A sometimes–thought-provoking but ultimately insubstantial assessment of human behavior. For devoted followers of this...

THE FOUR TENDENCIES

THE INDISPENSABLE PERSONALITY PROFILES THAT REVEAL HOW TO MAKE YOUR LIFE BETTER (AND OTHER PEOPLE'S LIVES BETTER, TOO)

An exploration of human behavior patterns as viewed through the lens of four specific tendencies.

With data garnered from more than 600,000 participants in her online quiz, bestselling self-help author Rubin (Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives, 2015, etc.) contends that when individuals were asked the question, “how do I respond to expectations?” their responses aligned within four tendencies: upholders, questioners, obligers, and rebels. Upholders desire knowing what should be done and respond well to both outer expectations and inner expectations. Questioners question both outer and inner expectations and avidly seek out justifications before meeting an expectation. Obligers desire accountability and respond more readily to outer expectations but struggle to meet inner expectations. Rebels, who desire the freedom to do things their own way and on their own schedule, tend to resist all expectations. The author, a self-proclaimed Upholder, lays out plausible examples within sections devoted to each tendency, with consideration given to relationships, workplace dynamics, and family. She offers the lofty assurance, “with wisdom, experience, and self-knowledge from the Four Tendencies, we can use our time more productively, make better decisions, suffer less stress, get healthier, and engage more effectively with other people.” Rubin’s study provides some interesting food for thought, and readers may find relatable examples from their own lives. Yet her analysis lacks psychological or scientific grounding, and it can lead to questionable conclusions—for instance, her assertion that these tendencies are hard-wired: “They don’t change depending on whether we’re at home, at work, with friends. And they don’t change as we age.” Furthermore, the author fails to provide adequate attention to socio-economic influences; the quotes and case examples all seem to come from middle-class white Americans, primarily women.

A sometimes–thought-provoking but ultimately insubstantial assessment of human behavior. For devoted followers of this popular author.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6091-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harmony

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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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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UNTAMED

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.

THE LAWS OF HUMAN NATURE

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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