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

James R. Doty. Avery, $25.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-59463-298-3

Neurosurgeon Doty combines gut-wrenching memoir with meditative how-to in this well-told, grueling tale of his personal journey from frightened pre-teen with an alcoholic father and depressed mother to a respected doctor and philanthropist. He attributes his success to the ancient mindfulness and visualization techniques that “rewired” his brain and were taught to him in the back of a magic shop in 1968, when he was 12 years old. “When our brain changes, we change,” Doty writes. “That is a truth proven by science. But an even greater truth is that when our heart changes, everything changes.” It’s the heart lesson that proves the hardest to learn for Doty as he boldly masters medical school to become a noted neurosurgeon and investment multimillionaire. Meditation and visualization are great for “journeying inward... but without wisdom and insight (opening the heart) the techniques can result in self-absorption, narcissism, and isolation.” The inward voyage, he argues, is meant to lead a person to “go outward and connect with others.” Doty’s advice in this rags-to-riches tale is inspirational and the mindfulness techniques he advocates are clearly documented. (Feb.)