Book Review: Living with Intent – Mallika Chopra

living with intent mallika chopraTitle: Living with Intent: My Somewhat Messy Journey to Purpose, Peace, and Joy
Author: Mallika Chopra
ISBN: 9780804139854 (Print)
Run Time: 5 Hours, 34 Minutes
Release Date: April 7, 2015
Publisher: Random House Audio
Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir, Self-Help
Source: Publisher


Mallika Chopra, daughter of famed wellness expert Deepak Chopra, tried to put her father’s teachings into practice every day, living a mindful life with purpose and intent. But she found herself floundering over and over again, unable to balance the daily demands from her work and her family with her principles. This memoir is her journey towards living with intent from day to day.


I used to be one of those people who said smugly, “I don’t read self-help books.” The idea that I needed help from the maligned genre was laughable to me; I was doing just FINE. Then I turned 30, and a switch flipped in my head, and I realized that the notion that I don’t need help is laughable. The thought that I’ve got nothing left to learn, and there’s nothing for me to improve within myself is, quite frankly, stupid. I started branching out more in my reading, trying to figure out how I could be a better person, and that’s when I found Living with Intent.

Meditation is a thing I’ve been doing over the past year. I’ve come to rely on it more and more to calm my anxious brain, to help me deal with my stress levels, and so the idea of living with intent wasn’t new to me. My mind seems to be in constant chaos, so I liked the idea of being more mindful about what I’m doing and how I’m doing it. I’m not great at it, so you can understand my immense relief when I started listening to this memoir on audio, and HEY, it turns out that the daughter of one of the most famous voices on meditation and mindfulness in the world? Also not great at living these principles.

Chopra is very easy to relate to in Living with Intent. She wants to be better, more mindful, but she has trouble actually making it happen in the face of all her responsibilities and commitments day to day. I could definitely sympathize with that, and it was interesting to see how she went about making a change. She is certainly privileged in some of the avenues she is able to take—a week-long retreat—but others are easy for anyone to put into practice. It’s not about doing exactly what Chopra did, or using her journey as a step-by-step to do list. It’s about being inspired by her journey and figuring out the lessons you can apply from hers to improve your own.

I listened to Living with Intent on audio, and it runs about 5 and a half hours unabridged. Chopra narrates it herself, and despite the fact I found her performance uneven, I really enjoyed this production. Listening to this as I was going about my day made me feel somehow more productive, that by putting it in my ears I had already taken my first step towards more mindfulness.

I don’t want to exaggerate and say that this book changed my life; it’s rare that a book has that kind of effect. But Living with Intent did make me engage in a lot of self-reflection and think not only about what I have to do, but how I do it. I like the day of starting each day with an intention, and it’s a change I’m absolutely going to make going forward.

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Audiobook Review: When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi

when-breath-becomes-airTitle: When Breath Becomes Air
Author: Paul Kalanithi
ISBN: 9781524708146
Run Time: 5 hours, 35 minutes (unabridged)
Release Date: February 16, 2016
Publisher: Random House Audio
Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir
Source: Publisher


At the age of 36, and a resident in neurosurgery, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. With no real hope of recovery, Kalanithi was forced to meditate on the process of dying, the nature of death, and the fates of those he would leave behind.


If When Breath Becomes Air sounds depressing, well, that’s because it is. It’s the story of a man who is much too young to die, but who is dying nonetheless. It’s thoughtful, profound, moving, and uplifting in the strangest of ways. It’s part memoir, part meditation, and part philosophy on what it means to die, and to die young. How to die, and what you leave behind.

It works very well, in fact, hand-in-hand with another book on death by another South Asian doctor: Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande. Side by side, these two books are a deep look at what it means to die, and why we should think about it before we’re imminently faced with it. It’s one of the most important things we will ever do, to die, and how we do it matters. It’s depressing to think about, sure, but it’s also one only things we can be sure about in life. Why wouldn’t we meditate on it?

