An intriguing but uneven manual that focuses on eradicating negative thoughts and feelings.

WRITE AND TEAR

DETOX YOUR MIND

A guide offers step-by-step instructions for how readers can cure their harmful emotions through writing.

Ildikó, a researcher from Slovakia, has written a short manual for readers wishing to heal what she calls “information cramps”—“a phenomenon that directly affects the human central nervous system.” She claims that these cramps overload readers’ brains with stimuli, causing “depression, anxiety, and personality disorders.” To cure these cramps, she provides the following remedy: “write as much as possible about things that are bothering you,” crumple, tear, throw the paper away, shower, take a break, and smile. In Slovakia, the author felt judged by society for being a young widow, so she used her knowledge of cognitive processes to develop this guide to eliminating negative emotions. For the first step of this process, she recommends that readers write down everything: “sadness, pain,” and feelings of failure. The author claims her simple manual will heal cramps faster than other guides, which are “incomplete and incorrect.” Ildikó delivers some useful tips in this well-intentioned and thought-provoking book. But her instructions are a bit repetitive, urging her readers to “Write. Write. Write. Write. Write. Write. Draw. Scratch. Write. Write. Write.” There are also a lot of platitudes in these pages. For example, “Smile and laughter are the best medicines. Don’t forget to laugh. Laugh a lot. It’s medicine. Have a wide smile at this guide. Well done. Smile is your medicine.” And: “You are a strong life. Remember it, and believe in yourself. Believe in yourself, and remember all the nice and beautiful things.” The book would benefit from the author’s expanding the instructions with prompts and presenting more information on how writing helps the central nervous system.

An intriguing but uneven manual that focuses on eradicating negative thoughts and feelings.

Pub Date: Dec. 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-72834-064-7

Page Count: 62

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: April 8, 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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