A brief, easy-to-follow grab bag of diet tips and New Age–style psychotherapeutics.




According to this self-help book, people struggling with depression should try a low-carb diet, proactive smiling, and marathon meditation sessions.

Altshuler describes treatments for depression that he’s gleaned from his psychiatric practice and from meditation gurus, with whom he studied in Nepal and Tibet. The most important one, he contends, is a low- to no-carb diet that he asserts will lower one’s insulin levels and one’s raise neurotransmitter levels, thus relieving depression, anxiety, and insomnia. He recommends an initial 24-hour zero-carb diet of meat, eggs, and fish to “JUMP START YOUR BRAIN!,” followed by a maintenance diet with small amounts of carbs, adjusted to daily stress levels. Altshuler’s other methods appear to be even easier; for example, he says that deliberately smiling for 10 minutes each day will lift one’s mood due to feedback loops between one’s facial muscles and neural circuitry. He offers simple deep-breathing exercises to loosen one’s muscles, and autohypnotic chants for relaxation, such as “I AM DOING EVERYTHING SLOWLY, SLOWLY, SLOWLY.” He also suggests a rudimentary meditation technique of sitting quietly in a chair for at least 30 minutes a day; those who do hourslong sessions, he says, can reach a “breaking point” that reorients them toward happiness and spiritual satisfaction. Altshuler backs up his ideas with anonymous testimonials; one patient, for example, says that he found that the regimen relieved her depression and anxiety, cleared up her irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue, and fibromyalgia, and gave her psychic premonitions. Over the course of the book, the author writes in a lucid prose style, despite the occasional, distracting typo (“cabs” instead of “carbs”), and he lays out his techniques in a straightforward, practical fashion. That said, much of the book consists of blank workbook pages that allow readers to implement the author’s protocol by logging their daily food intake, meditative sitting periods, and moments of smiling, chanting, and deep-breathing, along with their mental states. The author’s blending of neurobiology with Eastern spiritualism won’t appeal to everyone, and many won’t be convinced of his methods’ efficacy. However, the latter are so easy and convenient that many will want to try them out.

A brief, easy-to-follow grab bag of diet tips and New Age–style psychotherapeutics. (Self-Help)

Pub Date: Dec. 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-67998-191-3

Page Count: 239

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2020

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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

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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A succinct, passionate guide to fostering creativity.


A noted critic advises us to dance to the music of art.

Senior art critic at New York Magazine and winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in Criticism, Saltz (Seeing Out Louder, 2009, etc.) became a writer only after a decadeslong battle with “demons who preached defeat.” Hoping to spare others the struggle that he experienced, he offers ebullient, practical, and wise counsel to those who wonder, “How can I be an artist?” and who “take that leap of faith to rise above the cacophony of external messages and internal fears.” In a slim volume profusely illustrated with works by a wide range of artists, Saltz encourages readers to think, work, and see like an artist. He urges would-be artists to hone their power of perception: “Looking hard isn’t just about looking long; it’s about allowing yourself to be rapt.” Looking hard yields rich sources of visual interest and also illuminates “the mysteries of your taste and eye.” The author urges artists to work consistently and early, “within the first two hours of the day,” before “the pesky demons of daily life” exert their negative influence. Thoughtful exercises underscore his assertions. To get readers thinking about genre and convention, for example, Saltz presents illustrations of nudes by artists including Goya, Matisse, Florine Stettheimer, and Manet. “Forget the subject matter,” he writes, “what is each of these paintings actually saying?” One exercise instructs readers to make a simple drawing and then remake it in an entirely different style: Egyptian, Chinese ink-drawing, cave painting, and the styles of other artists, like Keith Haring and Georgia O’Keeffe. Freely experiment with “different sizes, tools, materials, subjects, anything,” he writes. “Don’t resist something if you’re afraid it’s taking you far afield of your usual direction. That’s the wild animal in you, feeding.” Although much of his advice is pertinent to amateur artists, Saltz also rings in on how to navigate the art world, compose an artist’s statement, deal with rejection, find a community of artists, and beat back demons. Above all, he advises, “Work, Work, Work.”

A succinct, passionate guide to fostering creativity.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-08646-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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