top of page


"This book tells the remarkable story of a neurosurgeon's quest to unravel the mystery of the link between our brains and our hearts. From the moment in his childhood when a simple act of kindness changed the course of his own life to his founding a center to study compassion at Stanford University. Jim Doty's life illustrates how each of us can make a difference. We can make the world a more compassionate place. I’m sure many readers will be moved by this inspiring story to open their hearts and see what they too can do for others."

His Holiness the Dalai Lama,
Nobel Peace Prize Winner.

"In this profound and beautiful book, Dr Doty teaches us with his life, and the lessons he imparts are some of the most important of all: that happiness cannot be without suffering, that compassion is born from understanding our own suffering and the suffering of those around us, and that only when we have compassion in our hearts can we be truly happy."

Thich Nhat Hanh,
Zen Master, global spiritual leader, poet and peace activist.

"As one evolves from the head to the heart, one, in fact, rises up to the heights of true love and compassion. Jim Doty sincerely attempts to take the reader on a journey from the limited realm of the head to the unlimited realm of the heart, where true compassion dwells. The ability to put oneself in another's position, to see and feel as another person does -- this is the rare gift of an earnest spiritual seeker. May this book be an inspiration to all.”

Her Holiness Mata Amritanandamayi (Amma)


"Into the Magic Shop is not only a moving testimony that keeps the reader enthralled throughout the book, but also a powerful exhortation to live a more compassionate and meaningful life. Beautiful and highly inspiring."

Matthieu Ricard
Humanitarian and Buddhist monk,
Author of Altruism: how compassion can change your life and the world.


"Once in a generation, someone is able to articulate the compelling mystery within his or her life story in such a way that it captures the imagination of others and inspires them to align with what is deepest and best in themselves and allow it to manifest and flower. There is plenty of magic in this book, but the deepest magic of all is that Jim was openheartedly guided to start practicing that aligning when he was twelve and trusted it enough to never loose the thread completely, even in the hardest of times. Behold what is emerging now." 

Jon Kabat-Zinn
Founder of the Center for Mindfulness, Health Care and Society
and of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).

"This is a story of faith beyond the bounds and barriers of religion. A story of hope in the face of life's great challenges, and of magic that opens the doors of potential and healing. Into the Magic Shop is the journey of a brain surgeon whose life is marked by success and failure and at all times laced together in a rich fabric of hope, kindness and compassion. A book that will touch heart, soul and mind." 

Rev. Dr. Joan Brown Campbell
Emeritus Director of Religion at the Chautauqua Institute and
former Executive Director of the World Council of Churches.

"Into the Magic Shop offers a gripping, well-told journey into the mysteries of the human mind and brain. Neurosurgeon James Doty has written a heartwarming tale of courage and compassion."

Daniel Goleman
Author of Emotional Intelligence

"Into the Magic Shop is a moving and inspiring story of transformation. It provides us lessons about how to live better and more compassionate lives."

Paul Ekman, PhD
Professor Emeritus of Psychology, UCSF,
Pioneering emotions researcher and best selling author of Emotions Revealed

“Part memoir, part scientific exploration, Into the Magic Shop is a powerful work of emotion and discovery, showing that we all have within us our own small magic shop, a place of calm and beauty we can return to whenever we need it. As James Doty compellingly shows, we simply have to open the door, and let ourselves in.”

Arianna Huffington
Editor-in-Chief of the Huffington Post and NYT bestselling author of Thrive.

"Into the Magic Shop is a powerful testimony of how, when we choose compassion as defining part of who we are, magic truly begins to unfold in our life. A most inspirational book that uplifts our spirits and open our hearts, at a time when so much of what we hear and read seem to make us lose hope in humanity.Anyone who reads this book will be changed, for the better."

Thupten Jinpa, PhD,
Author of A Fearless Heart: How the Courage to be
Compassionate Can Transform Our Lives.

"While we don't always get to choose what happens in life, we can choose to cultivate our compassion and wisdom as a result. In his capacity to recognize and accept that life is a tapestry of failures and successes, neurosurgeon James Doty shares the wonder and science of the relationship between head and heart - in all its pain and promise.  Into the Magic Shop is a compelling journey, beginning with a little boy struggling with personal challenges, and how the unforeseeable consequence of wandering into a magic shop transforms his life. This book will transform your life as well."

