A lively and inviting look at wisdom gained over a lifetime.

THE BALL'S IN YOUR COURT

A DOCTOR SHARES LIFE LESSONS FROM MICHAEL JORDAN, PHIL JACKSON, ABRAHAM MASLOW AND OTHER INSPIRING TEACHERS

A doctor looks at the lives of popular sports figures in order to draw deeper lessons.

Lewis, an orthopedic surgeon by training, recalls a key quote from John Steinbeck early on in this book: “Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.” The author then mixes affectionate bits of his own autobiography—growing up in Houston in the 1940s and ’50s, attending Brandeis University—with his lifelong interest in self-help. In his early, formative years, he writes, he “jumped on the self-improvement bandwagon” and read widely of such genre classics as Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People (1936) and Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich (1937). “As a result of reading these books, I would ask any available adult such mature questions as, ‘How can I make a difference in the world—and become famous?’ ” he writes, adding sardonically, “My list of those willing to listen quickly dwindled.” Lewis shares life insights from several people he’s known, from his outspoken Uncle Whiz (short for “Isadore”) to more famous names, such as psychologist Abraham Maslow and the great surgeon William Meltzer (with whom Lewis says that he won “the mentor lottery”). Throughout the book, Lewis offers a very effective combination of affability and ability; so much so, in fact, that his account of his time hobnobbing with famous athletes—including Chicago Bulls legends Michael Jordan (“I was fortunate to frequently observe the lighter side of Michael’s personality”) and Scottie Pippen, as well as coach Phil Jackson—as a team physician, feels a bit anticlimactic. Readers will agree that Lewis himself is wise enough on his own, and he ably draws on his own long history practicing medicine in and out of the operating room. When Lewis was in medical school, for instance, a physician urged students to remember the three As: availability, affability, and ability “in that order.” “All of us thought he was crazy,” the author says, but he goes on to note that time and reflection showed those A’s to be invaluable.

A lively and inviting look at wisdom gained over a lifetime.

Pub Date: May 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61850-183-7

Page Count: 198

Publisher: Four Colour Print Group

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2020

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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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A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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