I realize that this isn’t a traditional review, and that’s because it’s so hard to review When Breath Becomes Air. It’s a slip of a book in print, and just 5 1/2 hours unabridged on audio. Sunil Malhotra brings Paul to life for the reader; when it comes to a memoir, you know the narrator is successful if he becomes one with the author, the voice of the author, in your head, and Malhotra did just that. When I think of Paul now, which is more often than you’d think given the weeks that have separated me finishing the book and this review, it’s Malhotra’s voice I hear in my head.

Sometimes, you need to be moved utterly and completely, and When Breath Becomes Air is perfect to turn to in those moments. It’s short, but packs a profound punch that will leave you utterly breathless. The depth of this memoir, the layers to be peeled away, will leave it lingering in your thoughts long after you’ve finished listening or turned the last pages. I thought it worked incredibly well in audio form, as it allows you one step closer into Paul’s world. You experience his joys, frustrations, and sorrows right alongside him, and in the end, you weep at his bedside, unable to hold yourself together any longer.

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Audiobook Review: Love Life – Rob Lowe

Love Life coverTitle: Love Life
Author: Rob Lowe
ISBN: 9781442367333 (audio)
Pages: 272 / 7 hours and 28 minutes (audio)
Release Date: April 8, 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Genre:  Nonfiction, Memoir
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4.5 out of 5


In this second memoir, actor Rob Lowe muses on such varied topics as his childhood, his family, and his experiences as a successful Hollywood actor.

Snapshot Review:

An honest, candid series of personal essays, Love Life is funny, moving, and sharply written. The audio production, narrated by the Lowe, is absolutely the way to go when reading this terrific memoir.

Full Review:

I’m not much of a celebrity memoir person. I don’t necessarily run the other way screaming when I see one, but there are very few celebrity memoirs I’ll actually pick up and read. Unless I really love someone’s body of work, I’m not really interested in reading these books, and besides, they always seem to have a sanitized feel that glosses over any real controversy.

Enter Rob Lowe’s memoirs. I’ve been a big fan of Rob Lowe’s for a long time, so I was interested in his first memoir, Stories I Only Tell My Friends. I was surprised to find myself blown away by it; his candor, wit, and insight were really incredible, not to mention he’s an amazing writer. So, with his second memoir, Love Life, picking it up wasn’t really a question, but I did decide to read this one in audio, rather than in print.

It turned out to be the right choice; Love Life was really an incredible audiobook. Rob Lowe is an amazing narrator (understandable, given that he’s a great actor). You can hear the warmth in his voice; he conveys humor so well, but also heartbreak. The audio production runs about 7 and a half hours, and is well worth the listen.

Love Life covers many different subjects over Lowe’s life. Rather than one complete memoir, it’s a series of personal essays about his life. He speaks with love and genuine humility about his wife and sons; it’s really beautiful to listen to. The reader also gets a sense of what kind of man Lowe is. He puts his family first, always. He has no illusions about his profession, but he has a certain confidence when it comes to his abilities. He knows he’s a good actor, but he is still constantly trying to challenge and better himself. He talks about being an alcoholic, about mentors and friends, about The West Wing, but also about his son’s field trip to Sea World (quite possibly the funniest essay in the collection). What’s really remarkable about this book is how he writes about his family; despite the fact that I love Lowe’s acting and the roles he’s taken on, it was these personal narratives that really spoke to me.

Whether you’re a memoir fan or not, if you at all like Rob Lowe, then Love Life is a book you should pick up. Honestly, even if you don’t care about the actor one way or another, just listen to the essay about Lowe taking his eldest son and dropping him off at college. I dare you to try and not tear up.

Other books by Rob Lowe:

Stories I Only Tell My Friends

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Book Review: Tough Sh*t – Kevin Smith

Title: Tough Sh*t: Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good
Author: Kevin Smith
ISBN: 9781592406890
Pages: 272
Release Date: March 20, 2012
Publisher: Penguin Audio (Audio) / Gotham (Print)
Genre: Memoir, Non-Fiction, Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 out of 5


Kevin Smith, writer and director of cult films such as Clerks, Mallrats, and Chasing Amy and perhaps best known as Silent Bob, discusses his career, family, and his decision to leave moviemaking in this memoir.


