A rambling but heartfelt treatise for sowing and reaping happiness.

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THE SIMPLE LITTLE RULE

A debut self-improvement book urges readers to practice kindness, regardless of faith.

Ellerkamp gives logical reasons why the golden rule—“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”—is beneficial for everyone. Describing himself as “in love with the Word” of the Bible during the 1970s and early ’80s, the author left organized religion after a pastor made an evil comment in favor of apartheid. In the years since, he studied other faiths and Eastern philosophers and now writes that many religions teach a version of the golden rule. Sprinkling in anecdotes from his days as a Ranger instructor at Florida’s Eglin Air Force Base, Ellerkamp discusses five guiding principles—Wisdom, Justice, Moderation, Courage, and Discipline—for following the golden rule. Knowing it’s not always easy to walk in others’ shoes, the author adds some chapter questions and exercises for practical application, such as asking readers to think of behaviors a wise person has taught them. In concluding chapters, the author discusses how people can benefit by rediscovering the golden rule, or “law of reciprocity,” in today’s world. Though he uses Christianity as a springboard in his earnest guide, Ellerkamp’s biblical allusions are sometimes-flawed. For example, in Christianity, the golden rule is not about receiving reciprocity or gaining something here on Earth by doing good deeds. He also tweaks Scripture and adds New Age ideas. For example, when examining Jesus’ call to “Love thy neighbor as thyself,” Ellerkamp writes: “There is an important observation to be made in that sentence; notice that we must first love the self.” Meandering through broad topics—Creation versus evolution; free will; and fairness—several dictionary definitions are given, and the prose becomes a bit eye-glazing. At one point, the author even seems to be aware of tiring the reader: “For this story, I’ll not go too far into detail. If I note major markers, I will make my point. So hang on—here goes. It’s fascinating, I promise.” But his colorful anecdotes can be memorable, like the time a huge, poisonous snake fell into his boat—and his students jumped into the water.

A rambling but heartfelt treatise for sowing and reaping happiness.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-5043-8151-2

Page Count: 162

Publisher: Balboa

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2017

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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

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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The book would have benefited from a tighter structure, but it’s inspiring and relatable for readers with depression.

THE HILARIOUS WORLD OF DEPRESSION

The creator and host of the titular podcast recounts his lifelong struggles with depression.

With the increasing success of his podcast, Moe, a longtime radio personality and author whose books include The Deleted E-Mails of Hillary Clinton: A Parody (2015), was encouraged to open up further about his own battles with depression and delve deeper into characteristics of the disease itself. Moe writes about how he has struggled with depression throughout his life, and he recounts similar experiences from the various people he has interviewed in the past, many of whom are high-profile entertainers and writers—e.g. Dick Cavett and Andy Richter, novelist John Green. The narrative unfolds in a fairly linear fashion, and the author relates his family’s long history with depression and substance abuse. His father was an alcoholic, and one of his brothers was a drug addict. Moe tracks how he came to recognize his own signs of depression while in middle school, as he experienced the travails of OCD and social anxiety. These early chapters alternate with brief thematic “According to THWoD” sections that expand on his experiences, providing relevant anecdotal stories from some of his podcast guests. In this early section of the book, the author sometimes rambles. Though his experiences as an adolescent are accessible, he provides too many long examples, overstating his message, and some of the humor feels forced. What may sound naturally breezy in his podcast interviews doesn’t always strike the same note on the written page. The narrative gains considerable momentum when Moe shifts into his adult years and the challenges of balancing family and career while also confronting the devastating loss of his brother from suicide. As he grieved, he writes, his depression caused him to experience “a salad of regret, anger, confusion, and horror.” Here, the author focuses more attention on the origins and evolution of his series, stories that prove compelling as well.

The book would have benefited from a tighter structure, but it’s inspiring and relatable for readers with depression.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20928-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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