this book has at its starting point. It sounds... intriguing, but unfortunately, I never had any contact with psychology before and no real interest in it. I still read this book regardless. And guess what? I liked it! I think it was a really touching book, and it literally radiates positivity, mindfulness, self-confidence, self-expression and all that good validating stuff that we all are dimly aware we should work hard and gain to better ourselves, but we still need to hear the success story of someone else before making up our minds. This book tells the story of our author from his childhood when one chance meeting made him realize how important it is to be mindful and empathetic (way before these terms became as popular as they are nowadays) and across his life, sharing all the lessons he experienced and the valuable knowledge we can understand from them. Of course, the book has its faults: I generally discovered them in the pacing, but the writing style is very reader-friendly, so I didn't even mind in the end. There are lot of truisms that are actually very useful to incorporate in your own thinking processes and life, and it can literally influence your mentality SO MUCH!! Depending on how open and willing you are to open your heart. I can totally see how the information in this book influenced BTS and their work, and all I have to say is: BTS are the fans' own magic shop: they are willing to listen to our painful stories, and then turn them into healing music. I'm really, really eternally grateful to be here, supporting a group who just cares so much about the world. Feelings are not right or wrong. They are just feelings. The heart is where we find our comfort and our safety in the darkest of places. It is what binds us together and what breaks when we are apart. The heart has its own kind of magic: love. See everyone you meet as a flawed imperfect being just like you who has made mistakes, taken wrong turns, and at times has hurt others, yet who is struggling and deserves love. Only later did I realize that many people will help if they are just asked. Energy can be neither created nor destroyed. However, energy can change forms, and energy can flow from one place to another. That is the gift we are each given. When our brain changes, we change. That is a truth proven by science. But an even greater truth is that when our heart changes, everything changes. And that change is not only in how we see the world but in how the world sees us. And in how the world responds to us. We are born and we die, and everything that happens between the two can feel so random it defies logic. The only choice we have is in how we respond in each precious moment we are given. The only way to truly change and transform your life for the better is by transforming and changing the lives of others.

  6. 5 out of 5

    AMEERA

    This book changed me in some way !*

  7. 5 out of 5

    Myrthe

    This book wasn't like I expected it to be. I thought it would focus on the 'Neurosurgeon' part of the title, so I expected it to be a story about how we can discover the mysteries of the brain through academic research or something like that. However, it was a spiritual story and when I discovered that, I almost stopped reading. I am so glad that I didn't, though! Although I am not big on spirituality, this story was still extremely interesting and worth the time it takes to read it. It gave me This book wasn't like I expected it to be. I thought it would focus on the 'Neurosurgeon' part of the title, so I expected it to be a story about how we can discover the mysteries of the brain through academic research or something like that. However, it was a spiritual story and when I discovered that, I almost stopped reading. I am so glad that I didn't, though! Although I am not big on spirituality, this story was still extremely interesting and worth the time it takes to read it. It gave me lots of brain food and I can't stop thinking about it. I most certainly recommend it to everyone that loves spirituality or is open to it. Disclaimer: I received a free copy from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Charlene

    This was basically Tuesdays With Morrie with some neuroscience thrown in. Far too sensational. Far too exaggerated. Far too ...... everything. Was he really that insightful at such a young age? Is any of that even true? Was Ruth that insightful? I doubt it. This reads more like a morphed memory of how he became a neurosurgeon. If it were an historical fiction book, I am sure I would have enjoyed it. But, passing off this much sensation as fact, even if it has a lot of obvious truth to it, is ext This was basically Tuesdays With Morrie with some neuroscience thrown in. Far too sensational. Far too exaggerated. Far too ...... everything. Was he really that insightful at such a young age? Is any of that even true? Was Ruth that insightful? I doubt it. This reads more like a morphed memory of how he became a neurosurgeon. If it were an historical fiction book, I am sure I would have enjoyed it. But, passing off this much sensation as fact, even if it has a lot of obvious truth to it, is extremely off-putting. I love almost everything neuroscience, but this was not for me.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa

    One of those rare books where, as I'm reading it, I keep thinking of more and more and more people I want to give it to! One of those rare ‪books‬ where, as I'm ‪reading‬ it, I keep thinking of more and more and more people I want to give it to!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rob Slaven

