A charming, engaging, and uplifting motivational book.



The inspirational behind-the-scenes story of a social service entrepreneur.

In many ways, Piturro’s debut memoir is emblematic of the American dream. Her father was an Italian immigrant, and her mother was the daughter of an Italian immigrant, and as an adult, the author worked part-time, attended college, and embarked on a successful career as a television marketing executive. Then one day, Piturro wondered if she was truly living the life she wanted, and it seemed to her that she had “missed something.” Although she had a warm relationship with her siblings’ kids, she had none of her own, and this led to “a growing need to connect with more children.” She began to read books to homeless kids at a local shelter, and this led her to her true calling. In this book, she traces the origins of the Pajama Program, a nonprofit organization she created two decades ago that provides books and pajamas to needy children through 63 volunteer-run chapters in the United States. It also provides similar services to youngsters in more than 25 other countries. Piturro straightforwardly reveals the trials and tribulations she faced while starting the nonprofit—including leaving her old career, investing thousands of dollars of her own money, and dealing with the resulting stress on her marriage. These personal sections are among the book’s strongest, as Piturro effectively shows how she rose above challenges and overcame obstacles with the help of others. In fact, she says that one of the biggest lessons she learned was that “the power of one doesn’t hold much weight. That’s because it’s really the power of one-ANOTHER that gets the job done.”

Piturro’s story unfolds chronologically, with wise observations about leadership interspersed throughout—axioms she calls “The Heart of the Matter.” These tips are always pithy and salient; for example, here’s how she explains her advice to “Put your money where your heart-voice is”: “When you spend money, time, energy, and resources on something that brings you joy, the price will feel small compared to what you get in return.” It’s easy to get caught up in the author’s emotions as she tells of the joy she’s brought to children by simply presenting them with new pajamas. Pajamas, in fact, are a recurring metaphor; at one point, for instance, she urges the reader to “Find your pajamas!” and suggests that “Your purpose can show up anywhere, anytime, at any age. It can change your career, your work relationships, your personal life, or all of it!” There are plenty of stirring anecdotes, and one particularly notable recollection describes Piturro’s 2007 appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show, during which the celebrity host unveiled a wonderful surprise. Some readers may find Piturro’s prose style a bit too effusive at times, but her passion is undeniable, and she relates her life lessons with memorable imagery, as when she notes how the name “Pajama Program” came to her “like an invisible raindrop ‘plopped’ onto the top of my head.”

A charming, engaging, and uplifting motivational book.

Pub Date: July 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63299-290-1

Page Count: 202

Publisher: River Grove Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2021

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A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.


An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.


Noted number cruncher Sperling delivers an economist’s rejoinder to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Former director of the National Economic Council in the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the author has long taken a view of the dismal science that takes economic justice fully into account. Alongside all the metrics and estimates and reckonings of GDP, inflation, and the supply curve, he holds the great goal of economic policy to be the advancement of human dignity, a concept intangible enough to chase the econometricians away. Growth, the sacred mantra of most economic policy, “should never be considered an appropriate ultimate end goal” for it, he counsels. Though 4% is the magic number for annual growth to be considered healthy, it is healthy only if everyone is getting the benefits and not just the ultrawealthy who are making away with the spoils today. Defining dignity, admits Sperling, can be a kind of “I know it when I see it” problem, but it does not exist where people are a paycheck away from homelessness; the fact, however, that people widely share a view of indignity suggests the “intuitive universality” of its opposite. That said, the author identifies three qualifications, one of them the “ability to meaningfully participate in the economy with respect, not domination and humiliation.” Though these latter terms are also essentially unquantifiable, Sperling holds that this respect—lack of abuse, in another phrasing—can be obtained through a tight labor market and monetary and fiscal policy that pushes for full employment. In other words, where management needs to come looking for workers, workers are likely to be better treated than when the opposite holds. In still other words, writes the author, dignity is in part a function of “ ‘take this job and shove it’ power,” which is a power worth fighting for.

A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7987-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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