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Are You My Guru?: How Medicine, Meditation & Madonna Saved My Life Paperback – Bargain Price, September 7, 2010

4.5 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Paperback, Bargain Price, September 7, 2010
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The second book from the author of The Fat Girl’s Guide to Life (2004) finds Shanker at peace with her weight but battling a far more serious problem: an autoimmune disease called Wegener’s granulomatosis that attacks the vascular system. Shanker’s life is completely changed by the disease, which gives her agonizing joint pain and breaks down the cartilage in her nose. When Western medicine—which offers steroids and chemotherapy to treat symptoms and control flare ups—proves to be insufficient, Shanker attends a healing retreat in New Mexico to detox her body and hopefully receive spiritual guidance she can believe in. Throughout it all, Shanker holds to the words of her idol, Madonna (whom she meets professionally on several occasions), who tells her before an interview to “be brilliant.” Whether she’s describing giving herself an enema or the pain and frustration of a Wegener’s flare-up, Shanker doesn’t hold back. Her candid, introspective look at her battle with the disease, as well as the way she keeps her spirits up, is downright inspiring. --Kristine Huntley

About the Author

Wendy Shanker is the author of The Fat Girl's Guide to Life and a contributor to The Modern Jewish Girl's Guide to Guilt. She's also performed stand–up and two acclaimed one–woman shows.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: NAL Trade; 1 edition (September 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451229940
  • ASIN: B005B1H5EW
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,277,474 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Tina on September 7, 2010
Format: Paperback
There is absolutely nothing bad about this book - so, read it, read it, read it!I read alot of books, as you can see by the number of times I update this site! However, Are U My Guru is fast becoming one of my favorite books for 2010.

Author Shanker has written a hilariously upbeat and inspirational memoir/self-help book about her struggle with a) body image and b) her health and c) both.

While I was expecting alot of humor in this book, I was also amazed at how honestly and POSITIVELY Shanker talks about her situation and, in fact, manages to turn a scary event into one of opportunity - to discover and to grow - to invest some serious time in the "me" and figure out just what works and doesn't and more importantly how you relate to your own life.

I have long been fascinated by "alternative therapies" and the healing powers that lay within them. Shanker uses this premise and goes one step further - she incorporates these practices into her life - coupled with western medicine in order to get better both physically and mentally.

I have always believed that if your mind is ill - then it will manifest itself in your body - and this book has proven me right. It has also proven to me that we are all searching for something that, for the most part, remains elusive - until we are open enough to truly appreciate it.

I loved the writing - it was touching in its optimism and "never give up" attitude. I loved that Shanker admits that while her health was a concern - so was her body image - that good old body image that none of use can ever seem to shake :(
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Format: Paperback
Shanker offers up an incredibly moving, funny, intense look at living with an autoimmune disease. This memoir isn't an excoriation of Western medicine, but it does show how even with health insurance, when faced with a long-term illness like Shanker has, there is no easy or cheap answer.

She chronicles her career and weight ups and downs, which are balanced against the blunt drama of her illness; her nose starts to literally fall off, she can't smell, and her body is extremely compromised. To try to understand what's happening to her, she reads and researches but is also willing to try almost anything--except putting pigeons on her body to absorb her illness, which is suggested by her father and a rabbi. Through this episode, in all its outrageousness, Shanker also shows that when she was in the depths of, basically, bodily hell, she didn't stoop to something like this, but in the back of her mind there is at least the shadow of a question of whether it could have worked.

Shanker doesn't make light of her illness at all; in fact, I put this book down a few times because I had trouble with how terrible her life seemed at times, not because of her storytelling but because of the starkness of Wagener's granulomatosis. There is, however, both humor and an immense amount of heart as she navigates various philosophies regarding treatment. She rightly counters the healers who say that if you only wish hard enough, your illness will go away, but sends up and stumps one of her doctors when she manages to make her liver problems dissipate using Eastern methods. Shanker also offers advice to family and friends who are trying to help someone with a prolonged illness, and while she doesn't offer false hope, like her idol, she does offer a ray of light (and I do hope Madonna reads about the concert Shanker attends that makes that phrase truly come alive).
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Format: Paperback
Wendy Shankar is best known for her book The Fat Girl's Guide to Life, which I haven't read and after reading this book really have no desire to read. That is absolutely no reflection on either Wendy Shankar or Are You My Guru?. From the first page of this book I was hooked.

Wendy shares her story of chronic illness (in her case Wegener's) and how she went from being this extremely active type A personality, working a million hours a week for a tv studio and doing freelance jobs, to fighting this disease that was tearing her apart. This is her story of how she was forced to learn to accept her new reality. So many times while reading this book, I thought "thank you", "thank you for sharing the reality of chronic illness, of how we feel about fighting that illness, about how many times we want to just give up, about how willing we are to really try anything". Her story shares the ups and downs, there's no happy ending where she suddenly gets better and stays that way for the rest of her life. This is an honest portrayal and really just a story of acceptance.

The book is well written, funny, and honest. I love that she doesn't try to make everything wine and roses, or give off this idea that there is a perfect answer. The real truth of the book is that we are own Guru. No one knows our body like we do. The drs may be the experts in the disease we are dealing with, but we are the experts of our own bodies, and the best results will come when the experts work together.

I wish I could get to the point of acceptance that Wendy found, and maybe one day I will find it. In the meantime, this book will stay with me and I will read it again and again.
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