Inspiring, actionable advice to “participate as your best self” in relationships.

READ REVIEW

Wanted

HOW TO CREATE A RELATIONSHIP THAT REALLY WORKS

A couples counselor shares her own story and outlines the key qualities of mature, enduring relationships in this debut self-help guide.

South African author Clucas begins her book with a snapshot from her own childhood. While helping to pack up the apartment of her deceased father—whom she portrays as an “angry, abusive” alcoholic—she reflected upon a photo taken years before, in which she and her siblings were “all smiling like a normal family.” She then relates how her clients have expressed their desires to feel more “wanted” in their own relationships, and she shares a strategy to make that happen. First and foremost, she says, one must be aware of “Opponents”—one’s own “disabling behaviors,” such as passive aggression. “Intruders” are also a threat; these “toxic external elements,” Clucas says, can include in-laws and stepchildren who “can clog up the taps of connection and intimacy.” She then spends the bulk of the rest of her guide detailing 14 “Allies” or “keystones,” which she says are necessary for relationships to thrive: trust, respect, tenderness, listening, delight, disruption, freedom, resilience, reciprocity, energy, responsibility, friendship, passion, and belief. As she discusses these, she also shares stories of her own relationship struggles (such as her tendency to avoid conflict), examples from other couples’ lives, and counseling tip sheets and exercises. She concludes with a discussion of “endings,” how to break off a relationship in a compassionate manner and how to realize that love comes at the culmination of a healthy relationship, not at its outset. Overall, Clucas is an appealing, nonjudgmental presence throughout her book. Her admissions about her own insecurities are relatable; at one point, for example, she tells of how she felt unattractive when she was pregnant. Her tip sheets offer practical “talking points” to keep conversations out of “Opponent” territory, and her sexuality survey exercise is a particularly effective “detachment” device to explore an often touchy subject. She occasionally strays from her main topic, such as when she addresses the subject of her family members’ racism, but overall, she delivers a handy guide for couples navigating their relationships.

Inspiring, actionable advice to “participate as your best self” in relationships.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2016

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Jan. 30, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2019

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

UNTAMED

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

Did you like this book?

more