by Alexander Nestoiter ‧ RELEASE DATE: Dec. 22, 2011
Our fate lies not in our stars but in our feet, argues this self-help manifesto.
Nestoiter’s unpredictable treatise flutters off in many directions but returns to his unconventional theory that the neurological challenge of bipedal balancing drove human brain evolution, and that the environment surrounding the feet, our primary balancing appendages, decisively influences the psyche. Unfortunately, paved surfaces and comfortable shoes make our balancing faculties atrophy and sever our podiatric connection to reality, causing emotional and spiritual distress. (Stable, high-grip shoes “utterly obliterate the information your soles are relaying to your soul,” he warns, but tottering on high heels provides a balancing workout that helps women “stay sharp, witty, alert and perceptive.”) Nestoiter interrupts his off-the-wall analysis of the mind-foot problem with bizarre digressions on everything from mass extinctions to the link between flatulence and obesity (“do not hold gas for more than thirty minutes, or you will never be thin again”), while an appendix offers random tips on alleviating dandruff, estimating the diameter of your small intestine and warding off evil spirits with salt. Interspersed are unctuous sales pitches for his “Balance Professor,” a balance-pipe that provides a “true therapeutic, deep-tissue foot massage” along with a soothing brain tune-up. Nestoiter’s opus reads like a parody of an autodidact’s nutty theory of everything, though he seems to mean it seriously. His ideas are exhaustively though ineptly reasoned out in an earnest, conversational style that seems lucid until you stop to think about his arguments, but the book bogs down under slabs of amateur scholarship and mathematical calculations and grows repetitious as he circles back to his obsessions. He allows that the material is “a little tedious” but insists that readers “not skip pages” lest they misunderstand his unconventional conclusions. Nestoiter’s eccentric ideas actually get harder to follow the less of it one skips, but at times his Yogi Berra-esque pronouncements—“Time is nature’s way of keeping everything from happening all at once”—attain an accidental profundity. Nestoiter’s grab bag provides some unusual food for thought, though it can be a little hard to swallow.
Pub Date: Dec. 22, 2011
Page Count: 354
Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2012
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012
Review Program: Kirkus Indie
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by Glennon Doyle ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 10, 2020
Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.
Awards & Accolades
New York Times Bestseller
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
Page Count: 352
Publisher: Dial Books
Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2019
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020
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by Cheryl Strayed ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 1, 2015
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
Page Count: 160
Review Posted Online: Aug. 15, 2015
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015
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