A funny and ultimately powerful affirmation of the joys of alcohol-free living.

THE SOCIAL REBELLION

TRUE FREEDOM BEGINS WITH A CHEEKY MONTH ALCOHOL-FREE

A combination memoir and motivational manual focuses on dealing with drinking.

This unconventional and irreverent guide from Australian media personality Compton (Unedited, 2017) begins with a disarmingly simple observation. People need not be out-of-control alcoholics to have unhealthy relationships with drinking and simply not know how to extricate themselves from their situations. This was Compton’s own story. When she became a successful Australian radio and television presenter, she found that her life suddenly included large amounts of alcohol. “I mean, my job was to host parties a lot of the time…or schmooze with clients and sales people, or go overseas and hang out at music festivals,” she writes. “There really wasn’t a time when I wasn’t in a situation that didn’t have a significant amount of free booze as its fuel.” Such passages crop up throughout the book, and they illustrate the winning tone of frank discussion Compton has chosen to address the subject (and also exemplify, alas, how often she gets into arm-wrestling contests with her own prose—and loses). In movingly direct chapters the author describes a world in which she found it impossible to go to a social event like a party or a wedding and refrain from drinking. She found herself dreading such occasions because she was certain she’d drink and didn’t want to—a situation she refers to as “the definition of being stuck.” She takes her readers through the same list of “red flags” that first alerted her to her own problem. Using the supportive-but-sarcastic tones of a wise older sister, she consistently offers hope by identifying directly with her audience. “We can deal with emotions, trauma, circumstances, brilliance, blessings and bad hair days without alcohol,” she asserts. “I know this is possible because I do it, every day.” Compton’s insistence that self-care is the key to self-control will make this the recovery handbook many of her readers have been searching for.

A funny and ultimately powerful affirmation of the joys of alcohol-free living.

Pub Date: April 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-982201-78-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2018

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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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