Being Selfish

My Journey from Escort to Monk to Grandmother

Non-Fiction - Memoir
364 Pages
Reviewed on 02/23/2016
Buy on Amazon

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Free Book Program, which is open to all readers and is completely free. The author will provide you with a free copy of their book in exchange for an honest review. You and the author will discuss what sites you will post your review to and what kind of copy of the book you would like to receive (eBook, PDF, Word, paperback, etc.). To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email.

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Book Review Exchange Program, which is open to all authors and is completely free. Simply put, you agree to provide an honest review an author's book in exchange for the author doing the same for you. What sites your reviews are posted on (B&N, Amazon, etc.) and whether you send digital (eBook, PDF, Word, etc.) or hard copies of your books to each other for review is up to you. To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email, and be sure to describe your book or include a link to your Readers' Favorite review page or Amazon page.

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Book Donation Program, which was created to help nonprofit and charitable organizations (schools, libraries, convalescent homes, soldier donation programs, etc.) by providing them with free books and to help authors garner more exposure for their work. This author is willing to donate free copies of their book in exchange for reviews (if circumstances allow) and the knowledge that their book is being read and enjoyed. To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email. Be sure to tell the author who you are, what organization you are with, how many books you need, how they will be used, and the number of reviews, if any, you would be able to provide.

Author Biography

My life is about exploration and transformation, devoted to sourcing the essential nature of what it means to be human while nurturing the unique potential in every individual.

I was born in 1963 in the heart of Motown, nine months before John F. Kennedy was assassinated. As a white, middle-class, Jewish kid growing up in Detroit, I was subconsciously impacted by racial tensions, class inequality, and religious prejudices. At home, I was raised to be kind and curious. While other kids were busy playing house, I was occupied with my four siblings playing teacher. As a young girl I excelled in art and math, curious about the way things worked. An introvert by nature, I searched for meaningful social contact and friendships.

At eighteen my career trajectory took shape. After attending a semester living with a cohort in nature as part of an alternative literature program at the University of Michigan, I decided to become a teacher. After earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Alternative Education from UC Santa Cruz in 1985, I taught early childhood and elementary students in a private school, and then middle and high school students at an alternative school. During those years I continued my own study at Wayne State University, culminating in a Master’s Degree in History and Philosophy of Education in 1990.

Though well trained and fully committed to my life purpose, I came face to face with the realization that my success as an educator was directly linked to my personal embodiment of the truth and integrity I hoped to evoke in my students. I acknowledged that I needed more time alone to grow my own moral compass and to cultivate authentic wisdom.

For the next ten years, I pursued a self-guided study of human wisdom teachings—learning, contemplating and practicing conventional and unconventional tools for transformation. I emerged from my retreat in 2004. Within a few years, I was back teaching again, working with individuals and groups in an integrative learning environment. Not only was I presenting a cognitive framework for the development of an authentic human life, I was also engaging experiential components within the somatic, psychological and spiritual domains. My wisdom, experience, and ongoing learning, inform the offerings and curriculum which make up Selfistry. You can read more about Selfistry here:

I wrote the first draft of my memoir Being Selfish; My Journey from Escort, to Monk to Grandmother, in 2007. The act of writing has transformed me in ways only writing can. I’m proud to be an author and excited to continue developing myself as a writer. My second book, a Selfistry guide and handbook, is in the works. In the meantime you can read my blog at

I live with my husband in the Pacific Northwest. As the founder of Selfistry, I teach and speak internationally, develop and facilitate on-line courses, and mentor

    Book Review

Reviewed by Anna Smith for Readers' Favorite

Being Selfish: My Journey from Escort to Monk to Grandmother is Sarah Marshank’s memoir about her spiritual and physical journey to find answers to life’s most burning questions. Who is God? What is religion? Is sex an instrument of love? Should it only be shared between two homogeneous people? Or can it be shared with anyone and everyone for the right price? Marshank looks to her background to find the answers to these questions. But she was raised in a middle class family as a conservative Jew and politically liberal. She didn’t feel that her life prepared her for the answers that she needed to make tough decisions. So she chronicled her journey and shared her touching memoir with others to inspire, educate, and start a conversation about the true purpose of a person’s life.

