A scathing but fair indictment of how the mindless worship of wealth makes us all poorer.

JACKPOT

HOW THE SUPER-RICH REALLY LIVE―AND HOW THEIR WEALTH HARMS US ALL

Is getting filthy rich really worth it?

Mother Jones senior editor Mechanic offers a harsh wake-up call for the millions of American dreamers who still believe that winning the lottery—or just simply having obscene wealth—will change their lives for the better. The author ushers readers past the velvet rope to reveal the lifestyles of the ultrawealthy and the ever more expensive ventures they have to indulge in to not only keep themselves amused, but to outdo their wealthy peers. One of the most interesting factoids in this well-researched book is that, according to one study, a person’s “self-reported positive emotions improved with rising earnings up to a satiation point at about $65,000 per year. Negative emotions…declined as earnings increased, reaching an inverse satiation point at $95,000.” As Mechanic demonstrates throughout this eye-opening book, once the contentment with one’s finances ends, the addiction to “extrinsic” goals—e.g., buying mansions, cars, and other luxury goods—leaves less time for the “intrinsic” pursuits that give us real grounding. The author is a personable guide to this gilded world, showing how the ultrawealthy make their money and how U.S. tax laws and loopholes allow them to keep building it—but he also provides a cautionary tale about the myriad headaches that unbridled wealth can bring. Mechanic is happy to report that the rich are often bored and miserable—and (surprise!) less compassionate unless they can balance their extrinsic and intrinsic pursuits. Though the text is often a gleeful sendup of the absurd eccentricities of the superrich, the author also spotlights a few billionaires who find genuine spiritual contentment in giving their wealth away. “For an actual rags-to-riches tale,” writes the author, “one might turn to Ford Foundation president Darren Walker, who grew up penniless in rural Texas and went on to become an icon in the world of philanthropy.”

A scathing but fair indictment of how the mindless worship of wealth makes us all poorer.

Pub Date: April 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982127-21-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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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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