A provocative book that lies on the edges of the self-help universe.

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GAME CHANGERS

WHAT LEADERS, INNOVATORS, AND MAVERICKS DO TO WIN AT LIFE

Power, money, sex: Those “mitochondrial imperatives” drive us, but the shell surrounding them can be tweaked to make the ride smoother.

Life-hacking guru Asprey (Head Strong: The Bulletproof Plan to Activate Untapped Brain Energy to Work Smarter and Think Faster—in Just Two Weeks, 2017, etc.), inventor of “bulletproof coffee” and other concoctions, surveys “maverick scientists, world-class athletes, biochemists, innovative MDs, shamans, Olympic nutritionists,” and other such outlying types in order to cobble a system by which, following the rules, readers are meant to become smarter, faster, and happier. Each of those key comparatives comes with a packet of rules and exercises, the first law among which is already widespread: “Use the power of No,” meaning say no more often to the things and people that demand your time. Saying no takes many forms, including reducing the number of choices one has to make in daily life. Buy a simple wardrobe like Steve Jobs’ black turtleneck, eat the same things for breakfast, and put your elective energy into more important decisions. Asprey’s montage of pop-psych from several sources will be familiar to self-help readers (“‘Can’t’ is always a lie”; “When you label something 'bad,’ you miss out on an opportunity to figure out how it can be good”). Less run-of-the-mill is the author’s cheerleading for the use of psychotropic and nootropic drugs; his enthusiasm for LSD would cheer Timothy Leary, while he ties his advocacy of mood enhancement to mental flexibility (and, naturally, has a line of products available to seal the deal). He also advocates for other good things of life, from vitamin D3 to “conscious sex with the right people.” Traditional moralists and gym rats may find some of Asprey’s ideas unsettling, but those who are familiar with more free-form notions of life extension and biohacking will be encouraged to "stop doing the things that make you weak and start doing more of the things that will make you stronger.”

A provocative book that lies on the edges of the self-help universe.

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-265244-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper Wave/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2018

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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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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