    I received this book free for review from the author or publisher in exchange for an honest review. Despite the privilege of receiving a free book, I’m absolutely candid about it below because I believe authors and readers will benefit most from honest reviews rather than vacuous 5-star reviews. The nutshell on this book is that it is, essentially, a self-help book. It doesn't start out that way but at the end of the day, it's quite a lot of fluff. I was excited about this book for the entire firs I received this book free for review from the author or publisher in exchange for an honest review. Despite the privilege of receiving a free book, I’m absolutely candid about it below because I believe authors and readers will benefit most from honest reviews rather than vacuous 5-star reviews. The nutshell on this book is that it is, essentially, a self-help book. It doesn't start out that way but at the end of the day, it's quite a lot of fluff. I was excited about this book for the entire first chapter. It starts out VERY grippingly. My thrall was complete. Then as the chapters dragged on, my enthusiasm drifted away like snow before the wind. Watch my YouTube video for the face-to-face description: https://youtu.be/eMJh3bnpZ_c PS: I hope my review was helpful. If it was not, then please let me know what I left out that you’d want to know. I always aim to improve. --- Free copy received for review

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kathy M

    This book was introduced to me by BTS. And I so glad it did because it is a very inspirational one, making you think about your brain and heart and seeing every emotion from a medical perspective and through someone's point of view. James' story is one very harsh, very strong and very interesting, seeing him trying to open his heart, soul and mind and recovering after losing his way.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Claire McAlpine

    James Doty never really set out to write this book, but he told his story to so many people with whom it resonated and being one of the founding creators of CCARE (The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research) he was eventually convinced how many more people could be inspired by his story and learn about the amazing work being undertaken, that he agreed to share his experience. Doty came from a poor background, raised in a dsyfunctional family, his mother was frequently depressed and had suici James Doty never really set out to write this book, but he told his story to so many people with whom it resonated and being one of the founding creators of CCARE (The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research) he was eventually convinced how many more people could be inspired by his story and learn about the amazing work being undertaken, that he agreed to share his experience. Doty came from a poor background, raised in a dsyfunctional family, his mother was frequently depressed and had suicidal tendencies, his father, who when he was sober Doty adored, often disappeared after one of his drinking bouts and when he did return was violent and abusive. Consequently, as a child he lived in a constant state of fear, of anticipation of when the next bad thing was going to happen, it made his heart race and his body tense. The first major turning point in his life occurred in his early teens when he went to the local magic shop looking for a replacement thumb tip and there he met the mother of the owner, a woman named Ruth. Ruth recognised something in him and invited him to come to the shop every day, promising to teach him a kind of magic he could use all his life. So he did. She talks to him about different feelings and the emotions they stem from and teaches him: Trick 1. a relaxation technique, Trick 2. to tame the mind Trick 3. to open the Heart (the only one he didn't learn) and Trick 4. to clarify Your Intent. She teaches him to visualise and to never accept that something is not possible. He takes the lessons and they enable him to attain goals he believes would never have been achieved without the insights and practices that Ruth taught him. He goes to university, to medical school and despite absences and the lack of excellent grades, does achieve everything he was determined to achieve. But at a price, something he won't learn until many years later when he finally understands what the third lesson that he failed to learn and practice was about. Ruth was helping me form new neural connections in my brain. It was my first experience with neuroplasticity, well before the term was commonly used....Not only was Ruth training me to change my brain by creating new neural circuits but she was also training me to regulate the tone of my vagus nerve and, by doing so, affect both my emotional state and my heart rate and blood pressure. James Doty became a neurosurgeon and shares a little of what he learned about the brain and uses it to explain how those early interactions with Ruth were in fact changing and remapping his brain in a way that would really help him in the future. In the future, in another turning point in his life, when he learns how much more he is capable of with an open heart, he will bring together a group of people to scientifically research the effect of compassion and altruism on the brain. As well as great scientific minds, he also meets with the Dalai Lama, who on listening to Doty explain his research and answering a number of questions, decides to support and sponsor the research with a significant financial donation, so impressed is he with the project. When our brains and our hearts are working in collaboration - we are happier, we are healthier, and we automatically express love, kindness, and care for one another. I knew this intuitively, but I needed to validate it scientifically. This was the motivation to begin researching compassion and altruism. I wanted to understand the evolution of not only why we evolved such behaviour but also how it affects the brain and ultimately our health. It is a wonderful, honest story, Doty shares his story, flaws and all, sharing the beneficial effect on his life of the rare gift of meeting someone who shared those simple life resources with him at an early age, and through this book hopes that many more will have access to them, or at least become interested enough to find out more.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Heidi The Reader