Lisa Kristine
World-renowned humanitarian photographer,
Winner of the prestigious Lucie award.

“Every so often you read a book that you can’t put down until you have read the very last word. Into the Magic Shop is such a book. This poignant redemptive story will take your breath away. It will make you laugh and cry, rattle your mind, break open your heart and shake your soul as it amuses, enchants and illuminates.  Doctor James Doty, a well-known neurosurgeon, uses the twin scalpels of wisdom and compassion to operate on our consciousness. He is a surgeon of the soul- an atheist who will have you gasping OMG! This book is an explosion of grace and enlightenment.”                                                      

Rabbi Irwin Kula
Recipient of the Walter Cronkite Faith and Freedom Award,
Co-President of the National Center for Leadership and Learning,
Named as one of “Newsweek’s 50 Most Influential Rabbis”

"Into the Magic Shop is a captivating journey of discovery. Neurosurgeon Jim Doty's well-told personal story illuminates for us all the power of insight and empathy to transform our lives and enhance our world. Read it and you too may find magic in the mystery and majesty of the mind to bring health and healing to our individual and collective lives.

Daniel J. Siegel, M.D.
Executive Director of the Mindsight Institute, Clinical Professor, UCLA School of Medicine
Author of Mindsight:  The new science of personal transformation
and Brainstorm: The power and purpose of the teenage brain



"Doty's memoir is as inspiring as it is riveting. In bringing a neurosurgeon's mind to matters of the heart, he sheds light not only on what matters most in life, but also on how to achieve it. As you ride the up's and down's of his life with him, you can't help but share in the magic."

David DeSteno
Professor of Psychology at Northeastern University
Author of The Truth About Trust

 "A powerful, eloquent, deeply spiritual and exquisitely beautiful book.  Real magic!"

Dean Ornish, M.D.
Founder and President, Preventive Medicine Research Institute
Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco
Author of The Spectrum and Dr. Dean Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease

“When a top neurosurgeon opens his heart to talk about his own difficult childhood that provided recipes for loneliness, fear, rage and shame, you know you are in for a deeply moving and insightful journey into the suffering and fragility of the human mind. Beautifully written, deeply original, this is an extraordinarily moving and exceptionally practical book into the ‘magic’ tricks for calming and cultivating our minds. Here are lived ways to cope and engage with the realities and struggles of life that we all just find ourselves in. The seeds of compassion are being planted; we must now cultivate them.”

Paul Gilbert, PhD, OBE
Director of the Compassionate Mind Foundation
Professor of Clinical Psychology, University of Derby, UK
Founder of Compassion Focused Therapy
Author of The Compassionate Mind: A New Approach to Life’s Challenges

"The magic of Jim's story, and the insight with which he shares his life with us all, is a great gift, and one which I encourage everyone to receive with open arms. His words, and his letters - CDEFGHIJKL - deserve our full attention, our full intention, and the reward is the discovery of the power of opening one's heart to each other and to the world". 

Scott Kriens
Director of the 1440 Foundation and Chairman of Juniper Networks

“Dr. Doty's story is a captivating, archetypal tale spanning desperate heartache to a zenith of privilege and success, then landing in a billow of thoughtful, dedicated tenderness. Touched on the verge of adolescence by a strip mall fairy godmother, who's magic wand was selfless, affectionate coaching on inner life and purpose, Jim transcended the common pitfalls of reflexive anxiety and diffidence - and gratuitous wealth - and with grit - discovered his own love for, and profound commitment to humanity.”

Emiliana Simon-Thomas, PhD
Science Director, The Greater Good Science Center

"Stanford neurosurgeon James Doty shares with us his difficult childhood and how meeting an extraordinary woman in a magic shop at twelve changed everything. A moving and eloquent story that offers us a path to open our hearts and enlighten our minds."    

Chade-Meng Tan
Google's Jolly Good Fellow and
NYT bestselling author of Search Inside Yourself

"Dr. Doty’s powerful book, Into the Magic Shop, is a testament to how faith and compassion extend beyond religion, race and nationality and can help an individual overcome adversity and personal limitations.  It is an inspiration." 

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Humanitarian, spiritual leader and
Founder of the Art of Living Foundation

"Into the Magic Shop is pure magic!  That a child from humble beginnings could become a professor of neurosurgery and the founder of a center that studies compassion and altruism at a major university, as well as an entrepreneur and philanthropist is extraordinary enough. But it is Doty's ability to describe his journey so lyrically, and then his willingness to share his methods that make this book a gem."

