A soul-searching reflection that delivers an emotional journey to amplify the self-help tips.

BIG FRIENDSHIP

HOW WE KEEP EACH OTHER CLOSE

A rich exploration of friendship by the talented women behind the Call Your Girlfriend podcast.

Sow and Friedman have been best friends since 2009, when they instantly clicked at a Gossip Girl viewing party, but it hasn’t always been easy. They both struggled for years to juggle what David Sedaris calls life’s “four burners”—family, friends, health, and work. Here, the authors delve psychologically and emotionally into the nature of the concept of a “Big Friendship,” whether it’s a long-distance relationship like their own or anyone deemed appropriate to include in one’s “chosen family.” Written in an almost novelistic style, this chronicle of their experiences include Friedman’s difficult decision to strike out on her own as a writer as well as Sow’s medical issues. Those who follow the podcast will be familiar with the authors’ philosophy of “Shine Theory,” described by its creators as “an investment, over the long term, in helping a friend be their best—and relying on their help in return...a conscious decision to bring our full selves to our friendships and to not let insecurity or envy ravage them.” In other words, as Sow told Friedman after one particularly satisfying professional triumph, “I don’t shine if you don’t shine.” Though both authors have achieved remarkable professional success, that doesn’t mean they gloss over their rough patches, including difficult spells that challenged the bonds of their friendship and a conflict involving a painful sociological phenomenon dubbed the “trapdoor of racism,” which forced both women to reevaluate their bond, ultimately resulting in a trip to couples therapy. Having honed a relationship they compare to the one between Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King, the authors are well equipped to deliver honest and helpful advice to anyone struggling to maintain a healthy union over time and distance.

A soul-searching reflection that delivers an emotional journey to amplify the self-help tips.

Pub Date: July 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982111-90-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 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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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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