    I received a free advance reading copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads. FTC guidelines: check! Into the Magic Shop is James Doty's memoir. He had a tragic childhood with parents who, for various reasons, were not present for him. Then, after an encounter with a total stranger, James was taught meditation, creative visualization, and positive thought practices that changed his life. As he comes of age, he dismisses the compassion related portions of his childhood training and focuses in I received a free advance reading copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads. FTC guidelines: check! Into the Magic Shop is James Doty's memoir. He had a tragic childhood with parents who, for various reasons, were not present for him. Then, after an encounter with a total stranger, James was taught meditation, creative visualization, and positive thought practices that changed his life. As he comes of age, he dismisses the compassion related portions of his childhood training and focuses instead upon the money and prestige that it brings as he pursues a career as a neurosurgeon. It's a fascinating and educational account. I was particularly taken with the near-death experience portion of the book. James approached that experience as an atheist so I felt that made his opinion on it rather different than other accounts I've read. Some of the bits that I want to remember (advance reader's copy cited so the final published book may contain slightly different wording): "Some of the wisest patients and people I have ever met have been children. The heart of a child is wide-open. Children will tell you what scares them, what makes them happy, what they like about you and what they don't. There is no hidden agenda and you never have to guess how they really feel." pg 3 "Everyone has a story, and I have learned that, at the core of it, most of our stories are more similar than not." pg 60 "When our brain changes, we change. That is a truth proven by science. But an even greater truth is that when our heart changes, everything changes. And that change is not only in how we see the world but how the world sees us. And how the world responds to us." pg 151 About his NDE: "At the time I felt the warmth of a light and a sense of oneness with the universe. I was enveloped in love, and while it didn't transform my religious beliefs, it informed my absolute belief that who we are today doesn't have to be who we are tomorrow and that we are connected to everything and everyone." pg 203 "There's a reason stock traders are using meditation techniques; these techniques help them become not only more focused but, sadly in some cases, more callous. This is what Ruth warned me about before she taught me to visualize. Yes, we can create anything we want, but it is only the intelligence of the heart that can tell us what's worth creating." pg 231 If you enjoyed this book, try Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife by Eben Alexander or The Power of the Heart: Finding Your True Purpose in Life by Baptist de Pape.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Barbara (The Bibliophage)

    For me this memoir divides into four topics: - Author's heartbreaking youth and teenage years - Discussion of and instruction in "the magic" - Author overcoming incredible odds to reach - and then lose - incredible wealth - Author's redemption by re-orienting his focus from building wealth to helping patients The topics are interwoven with basic neurological and physiological information, which balances the "woo woo" aspects of the magic steps. The magic is relaxation, meditation, intention, and ope For me this memoir divides into four topics: - Author's heartbreaking youth and teenage years - Discussion of and instruction in "the magic" - Author overcoming incredible odds to reach - and then lose - incredible wealth - Author's redemption by re-orienting his focus from building wealth to helping patients The topics are interwoven with basic neurological and physiological information, which balances the "woo woo" aspects of the magic steps. The magic is relaxation, meditation, intention, and opening your heart. There was a part of the story where I thought it was turning into "The Secret" because it was so focused on teenage Jim's desire to be financially stable. And his desire to have a silver Porsche Targa! But, unlike some other books on laws of attraction, Doty is vulnerable enough to tell us not only what went wrong but why. He also details how he reconnected to the "magic" and changed his life once again. I found Doty's determination and caring to be inspirational. This is a solid 3 star book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jancee Wright

