Research and individual stories explain the special position of grandparents in a child’s life in a book that is...

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UNCONDITIONAL LOVE

A GUIDE TO NAVIGATING THE JOYS AND CHALLENGES OF BEING A GRANDPARENT TODAY

Studying the roles of 21st-century grandparents in a child's life.

As more families become two-income households, grandparents are playing larger roles in the lives of their grandchildren. Instead of shipping the kids off to day care, working parents often ask grandparents to step in and become caretakers. Though this often means putting their own plans for full retirement on hold, as Isay (Secrets and Lies: Surviving the Truths that Change Our Lives, 2014, etc.) discovered, for most grandparents, there is nothing they would rather do with their time. Taking care of grandchildren brings new life and energy into an older person's life, as well as a host of challenges, which the author covers in sufficient detail via personal stories and interviews. There's the dread of treading too far into the parenting realm, allowing the children to do, have, and/or eat things that contradict how the parents want their child to be raised. Being a mother-in-law is a particularly tricky role to play, as these women want to have as much interaction as possible yet are not always welcomed completely into the fold. Isay also delves into the fact that some elders take on the role of parents when the parents are unable to, whether due to jail time, drug use, or other mental and/or physical issues. Despite the obstacles, however, the author is clear in her message that grandparenting is a true joy filled with the innocence of childhood and the unconditional love that only a child can give. For anyone soon to become a grandparent, this practical book will answer many questions about what to do when the baby arrives; for current grandparents, it confirms what they know: being a grandparent is, for the most part, awesome.

Research and individual stories explain the special position of grandparents in a child’s life in a book that is unquestionably functional but not as inspiring as Lesley Stahl’s recent Becoming Grandma.

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-242716-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

STILLNESS IS THE KEY

An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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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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