A straightforward memoir of struggling with obesity and finding inspiration from the founder of Weight Watchers.

THIS IS BIG

HOW THE FOUNDER OF WEIGHT WATCHERS CHANGED THE WORLD—AND ME

Parallel stories of a woman on Weight Watchers and the life of the woman who created the diet program.

When New Yorker and New York Times contributor Meltzer (Girl Power: The Nineties Revolution in Music, 2010, etc.) came across the obituary for Jean Nidetch (1923-2015), the housewife who invented Weight Watchers, she decided she wanted to join the program and to learn more about Nidetch. As the author writes, she has struggled with her weight since she was a small child, and she was intrigued to learn how Nidetch overcame her own issues and created the internationally known diet program. Meltzer interweaves her story of weight gain and loss with that of Nidetch. The combination creates an informative picture of what life is like for obese women who constantly obsess about food. Nidetch’s biggest downfall was eating boxes of chocolate-covered marshmallow cookies in the bathroom where no one could see her. It took an incident at the grocery store, when she was mistakenly identified as pregnant, to set her on the track to creating Weight Watchers. “To say that it was a moment that she would never forget,” writes Meltzer, “that would define and transform the rest of her life, is an understatement.” The author followed the program for a year and offers details about each month. She tried out various meetings but quickly got bored with her meals and eating only her allocated points for the day. Meltzer also discusses other diet plans, her struggles with finding men in her life who accepted her without judgment, and the frustrations she felt that her weight often defined her in other people’s eyes before they got to know her. Her story will resonate with readers who have struggled with weight and body image issues.

A straightforward memoir of struggling with obesity and finding inspiration from the founder of Weight Watchers.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-41400-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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

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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

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