A book full of daily mediations on faith and religion suffers from its journal-esque structure.

Navigating the Narrow Path to Life: Daily Reflections from a Fellow Traveler

A journal of spiritual reflections meant to inspire others to dedicate their lives to God.

For each day of the year, Noble’s spiritual guidebook offers short entries about different aspects of faith and God. For example, one entry discusses the Transfiguration (when God speaks to Moses and his disciples through a cloud). The interpretation encourages people to go directly to God with their troubles in order to build a strong relationship with him. Other entries focus more on Noble’s own spirituality. In one instance, she shares her struggle about the joy she felt when she found out her ex-husband cheated on the woman who had been his mistress during their marriage. Unsurprisingly, some entries resonate more strongly than others. In a May entry, Noble outlines her belief that, by his hanging on the cross, Christ blessed the wood itself. But how readers apply that to their own lives isn’t very clear. Entries about End Times and her stance against gay marriage will be off-putting to some. At times, the structure of short entries works against the book’s purpose. Instead of concentrating and fleshing out her ideas, the author briefly mentions them and then moves onto the next. At one point, she describes how she wants to model her approach to ministering on Melchizedek, a priest appearing in the Bible; e.g., she would “pop onto the scene, deliver a blessing and drop back out.” And while that might work in other contexts, in book form, the short entries create a fast pace where one day’s insight slides into the next. The book would probably best be read as it was written: one entry per day. Otherwise, an entire year’s worth of religious insight is overwhelming. Still, Noble sets forth a good framework for one who wants to live a more godly life, and she characterizes her views clearly: It’s not enough to just go through the motions; one must actively practice one’s faith through attending church, praying throughout the day and developing a strong relationship with Jesus.

A book full of daily mediations on faith and religion suffers from its journal-esque structure.

Pub Date: March 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-1490820422

Page Count: 388

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 28, 2014

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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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One of the NBA’s 50 greatest players scores another basket—a deeply personal one.

BACK FROM THE DEAD

A basketball legend reflects on his life in the game and a life lived in the “nightmare of endlessly repetitive and constant pain, agony, and guilt.”

Walton (Nothing but Net, 1994, etc.) begins this memoir on the floor—literally: “I have been living on the floor for most of the last two and a half years, unable to move.” In 2008, he suffered a catastrophic spinal collapse. “My spine will no longer hold me,” he writes. Thirty-seven orthopedic injuries, stemming from the fact that he had malformed feet, led to an endless string of stress fractures. As he notes, Walton is “the most injured athlete in the history of sports.” Over the years, he had ground his lower extremities “down to dust.” Walton’s memoir is two interwoven stories. The first is about his lifelong love of basketball, the second, his lifelong battle with injuries and pain. He had his first operation when he was 14, for a knee hurt in a basketball game. As he chronicles his distinguished career in the game, from high school to college to the NBA, he punctuates that story with a parallel one that chronicles at each juncture the injuries he suffered and overcame until he could no longer play, eventually turning to a successful broadcasting career (which helped his stuttering problem). Thanks to successful experimental spinal fusion surgery, he’s now pain-free. And then there’s the music he loves, especially the Grateful Dead’s; it accompanies both stories like a soundtrack playing off in the distance. Walton tends to get long-winded at times, but that won’t be news to anyone who watches his broadcasts, and those who have been afflicted with lifelong injuries will find the book uplifting and inspirational. Basketball fans will relish Walton’s acumen and insights into the game as well as his stories about players, coaches (especially John Wooden), and games, all told in Walton’s fervent, witty style.

One of the NBA’s 50 greatest players scores another basket—a deeply personal one.

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4767-1686-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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