Heartfelt and honest advice, even if not groundbreaking.

CREATING HAPPINESS

START LIVING YOUR BEST LIFE

This brief debut guide aims to explain in simple terms how to achieve happiness.

Early in his book, business consultant and former CEO Dorais asks, “What is so magical about happiness that it is almost impossible to grasp and even harder to retain for any length of time?” In attempting to answer the question, the author does an admirable job of piecing together quotations and counsel from numerous individuals and adding his own pragmatic advice. Each self-contained chapter addresses a different aspect of the quest for happiness. Dorais employs anecdotes from personal experience and the occasional exercise to add relevance. There is already a proliferation of research and literature about what it takes for one to be happy, so much of the material in this work strikes a familiar chord. For example, one chapter acknowledges the commonly held belief in the power of love with this caveat: “Although love does not guarantee happiness, it does help create the right environment for each of us to create our own happiness.” Another chapter discusses the somewhat obvious notion that finding a purpose in life contributes to happiness: “The closer we are to our calling, the easier our lives get.” Other content is a bit more original; enlightening text explores the intriguing similarities between the human brain and a computer, for instance. The book, which includes uncredited illustrations, offers a lucid explanation of the key difference between objectives and expectations: “Managing expectations is the only way to ensure happiness over any sustainable period of time.” There may not be any startling revelations here, but Dorais is consistently thoughtful and observant, whether he is discussing karma (“Karma is like a bank—we store good and bad credits”) or gratitude (“Gratitude has to be the greatest quality a man can possess”). The writing is competent; the examples are useful; the cited references are pertinent; and the message is uncomplicated. This is an easy read with just enough depth to entice readers to engage in some meaningful introspection about factors and conditions that may or may not create personal happiness.

Heartfelt and honest advice, even if not groundbreaking. (appendices)

Pub Date: April 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9991136-1-2

Page Count: 180

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2020

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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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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