Book review – Into the Magic Shop by Dr James Doty

October 30, 2017

Into the Magic Shop

Book length: 288 pages

Genre:  Humanity; true story.


A wonderful tale about how we can live lives of compassion and kindness.
The book is a true story about the author, starting with him as a boy. An unknown woman displays an act of compassion, teaching the boy little known secrets that encourage the heart and mind to work in unison, leading to a healthier and happier life.  The boy gets lost in his adult years, in the pursuit of wealth and the other pursuits of a mindless modern life.  After several tragic events he rejuvenates the secrets he learnt in his youth.  The book closes with the author feeling his greatest sense of life fulfilment, which he achieves through acts of compassion and kindness.



The author (Jim), starting as a boy from a poor, troubled and violent home, comes across the mother (Ruth) of the owner of a magic shop. The boy visits Ruth everyday throughout his summer holidays.   Ruth displays a true act of kindness by spending time with him everyday, teaching him tools to:
  •  relax his body
  • quieten his mind
  • open his heart
  • visualise what he would like to come true.
Jim grows up and achieves all that he aspires to; beyond what a boy of his background could ever imagine.  Inevitably these achievements centre on attaining prestige and the trappings of wealth. After becoming a pre-eminent neurosurgeon he becomes an entrepreneur and amasses a huge fortune.
Jim loses everything, including his marriage and his wealth, in the dotcom crash.  He has the chance to recover his ownership of a company but decides to honour his commitment to bequeath this to charity.
He finds that as soon as he has given away his money he gains more clarity, purpose and freedom than he had ever done before.  He reflects on how, during the decades in pursuit of wealth he had dropped his mindfulness practices.  Jim concludes that he had not truly understood the significance of Ruth’s teachings.
Jim renews these practices, reaching the most fulfilled stages of his life: reverting to being a neurosurgeon, this time for penniless patients in downtrodden America.  He founds a centre for the study of compassion at Stanford University and works in collaboration with His Holiness The Dalai Lama. He realises that true happiness comes from demonstrating compassion towards other human beings: the heart and mind working in unison.
James Doty & His Holiness The Dalai Lama: compassion and kindness
Dr James Doty & His Holiness The Dalai Lama (copyright

 My take-outs: compassion & kindness

  1. Compassion can be defined as the thinking processes involving empathic understanding of others and the desire to stop suffering and pain.
  2. Kindness can be defined as the acts of compassion where people go out their way to support others.
  3. Seeing others acting compassionately encourages compassionate acts in others.
  4. When our minds and hearts are working in collaboration, we are happier, healthier and automatically express love, kindness and care for others.  This is a journey towards greater compassion and ever greater humanity.
  5. We have a worth in the eyes of other humans, irrespective of the money we have, the circles we are born into and what we do with our working lives.
  6. Achieving mind and heart alignment can be achieved through exercises found in the book or through free online resources). These exercises are categorised in four areas:
  •  relaxing your body
  • quietening your mind
  • opening your heart
  • visualising what you would like to manifest.

My verdict on the book:          Should read

If you read, or have read, this book, or something similar, please do comment below.  I would love to hear from you.


My book review marking system

  1. Must read: reserved for only those few books that I couldn’t put down and read in one sitting
  2. Should read: a book filled with lots of useful learnings and messages that you ‘should’ read if you want to go that extra mile in understanding your health
  3. A good read: I enjoyed it. However, there are better books to read first.
  4. Struggle: getting to finish the book was a personal struggle
  5. Avoid: likely that I either tried to finsh it and couldn’t, or that the message was poorly portrayed.

Please do let me know your thoughts I will get back to you. Thanks.