A jokey yet earnest and useful guide to enlightenment for badass readers.

SPIRITUALITY FOR BADASSES

HOW TO FIND INNER PEACE AND HAPPINESS WITHOUT LOSING YOUR COOL

A motivational work blazes a spiritual path for those who consider themselves too cool for such things.

Dixon has always been interested in spirituality. But the term’s normal associations—rules, feelings, meditation, submission before a higher power—aren’t really part of his personal brand: “I love making lots of money. I love cool cars. I love taking vacations in tropical places. I love hanging out with friends and being potty mouthed. I love watching Netflix. I love sitting around on the weekends and doing absolutely nothing. There are a lot of things this badass loves.” A litany of badass things aside (and badass here essentially refers to a vision of American masculinity that fears being perceived as vulnerable), the author admits that his spiritual quest has helped him manage some of the less badass aspects of his personality, including depression, anxiety, timidity, and nihilism. He mixes stories from his own slacker’s quest for enlightenment with lessons from modern psychology, thought-provoking parables, and awareness exercises, all delivered as part of his jocular, profane, and fourth wall–breaking monologue. Chapters end with what Dixon calls “Spiritual Badass Lessons,” which remind readers how to react in various situations, generally by falling back on mindfulness or awareness practices. Along the way, the author encourages readers to visit his website, which features video content to supplement the material in the book. Dixon’s prose is direct and conversational by design: “So, before we continue down this road, fall head over heels in love, and end up drunk in a Vegas chapel…whaddya say we pause for a minute and I’ll explain how this book works? I’m a pretty sensitive schmuck and was already feeling your anxiety hit the roof.” Dixon’s meta he-man shtick will likely turn off some readers—possibly even most of them. But the manual’s intended readers seem to be a specific type: those who maybe don’t peruse that many books and who need this sort of playful hand-holding in order to access the spirituality they crave but are scared to explore. For that audience, Dixon has much to offer, repackaging mysticism, intentionality, and self-care into something proudly lowbrow and accessible.

A jokey yet earnest and useful guide to enlightenment for badass readers.

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-9858579-0-5

Page Count: 329

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Sept. 22, 2021

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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