A book with a pure heart but inadequate guidance.




Hepker explores what it means to live the good life and how one can achieve it.

These eternal questions, which extend back to the ancient Greeks and live on to the present day, lie at the heart of Hepker’s thin treatise based on the Bright Beautiful School of Thought, a 1600-year-old philosophical tradition. Hepker, who holds a doctorate in psychology, argues that “True Health,” the telos of good living, can be achieved through exercising other truths (responsibility, effort, etc.) in our dealings with others and ourselves. For instance, personal benefit maximizes when individuals perform good deeds for their own sake without the expectation of reward or recognition. To live healthily starts with the individual, who can increase his or her well-being by taking personal responsibility to rectify bad habits, extreme types of behavior (e.g., greed and hatred) and a lack of self-awareness. Much of this would appear obvious at first glance, and in reading this book, one maintains the position; while totaling just over 100 pages, Hepker’s work becomes increasingly repetitive. Yet the most disappointing aspect of the work revolves around its lack of contextualization. Hepker includes several personal anecdotes that seem altogether out-of-place, but he doesn’t make an attempt to place the larger work in the context of modern life. Nor does he offer many real-life parallels or applications to the theories he describes. Indeed, for a book that talks about “life,” there is a significant lack of it unless it relates to the author. Hepker concludes the book by asserting that “it is difficult to fairly and scrupulously find fault with the notion” that each person is responsible for making the world a better place. As right as Hepker may be, this outlook proves easier said than done, and the laundry list of aphorisms that flood Hepker’s book do not alleviate the issues he raises.

A book with a pure heart but inadequate guidance.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 2011

ISBN: 978-1463687120

Page Count: 120

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2011

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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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Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should...


Greene (The 33 Strategies of War, 2007, etc.) believes that genius can be learned if we pay attention and reject social conformity.

The author suggests that our emergence as a species with stereoscopic, frontal vision and sophisticated hand-eye coordination gave us an advantage over earlier humans and primates because it allowed us to contemplate a situation and ponder alternatives for action. This, along with the advantages conferred by mirror neurons, which allow us to intuit what others may be thinking, contributed to our ability to learn, pass on inventions to future generations and improve our problem-solving ability. Throughout most of human history, we were hunter-gatherers, and our brains are engineered accordingly. The author has a jaundiced view of our modern technological society, which, he writes, encourages quick, rash judgments. We fail to spend the time needed to develop thorough mastery of a subject. Greene writes that every human is “born unique,” with specific potential that we can develop if we listen to our inner voice. He offers many interesting but tendentious examples to illustrate his theory, including Einstein, Darwin, Mozart and Temple Grandin. In the case of Darwin, Greene ignores the formative intellectual influences that shaped his thought, including the discovery of geological evolution with which he was familiar before his famous voyage. The author uses Grandin's struggle to overcome autistic social handicaps as a model for the necessity for everyone to create a deceptive social mask.

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should beware of the author's quirky, sometimes misleading brush-stroke characterizations.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02496-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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