A serious, sensitive book that teaches personal responsibility using whimsy and wonder.



In her debut “guide for the teenage mind,” Swinburne provides a “life tool box” for parents, educators and young adults.

Swinburne challenges readers to explore the meaning and malleability of happiness, attitude, perception, energy and the mind/body connection by posing a series of quirky questions, from the basic “Do You Know What You Want?’ to “What Makes Up Your Reality?” and “What’s Your Frequency, Kenneth?” The answers to these questions will be unique to each reader, but the author provides each with her own pithy digressions, punctuated with quotations from Mahatma Gandhi, Deepak Chopra and the character Phoebe from Friends, the author’s “favourite programme ever.” The author presents strategies and techniques to help readers put their own insights into action, including a list of helpful “attitude adjustment” tips. Using the research of psychologists in the field of “neuro-linguistic programming” Swinburne counsels teens on how to control their emotional well-being and retrain their “mental chatter.” Readers can achieve a positive attitude by respecting others, she writes, which in turn can lead to a greater sense of personal responsibility, happiness and success. Taking a cue from Stephen R. Covey’s 1989 book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Swinburne suggests that readers observe those who are happy and successful and “model them, do what they do.” She adds a healthy dose of visualization techniques and numerous examples of perception altering physical reality, many from the 2004 film What the Bleep Do We Know!? Swinburne keeps her topics accessible with sound advice and assured writing—even when she plumbs the depths of the “smallest levels of reality,” as represented by the Planck scale in quantum physics. The author’s rampant Britishisms, such as “boldies” and “identity parade,” and references to people such as Lord Alan Sugar of the U.K. TV show The Apprentice, add charm, but may trip up some American readers.

A serious, sensitive book that teaches personal responsibility using whimsy and wonder.

Pub Date: July 27, 2011

ISBN: 978-1462029365

Page Count: 112

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2013

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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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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