Not revolutionary, but nevertheless a well-written, sensible self-help guide.


RESET: Make the Most of Your Stress


A rational, clearly outlined debut guide to recognizing and tolerating the stress of everyday life. 

For years, Costa has advised people on how to manage the stresses of family, work, loss, and the little everyday annoyances whose eventual accumulation might make sufferers want to tear their hair out. Presented as a set of practical strategies to get through the day and through life, this book will set readers back on the path to resilience. Costa sums up her program in an easy-to-remember acronym: RESET—realize, energize, soothe, end unproductive thinking, and talk it out. This guide, she argues, helps us realize that “we end up putting more effort into maintaining our cars and houses and even taking care of our pets than we do ourselves. We do everything and anything but attend to our own emotional health.” In service of this attention, alongside the familiar self-help anecdotes starring friends and case examples, Costa breaks down the RESET idea into simple charts that assist the reader in recognizing his or her “recipe” for stress. For example, “tons of coffee,” no exercise, a “rocky marriage,” alcohol, and only a few hours of sleep can add up to serious mental and emotional burnout. By changing just a few behaviors, stress levels can shrink to manageable levels, which is where therapy and positive self-talk come in. For those averse to talk therapy—Costa cites men who feel they have to “tough it out”—she points out how “Therapy is no longer an excavation of childhood skeletons, but a practical, proven, powerful way to facilitate emotional health by setting and achieving goals.” Although at first the book may be overwhelming to those in the throes of major stress, Costa provides blocked-out “Bottom Line” tidbits and sections that encourage one to “Dissect and Reflect,” thus breaking up the feeling that one must embark upon a huge life overhaul all at once. While her advice may not be new, Costa’s voice and the book’s structure will be useful to readers looking for a leg up. 

Not revolutionary, but nevertheless a well-written, sensible self-help guide.

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4917-4757-5

Page Count: 294

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Aug. 25, 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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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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