A fun, successful collection of concepts, thoughts, and strategies about maintaining joy and living creatively.


Expanded Joy


Debut author and educational administrator Popish offers innovative springboards, exercises, and tools for a more inspired life.

The author writes that she set out to find a book that could guide her to a passion-filled existence. Her failure to find it served as a catalyst toward success, however, as she began to pen this book. The result is a vibrant collection of strategies that can be used personally, as part of a group, or shared with family in order to set a daily tone. Within these pages, Popish offers fresh ideas about writing, practicing gratitude, and going on adventures to spice up one’s daily life and imbue one’s free time with meaning. The book starts out with practical habits that promise to lead to calmness and more fulfillment. For instance, the author begins by asserting the importance of sleep, explaining the science behind REM cycles and the regeneration that happens overnight. She then offers a list of strategies to make one’s sleep deeper and more meaningful, such as darkening a room, changing bedding or pillows, taking “cleansing breaths,” and listening to soothing music. Although these tips may seem obvious, they’re often forgotten in busy lifestyles. Next, she covers personal relationships, suggesting ways to find joy by focusing on strong social connections. Indeed, much of the book focuses on methods for creating joyful environments, such as by making inspiration boards using fabric samples, quotes, and photographs or undertaking creative collage. Popish also calls upon positive psychology concepts, pointing to data-backed studies on the importance of planned “spontaneity,” savoring experiences, and varying one’s joys to avoid “habituation” and a decline of stimulation. The book is well-crafted, freshly written, and explains its ideas in a logical, straightforward way, even when tackling complex psychology concepts. Along the way, the author covers a broad landscape of wellness strategies. She encourages solitude and social connection, planning and spontaneity, laughter and spirituality—all culminating in a dialectical approach that’s easy to follow.

A fun, successful collection of concepts, thoughts, and strategies about maintaining joy and living creatively.  

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-937498-82-5

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Elevate

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2015

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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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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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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.


The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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