Being Selfish is an inspirational story that tackles important life questions with clarity, sincerity, and an honesty that is refreshing and appreciated. I loved Marshank’s approach and writing style. It was clear and to the point. She tackled tough subject matter with grace, but never sugar coated anything that she had to say. I absolutely loved this book and think others will really fall in love with its honest and refreshing style. The idea that one woman could overcome so much in her life is inspiring! I felt motivated to look deep into my own life and reflect on where I’ve come from and where I’m heading, which I think is one of the missions that this memoir sets out to accomplish. Fantastic job!

Emily White

Being Selfish: My Journey from Escort to Monk to Grandmother is a memoir by Sarah Marshank about her incredibly interesting life. It starts with an unplanned pregnancy and Sarah’s decision process. She’s already had one abortion and isn’t sure she can handle the psychological pressures of a second abortion. But she doesn’t want to resent her child for becoming trapped in a life she didn’t envision for herself. She looks to her upbringing for guidance, but finds no answers in her Jewish, liberal, or middle class upbringing. So she sets off on an adventure to find her own answers to life’s mysteries of sex and religion with the goal of becoming one with her own spirit. Her adventure takes her from California to remote Oregon and beyond, until she experiences so much in her life that she feels compelled to share it in this one of a kind memoir.

Being Selfish is an incredibly honest memoir that really spoke to me. It is a story about choices and searching for answers, and is a subject that I personally find very interesting and I believe a lot of other readers will enjoy it too. Marshank does an excellent job of framing the memoir to read as an enjoyable story, and yet we know the story is true. Because it is about her life, her adventures become all the more engaging imagining that this actually happened to someone. I found this memoir thoroughly captivating and fascinating. I was drawn in from the very first page and I laughed, cried, and soul searched with the author as she took me on this incredible journey.

JJ Phillips

Being Selfish: My Journey from Escort to Monk to Grandmother is a touching memoir by Sarah Marshank about the incredible adventure she calls life. Sarah was happy with the direction of her life when she found out she was pregnant. She’d already had one abortion and wasn’t sure she was mentally or emotionally prepared for another. She’d grown up in a conservative Jewish family, but had never felt a close connection with God. She wanted to connect with a spiritual presence, so she set out on a journey to find answers to her life’s questions. Questions about sex drove her into learning about the escort business. Questions about religion led her to spend time with a monk in the rural landscape of Oregon. Her memoir is a detailed account of those questions, her experiences, and the answers she discovered along the way.

Sarah Marshank wrote a beautiful memoir in Being Selfish that many people should read! I enjoyed this memoir so much. Sometimes I forgot it wasn’t a fiction story, because it was so captivating and interesting. But the fact that it was a person’s true life story made it that much more interesting. Marshank did an excellent job of keeping the story stimulating. Although there is a lot of deep subject matter in this memoir (especially when covering sex and religion), Being Selfish never felt like a deep or difficult read. Readers with all reading levels and abilities will be able to enjoy this book! Anyone looking for answers about life’s mysteries or wanting a journey of their own should check out Marshank’s excellently crafted memoir.

Renee Taylor

Being Selfish: My Journey from Escort to Monk to Grandmother is Sarah Marshank’s memoir about her life. She starts on a journey to discover herself, and ends up living an incredible adventure, experiencing things that most people could never dream about. She questions the religious background that she grew up in, wondering what is the point of life? How can she make important decisions or discern right from wrong if she doesn’t understand the overall purpose of life? A spiritual guidance in her life talks to her about giving up spiritually, and he explains his take on Buddhism and karma. From his teachings, Marshank begins a spiritual journey that takes her on many twists and turns, and she reveals everything she learned along the way in this remarkable memoir. It is a story that inspires, investigates, and challenges readers to think outside the box when it comes to almost everything they think they know about life, and to let go and just enjoy the ride.

Being Selfish is a fantastic and wonderful book! I so enjoyed reading Marshank’s story. I really felt like I was reading a journal or a personal diary because the story felt so real and authentic to me. I think that is some of the charm of this book. Marshank is never pretentious or self-righteous. She doesn’t preach or try to convert or talk down to her audience. She just tells her story the way it happened to her, sharing her thoughts, fears, doubts, and insecurities. I think other readers will really relate to her questions and anxieties, and will love the answers and creative solutions she found for dealing with them in her unique and interesting life.

Romuald Dzemo

Being Selfish: My Journey from Escort to Monk to Grandmother by Sarah Marshank is a riveting memoir told with humility, boldness, and sincerity, a tale of a woman’s search for herself and meaning in her life. At twenty-two, Sarah gets pregnant and is thrust back into a solitude she hadn’t bargained for. No one seems to understand the depth of her plight, not her conservative family and not the people around her. Her journey towards self-discovery and meaning plunges her into an unbridled sex life, a frenetic search for God and self. But when she meets Sam, it seems like her life will finally have meaning. Leaving everything behind, she follows him into an adventure that will surprise her and her readers.

