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

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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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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

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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The book would have benefited from a tighter structure, but it’s inspiring and relatable for readers with depression.

THE HILARIOUS WORLD OF DEPRESSION

The creator and host of the titular podcast recounts his lifelong struggles with depression.

With the increasing success of his podcast, Moe, a longtime radio personality and author whose books include The Deleted E-Mails of Hillary Clinton: A Parody (2015), was encouraged to open up further about his own battles with depression and delve deeper into characteristics of the disease itself. Moe writes about how he has struggled with depression throughout his life, and he recounts similar experiences from the various people he has interviewed in the past, many of whom are high-profile entertainers and writers—e.g. Dick Cavett and Andy Richter, novelist John Green. The narrative unfolds in a fairly linear fashion, and the author relates his family’s long history with depression and substance abuse. His father was an alcoholic, and one of his brothers was a drug addict. Moe tracks how he came to recognize his own signs of depression while in middle school, as he experienced the travails of OCD and social anxiety. These early chapters alternate with brief thematic “According to THWoD” sections that expand on his experiences, providing relevant anecdotal stories from some of his podcast guests. In this early section of the book, the author sometimes rambles. Though his experiences as an adolescent are accessible, he provides too many long examples, overstating his message, and some of the humor feels forced. What may sound naturally breezy in his podcast interviews doesn’t always strike the same note on the written page. The narrative gains considerable momentum when Moe shifts into his adult years and the challenges of balancing family and career while also confronting the devastating loss of his brother from suicide. As he grieved, he writes, his depression caused him to experience “a salad of regret, anger, confusion, and horror.” Here, the author focuses more attention on the origins and evolution of his series, stories that prove compelling as well.

The book would have benefited from a tighter structure, but it’s inspiring and relatable for readers with depression.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20928-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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