    Back in college, one of the first people I met was a girl named Sarah. We met at orientation, but I left thinking that we would never be friends. Our personalities just seemed too different. She looked every bit the hippie, with long flowing skirts, healthy snacks, and a soft voice. Luckily, first impressions don’t often mean much, and we went on to become great friends. Today we live about an hour apart, and every so often the roommates and I drive over to visit or we host her at our apartment. Back in college, one of the first people I met was a girl named Sarah. We met at orientation, but I left thinking that we would never be friends. Our personalities just seemed too different. She looked every bit the hippie, with long flowing skirts, healthy snacks, and a soft voice. Luckily, first impressions don’t often mean much, and we went on to become great friends. Today we live about an hour apart, and every so often the roommates and I drive over to visit or we host her at our apartment. She’s very much what I first imagined her to be – she eats vegan, loves nature, drinks organic tea, and has a thirst and love for traveling and cultures. She spent a couple of years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa. But what I most associate with her is her love of yoga. She recently went through training to become a yoga teacher, but her love for yoga has always been strong. During our visits, we inevitably end up trying to twist ourselves into pretzels as she looks on, correcting our forms and teaching us the meaning of “Namaste”. Why do I bring this up in a review, you ask? Well, this book strongly reminded me of Sarah. While most people associate yoga with those seemingly impossible poses, a lot of yoga actually has to do with self-awareness and relaxation. Sarah always starts a session with us by having us relax our entire bodies, relax our minds, and open up our hearts. This brings about a quietness of the mind and a feeling of serenity that plays well into the other exercises. I may laugh and complain about yoga, but I’ve never left a session feeling anything other than content and at peace. Those relaxation techniques really work and are great on a daily basis to help cope with stress or get in touch with my inner self. James Doty, author of Into the Magic Shop, learned these techniques as a young boy. He didn’t call them yoga, he never struck a pose or burned incense or balanced on one leg while stretching his arms toward the sky. Regardless, the effect was the same. Growing up in an unstable environment, living well under the poverty line, and dealing with stresses no kid should ever have to face, Doty was understandably angry. He often got into fights and had plenty of inner turmoil to grapple with when he was alone. He latched onto a magic kit he owned, learning how to create allusions and perform tricks that gave him a modicum of control. One day while riding his bike around town, he discovered a small magic shop and decided to explore. The proprietor’s mother, in town for six weeks, was holding down the shop while her son ran errands. She must have sensed something special in Doty – she agreed to teach him a special kind of magic if he promised to come to the shop every day for two hours. The magic she taught him? Relaxation techniques. How to control his anger. How to open his heart. How to become self-aware. How to make goals and visualize success and envision a future he thought was beyond his grasp. Doty went on to overcome many difficult obstacles in his quest to become a neurosurgeon. In medical school and after, he learned that those techniques from his youth actually had the power to change neural pathways, that by learning to control their stress reactions, patients could actually assume some measure of control over the body’s physiology. He also realized that those techniques actually improved his performance as a surgeon. Combined with compassion and tenacity, Doty brought hope to his patients and began to change the conversations regarding patient/doctor relationships . Part memoir, part science, part self-improvement, Into the Magic Shop has the potential to be a useful tool for both doctors and those of us who could just use a little anger management or stress control in our daily lives. I was reminded a little bit of Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal, but Into the Magic Shop is a unique creation. And thanks to the generosity of the publisher, I get to give away a copy on the blog today (US residents only, unfortunately). Enter for your chance to win – maybe the tricks in the book can help bring peace to your own life. And for those of you naysayers, I dare you to at least give these techniques a try. After all, what’s the worst that could happen?

