INCREDIBLE AH-HA MOMENTS

IDEAS YOU WON'T STOP TALKING ABOUT

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

ISBN: 978-1468010213

Page Count: 354

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012

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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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