Upbeat and encouraging, but short on real depth.

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YOU DON'T NEED TALENT TO SUCCEED

BUT EVERYTHING ELSE COUNTS

Hernandez presents a self-help book about attaining personal and financial success.

The author was just 8 years old when he and his family left Cuba for the United States, where he went on to a 30-year career at IBM and is now a college teacher and professional lecturer. His book’s premise is that everyone has unique abilities and the key to success is unlocking those abilities. One of Hernandez’s prescribed techniques is that each of us should connect to one’s higher self, meaning the individual must tap into their ability “to do something out of the ordinary…rise to an occasion…do something that was not expected.” Hernandez relates stories about how finding the higher self enables one to overcome challenges as well as act on unique opportunities, whether it’s earning a college degree or overcoming self-doubt and sharing ideas with higher-ups. The book contains thoughtful quotes from a wide variety of sources as well as the requisite acronyms covering a number of motivational and behavioral theories. Topics include how to build mental strength by “rehearsing victory” and the importance of welcoming new experiences and people into one’s life. Hernandez includes excerpts from six letters he received from appreciative students, illustrating how his lectures have buoyed and empowered them. He also shares some interesting anecdotes, as well as some not so interesting. Readers who enjoy taking quizzes in the hopes of reaching a particular self-actualization will be disappointed by the three-part quiz in which one question includes the true/false statement: “People who write books exaggerate.” In addition, a 29-page self-test covers 46 true/false statements, assorted questions and pronouncements, too many being either redundant or trivial: “From time to time, eat some Oreo cookies,” or “If you are having a good day, don’t forget to tell your face to smile.” The book would be more effective if Hernandez relied less on stories, included a more constructive self-test and offered a deeper exploration of his appealing theories.

Upbeat and encouraging, but short on real depth.

Pub Date: July 8, 2010

ISBN: 978-1450234269

Page Count: 118

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Oct. 18, 2010

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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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