  16. 4 out of 5

    Dana

    Doty’s “magic tricks” and “powers” of the heart and brain are meditation and visualization. He claims that you can do and have whatever you want if you use these techniques, but, realistically, they’ll just influence your attitude, confidence and resolve. You still need to put in work, and may need some luck, to reach your goals. This book is useful in showing the value of, and providing the basics for, meditation and visualization, but I’ll do further reading if I start using these techniques m Doty’s “magic tricks” and “powers” of the heart and brain are meditation and visualization. He claims that you can do and have whatever you want if you use these techniques, but, realistically, they’ll just influence your attitude, confidence and resolve. You still need to put in work, and may need some luck, to reach your goals. This book is useful in showing the value of, and providing the basics for, meditation and visualization, but I’ll do further reading if I start using these techniques myself. The book was well written—the science and instructional parts were light and easy to read (though it seemed simplified and a bit overpromising at times), and the memoir parts read like a novel. Doty’s life story is certainly inspiring. One thing that rubbed me the wrong way was that, when confronted with an obstacle to his goals, Doty’s response was “that’s unacceptable.” In the first instance described, it was unacceptable that a secretary for a premed committee wouldn’t schedule him for an interview because he didn’t qualify for med school. In the next instance, he wanted a neurosurgeon internship, and it was “bullsh*t and unacceptable” that there was a three-year waitlist because he needed to do it now. There’s a big difference between determination and wanting a fair chance (in the former example), and being arrogant and entitled (in the latter example). I wouldn’t go around bluntly telling people that logic and rules are “unacceptable.” Overall, I’m feeling neutral about this book. It was fairly interesting and introduced me to mediation and visualization, which I’d like to try pursuing, but I don’t feel compelled to recommend it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Patricia

    I guess I was expecting a medical memoir - a genre I seek out. But this book was a combination of a guide to meditation which then continued in the vein of "The Secret" (best selling self-help book). Although the author had a few medical stories, his self-avowed arrogance and his poor attitude left me cold about this book.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Marc Kozak

    Utter dreck. Basically the author patting himself on the back for 300 pages as he recounts the "story" of his poor childhood and subsequent transformation into a neurosurgeon and like, totally the sickest dude ever. I say "story" in quotation marks, because many major life events recounted are so suspect that I am confident in saying that they are either completely fabricated or there are large chasms of information left out to make things sound more "magical." At one point, the author recalls h Utter dreck. Basically the author patting himself on the back for 300 pages as he recounts the "story" of his poor childhood and subsequent transformation into a neurosurgeon and like, totally the sickest dude ever. I say "story" in quotation marks, because many major life events recounted are so suspect that I am confident in saying that they are either completely fabricated or there are large chasms of information left out to make things sound more "magical." At one point, the author recalls his childhood growing up in a poor family. He is learning about the power of meditation and positive thinking at the time, and really wishes to not be poor. I mean, the poor lad just thinks it REALLY HARD. And then viola, the next day someone literally comes to the door with an envelope of money. This is presented as some kind of proof of "magic." I am not making this up. Don't even get me started on the absolute BS story of his admission into college. I dunno, I'm not into self-help books, and certainly not ones that spout greeting card philosophies about the world conspiring to give you what you want if you REALLY WANT it. To find out if you're the audience for this book, read the following paragraph of mind-blowing insight and see if it speaks to you: "Everything you put on your list, everything you feel in your heart, everything you think about and imagine with your mind, if you truly believe, if you work hard, will happen. You have to see it and then you have to go after it. You can't just wait in your room. You actually have to go get good grades, and go to medical school, and learn how to be a doctor. But in some mysterious way you will also be drawing it to you, and you will become what you imagine. If you use your mind and your heart, it will happen. You have my word." This is the exact kind of book I feared having to read after joining a book club.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Diane Holcomb

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. A friend at the bookstore where I work received an advance copy of this book and told me, "You've got to read this! It's the best explanation of mindfulness I've ever seen." She flipped through three-quarters of the book, saying, "I read this much in the first sitting." Well, mindfulness is a topic that I'm deeply interested in, so I was eager to dive into this book. I was hooked at the beginning. This true story of a boy who wanders into a magic shop and learns a type of wizardry that has nothin A friend at the bookstore where I work received an advance copy of this book and told me, "You've got to read this! It's the best explanation of mindfulness I've ever seen." She flipped through three-quarters of the book, saying, "I read this much in the first sitting." Well, mindfulness is a topic that I'm deeply interested in, so I was eager to dive into this book. I was hooked at the beginning. This true story of a boy who wanders into a magic shop and learns a type of wizardry that has nothing to do with sleight of hand, this boy who lives in poverty with an alcoholic father and depressed mother, who at the age of twelve has no vision of the immensely successful life that he will eventually attain, this story and this boy are a true delight. The woman who is sitting behind the counter of the magic shop the day James Doty walks in searching for a trick rubber thumb is the kind of woman we'd all be blessed to have in our lives. And the "tricks" she chooses to share with the young Doty over a series of weeks are magic in the hands of this author. But oh, the second part of the book...what a disappointment! I disliked the man the boy had become. I cringed at his arrogance. I yearned to hear again the voice of the young narrator before he grew up and amassed great wealth. Doty does give a foreshadowing of how he abused the magic he learned, so I was prepared. And he does redeem himself in part three. And he does make a point of the importance of opening the heart. Still...sigh. I gave the book five stars because of the initial story that so charmed and encouraged me. I recommend it highly for that alone. It left me with great hope, with the feeling that magic of this kind can transform my life and the world at large.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Justin