Being Selfish is a beautiful story of love, heartbreak, and healing. As a mature woman who’s learned the discipline of meditation and prayer, Sarah invites readers to look back at her life with her, to discover the workings of grace in her stark moments of loneliness, to see the communion in her solitude. The writing is simple and could be a reflection of the soul of the protagonist that has matured from a selfish woman seeking the pleasures of this world into the little child every person is called to become. Marshank’s sincerity and humility are arresting and her voice rings out with a gentleness that readers will certainly fall in love with. The writing is hugely entertaining and deeply inspiring. Marshank has the gift of enticing readers into her world and making them feel as if they have lived these moments with her.

Laura Loescher

It takes a lot of courage to put oneself out in the world this way, through a memoir that details such a vulnerable personal journey. Sarah Marshank combines that courage with a capacity for compelling story-telling and beautiful prose-crafting. Though Sarah's outer journey is quite different from my own, I related to the inner journey she so eloquently describes. A very enjoyable read!

Coral Nunnery

From the very beginning of this book, I was highly engaged-- and though our paths are very different, I recognized myself and the numerous similarities of our journeys. From her woundedness, from personal pain, from the pain of the world, Sarah embarks on the path of the seeker. Through many explorations and expressions, she eventually sits still and finds what she was seeking within herself. Her journey is exquisitely articulated in this memoir, with great vulnerability and openness. When she finds her oneness with Divinity, the beauty of that space is so all-encompassing she realizes she could rest into that forever, and die there. But she chooses to bring it back into the world. She chooses to experience life from an entirely different perspective. What she brings back is a gift to everyone she encounters.Her light radiates from each page of this book, I am grateful she chose to tell her story.

Matthew Stillman

This is a remarkable book in many ways. The hard-earned insights that come with spiritual work and bearing the innumerable hardships in a life with some skill and art are well described here.

At turns funny and moving and insightful I found some turns of dialogue quite moving and insightful.

If you are walking a funny path through your spiritual work and wonder if you are alone... Sarah Marshak's path will hold your hand in the dark.

Don Neal

When I first picked up this book I thought oh a chick book. Boy was I wrong. I have read many stories simular to this quest. But it was always a story about man's quest written by man. i.e.; Watts, Costendada, Ram-Dass, Yogananda. To my surprise I am challenged to mention one woman's quest. Well here it is. A wonderful read, I really enjoyed this story.

Scott Schwenk

I began the book last night, and have just now finished. With so many books in queue, I thought I would take my time with this one. I couldn’t. I had to keep reading. The writing is so beautiful and raw and elegant as to transparently let me experience something that to my conscious knowledge, is new to me — I had some degree, some sort of strong first-person experience of living and walking the path as a female-gendered person. And simultaneously, felt so deeply met in my own gender, body, and story in ways I’m only feeling and not yet feeling articulated in words….more in waves. I’m deeply touched. You see, what seems to be the realization at the end of the book is the one I’ve been working out within myself….that emptiness isn’t everything….that coming *from* this emptiness and fully being here in life, enjoying and living without grasping….that this is the next movement I’m experiencing and learning and practicing.

So thank you…

Thank you for writing this

Holly Sack

I read the book in two days. Couldn't put it down. Sarah's way of expressing her courageous journey pulled me in right from the start. Coming from a Jewish heritage, she could not find the answers to her questions about life, in organized religion. The search for her truth takes her into many years of living like a monk, celibacy, deep daily meditations, and seeking silence, so she could discover herself. She also explores being an escort and having sex, as an intellectual endeavor, experiencing different ways of life to find Sarah. Her courage and commitment to make sense of life, is unstoppable and fascinating. There is no other book like this....I promise. It is a must read.

Chrsitine Brautigam

This intimate journey through one woman's struggle with making sense, searching for meaning, and breathing into the paradox of life, was like an inviting paradox to me. This memoir was entertaining and easy to read, yet deeply provocative and stirring. I look forward to seeing, hearing, and feeling how it has impacted others of different genders, religions, ages, etc. Thank you Sarah for your intimate disclosure. Maybe life and spirituality are like sexuality; so full of energy, discovery, mystery, harm, healing, and deep inexplicable love?