Readers may not remember every word of this useful book, but its eloquent ideas should satisfy an audience seeking...

THE BOOK OF CALM

CLARITY, COMPASSION, AND CHOICE IN A TURBULENT WORLD

A book provides messages to help readers maintain calmness amid the many external and internal factors that stand in the way.

In this collection of personal stories and the insights gleaned from them, Shapiro (Tilting Toward Chaos, 2016) shares the conclusions she’s reached about how to become and stay tranquil. She first discusses how to face and embrace inevitable change, when “the world seems to tilt” around you. Drawing on her own experiences with traumatic shifts as well as those of acquaintances, she promotes courage in the face of fear; flexibility and adaptability; and the acquisition of a “yes, and…” attitude of acknowledging setbacks but moving forward optimistically. Next, she encourages readers to develop the skill of mindfulness, becoming aware of the stories they tell themselves and others. This can help free them from the expectations and limitations that are often placed on them by the outside world or (more often) themselves. She discusses the power of thoughts and the need to incorporate compassion into language, both in monologues and conversations. Finally, she shares her concept of alignment and suggests simple exercises and principles to help a person stay centered. Though this book offers a breadth of subjects, the content is extremely worthwhile and well-presented. Each chapter begins with a perfectly fitting and intriguing quote and ends with a stimulating “Awareness Question” tied to the chapter’s topic, such as: “Envision coming upon two conflicting parts of yourself while walking down the street. Extend your arms in welcome, encircling them both. What do you feel in this inclusive embrace?” The volume’s organization, however, could be enhanced by introducing each section with a concrete description of the following chapters’ main ideas, which would help audiences understand and recall what they read. Still, Shapiro uses a variety of effective tools to present her ideas—including stories, poetry, and scientific research—keeping the text balanced and engaging.

Readers may not remember every word of this useful book, but its eloquent ideas should satisfy an audience seeking tranquility.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63152-248-2

Page Count: 220

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 4, 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 Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

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  • Rolling Stone & Kirkus' Best Music Books of 2020

OPEN BOOK

The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor. One of Kirkus and Rolling Stone’s Best Music Books of 2020.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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