While the writing quality remains uneven, this book deftly mixes autobiography and advice.

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Win Your Wounds

MAKE BETTER CHOICES & IMPROVE THE WAY YOU PERCEIVE LIFE, YOURSELF, AND OTHERS

This debut self-help book encourages empathy, financial stability, and self-confidence.

Alimam, born in 1961, was raised in Sudan. In 1997, he moved to Denver, where he initially worked as an airport security screener and cabdriver. This book originated, he explains, after he got his MBA in accounting in 2004 and failed to find work in his field. “That situation led me to embark on a healing journey, as an attempt to protect myself against breakdown,” he writes. Through reading self-help books and mulling his own experiences, he progressed from depression to gratitude for the life he has. In 52 short thematic chapters—the work could easily lend itself to weekly devotional use—Alimam discusses what he’s learned, including understanding the value of forgiveness and relinquishing control to God, and how to develop proper self-love. The author and his family have experienced Islamophobia in America, yet he is determined not to take it personally but to forgive the slights, whether accidental or deliberate, as they often result from ignorance. “Compassion is the life line that connects all people,” he asserts, so it’s important to resist the urge to brand people and instead recognize that everyone contributes in different ways. The author affirms the eternal existence of the spirit, and though he’s coming from a Muslim point of view, his religious references—to Adam and Eve and to a story of the Prophet Muhammad’s that resembles that of the Samaritan woman—should resonate with readers of other faiths, too. Being prudent about possessions and money is a major theme that recurs in multiple chapters, with personal anecdotes reinforcing his lessons. The advice in Chapters 26 and 41 stands out: “Make Your Hay Earlier” (don’t wait until retirement to enjoy life) and “Don’t Preach Hate.” A section on defeating procrastination and perfectionism and another giving 10 tips for combating insecurity are additional highlights. But the book is let down by its awkward, non-colloquial phrasing (for example, “despoiling comfort zone”; “He may act in heat but cooler later”; “glutenous people”), subject–verb agreement issues (“when that money go away”; “Before it fly away and forever”), and typos (“planing” for planning; “honoring our gusts” for guests). This means that some would-be profound aphorisms fall flat.

While the writing quality remains uneven, this book deftly mixes autobiography and advice.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5078-6381-7

Page Count: 162

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2016

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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

MASTERY

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. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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