A lucid, step-by-step guide to personal and professional success—with vichyssoise mixed in.




A book combines a personal guide and business manual with a culinary story.

Buchanan’s (Note to Self: A Seven-Step Path to Gratitude and Growth, 2016) work blends self-help strategies and business planning. She lays out a series of plain-sounding but persuasively thoughtful principles organized around the straightforward contention that there really isn’t much difference between the two disciplines, asking a deceptively simple question: “Can implementing business values improve personal lives?” She uses the distinctions among a job (a stop-gap measure—temporary, one hopes), a career (the long-term investment in an occupation), and a vocation (a “meaningful, joyful” calling) to open up a larger examination of the ways, in her conception, an individual bears many similarities to a small business. Therefore, many sound principles for small businesses might help to clarify diverse areas of life. And her ongoing illustration of these correspondences is the imaginative highlight of the book: the vibrant account of the founding and running of a French restaurant called La Mandarine Bleue in Boise, Idaho, complete with recipes. By spotlighting the establishment and its creators, Buchanan is able to give her broader lessons some much-needed human grounding, particularly because some of those teachings are very broad indeed. “The good news is, you don’t find your purpose,” she asserts. “You determine it. It’s a choice, a conscious decision that you make.” At another point, she writes: “If we wear a suit of armor all the time to protect ourselves and to hide our fears and feelings, we’ll never allow ourselves to be hurt.” She intersperses these maxims with sayings drawn from a wide variety of popular business and motivational books and speakers, all focused in one way or another on the volume’s central concept of the personal as professional. “How do you conduct your life?” she asks her readers in the manual’s key point of thematic intersection, its discussion of building a personal brand. “What are your ethics and practices?” This work is a fine, clear-headed place to find some answers.

A lucid, step-by-step guide to personal and professional success—with vichyssoise mixed in.

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63152-395-3

Page Count: -

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2017

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.


The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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A deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.


A massive investigation of economic history in the service of proposing a political order to overcome inequality.

Readers who like their political manifestoes in manageable sizes, à la Common Sense or The Communist Manifesto, may be overwhelmed by the latest from famed French economist Piketty (Top Incomes in France in the Twentieth Century: Inequality and Redistribution, 1901-1998, 2014, etc.), but it’s a significant work. The author interrogates the principal forms of economic organization over time, from slavery to “non-European trifunctional societies,” Chinese-style communism, and “hypercapitalist” orders, in order to examine relative levels of inequality and its evolution. Each system is founded on an ideology, and “every ideology, no matter how extreme it may seem in its defense of inequality, expresses a certain idea of social justice.” In the present era, at least in the U.S., that idea of social justice would seem to be only that the big ones eat the little ones, the principal justification being that the wealthiest people became rich because they are “the most enterprising, deserving, and useful.” In fact, as Piketty demonstrates, there’s more to inequality than the mere “size of the income gap.” Contrary to hypercapitalist ideology and its defenders, the playing field is not level, the market is not self-regulating, and access is not evenly distributed. Against this, Piketty arrives at a proposed system that, among other things, would redistribute wealth across societies by heavy taxation, especially of inheritances, to create a “participatory socialism” in which power is widely shared and trade across nations is truly free. The word “socialism,” he allows, is a kind of Pandora’s box that can scare people off—and, he further acknowledges, “the Russian and Czech oligarchs who buy athletic teams and newspapers may not be the most savory characters, but the Soviet system was a nightmare and had to go.” Yet so, too, writes the author, is a capitalism that rewards so few at the expense of so many.

A deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-674-98082-2

Page Count: 976

Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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