A clear and intensely useful overview aimed at improving your life.

THE FIX YOURSELF HANDBOOK

USING THE PROCESS WAY OF LIFE TO TRANSFORM YOUR LIFE INTO A HAPPY, HEALTHY JOURNEY

A psychologist offers a guide to transforming your life.

In his nonfiction debut, Ruggiero, who’s been in private psychological practice for over 30 years, breaks down the natural processes that govern everyday human life. The author then lays out clear and logical programs for understanding those processes and aligning them to the ultimate goal of better, happier living. “Who we are is the product of the interplay between our physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual attributes,” he writes. In a sequence of chapters, he presents each of the processes to be addressed, ranging from honesty and emotional transparency to a variety of ways to deal with others. Each chapter begins with a heading revealing which process will be employed before moving to Ruggiero’s explanation and expansion on the subject, followed by a “Time to Take Action” section that lays out some clear, numbered approaches to improving that area. He finishes up with a “Driving It Home” conclusion designed to give readers one parting shot of clear instruction; for example, “By keeping our emotions at a minimum, staying close to the facts, and using a warm, respectful approach, you will see that you are able to express your concerns, and that you won’t lose your sanity in the process.” Ruggiero’s prose is bracingly clear and robust, and his insights into the normal crosscurrents of life are simultaneously simple common sense and powerfully innovative thinking about how his readers can sharpen and enhance their control over their own lives, balancing self-care with empathy. “Understand that you will never, ever please everyone all the time,” he writes. “Make sure that whatever you choose to do is something you feel comfortable doing, and that it’s the correct action to take.” Readers will find these clarifications invaluable.

A clear and intensely useful overview aimed at improving your life.

Pub Date: Dec. 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73438-300-3

Page Count: 258

Publisher: FYHB Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2020

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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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A refreshing celebrity memoir focused not strictly on the self but on a much larger horizon.

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WILL

One of Hollywood’s biggest stars delivers a memoir of success won through endless, relentless work and self-reckoning.

“My imagination is my gift, and when it merges with my work ethic, I can make money rain from the heavens.” So writes Smith, whose imagination is indeed a thing of wonder—a means of coping with fear, an abusive father with the heart of a drill instructor, and all manner of inner yearnings. The author’s imagination took him from a job bagging ice in Philadelphia to initial success as a partner in the Grammy-winning rap act DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. Smith was propelled into stardom thanks to the ministrations of Quincy Jones, who arranged an audition in the middle of his own birthday party, bellowing “No paralysis through analysis!” when Smith begged for time to prepare. The mantra—which Jones intoned 50-odd times during the two hours it took for the Hollywood suits to draw up a contract for the hit comedy series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air—is telling, for hidden within this memoir lies a powerful self-help book. For Smith, all of life is a challenge in which one’s feelings are largely immaterial. “I watched my father’s negative emotions seize control of his ample intellect and cause him over and over again to destroy beautiful parts of our family,” he writes, good reason for him to sublimate negativity in the drive to get what he wanted—money, at first, and lots of it, which got him in trouble with the IRS in the early 1990s. Smith, having developed a self-image that cast him as a coward, opines that one’s best life is lived by facing up to the things that hold us back. “I’ve been making a conscious effort to attack all the things that I’m scared of,” he writes, adding, “And this is scary.” It’s a good lesson for any aspiring creative to ponder—though it helps to have Smith’s abundant talent, too.

A refreshing celebrity memoir focused not strictly on the self but on a much larger horizon.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984877-92-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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