A book that brings together many excellent self-help elements, including analysis, introspection and superb conceptual...

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Back to Basics - Transforming Life

Readers looking for personal transformation and better self-understanding will find six principles to use as touchstones in this debut self-help book.

Nandula’s debut work begins with a series of challenging questions: “What is the meaning of life for me?” “Why do I need to transform?” “What is your purpose in life?” “Where is your life heading?” These provide a framework for describing the six “Universal Principles” that form the basis of the book, which include such concepts as “Design and Purpose,” “Order and Rhythm,” “Oneness,” “Abundance,” “Freedom” and “Responsibility.” Boxes scattered throughout each unit, in which readers can write down their own ruminations, encourage them to think about and question themselves. It’s a clever way to make readers a part of a book. Nandula then delves into the curious, complementary realms of religion and psychology. Although the religion section might have offered better overall descriptions of the major world religions, it neatly divides them up by their philosophies and requirements, such as charity or alms-giving, and then draws connections between them. Likewise, the psychology section bypasses the basics and instead explores psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and Erik Erikson’s developmental theories. Nandula’s treatment of the complex dichotomies of each stage of life also offers many intimate stories. The sections on old age, in particular, are full of compassion, and aim to see beyond the end of life to show how all people return back to energy. At every turn, this lovely volume traces a pathway back to its Universal Principles; it comes full circle with another series of interactive questions, such as “If it were not for money, what are the things that you would love to do?” and “What would you require to be who you really want to be?” It ends with a moving concept: Only now, it says, can readers begin the journey of transformation.

A book that brings together many excellent self-help elements, including analysis, introspection and superb conceptual connections.

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1482839845

Page Count: 212

Publisher: PartridgeIndia

Review Posted Online: Dec. 17, 2014

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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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