A useful grief guide with groundbreaking ideas, expert advice and a compassionate tone.

THRIVING THROUGH TOUGH TIMES

EIGHT CROSS-CULTURAL STRATEGIES TO NAVIGATE LIFE'S ORDEALS

Combs offers a practical guidebook for coping with setbacks and loss.

Combs (Worst Enemy, Best Teacher, 2005, etc.) uses her extensive experience with cross-cultural conflict resolution to explore ways to survive tough times, even if they feel like conflicts “with the gods.” Although her expertise is evident, she avoids unnecessary jargon and offers down-to-earth, realistic advice that can be used in most difficult situations. Her humor and the sensibleness of her suggestions elevate this work above many in the self-help genre; not only is it useful, it’s a pleasure to read. Combs makes the innovative argument that people may be using excellent techniques to cope with grief, but they’ll still likely fail if they’re using those techniques at the wrong time. Thus, the organization of the book divides difficult times into four seasons, emphasizing that the best coping strategies for one season are not necessarily appropriate for the other seasons. The cycle begins with autumn, when things that have been cherished or people who have been loved “fall” away. Autumn is also the season for envisioning positive consequences, perhaps using a mantra or prayer to increase focus on those potential outcomes. And although American culture emphasizes action and confronting problems head-on, Combs cautions that during winter, people need to rest and gather strength. In spring, celebration and ritual are important in order to mark the ending of one phase of life and the transition to another. Summer represents the cycle’s end, when people are ready to move forward from their difficult circumstances and re-engage fully in life and relationships. In her discussion of each season, Combs offers specific recommendations for how to best cope with the emotions and tasks of that season. She provides multiple examples from countries and cultures, and she enlivens the text further with quotations from people of various ages, ethnicities, eras and professions. The uplifting conclusion is both a summary and inspiration.

A useful grief guide with groundbreaking ideas, expert advice and a compassionate tone.

Pub Date: July 11, 2012

ISBN: 978-1466202993

Page Count: 210

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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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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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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