A worthy book for those seeking company, not guidance, on their spiritual paths.

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A Different Way

JOURNEY TO A BETTER LIFE

In this debut memoir based on a series of personal blog posts, Mueller questions God in order to discover her purpose in life.

Mueller had been a regular churchgoer for several years, but regularly experienced anger and frustration toward her loved ones. One day, after running errands with her mother, who had lately depended on her for care, Mueller had an emotional outburst. She told her mother several troubling truths in a restaurant parking lot, and then left the vehicle and started walking. While walking, she realized how easy it could be to leave her life behind. She began contemplating suicide. Shortly after, she entered a new understanding of God’s power and love. Her suicide plans evolved into a request for God to take her. This plea became a daily prayer for God to reveal her purpose. Mueller began to devote time to reading self-help and biblical stories (“I was starting to think the Bible was more like an instruction manual of how everything was created and how it all worked so we could know how to use them to live and be happy as God originally intended”). Though she felt unsuccessful in business, she was glad for the time to contemplate her relationship with God, and created a new product, called Message Balls—golf balls with text that encourages people to talk with God. Mueller is detailed in her analysis of life, capturing the day-to-day progression of thoughts, the mundane events, and the small miracles, which is natural for a writer working from blog posts. Her chapters are short, and often titled after an emotion or a state of mind with the ending of “ville” (“Complaintville” and “Cactusville,” for example). This strategy seems to indicate that the author has spent enough time pondering a certain element, embodying it, so that it feels like its own place. The book takes a somewhat mystical approach to discovering God’s will. The author pulls heavily from Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret and guests on The Oprah Winfrey Show to complement her reading of the Bible. Mueller often compares the Bible to other self-help books to demonstrate its efficacy in turning a life around. And the author recounts disputes with other Christians to flag theological hotspots.

A worthy book for those seeking company, not guidance, on their spiritual paths.

Pub Date: March 26, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5028-8636-1

Page Count: 192

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2016

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

STILLNESS IS THE KEY

An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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