Abraham Verghese, MD
Author of Cutting for Stone and My Own Country

 “Into the Magic Shop will literally rewire your brain. A candid and personal story about a life transformed by a chance encounter in a magic shop. It is a truly optimistic and inspirational testament to the power of compassion and the ability to overcome adversity and discover your true potential.”

Glenn Beck
Nationally syndicated radio host and founder of The Blaze



 “This is one of the most compelling and inspiring books I have ever read. We’re with Jim at each step, as he struggles with poverty and trauma, becomes a world-class brain surgeon, gains and loses a fortune, and learns deep lessons about the magic in each person’s heart. Gripping, profound, extraordinary.” 

Rick Hanson, Ph.D.
Author of Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom

 "True healing is both biological and spiritual. When you experience love and compassion, your body shifts into homeostasis and self-regulation. When you heal yourself, you heal others. The reverse is also true. Your acts of kindness and compassion are the true healing of the world.  In this extraordinary book Dr James Doty shows you the way."

Deepak Chopra, M.D.
Physician and Alternative Medicine Pioneer, Bestselling Author

"A compelling narrative that demonstrates the power of compassion to not only change a life, but the world. Powerful and moving.”

Chip Conley
Airbnb Head of Global Hospitality & Strategy,
New York Times best selling author of Emotional Equations

“I can think of no comparable book with such a brilliantly created narrative following the remarkable arc of the author’s life. From growing up as a poor disadvantaged child to brilliant neurosurgeon and wealthy entrepreneur, Doty’s story moves deftly from using his scalpel to save the lives of his patients to using his compassionate heart to enrich the lives of others. Profound, deeply moving and emotionally resonating.”

Phil Zimbardo, Ph.D.
Founder and President of The Heroic Imagination Project,
Best-selling author of The Lucifer Effect and
Professor Emeritus of Psychology, Stanford University

"The truth is Jim Doty’s book was not on my reading list.  Then I made the mistake of skimming the first page.  I was immediately seduced by Jim’s open-hearted, undefended honesty in sharing a most compelling and profoundly human story.  He takes us along on a mesmerizing journey,  from a hardscrabble childhood to the height of human achievement. It is a story rich with inspiration, insights and life lessons that left me wishing it would never end.  Can reading someone else’s life story change your own? Step Into the Magic Shop and you’ll find out."  

Neal Rogin
Emmy-Award winning Writer and Filmmaker
Founding Board member, Pachamama Alliance

“Into the Magic Shop by well-known neurosurgeon James Doty allows us to share his remarkable story of adversity and hardship and how his life trajectory is profoundly affected by a woman in a magic shop. Her lessons change his perception of the world and his place in it and by doing so demonstrates the power of the mind to change and the power of compassion to heal. An eloquent and powerful memoir that can change your life.”

Rep. Tim Ryan
Member of Congress and author of Mindful Nation

“Jim has written a truly extraordinary book. He shares with us the trauma of his childhood filled with pain, despair and shame through the gifts of spirit that blazed the path for him to fulfillment, love and wisdom. Indeed, Into the Magic Shop offers each of us this gift. I am in awe of Jim’s skill in conveying it through the magic of this book.”

Sharon Salzberg
Co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society and
Best-selling author of Loving Kindness and Real Happiness

"A moving memoir on the power of compassion and kindness. Neurosurgeon James Doty shares his inspiring story of growing up with seemingly insurmountable challenges, receiving a gift that changed his life, achieving remarkable success but then losing it all, and discovering that the mind is shaped as much by the heart as the brain.”

Adam Grant
Wharton professor and New York Times bestselling author of Give and Take and Originals

"An intensely moving and inspiring book—a powerful example of how, even when we find ourselves in the most challenging and overwhelming of circumstances, compassion can open our hearts and transform our lives."

Sogyal Rinpoche
Buddhist monk, Abbott of Lerab Ling Monastery and
Author of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

"Rarely has a book grabbed me so quickly and so deeply--I couldn’t put this down. Into the Magic Shop shows us the power of living with a compassionate heart and a courageous spirit."

Marci Shimoff
#1 NY Times Bestselling Author, Happy for No Reason,
Love For No Reason, Chicken Soup for the Woman's Soul

bottom of page