by Dan Schuck ‧ RELEASE DATE: May 12, 2018
One of life’s littler instruction books, and one that goes down easily.
Debut author Schuck uses an optimist/pessimist dichotomy to pose questions about values and the concept of balance.
This illustrated “Children’s Book for Grown-Ups” is based upon the perennial question of whether one considers a partially poured glass to be half full (the positive outlook) or half empty (the negative). In this book, the glass contains a line-art illustration of a live goldfish, symbolizing that the water contains life itself—a person’s entire cosmology. Indeed, in Schuck’s interpretation, the empty/full dilemma is shown to have a great deal of nuance. That dreaded empty space above the meniscus? “It’s really more like: ‘filled with Opportunity!,’ ” he writes. A glass can be too full, he says—particularly of bad things. One may also share their overflow with someone else, or one’s glass may have a crack in it, defined as “Risk,” which one must accommodate in some way. A repeated motif involves contrasting lists of ingredients (or personal qualities) in one’s glass, which can include everything from “dirty diapers” to “faith” to “sex-life.” These items are printed in many different typefaces throughout; the laundry list approach is understandable, but the wide variety of type styles employed here are distracting and excessive. Still, the fact that the author gets all these suggestions and directives across in just 48 pages should endear the book to readers whose nightstands are already full of self-help works by David D. Burns, Marianne Williamson, and other life coaches. Even Richard Carlson’s 1997 classic Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…and It’s All Small Stuff seems massive by comparison.One of life’s littler instruction books, and one that goes down easily.
Pub Date: May 12, 2018
Page Count: 48
Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2018
Review Program: Kirkus Indie
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by Glennon Doyle ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 10, 2020
Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.
Awards & Accolades
New York Times Bestseller
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
Page Count: 352
Publisher: Dial Books
Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2019
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020
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by Cheryl Strayed ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 1, 2015
These platitudes need perspective; better to buy the books they came from.
A lightweight collection of self-help snippets from the bestselling author.
What makes a quote a quote? Does it have to be quoted by someone other than the original author? Apparently not, if we take Strayed’s collection of truisms as an example. The well-known memoirist (Wild), novelist (Torch), and radio-show host (“Dear Sugar”) pulls lines from her previous pages and delivers them one at a time in this small, gift-sized book. No excerpt exceeds one page in length, and some are only one line long. Strayed doesn’t reference the books she’s drawing from, so the quotes stand without context and are strung together without apparent attention to structure or narrative flow. Thus, we move back and forth from first-person tales from the Pacific Crest Trail to conversational tidbits to meditations on grief. Some are astoundingly simple, such as Strayed’s declaration that “Love is the feeling we have for those we care deeply about and hold in high regard.” Others call on the author’s unique observations—people who regret what they haven’t done, she writes, end up “mingy, addled, shrink-wrapped versions” of themselves—and offer a reward for wading through obvious advice like “Trust your gut.” Other quotes sound familiar—not necessarily because you’ve read Strayed’s other work, but likely due to the influence of other authors on her writing. When she writes about blooming into your own authenticity, for instance, one is immediately reminded of Anaïs Nin: "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Strayed’s true blossoming happens in her longer works; while this collection might brighten someone’s day—and is sure to sell plenty of copies during the holidays—it’s no substitute for the real thing.These platitudes need perspective; better to buy the books they came from.
Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2015
Page Count: 160
Review Posted Online: Aug. 15, 2015
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015
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