    I received this book, for free, in exchange for an honest review. This book is a quality spiritual tale along the lines of Coelho,Castenada and Millman. The author is genuine and the story is well told and engaging. The author breaks down the lessons from the story into a handful of exercises that you can practice to improve your life. To me the overall lesson of the book is to be more compassionate/loving to all people. When the author states this himself it is much more powerful, powerful enough I received this book, for free, in exchange for an honest review. This book is a quality spiritual tale along the lines of Coelho,Castenada and Millman. The author is genuine and the story is well told and engaging. The author breaks down the lessons from the story into a handful of exercises that you can practice to improve your life. To me the overall lesson of the book is to be more compassionate/loving to all people. When the author states this himself it is much more powerful, powerful enough to convince me to try and change how I think. I will also be doing his exercises. These exercises are pretty universal and found in many self-help books. They are laid out here in one spot and with ample justification for doing them. These two things I didn't find in other sources making this a useful book especially for beginners to the self-help genre. The only downside to the book is that there are long tangential sections where the author talks too much about his personal life/neuroscience. That being said, this is one of the best spiritual tales to come out in quite some time.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Angie McDonald

    This dude is wildly narcissistic. He fabricates a simple and digestible story so that he can reframe meditation and mindfulness as his own unique idea to sell books to the masses. For being a neurosurgeon, there's little science in this book. His own selfish desires and egocentric lifestyle clearly caught up with him but only after losing millions of dollars did he begin to consider others. No amount of charitable work or artificial regret in the latter years of his life can cover up his self co This dude is wildly narcissistic. He fabricates a simple and digestible story so that he can reframe meditation and mindfulness as his own unique idea to sell books to the masses. For being a neurosurgeon, there's little science in this book. His own selfish desires and egocentric lifestyle clearly caught up with him but only after losing millions of dollars did he begin to consider others. No amount of charitable work or artificial regret in the latter years of his life can cover up his self congratulatory nature or the fact that he still lives solely for himself.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kristi

    Meh, this book oozes with the author's arrogance. I found some parts fascinating, but most of it annoyingly self-righteous.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Angie

    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 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.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sue Smith

    Fantastic book with some very very interesting insights. I love it when I pick up a book for no other reason than it speaks to me and then discover it was probably put in my path for a reason. Loved this book for that!!! If everyone followed this man's advice there wouldn't be half the world issues there are today. It's really that good! 6 stars and I recommend it to everyone!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Amina

    It is the story of James, a little boy who grew up to be more than an ordinary neurosurgeon.. James grew up in an unstable house, with a depressed mom and a drunken dad, he was really poor but he has always had that "caring thing".. One day, he went to a magic shop to buy a plastic thumb and that's where he met Ruth, the lady who's gonna change his life, Ruth taught him through six weeks another kind of magic, the magic of the heart and the brain and how these two entities are so attached to each It is the story of James, a little boy who grew up to be more than an ordinary neurosurgeon.. James grew up in an unstable house, with a depressed mom and a drunken dad, he was really poor but he has always had that "caring thing".. One day, he went to a magic shop to buy a plastic thumb and that's where he met Ruth, the lady who's gonna change his life, Ruth taught him through six weeks another kind of magic, the magic of the heart and the brain and how these two entities are so attached to each other, today, this magic is called, neuroplasticity.. Through his life, James applied everything Ruth taught him and ended up having what he wanted, a great career, cars, houses and millions of dollars, the only thing he failed at was the step of "opening his heart and discovering its secrets" It was after so many mistakes, heartaches and disappointments that James got the whole idea of Ruth's teaching, and there started the journey to a meaningful life.. When I read the title, I thought it had everything to do with an academic explanation of the mysteries of the brain and the heart which is not the case, but I found so much more than that, it was all about the humanity our brain/heart can manifest and how we can use both of them to give more kindness and compassion and bring a lot of value to a world thriving for some..

