A forceful, unconventional, step-by-step plan to help Christians find their real identities.

WHO DO I SAY I AM?

TWELVE STEPS TO KNOWING YOURSELF, AND EXPRESSING YOURSELF

A Christianity-based guide focuses on self-knowledge.

Somone, who calls herself a “badass spiritual life coach and motivational speaker,” here lays out a Christian program intended to allow her readers to “plow through their clouds of unwanted circumstances one step at a time.” The program has 12 steps, starting with the assumption that “God is all things at all times, and he is always good.” Using this supposition, the author calls on her readers to identify their own “true” natures and, in the spirit of the book’s title, assert who they are. From that starting point, Somone advocates a number of approaches, such as writing down their own life stories, meditation, and of course prayer. The author reflects that readers create their own worlds, although she paradoxically also notes that “so-called coincidences should be seen as they are; lamps unto our feet; guides in the night; and connections to God, Spirit, Christ, self, Source, the universe, life, and love.” This combination of free will and divine predestination runs throughout Somone’s elaboration of her 12 steps, and all of it is designed to answer some basic questions her readers may be asking, universal concerns like “Does my current life line up with what I want?” The author colors her life coaching with anecdotes from her own autobiography and periodic exercises designed to get her readers to apply her teachings to their day-to-day realities. The manual makes frequent allusions to both other self-help authors and to Scripture, although Somone’s readings of the latter are sometimes confrontationally fiery enough to raise the eyebrows of her more religiously conservative readers. At one point, she writes: “I am the Christ. You are the Christ. I am God incarnate. You are God incarnate. I am Spirit. You are Spirit.” That iconoclastic tone is also what makes the book so readable.

A forceful, unconventional, step-by-step plan to help Christians find their real identities.

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5320-9543-6

Page Count: 138

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2020

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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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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