Life is simple, if you think about it.

A step-by-step guide to using Christian faith to achieve life goals here and now.
Spencer offers a back-to-basics guide to achieving “peace of mind, God-discovery, self-discovery” in this personal outline of a Christian worldview that ultimately hinges on one key point: Humans can’t change God’s laws; we can only accept those laws and live in harmony with God or fight against those laws and thereby court “disease, confusion, lack, and chaos.” Spencer uses a close reading of Christian Scripture to unfold a series of “natural and spiritual principles” that can be used in the same way blueprints and a “constructive imagination” were used to build the White House and the Empire State Building. He encourages his readers to examine the lives of accomplished, successful people in order to discover “the thin but unbreakable thread that runs through the lives of those who succeed” (in one of the book’s many personal notes, he offers himself as a source of encouragement if the reader needs one). Attempting to bolster his contention that life is simple, he maintains that what we think, we then speak, then believe, then act upon—“Action creates effort, and effort creates results.” Therefore, fully understanding our own thoughts is the key to controlling and shaping our behaviors. This is the “simple 101 of how desire works,” a concept he explains throughout his book, though it may seem contradicted by his later assertion that the subconscious mind is “the most amazing thing about us.” Spencer is able to reconcile the two by characterizing the subconscious mind as a kind of garden, where conscious thoughts are internalized into aspects of character in a cycle over which the individual can exercise control through prayer and self-discipline. In clear, accessible prose, Spencer details the crucial role “foundational choices” have on all aspects of life, and although he advocates that those foundational choices be guided by Christian faith, his charting of personal responsibility will be thought-provoking for readers of any denomination.

A plainspoken, well-conceived manual for uncluttered faith and self-examination.

Pub Date: June 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1495937422

Page Count: 124

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2014

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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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