This review by Sheila Trask, appeared in the San Francisco Book Review on October 5, 2015.
Part memoir, part motivational manual, Mountain Mantras outlines Kathryn Kemp Guylay’s upbeat advice for facing any challenge, through lessons she has learned in life and on the ski slopes. A self-described “recovering management consultant,” Kemp Guylay moved her family from Chicago to Sun Valley, Idaho in 2011, in search of a more balanced life. The mountain peaks she found outside her new front door taught her many life lessons, which she enthusiastically shares here.
In Kemp Guylay’s world, mountains serve as metaphors for the challenges we all face in life, and she’s here to teach us how to ski skillfully down those mountains, no matter how steep. Her guiding psychological advice—“Change your lens on life,” and “Zoom out for the best view,” for instance—provide chapter titles and themes, though each chapter is liberally mixed with quotations from others, childhood stories, nutritional advice, and sometimes even recipes. While the food component is unexpected, it makes sense to include nutrition in a guide to total wellness, and Kemp Guylay is supremely qualified, as a certified nutritional counselor and founder of Nurture, a non-profit that teaches nutrition through engagement in a variety of communities.
Kemp Guylay tempers her advice and endless enthusiasm with a strong sense of humor and an ability to laugh at herself, as she works her way up from the kiddie slopes with the fifth-graders to Nordic skiing with world-class trainers. Her writing is always clear, if sometimes a little cutesy (she’s included several sugary, rhymed sayings). Above all, her advice is practical and broken down into very doable chunks that allow readers to immediately move forward. Appendices offer a look at yoga and mindfulness practices that can help along the way, as well resources for additional study. The combination of resources results in a book that’s useful whether you’re looking across the boardroom table, or down a double black diamond trail.
Reviewed by Sheila Trask