Nothing truly groundbreaking, but an enthusiastic, practical guide to achieving a healthy sense of interconnectedness within...

BRAVING THE WILDERNESS

THE QUEST FOR TRUE BELONGING AND THE COURAGE TO STAND ALONE

How to foster fellowship through fearlessness and visibility.

In her latest book, following three bestsellers, Brown (Univ. of Houston Graduate College of Social Work; Rising Strong, 2015, etc.) turns her attention to cultivating community and the power of belonging in the midst of an era of disconnection. Openly sharing her own history of insecurity, self-destructiveness, vulnerability, and maturation while her quarrelsome parents repeatedly relocated, the author admits to finding inspiration from those she believes have “shaped the world with their courage and creativity,” a list that includes J.K. Rowling and Maya Angelou. Through the result of an extensive research study, Brown discovered, despite the increasing distractions of contemporary daily life, an innate and persistent need for people to experience a real connection to others and how that need can be compromised by a fear of conflict or intolerance from loved ones or respected peers. The author examines the pain of loneliness and how anxiety and uncertainty can undermine focused efforts to engage socially. Also emerging from her fieldwork data are a few elements of true belonging, which encourage readers to get closer to those who are different, set boundaries, propagate trust and truth in yourself and others, learn the art of listening, and be “more curious than defensive, all while seeking moments of togetherness.” She writes that time and patience are required to cultivate the unique kind of courage necessary to achieve each of these goals, but the tools are accessible and the rewards are great. Grounded by moving interviews, case studies, her experience spearheading four educational companies, and a winning combination of perceptiveness and humor, Brown’s enthusiastic narrative urges readers to discover their own “wilderness” by culling the strength and determination (and risk) necessary to truly live “from our wild heart rather than our weary hurt.”

Nothing truly groundbreaking, but an enthusiastic, practical guide to achieving a healthy sense of interconnectedness within one’s culture and community—and likely another bestseller for Brown.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9584-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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