  26. 4 out of 5

    Penmouse

    Into the Magic Shop is a testament of how one person can change the life of another by making time to help someone in need of help. James R. Doty, MD was a poor kid growing up in Lancaster, California with a poor family background. Thanks to the compassion of Ruth, who he met at a local magic shop, his life was turned around. Doty's writing will keep you interested as it's lively and fast-paced. I stayed up far too late as I couldn't put his book down. Recommend. Review written after downloading a Into the Magic Shop is a testament of how one person can change the life of another by making time to help someone in need of help. James R. Doty, MD was a poor kid growing up in Lancaster, California with a poor family background. Thanks to the compassion of Ruth, who he met at a local magic shop, his life was turned around. Doty's writing will keep you interested as it's lively and fast-paced. I stayed up far too late as I couldn't put his book down. Recommend. Review written after downloading a galley from NetGalley.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Steven

    Fascinating amalgam of science, esoterica, and philosophy that neither bored nor pandered to the reader. Note: I received this via NetGalley for an honest review.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Grace P. (gracefulreads)

    I highly recommend this to EVERYONE!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Devon H

    Date Completed: 12/11/2015 Rating: 9.5/10 This book drew me in from the very first sentence: “There’s a certain sound the scalp makes when it’s being ripped off of a skull – like a large piece of Velcro tearing away from its source” (subject to change before publication in February). I mean, don’t you want to hear more from this author? I’m simultaneously disgusted and intrigued, and I’m reading something I’ve never read before. The Introduction sent chills up and down my spine. Memoirs are a wonde Date Completed: 12/11/2015 Rating: 9.5/10 This book drew me in from the very first sentence: “There’s a certain sound the scalp makes when it’s being ripped off of a skull – like a large piece of Velcro tearing away from its source” (subject to change before publication in February). I mean, don’t you want to hear more from this author? I’m simultaneously disgusted and intrigued, and I’m reading something I’ve never read before. The Introduction sent chills up and down my spine. Memoirs are a wonderful way for common people to learn about extraordinary events when written well. Sometimes people don’t have the skills to both be a surgeon and write fluidly about their life, but this is certainly not the case for Doty. He is critical of himself, but not in a judgmental way, and his writing is clear and concise. Reading this book makes you feel good about life. Not only does he make you feel good about life, but he gives you tips and tools to conquer your fears and anxieties. He talks about science while overlapping it with social science, love, and possibly even some talk about God. He writes about all of these things as if they exist in parallel dimensions and any one of them could be correct, which lends an unbiased view of these three things together in a way I have never heard before. Besides this, his story is quirky and humorous, but not for the light-hearted; Doty has had struggles in his life that make his story feel real and relatable. He doesn’t judge, but he listens passionately. After reading this book I feel that I have the power to be a better person. In an era when most of what we read, watch, and talk about is how to dominate or how to be bigger or better, it’s refreshing to read a story that encourages each of us to take responsibility and be a better human. So, I encourage you to grab a copy of this book as soon as it’s published in February 2016. You can read my review at https://showthisbooksomelovewordpress... I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book from the author via LibraryThing.com for an honest reveiw.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Patrice

    I received an ARC of this book from the publisher through Net Galley, for an honest review. Please note that this book is not set to publish until February 2016. Honestly, great book. It is well written and engages the reader. There are instances where the author explains things in some technical medical terms; but, he goes on to explain so that the layman will understand. There are parts of the book that brought me to tears. It is a memoir as well as an instructional guide on how to become a bet I received an ARC of this book from the publisher through Net Galley, for an honest review. Please note that this book is not set to publish until February 2016. Honestly, great book. It is well written and engages the reader. There are instances where the author explains things in some technical medical terms; but, he goes on to explain so that the layman will understand. There are parts of the book that brought me to tears. It is a memoir as well as an instructional guide on how to become a better you. I wouldn’t say, for me, that there is anything particularly profound in the book, unless you are just like the author was. For him, there was that “aha” moment in his life, and his journey, struggles, and enlightenment were profound to him. This is a very personal book, both for the author and the reader and superbly well written and edited.

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