Comprehensive, rich, engaging, and organized—a superb manual for improving one’s life.

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THE WELLNESS COMPASS TRAVEL GUIDE

A debut guide offers readers advice on achieving wellness in the most foundational aspects of their lives.

Derrickson’s book “is about obtaining and maintaining wellness through proactive self-care.” The author has simplified previous theories on the subject by grouping wellness principles into five overarching categories forming a compass (with the fifth one as the center): spiritual well-being, socioemotional well-being, physical health, life’s purpose, and maintaining balance. Her chapters follow an organized pattern of providing an overview of each dimension followed by the associated goals. For readers unsure of where to start, she offers a Wellness Compass Profile self-assessment toward the end of the volume (one of many beneficial resources) to help readers see how they are faring in each category. Her ideas are well-supported by research (cited in footnotes) and are written to be applicable to everybody, regardless of religion, gender, race, age, or background. For example, the spiritual dimension focuses on upholding universal, honorable principles, and the life’s purpose category encourages goals such as constant learning and sustaining financial security. Instead of being purely informational, this thorough manual often simultaneously acts as a workbook, presenting various assessments to give direction, questions to encourage reflection, and activities to promote action. Derrickson’s organization is skillful, not just on a large scale with polished chapters, but also on a small scale with bold headings, clearly focused sections, well-formatted lists, and aptly placed visuals and charts. The casual reader may be overwhelmed by the length and density of the material, but as the author asserts, “If you are searching for quick fixes, keep looking!” The content is ultimately designed for deep personal study and application, and there truly is something here for everyone. The author’s prose style is much more fact-based than story-based, so those who learn best through narrative may struggle. But that doesn’t stop this work from being very appealing and highly effective.

Comprehensive, rich, engaging, and organized—a superb manual for improving one’s life.

Pub Date: June 16, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5320-1205-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Sept. 25, 2017

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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 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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