I was a huge fan of Kevin Smith’s movies when I was in high school, and though I’ve grown out of his sense of humor a bit, I was still intrigued by his latest memoir, Tough Sh*t. I’ve heard Smith speak, and I know he’s great at it, full of stories and interesting tidbits, so I was eager for this book. I listened to it on audio, with Smith himself as a very capable and humorous narrator. The audiobook is unabridged and runs about six hours.

Tough Sh*t was thoroughly entertaining. Smith told some stories I’d heard before, namely about how he met his wife and their courtship, as well as many I hadn’t. I found his insights about the Weinsteins and Miramax absolutely fascinating. He tells inside stories and delivers a lot of information about making movies. If you’re at all interested in how movies get made, especially small independent movies, this is an absolute must. It was incredibly interesting to listen to Smith’s experiences with Hollywood, the good and the bad.

That being said, Smith’s dirty mouth and crazy obsession with sex might mar the listening/reading experience for those who are sensitive to that sort of thing. His sense of humor is juvenile, to be sure, and while he can be very funny, it can get old fast. Luckily, he’s in top form on this audiobook, so as long as you can deal with crude humor, it shouldn’t bother you too much.

Smith also discusses more serious anecdotes in Tough Sh*t; for example, he opens up about being kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight for being too fat to fly. It’s a heartbreaking story, especially with Smith’s honesty about how devastating and demeaning it was, and he tells it well. Smith also discusses his wife, Jennifer, and his ode to her is pure beauty. He discusses how much she gave up so that he could follow his career, and how he doesn’t appreciate it or her enough. It’s so heartfelt that it brought tears to my eyes.

If you were once or are now a Kevin Smith fan, you should definitely pick up Tough Sh*t. I highly recommend listening to this book on audio, as Smith is talented and really performs for the listener. It was a lot of fun, and I was surprised at how much I learned, which is always a winning combination.

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Book Review: Seriously…I’m Kidding – Ellen DeGeneres

Title: Seriously…I’m Kidding Author: Ellen DeGeneres ISBN: 9780446585026 Pages: 256 Release Date: October 4, 2011 Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (Print) / Hachette Audio (Audio) Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir, Audiobook Source: Library Rating: 4 out of 5 Summary: In the third of her memoirs, comedian and popular talk show host Ellen DeGeneres reflects on her career, her […]

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Book Review: Ali in Wonderland – Ali Wentworth [TSS]

Title: Ali in Wonderland: And Other Tall Tales Author: Ali Wentworth ISBN: 9780061998577 Pages: 272 Release Date: February 7, 2012 Publisher:  Print: Harper / Audio: HarperAudio Genre: Memoir, Non-Fiction, Essays, Audiobook Source: Publisher Rating: 4 out of 5 Summary: Ali Wentworth is an actress and comedian; she is the daughter of political journalists and her […]

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Book Review: The Last Place – Laura Lippman

Title: The Last Place Author: Laura Lippman ISBN: 9780380810246 Pages: 432 Release Date: August 26, 2003  Publisher: Avon (Print) / Recorded Books (Audio) Genre: Crime Fiction, Audiobook Source: Personal Copy Rating: 4 out of 5 Summary: Tess Monaghan is back, and this time she’s investigating five unsolved homicides, seemingly unrelated except for the fact that […]

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Book Review: The Partly Cloudy Patriot – Sarah Vowell [TSS]

Title: The Partly Cloudy Patriot Author: Sarah Vowell ISBN: 9780743243803 Pages: 197 Release Date: September 23, 2003 Publisher: Simon & Schuster (Print) / Simon & Schuster Audio Genre: Non-Fiction, Essays, Audiobook Source: Personal Copy Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Summary: In this essay collection, Sarah Vowell discusses subjects such as her obsession with Canada, her […]

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