A welcome addition to the self-help genre that aims to heal body and mind.

Giving Up Junk-Food Relationships

RECIPES FOR HEALTHY CHOICES

This debut self-help book asks readers to think twice about what they eat—and how they fall in love.

The market for self-help books about love and sex is seemingly insatiable. So, too, is the market for health and diet books. Life and relationship coach Barnes cleverly combines the two genres into one book that outlines the steps to maintain healthy bodies and healthy relationships. Barnes argues that just as chips, pizza and candy make us sick, so do relationships that fulfill temporary emotional cravings. They may feel good in the moment, she writes, but they soon lead to an emotional “crash” akin to a blood-sugar dip. Using templates created by the food industry to distinguish types of foods and portion sizes, Barnes reimagines love lives as a series of ingredients that make up a “Well-Balanced Meal,” or a lovely, decadent “Dessert” (Barnes’ term for casual dating). Self-respect, forgiveness, communication and proper boundaries make up a deliciously satisfying romantic partnership, she writes, while self-doubt and criticism are junk foods to be tossed out immediately. The author extends this conceit all the way through the book, expounding upon emotional “Food Poisoning,” “Between-Meal Snacks” (rebound relationships) and “Forbidden Fruit.” Although her numerous quizzes may strike readers as a bit trite, her food metaphors are so original that they give renewed taste to stale concepts. Barnes isn’t a nutritionist, but her health and diet tips are common-sensical and avoid the didactic tone of many diet books. She even destigmatizes such issues as sex addiction and emotional wounds by filtering them through the lens of nutrition, allowing readers to examine their own inner physical and emotional workings more objectively.

A welcome addition to the self-help genre that aims to heal body and mind. 

Pub Date: Jan. 25, 2013

ISBN: 978-1475972771

Page Count: 220

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: March 8, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

THE LAWS OF HUMAN NATURE

A follow-on to the author’s garbled but popular 48 Laws of Power, promising that readers will learn how to win friends and influence people, to say nothing of outfoxing all those “toxic types” out in the world.

Greene (Mastery, 2012, etc.) begins with a big sell, averring that his book “is designed to immerse you in all aspects of human behavior and illuminate its root causes.” To gauge by this fat compendium, human behavior is mostly rotten, a presumption that fits with the author’s neo-Machiavellian program of self-validation and eventual strategic supremacy. The author works to formula: First, state a “law,” such as “confront your dark side” or “know your limits,” the latter of which seems pale compared to the Delphic oracle’s “nothing in excess.” Next, elaborate on that law with what might seem to be as plain as day: “Losing contact with reality, we make irrational decisions. That is why our success often does not last.” One imagines there might be other reasons for the evanescence of glory, but there you go. Finally, spin out a long tutelary yarn, seemingly the longer the better, to shore up the truism—in this case, the cometary rise and fall of one-time Disney CEO Michael Eisner, with the warning, “his fate could easily be yours, albeit most likely on a smaller scale,” which ranks right up there with the fortuneteller’s “I sense that someone you know has died" in orders of probability. It’s enough to inspire a new law: Beware of those who spend too much time telling you what you already know, even when it’s dressed up in fresh-sounding terms. “Continually mix the visceral with the analytic” is the language of a consultant’s report, more important-sounding than “go with your gut but use your head, too.”

The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-42814-5

Page Count: 580

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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Clever and accessibly conversational, Manson reminds us to chill out, not sweat the small stuff, and keep hope for a better...

EVERYTHING IS F*CKED

A BOOK ABOUT HOPE

The popular blogger and author delivers an entertaining and thought-provoking third book about the importance of being hopeful in terrible times.

“We are a culture and a people in need of hope,” writes Manson (The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, 2016, etc.). With an appealing combination of gritty humor and straightforward prose, the author floats the idea of drawing strength and hope from a myriad of sources in order to tolerate the “incomprehensibility of your existence.” He broadens and illuminates his concepts through a series of hypothetical scenarios based in contemporary reality. At the dark heart of Manson’s guide is the “Uncomfortable Truth,” which reiterates our cosmic insignificance and the inevitability of death, whether we blindly ignore or blissfully embrace it. The author establishes this harsh sentiment early on, creating a firm foundation for examining the current crisis of hope, how we got here, and what it means on a larger scale. Manson’s referential text probes the heroism of Auschwitz infiltrator Witold Pilecki and the work of Isaac Newton, Nietzsche, Einstein, and Immanuel Kant, as the author explores the mechanics of how hope is created and maintained through self-control and community. Though Manson takes many serpentine intellectual detours, his dark-humored wit and blunt prose are both informative and engaging. He is at his most convincing in his discussions about the fallibility of religious beliefs, the modern world’s numerous shortcomings, deliberations over the “Feeling Brain” versus the “Thinking Brain,” and the importance of striking a happy medium between overindulging in and repressing emotions. Although we live in a “couch-potato-pundit era of tweetstorms and outrage porn,” writes Manson, hope springs eternal through the magic salves of self-awareness, rational thinking, and even pain, which is “at the heart of all emotion.”

Clever and accessibly conversational, Manson reminds us to chill out, not sweat the small stuff, and keep hope for a better world alive.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-288843-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2019

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