A calming and gently thought-provoking reminder that the simplest wisdom is often the truest.

MY SOUL SINGS FOR YOU

SPIRITUAL PEACE IN THE LIFE AND TIMES OF NOW

A motivational guide to simpler living that taps into its author’s experiences.

In her attractive nonfiction debut, Tripp draws in part on her time in East Africa in the 1950s, recalling some straightforward advice she was given about hippos and alligators. Gators, she was told, are very dangerous and live in swamps—so stay out of swamps if you don’t want to get eaten. That advice is typical of her direct approach. “Please don’t overlook the wisdom in simplicity,” Tripp writes in a sentiment that runs throughout the book. “If you don’t want to set yourself up for pain, don’t go where you know the potential for pain exists. If you don’t want to be eaten by alligators, do not venture into the swamps, at least not willingly.” She calls her book an “anthem to my Creator” and draws heavily on her life story, emphasizing optimism and flexibility in the face of life’s uncertainties. “I’ve learned always to expect the unexpected,” she writes, “and to smile at my Creator’s sense of humor.” Her book frankly acknowledges that modern life seems designed to attack and destroy peaceful simplicity. She reflects on how plugged-in she once was to that world, with feeds and notifications constantly bombarding her on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Vimeo, and elsewhere until Tripp felt like she was “ADHD on steroids.” She bravely took a step that others only dream about: “I announced on my Facebook profile page that I was reining in my activity on social media to passionately pursue the business and personal goals aligned with my purpose.” Through life lessons and her Christian insights, she seeks to provide antidotes to that continual noise and chaos. Her narrative voice is inviting; her candid optimism will likely comfort even her non-Christian readers, though her sentiments can range from the biblical—“Love never fails”—to the familiar-but-ridiculous: “That which doesn't kill us can make us stronger.” She urges people never to underestimate the power of prayer or the value of friendship, and such ideas, though commonplace, are always worth repeating.

A calming and gently thought-provoking reminder that the simplest wisdom is often the truest.

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-973672-35-7

Page Count: 356

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: March 2, 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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A handful of pearls amid a pile of empty oyster shells.

THE COMFORT BOOK

Bestselling author Haig offers a book’s worth of apothegms to serve as guides to issues ranging from disquietude to self-acceptance.

Like many collections of this sort—terse snippets of advice, from the everyday to the cosmic—some parts will hit home with surprising insight, some will feel like old hat, and others will come across as disposable or incomprehensible. Years ago, Haig experienced an extended period of suicidal depression, so he comes at many of these topics—pain, hope, self-worth, contentment—from a hard-won perspective. This makes some of the material worthy of a second look, even when it feels runic or contrary to experience. The author’s words are instigations, hopeful first steps toward illumination. Most chapters are only a few sentences long, the longest running for three pages. Much is left unsaid and left up to readers to dissect. On being lost, Haig recounts an episode with his father when they got turned around in a forest in France. His father said to him, “If we keep going in a straight line we’ll get out of here.” He was correct, a bit of wisdom Haig turned to during his depression when he focused on moving forward: “It is important to remember the bottom of the valley never has the clearest view. And that sometimes all you need to do in order to rise up again is to keep moving forward.” Many aphorisms sound right, if hardly groundbreaking—e.g., a quick route to happiness is making someone else happy; “No is a good word. It keeps you sane. In an age of overload, no is really yes. It is yes to having space you need to live”; “External events are neutral. They only gain positive or negative value the moment they enter our mind.” Haig’s fans may enjoy this one, but others should take a pass.

A handful of pearls amid a pile of empty oyster shells.

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-14-313666-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Penguin Life

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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