There’s not enough space on Earth for everyone to move off the grid and back to the land, but Boyle’s pleasant book allows...

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THE WAY HOME

TALES FROM A LIFE WITHOUT TECHNOLOGY

A candid chronicle of letting go of and living without the seemingly ubiquitous technological connections of modern society.

For more than a decade, Boyle (Drinking Molotov Cocktails with Gandhi, 2015, etc.), aka the Moneyless Man, has been disconnecting from the virtual world of money and banks. At the end of 2016, he took the next step, abandoning “industrial-scale, complex technologies”—i.e., anything dependent on or derived from fossil-fuels (cars, plastics, etc.), powered by electricity (water pump, refrigerator, TV, etc.), that facilitates seamless connections (internet, phone, laptop, etc.), or that requires any of the above (solar panels, windmills, etc.). In his latest book, the author takes readers along on his experiences during his first year, from one winter solstice to the next, living in a cabin he and his partner built by hand on three acres in rural Ireland. “To me,” he writes, “the most beautiful place on earth is this unsophisticated half-wild three acre smallholding in the middle of somewhere unimportant.” What Boyle’s writing lacks in comparison to Henry David Thoreau’s transcendentalism or Aldo Leopold’s lyricism is made up for by his consistently earnest self-reflection. A visit to Ireland’s Great Blasket Island, evacuated in 1953 and now a global tourist attraction, revealed to Boyle that nature was recovering and doing better without permanent residents than if it were still tended by the 19th-century hand-plow or axe. For the author, the main question is whether nature is better off with us living in it hand-to-mouth like our tech-free ancestors or apart from it in our urban cocoons. Unfortunately, neither is sustainable with our current population of more than 7 billion, an inconvenient truth that the author refers to only obliquely.

There’s not enough space on Earth for everyone to move off the grid and back to the land, but Boyle’s pleasant book allows us to at least imagine the dream.

Pub Date: June 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78607-600-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Oneworld Publications

Review Posted Online: March 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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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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The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

THE LAWS OF HUMAN NATURE

A follow-on to the author’s garbled but popular 48 Laws of Power, promising that readers will learn how to win friends and influence people, to say nothing of outfoxing all those “toxic types” out in the world.

Greene (Mastery, 2012, etc.) begins with a big sell, averring that his book “is designed to immerse you in all aspects of human behavior and illuminate its root causes.” To gauge by this fat compendium, human behavior is mostly rotten, a presumption that fits with the author’s neo-Machiavellian program of self-validation and eventual strategic supremacy. The author works to formula: First, state a “law,” such as “confront your dark side” or “know your limits,” the latter of which seems pale compared to the Delphic oracle’s “nothing in excess.” Next, elaborate on that law with what might seem to be as plain as day: “Losing contact with reality, we make irrational decisions. That is why our success often does not last.” One imagines there might be other reasons for the evanescence of glory, but there you go. Finally, spin out a long tutelary yarn, seemingly the longer the better, to shore up the truism—in this case, the cometary rise and fall of one-time Disney CEO Michael Eisner, with the warning, “his fate could easily be yours, albeit most likely on a smaller scale,” which ranks right up there with the fortuneteller’s “I sense that someone you know has died" in orders of probability. It’s enough to inspire a new law: Beware of those who spend too much time telling you what you already know, even when it’s dressed up in fresh-sounding terms. “Continually mix the visceral with the analytic” is the language of a consultant’s report, more important-sounding than “go with your gut but use your head, too.”

The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-42814-5

Page Count: 580

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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