An informative, well-presented application of traditional activities and philosophies to modern-day life.

Tao of Sustainability


Ripley (Primal Energy, 2014, etc.) offers a path back to nature in this philosophical work.

Humans are farther from the natural world than at any point in history, according to this book; the environment is in a state of imbalance, and the culture is obsessed with ever more complex technologies. Ripley’s text, which is rooted in the Taoist quest to return to man’s original state, seeks to provide “pathways toward reconnecting with nature...for the health and wellness of each of us as individuals, and for the health and well-being of the planet as a whole.” For the author, this includes embracing traditional Chinese medicine, including acupuncture and other practices that concentrate on the qi (energy) cycle. He also extends the idea to diet: “Some foods help relax the Liver and move qi in the body. They include asparagus, cabbage, lemon, and coconut.” Ripley’s approach is holistic, covering not only medicinal and dietary topics, but also the ways in which a person interacts with the world, physically and mentally. He introduces readers to nature-inspired body/mind practices, such as qi gong and taiji, as well as the Bagua—symbols representing nature categories that one may use to inform and augment the aforementioned practices. Ripley’s influences are rooted in ancient China, but they also include input from the Stoics and modern, ecologically conscious lifestyles and thinkers. He writes in an easy, instructive prose, explaining the underlying reasoning for each of the aspects of his regimen and how they fit together harmoniously. His prescription to return his readers to a simpler, more natural life sounds quite appealing, and the photographs of natural landscapes here do much to sell readers on the shortcomings of cheeseburgers and land subdivisions. However, Ripley’s glorification of man’s natural state ignores, to a certain extent, how scientific developments have made people healthier. The attraction of his recommendations will likely depend on how much skepticism readers hold toward ancient philosophies. That said, his call to slow down, seek balance, and be conscious of one’s role within the larger ecological system is good advice for readers of all belief systems.

An informative, well-presented application of traditional activities and philosophies to modern-day life.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-931483-31-5

Page Count: 230

Publisher: Three Pines Press

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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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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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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