Optimistic but cursory and often incomprehensible.

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THE HOPE THE WORLD SMILES

A debut self-help book that aims to raise the spirits of success-oriented readers with motivational snippets.

Ehsaar’s guide outlines various ways to subtly alter one’s habits to work toward goal achievement rather than self-sabotage. He tackles two major themes—hope and values—which are explored via subsections, including “How to Discuss Problems in Cases of Disputes between a Couple” and “Types of Hope” and the “Seven Pillars of Balanced Values,” which are, “1) Spirituality 2) Health 3) Personality 4) Family 5) Socialization 6) Career 7) Money.” Explanations of concepts are concise, comprised either of short, bulleted lists or short paragraphs. The ideas here are upbeat, encouraging a joyful acceptance of oneself and others. Under “Spirituality,” for example, is a list of five items: “Obeying the creator of the universe, and obeying the prophet. Loving yourself the way you are. Loving your parents. Loving your siblings. Loving people.” The text, which often disregards traditional sentence construction, meanders in a way that can be hard to follow. For example, a table headed “An Evil Self Includes” is followed by a short section titled “Types of Brains,” which in turn is followed by “What Are the Reasons for Failure?” Ehsaar’s advice is initially clear; it also helpfully, if not originally, reminds readers to follow their own moral compass. The writing, however, becomes fractured: “One starts with the idea after idea of a second after the accumulation of through and feelings then show them.” Included are brief bios of role models, like Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi; however, a Wikipedia entry would contain more information. The final section, “Your smell,” contains mysterious points such as “stylish shoes and white teeth” and “cooks are more men’s line; he said the trap with the help of your life.” The text, which looks not unlike a PowerPoint presentation, is set against a background of an appealing gray-and-white swirling design; blank pages appear between pages with content.

Optimistic but cursory and often incomprehensible.

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5320-3208-0

Page Count: 56

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 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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Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should...

MASTERY

Greene (The 33 Strategies of War, 2007, etc.) believes that genius can be learned if we pay attention and reject social conformity.

The author suggests that our emergence as a species with stereoscopic, frontal vision and sophisticated hand-eye coordination gave us an advantage over earlier humans and primates because it allowed us to contemplate a situation and ponder alternatives for action. This, along with the advantages conferred by mirror neurons, which allow us to intuit what others may be thinking, contributed to our ability to learn, pass on inventions to future generations and improve our problem-solving ability. Throughout most of human history, we were hunter-gatherers, and our brains are engineered accordingly. The author has a jaundiced view of our modern technological society, which, he writes, encourages quick, rash judgments. We fail to spend the time needed to develop thorough mastery of a subject. Greene writes that every human is “born unique,” with specific potential that we can develop if we listen to our inner voice. He offers many interesting but tendentious examples to illustrate his theory, including Einstein, Darwin, Mozart and Temple Grandin. In the case of Darwin, Greene ignores the formative intellectual influences that shaped his thought, including the discovery of geological evolution with which he was familiar before his famous voyage. The author uses Grandin's struggle to overcome autistic social handicaps as a model for the necessity for everyone to create a deceptive social mask.

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should beware of the author's quirky, sometimes misleading brush-stroke characterizations.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02496-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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