A noble and well-intentioned guide; social media tidbits for optimists.


A timely overview explores how to use social media wisely.

The dark side of social media, a component of which is incivility, seems to dominate current news cycles, so it is refreshing when a book focuses exclusively on the network’s positive potential. Leary (Lord Help Me…I’m Single, 2006) rightly recognizes that social media is merely an enabling tool for individuals who “must understand how much power our actions truly have.” The manual’s approach to the subject is both liberating and limiting; offering “101 ways” allows the freedom of a great number of entries but restricts each to the briefest discussion, often a single page. The concept forces content into tiny segments that cannot help but be so simple as to be obvious, as in “Answer Questions,” “Like a Page,” and “Really Mean It.” The restrictive format also promotes repetition; one would be hard pressed, for example, to distinguish between “Don’t Post in Anger” and “Leave Your Crankiness Offline.” On the positive side, though, the intent of the sincere guide is to encourage high-minded, ethical usage of social media; in that regard, it succeeds admirably, and perhaps being obvious and repetitive helps achieve that goal. Who can argue with such decent statements as “Choose your reactions wisely,” “Take care in posting anything that is overly personal about your child,” and “When something makes you laugh, use social media to spread the joy.” One of the more topical entries, “Avoid Fake News,” is addressed early on. “Fact-check your news, people,” urges Leary. “Be part of the movement that stands for sharing truthful news with the world…and speak out when you see fake news being perpetuated.” Also included are some tips that could enlighten and inspire: The book recommends gleaning daily wisdom from Notes from the Universe, viewing inspirational videos shared by Upworthy, and learning something new via TED Talks. The volume’s last entry, which touts “soulcial” media as a way “through which users communicate authentically and ethically to create positive impacts,” is appropriately uplifting.

A noble and well-intentioned guide; social media tidbits for optimists.

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-982203-20-7

Page Count: 180

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2018

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The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.


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...



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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