Highly personal, strangely comforting and profoundly moving.



The special bond between a young woman and her exceptional grandmother extends far beyond the grave in this pleasingly metaphysical mashup of self-help manual and memoir.

In life, Callan’s grandma Rose was quite a woman—the kind of vital person who always seemed preternaturally plugged in and fully engaged in the endlessly wondrous world around her. Growing up in the woman’s electric orbit had a profound effect on the author. So much so that when Rose ultimately died at the age of 90, Callan continued to regularly interact with the deceased woman’s spirit in times of both trouble and doubt. “Grandma Rose didn’t waste any time setting up this new form of communication with us,” Callan writes. “She wanted to let everyone know right away, in as theatrical an approach as possible, that yes, she’s still here.” Featuring cozy vignettes of life with the author’s Broadway-loving grandma, each chapter concludes with examples of those otherworldly occurrences. Dinner plates suddenly crash, and songs containing particularly trenchant lyrics play at opportune times. As a yoga practitioner—as her grandmother was before her—the author is finely tuned to Eastern philosophy, so it’s not surprising that she excels in interpreting her warm, familial memories of both her grandmother and grandfather within a spiritual framework. In every recalled interaction with Rose, Callan finds New-Age lessons of mindfulness, self-determination, impermanence and the like. Those unaccustomed to such concepts, however, will still find plenty of other points of connection throughout this highly readable reminiscence of Grandma Rose. Take, for example, the charming story of how the author’s family once took on San Francisco’s famed Lombard Street in a 1968 Dodge Monaco dubbed “The Boat,” which should be enough to put a smile on the reader’s face. Whether the paranormal experiences are interpreted as truly supernatural or merely wishful thinking, they succeed in serving as profound testaments to the enduring power of familial love.

Highly personal, strangely comforting and profoundly moving. 

Pub Date: Dec. 21, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4827-0564-5

Page Count: 222

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 10, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2014

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Clever and accessibly conversational, Manson reminds us to chill out, not sweat the small stuff, and keep hope for a better...



The popular blogger and author delivers an entertaining and thought-provoking third book about the importance of being hopeful in terrible times.

“We are a culture and a people in need of hope,” writes Manson (The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, 2016, etc.). With an appealing combination of gritty humor and straightforward prose, the author floats the idea of drawing strength and hope from a myriad of sources in order to tolerate the “incomprehensibility of your existence.” He broadens and illuminates his concepts through a series of hypothetical scenarios based in contemporary reality. At the dark heart of Manson’s guide is the “Uncomfortable Truth,” which reiterates our cosmic insignificance and the inevitability of death, whether we blindly ignore or blissfully embrace it. The author establishes this harsh sentiment early on, creating a firm foundation for examining the current crisis of hope, how we got here, and what it means on a larger scale. Manson’s referential text probes the heroism of Auschwitz infiltrator Witold Pilecki and the work of Isaac Newton, Nietzsche, Einstein, and Immanuel Kant, as the author explores the mechanics of how hope is created and maintained through self-control and community. Though Manson takes many serpentine intellectual detours, his dark-humored wit and blunt prose are both informative and engaging. He is at his most convincing in his discussions about the fallibility of religious beliefs, the modern world’s numerous shortcomings, deliberations over the “Feeling Brain” versus the “Thinking Brain,” and the importance of striking a happy medium between overindulging in and repressing emotions. Although we live in a “couch-potato-pundit era of tweetstorms and outrage porn,” writes Manson, hope springs eternal through the magic salves of self-awareness, rational thinking, and even pain, which is “at the heart of all emotion.”

Clever and accessibly conversational, Manson reminds us to chill out, not sweat the small stuff, and keep hope for a better world alive.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-288843-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2019

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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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