Wendy Shanker’s new book Are You My Guru? is definitely on my top ten list of books that can truly help you to live a happier life without being labeled “self help”. The only other book I have read that really impacted me was Waking by Matthew Sanford and both center around the author’s illness and what society would see as an alternative approach to yoga. Maybe it is the uniqueness of their stories that touches me, or how they come to yoga through tragedy to find healing – whatever it is, they are truly yogic.
Shanker’s book recounts her ongoing battle with Wegner’s and auto immune disease. Without evening knowing about Wegner’s (which you will be the end of the book) I felt an instant kinship with any woman who can “saunter around on John Fluevog platform boots” (I love my BabyCakes!) Add to this that Shanker is an absolutely phenomenal writer, extremely engaging and humorous, it was easy to be drawn into her story. I would have read this book even if she hadn’t searched through Eastern Medicine and healing modalities that I practice, but she did, and I find her level headed approach to discussing them even more fascinating.
Too many times books are written by people who have “experiences” and try to sell you on the whole concept or dogma behind the way they were “healed”. A true teacher doesn’t need to proselytize, people follow their path because they have faith in what they see to be true. Shanker’s book is no exception and as she concludes through self-study (svadhyaya) we are all our own gurus. That is the truth this book has to offer and it does it without jamming pedantic rhetoric of yoga and healing down your throat. I can’t stand those types of books.
What else will you find within the pages of Are You My Guru? A whole lot of laughs. I had to read whole passages – especially the pigeons (you’ll know when you get there) out loud to my partner because I was laughing so hard. For a book that is about a chronic, life threatening illness and contains discussions of magnetic noses – it has no real tear jerking sections. I appreciated this and attribute it to Shankar’s amazing comic writing ability.
As for the Eastern medicine, yogic philosophy and retreats scattered throughout the book – they added a great seasoning to an already interesting story and obviously secured the subtitle: “How Medicine, Meditation & Madonna Saved My Life”. If you truly open up to the message in this book though you will come to realize that nothing saved Wendy Shanker’s life other than her belief in herself and that is the most yogic message of all.
Wendy Shanker is best known for The Fat Girl’s Guide to Life—in which she used her humor to help women everywhere balance physical health and acceptance of their bodies.
This September Wendy Shanker is back with a new, hilarious memoir about another serious body issue: autoimmune disease, which affects 50 million Americans. Please take a moment to watch her great new video about ARE YOU MY GURU? How Medicine, Meditation & Madonna Saved My Life (September 7; NAL Trade Paperback): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSO6j_lbsPk