A rehash of the podcast that may interest established fans.
The hosts of a popular podcast series write about their experiences living by self-help books.
In each episode of the podcast By the Book, Brooklyn-based hosts Greenberg and Meinzer (So You Want To Start a Podcast, 2019) take listeners through the ups and downs of living by the prescriptive rules of their mutually assigned self-help books. The books represent a range of commercially relevant topics, from dieting to financial savings to the mystically aspirational. Within each two-week run, the hosts discuss possible insights gleaned as well as individual challenges, and they relate how their experiences may have affected their relationships with their spouses or friends. Humor is also important, hence the inclusion of occasional chestnuts such as Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus and Phyllis Diller’s Housekeeping Hints. In this book, the authors approximate the breezily chatty voice of their podcast, and they break it down into thematic sections: “13 Things That Worked,” “8 Things That Didn’t Work,” and “8 Things We Wish More Books Recommended.” The workable tasks included learning to declutter (Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up) and preparing for death (The Art of Dying Well). Among the books that didn’t work were dieting books and works stressing the need for forgiveness, such as The Four Agreements. Throughout, the authors offer subjective commentary, more often triggered by specific impulses rather than the quality of the work they’ve chosen to live by that week. In the final section, they expand beyond specific books and delve into more personal issues. Greenberg advocates for talk therapy and medication (in her case, for treating ADHD), and Meinzer, “a world-class procrastinator,” advises accomplishing goals by approaching them in chunks. Though both offer some valid advice, neither seems aware of the many notable books on these topics already available. For their avid listeners, there isn’t much in the way of new information or insights about the books or the hosts, and readers not familiar with the podcast don’t gain an understanding of why they approached this subject in the first place.A rehash of the podcast that may interest established fans.
Pub Date: March 17, 2020
Page Count: 256
Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019
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by Glennon Doyle ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 10, 2020
Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.
Awards & Accolades
New York Times Bestseller
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
Page Count: 352
Publisher: Dial Books
Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2019
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020
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by Cheryl Strayed ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 1, 2015
These platitudes need perspective; better to buy the books they came from.
A lightweight collection of self-help snippets from the bestselling author.
What makes a quote a quote? Does it have to be quoted by someone other than the original author? Apparently not, if we take Strayed’s collection of truisms as an example. The well-known memoirist (Wild), novelist (Torch), and radio-show host (“Dear Sugar”) pulls lines from her previous pages and delivers them one at a time in this small, gift-sized book. No excerpt exceeds one page in length, and some are only one line long. Strayed doesn’t reference the books she’s drawing from, so the quotes stand without context and are strung together without apparent attention to structure or narrative flow. Thus, we move back and forth from first-person tales from the Pacific Crest Trail to conversational tidbits to meditations on grief. Some are astoundingly simple, such as Strayed’s declaration that “Love is the feeling we have for those we care deeply about and hold in high regard.” Others call on the author’s unique observations—people who regret what they haven’t done, she writes, end up “mingy, addled, shrink-wrapped versions” of themselves—and offer a reward for wading through obvious advice like “Trust your gut.” Other quotes sound familiar—not necessarily because you’ve read Strayed’s other work, but likely due to the influence of other authors on her writing. When she writes about blooming into your own authenticity, for instance, one is immediately reminded of Anaïs Nin: "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Strayed’s true blossoming happens in her longer works; while this collection might brighten someone’s day—and is sure to sell plenty of copies during the holidays—it’s no substitute for the real thing.These platitudes need perspective; better to buy the books they came from.
Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2015
Page Count: 160
Review Posted Online: Aug. 15, 2015
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015
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