An entertaining mix of canny advice and brash inspiration.

YOU DON'T ASK, YOU DON'T GET

PROVEN TECHNIQUES TO GET MORE OUT OF LIFE

Ask in the right way and ye shall receive—raises, discounts, nights out with the boys, you name it—according to this sprightly self-helper.

Williams, a saleswoman and life coach, feels that people aren’t getting what they want because they’re too reticent, shy or fearful of rejection to pipe up and demand it. So she presents this treatise on the theory and practice of making requests, which amounts to a grand tutorial in pointed communication. The author teaches us to suss out the hidden “What’s in It For Me” motivators, from financial gain to altruistic glow, that make others accede to requests. Readers also learn to insinuate positive expectations into the request, to mirror the recipient’s mood and body language, to rationally deflect objections and, if that doesn’t work, to move beyond the realm of reason (“if you feel the tears coming on, let them out!”). We learn the subtle art of the “non-request request,” the very unsubtle art of manipulating a husband into compliance—promise him sex—and a sure-fire trick for taking your plea right to the CEO: tell his screening secretary that “he wouldn’t want anyone else to know why I’m calling.” There’s much practical wisdom here on everything from wringing the best deal out of a car salesman or mortgage lender to asking a motormouth coworker to shut up, but at times there is an over-the-top fervor to the author’s advocacy. Williams tells readers not to feel entitled, but the lengthy sections on retail bargaining tacitly prescribe a lifestyle of relentless wheedling—“Will you accept this expired coupon?”—that borders on recklessness: you should only follow her suggestion to “add to your restaurant experience by making atypical requests” that go “outside the box” if you want to incur the wrath of your food handlers. Still, taken with a pinch of common sense, this is an insightful, insistent how-to guide.

An entertaining mix of canny advice and brash inspiration.

Pub Date: April 14, 2010

ISBN: 978-0984439409

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Good Day Media

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 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 author’s sincere sermon—at times analytical, at times hortatory—remains a hopeful one.

THE ROAD TO CHARACTER

New York Times columnist Brooks (The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Achievement, 2011, etc.) returns with another volume that walks the thin line between self-help and cultural criticism.

Sandwiched between his introduction and conclusion are eight chapters that profile exemplars (Samuel Johnson and Michel de Montaigne are textual roommates) whose lives can, in Brooks’ view, show us the light. Given the author’s conservative bent in his column, readers may be surprised to discover that his cast includes some notable leftists, including Frances Perkins, Dorothy Day, and A. Philip Randolph. (Also included are Gens. Eisenhower and Marshall, Augustine, and George Eliot.) Throughout the book, Brooks’ pattern is fairly consistent: he sketches each individual’s life, highlighting struggles won and weaknesses overcome (or not), and extracts lessons for the rest of us. In general, he celebrates hard work, humility, self-effacement, and devotion to a true vocation. Early in his text, he adapts the “Adam I and Adam II” construction from the work of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, Adam I being the more external, career-driven human, Adam II the one who “wants to have a serene inner character.” At times, this veers near the Devil Bugs Bunny and Angel Bugs that sit on the cartoon character’s shoulders at critical moments. Brooks liberally seasons the narrative with many allusions to history, philosophy, and literature. Viktor Frankl, Edgar Allan Poe, Paul Tillich, William and Henry James, Matthew Arnold, Virginia Woolf—these are but a few who pop up. Although Brooks goes after the selfie generation, he does so in a fairly nuanced way, noting that it was really the World War II Greatest Generation who started the ball rolling. He is careful to emphasize that no one—even those he profiles—is anywhere near flawless.

The author’s sincere sermon—at times analytical, at times hortatory—remains a hopeful one.

Pub Date: April 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9325-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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