This immersive, eye-opening journey reveals the effects of mental illness on a physician.



A young doctor valiantly juggles the stresses of a medical career and the agonies of chronic mental illness.

Family physician Jones’ debut memoir portrays the author as a man struggling with “major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder” while pursuing a demanding career. Narrated with an affable, conversational tone, the book begins with an enlightening tour of Jones’ workplace, where the smells of a hospital are “so pervasive that you can’t wash it out of your scrubs.” The mental distortion of the disorders complicated his relentless physician residency, which stretched over many years. Able to identify several possible contributing factors to his condition, the Utah-born author saw his episodes of extreme stress begin to worsen while a teenager on a two-year Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints mission in Ukraine in 2000, which Jones meticulously details with great dexterity. This condition intensified further in medical school and well into a marriage that spawned four children, with the accompanying worries that he would pass his condition to his offspring. The author dubs his anxiety the “gargoyle forever watching me,” a monster responsible for uprooting what should have been placid moments throughout his life. Chapters where he explains his condition with statistical data and personal opinions and history are confidently and honestly written. Readers who have these types of psychiatric ailments will find those sections greatly relatable and resourceful. Anecdotes from his compelling medical career and assorted patient stories further personify and enliven a memoir that has a unique combination of both troubling and inspiring elements. Even for a man of devout faith, the hard truths about his mental illness became evident when he pleaded for help from his higher power, which resulted in negligible change to his condition. “Sometimes the answer is no,” he acknowledges. Jones also writes about the social stigma of mental illness, which many cultures consider a “moral failing.” For physicians battling psychiatric issues, his illuminating, forthright memoir closes with proven methods to improve doctors’ well-being. But the author encourages all readers to cultivate their inner strength and “be content and successful despite ongoing weakness.”

This immersive, eye-opening journey reveals the effects of mental illness on a physician.

Pub Date: April 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68433-455-1

Page Count: 348

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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A top-notch political memoir and serious exercise in practical politics for every reader.

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In the first volume of his presidential memoir, Obama recounts the hard path to the White House.

In this long, often surprisingly candid narrative, Obama depicts a callow youth spent playing basketball and “getting loaded,” his early reading of difficult authors serving as a way to impress coed classmates. (“As a strategy for picking up girls, my pseudo-intellectualism proved mostly worthless,” he admits.) Yet seriousness did come to him in time and, with it, the conviction that America could live up to its stated aspirations. His early political role as an Illinois state senator, itself an unlikely victory, was not big enough to contain Obama’s early ambition, nor was his term as U.S. Senator. Only the presidency would do, a path he painstakingly carved out, vote by vote and speech by careful speech. As he writes, “By nature I’m a deliberate speaker, which, by the standards of presidential candidates, helped keep my gaffe quotient relatively low.” The author speaks freely about the many obstacles of the race—not just the question of race and racism itself, but also the rise, with “potent disruptor” Sarah Palin, of a know-nothingism that would manifest itself in an obdurate, ideologically driven Republican legislature. Not to mention the meddlings of Donald Trump, who turns up in this volume for his idiotic “birther” campaign while simultaneously fishing for a contract to build “a beautiful ballroom” on the White House lawn. A born moderate, Obama allows that he might not have been ideological enough in the face of Mitch McConnell, whose primary concern was then “clawing [his] way back to power.” Indeed, one of the most compelling aspects of the book, as smoothly written as his previous books, is Obama’s cleareyed scene-setting for how the political landscape would become so fractured—surely a topic he’ll expand on in the next volume.

A top-notch political memoir and serious exercise in practical politics for every reader.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6316-9

Page Count: 768

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.


All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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