Into the Magic Shop

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up James Doty’s Into The Magic Shop. The synopsis on the back gave several impressions. This book, all about the mysteries or the brain and the heart, sounded a little new age-y, sciencey, and borderline religious, though the author makes it clear he isn’t religious quite early in the book.

The story is autobiographical and begins with Doty recalling his childhood, obsessed with magic, and how he met a woman by chance one day who promised to teach him powerful magic. This magic is essentially relaxation and meditation, training your brain to believe in yourself and your dreams by imagining that you already have achieved them.

Doty moves on rather quickly from his magic lessons in the book, and relates snapshots from the rest of his life and how he used this magic– and the consequences that come from using it incorrectly.

The most important aspect, according to Doty and his teacher, is first opening one’s heart to those around oneself. What I think the author is trying to get at is the idea of allowing yourself to forgive both yourself and others and be freed of any negative emotions, that way you can more accurately pinpoint the things that are truly important to you. If you are chasing a dream that is supposed to make you value yourself, you’ll forever be chasing. Self-worth doesn’t come from what you have but from who you are in your core.

Doty shares personal experiences and his journey to learn where his value and worth comes from. Hint, it’s not from all the money he earned and lost.

Doty’s book was interesting and had some practical applications. He went into detail on the techniques he used so that readers can easily copy it themselves. And for someone who is interested in science but doesn’t have a science degree, it was very easy to understand when he talked about the brain.

However, I did wish there was a little more to the story. We learn what he learned growing up and we learn through his experiences, but then he talks about an urge to learn more about how the heart and brain interact, and it felt a little disjointed from there. He concludes with how he approached research, not with what he found. It felt a little anti-climatic, like a cliffhanger for a sequel that doesn’t foreshadow anything.

I enjoyed the book, and I thought it was quite interesting, but I felt like it needed just a little something more to tie it all together. Perhaps that’s simply a byproduct of writing an autobiography of your life up to the present, it ends a little unceremoniously. In any case, the book was worth the read, and not a bad first book.

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