An engaging collection of coping principles for soul-searching readers.

Who's Pulling My Strings?

A woman seeks to free herself from the lingering effects of a tumultuous past in this debut memoir.

When Kirkland confronted a change of career—from territory manager of a Fortune 100 company to beauty consultant with Mary Kay—she confided to a friend, “I can’t fail…because then everyone will know I’m no good.” It was a shocking revelation, and she began seeking answers that would help her achieve a sense of emotional wholeness. She first explored her childhood, during which she says her authoritarian parents taught her to fear a harsh God; she realized that this ultimately stifled her positive energy and convinced her she was “no good.” She writes that these feelings led her into two failed marriages in which she felt “unloved and unlovable,” and that they also motivated her to seek success as a way to cover up her insecurities. However, this book focuses less on her emotional trials and more on her recovery. Drawing on information from various workshops, books, and personal experiences, she details her coping strategies, such as studying her past and its consequences, reframing unhealthy thought processes, validating and exploring negative emotions, and learning to forgive others. One of the memoir’s most appealing qualities is Kirkland’s excitement as she shares successes in her healing process. The book could have been trimmed down, as it repeats many ideas in different chapters. Overall, though, it flows very easily, offering astute commentary and excellent imagery. Readers may find that not all the coping strategies resonate with them, particularly the unconventional ones, such as having conversations with different parts of oneself or considering how one’s birth story affected one’s later life. However, there are many insightful ideas that readers may find beneficial, such as using criticism to learn about oneself and finding compassion for wrongdoers by considering their upbringings. Although Kirkland’s specific background is unique, the principles she shares are universal and worth a read.

An engaging collection of coping principles for soul-searching readers.

Pub Date: June 24, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4525-9274-9

Page Count: 194

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: Dec. 12, 2016

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Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should...

MASTERY

Greene (The 33 Strategies of War, 2007, etc.) believes that genius can be learned if we pay attention and reject social conformity.

The author suggests that our emergence as a species with stereoscopic, frontal vision and sophisticated hand-eye coordination gave us an advantage over earlier humans and primates because it allowed us to contemplate a situation and ponder alternatives for action. This, along with the advantages conferred by mirror neurons, which allow us to intuit what others may be thinking, contributed to our ability to learn, pass on inventions to future generations and improve our problem-solving ability. Throughout most of human history, we were hunter-gatherers, and our brains are engineered accordingly. The author has a jaundiced view of our modern technological society, which, he writes, encourages quick, rash judgments. We fail to spend the time needed to develop thorough mastery of a subject. Greene writes that every human is “born unique,” with specific potential that we can develop if we listen to our inner voice. He offers many interesting but tendentious examples to illustrate his theory, including Einstein, Darwin, Mozart and Temple Grandin. In the case of Darwin, Greene ignores the formative intellectual influences that shaped his thought, including the discovery of geological evolution with which he was familiar before his famous voyage. The author uses Grandin's struggle to overcome autistic social handicaps as a model for the necessity for everyone to create a deceptive social mask.

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should beware of the author's quirky, sometimes misleading brush-stroke characterizations.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02496-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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Clever and accessibly conversational, Manson reminds us to chill out, not sweat the small stuff, and keep hope for a better...

EVERYTHING IS F*CKED

A BOOK ABOUT HOPE

The popular blogger and author delivers an entertaining and thought-provoking third book about the importance of being hopeful in terrible times.

“We are a culture and a people in need of hope,” writes Manson (The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, 2016, etc.). With an appealing combination of gritty humor and straightforward prose, the author floats the idea of drawing strength and hope from a myriad of sources in order to tolerate the “incomprehensibility of your existence.” He broadens and illuminates his concepts through a series of hypothetical scenarios based in contemporary reality. At the dark heart of Manson’s guide is the “Uncomfortable Truth,” which reiterates our cosmic insignificance and the inevitability of death, whether we blindly ignore or blissfully embrace it. The author establishes this harsh sentiment early on, creating a firm foundation for examining the current crisis of hope, how we got here, and what it means on a larger scale. Manson’s referential text probes the heroism of Auschwitz infiltrator Witold Pilecki and the work of Isaac Newton, Nietzsche, Einstein, and Immanuel Kant, as the author explores the mechanics of how hope is created and maintained through self-control and community. Though Manson takes many serpentine intellectual detours, his dark-humored wit and blunt prose are both informative and engaging. He is at his most convincing in his discussions about the fallibility of religious beliefs, the modern world’s numerous shortcomings, deliberations over the “Feeling Brain” versus the “Thinking Brain,” and the importance of striking a happy medium between overindulging in and repressing emotions. Although we live in a “couch-potato-pundit era of tweetstorms and outrage porn,” writes Manson, hope springs eternal through the magic salves of self-awareness, rational thinking, and even pain, which is “at the heart of all emotion.”

Clever and accessibly conversational, Manson reminds us to chill out, not sweat the small stuff, and keep hope for a better world alive.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-288843-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2019

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