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UNHOOKED

HOW TO QUIT ANYTHING

A solid multistep system for overcoming addiction.

A self-help therapy book aimed at stopping addictive behavior.

When people think of addictions, the first things that come to mind are smoking, alcohol and drugs. But according to therapist Woolverton and New School and NYU instructor Shapiro (Speed Shrinking, 2009, etc.), anything can become an addiction if it interferes with a person living an emotionally rich, full life. The authors identify an addiction as “something that provides an escape, takes you out of yourself and your day-to-day life, and allows you to get further away from the painful feelings and emotions we would all prefer to avoid.” Using examples from his practice, Woolverton explores the multitude of habits that can easily slide into addictions—e.g., gambling, pornography, exercise and food (Woolverton discusses his own addictive behavior toward ice cream). By working through a series of tests and checklists, readers can characterize their own behaviors and determine if they are becoming addicts. The authors offer numerous solutions to each situation, ending each chapter with a numerical list of prescriptions to help readers stay on the right path. Woolverton and Shapiro pull no punches in stating that overcoming addiction is a difficult, usually lifetime commitment; the person must overcome not only the addictive behavior but also the pain behind the addiction in order for the therapy to be successful. Using the authors’ many examples of patients who have moved beyond their pain, readers will see that conquering an addiction is possible with determination and perseverance.

A solid multistep system for overcoming addiction.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-61608-418-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2011

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MASTERY

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should...

Greene (The 33 Strategies of War, 2007, etc.) believes that genius can be learned if we pay attention and reject social conformity.

The author suggests that our emergence as a species with stereoscopic, frontal vision and sophisticated hand-eye coordination gave us an advantage over earlier humans and primates because it allowed us to contemplate a situation and ponder alternatives for action. This, along with the advantages conferred by mirror neurons, which allow us to intuit what others may be thinking, contributed to our ability to learn, pass on inventions to future generations and improve our problem-solving ability. Throughout most of human history, we were hunter-gatherers, and our brains are engineered accordingly. The author has a jaundiced view of our modern technological society, which, he writes, encourages quick, rash judgments. We fail to spend the time needed to develop thorough mastery of a subject. Greene writes that every human is “born unique,” with specific potential that we can develop if we listen to our inner voice. He offers many interesting but tendentious examples to illustrate his theory, including Einstein, Darwin, Mozart and Temple Grandin. In the case of Darwin, Greene ignores the formative intellectual influences that shaped his thought, including the discovery of geological evolution with which he was familiar before his famous voyage. The author uses Grandin's struggle to overcome autistic social handicaps as a model for the necessity for everyone to create a deceptive social mask.

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should beware of the author's quirky, sometimes misleading brush-stroke characterizations.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02496-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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BRAVE ENOUGH

These platitudes need perspective; better to buy the books they came from.

A lightweight collection of self-help snippets from the bestselling author.

What makes a quote a quote? Does it have to be quoted by someone other than the original author? Apparently not, if we take Strayed’s collection of truisms as an example. The well-known memoirist (Wild), novelist (Torch), and radio-show host (“Dear Sugar”) pulls lines from her previous pages and delivers them one at a time in this small, gift-sized book. No excerpt exceeds one page in length, and some are only one line long. Strayed doesn’t reference the books she’s drawing from, so the quotes stand without context and are strung together without apparent attention to structure or narrative flow. Thus, we move back and forth from first-person tales from the Pacific Crest Trail to conversational tidbits to meditations on grief. Some are astoundingly simple, such as Strayed’s declaration that “Love is the feeling we have for those we care deeply about and hold in high regard.” Others call on the author’s unique observations—people who regret what they haven’t done, she writes, end up “mingy, addled, shrink-wrapped versions” of themselves—and offer a reward for wading through obvious advice like “Trust your gut.” Other quotes sound familiar—not necessarily because you’ve read Strayed’s other work, but likely due to the influence of other authors on her writing. When she writes about blooming into your own authenticity, for instance, one is immediately reminded of Anaïs Nin: "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Strayed’s true blossoming happens in her longer works; while this collection might brighten someone’s day—and is sure to sell plenty of copies during the holidays—it’s no substitute for the real thing.

These platitudes need perspective; better to buy the books they came from.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-101-946909

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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