Simple, effective procedures that can be easily incorporated into even the busiest lifestyle.

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THE GRATITUDE DIARIES

HOW A YEAR LOOKING ON THE BRIGHT SIDE TRANSFORMED MY LIFE

How a year of being thankful led to big changes in a woman’s life.

When editor and producer Kaplan (A Job to Kill For, 2008, etc.) made a New Year’s resolution to take a full year and show more appreciation in life, she didn’t realize what a difference that pledge would make. Since she had participated in a survey funded by the John Templeton Foundation on the idea of gratitude, she knew that “less than half the people surveyed said they expressed gratitude on any regular basis.” Determined to conduct her own experiment, she began by focusing on being more grateful to her husband, and she discovered little comments made a huge difference not only in her own attitude toward him, but life in general. She then extended her expressions of gratefulness to include her children, income, career, and health. Each week, she made a point of writing down the things, events, or people she was most appreciative of at that moment. Kaplan’s plan to be more grateful is approachable for anyone. Her conversational tone is encouraging, like talking to a good friend who’s having a great day and wants to share it with you. These days, instead of grumbling about the weather or other things that used to bother her, the author finds the humor and bright side of each moment. Having a positive attitude has been proven to change the neural pathways in the brain and rewire a person’s automatic responses. By practicing the art of gratitude, a person can make a subtle change in life, and the ripples can have far-reaching effects. “If we put good into the world,” writes the author, “maybe, just maybe, it starts to be returned.” There’s no harm in trying, especially when one reads how successfully it turned out for Kaplan.

Simple, effective procedures that can be easily incorporated into even the busiest lifestyle.

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-525-95506-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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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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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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