A well-written, if somewhat uneven, self-help guide that offers many humorous personal anecdotes.




Debut author Isip writes about his 10 tried-and-tested tips for success.

In 2001, Isip walked out of a placement exam at a community college after realizing that a life that began with filling in a standardized test had nothing to offer him. It’s an offbeat beginning to an often untraditional motivational guide. Many other books stress the importance of building a solid foundation of self-esteem and proactive thinking, but Isip favors a slightly bawdier, less cultivated approach, often to great effect. He encourages readers to perform a list of desired daily activities that will help them accomplish long-term goals, “[b]efore we check our phones, before we go on Instagram and Facebook, or before we light up that first roach or stogy.” Later, he movingly relates the lowest point of his own self-absorption, when he attended his uncle’s funeral drunk; he then realized that he’d deeply wounded his father with his flagrant substance abuse and his lack of interest in the feelings of others. These are unusually frank portrayals of a lifestyle that strays from the common self-help template. However, the book’s format (including chapters titled “Dream a Little Dream” and “Fight the Fear”) shares many of the genre’s clichés: Readers are encouraged to write down their goals or thoughts in a workbooklike format, and bullet points abound. Overall, its inevitable march to self-actualization isn’t as original as Isip’s colorful asides. Oddly, though, the author’s combination of street smarts and playful, somewhat shallow observations—such as complaining about having too much empty sex—is simultaneously its strength and its weakness. The book’s many unabashed references to illegal activities, for example, ultimately mark the author as a successful hustler, which may not be the best role model for confused, lost souls. That said, this book is a passionate affirmation of the inherent possibilities of life and of the irrefutable power of the entrepreneurial spirit.

A well-written, if somewhat uneven, self-help guide that offers many humorous personal anecdotes.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2014

ISBN: 978-1502960269

Page Count: 146

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2014

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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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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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Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should...


Greene (The 33 Strategies of War, 2007, etc.) believes that genius can be learned if we pay attention and reject social conformity.

The author suggests that our emergence as a species with stereoscopic, frontal vision and sophisticated hand-eye coordination gave us an advantage over earlier humans and primates because it allowed us to contemplate a situation and ponder alternatives for action. This, along with the advantages conferred by mirror neurons, which allow us to intuit what others may be thinking, contributed to our ability to learn, pass on inventions to future generations and improve our problem-solving ability. Throughout most of human history, we were hunter-gatherers, and our brains are engineered accordingly. The author has a jaundiced view of our modern technological society, which, he writes, encourages quick, rash judgments. We fail to spend the time needed to develop thorough mastery of a subject. Greene writes that every human is “born unique,” with specific potential that we can develop if we listen to our inner voice. He offers many interesting but tendentious examples to illustrate his theory, including Einstein, Darwin, Mozart and Temple Grandin. In the case of Darwin, Greene ignores the formative intellectual influences that shaped his thought, including the discovery of geological evolution with which he was familiar before his famous voyage. The author uses Grandin's struggle to overcome autistic social handicaps as a model for the necessity for everyone to create a deceptive social mask.

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should beware of the author's quirky, sometimes misleading brush-stroke characterizations.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02496-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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