An insightful work that finds therapy in poetry.

POETRY RX

HOW 50 INSPIRING POEMS CAN HEAL AND BRING JOY TO YOUR LIFE

A motivational book shows how poetry can be a balm for the soul.

Sometimes even doctors must look to art for consolation. Psychiatrist Rosenthal has observed the ways poems have helped his patients through times of difficulty, giving voice to certain feelings while offering a way forward. “The idea of this book is that poetry can not only inspire and delight, but can actually help you feel better, soothe your pain, and heal psychological wounds,” writes the author in his introduction. “In short, as the book’s title suggests, poetry can act as a kind of medicine.” Rosenthal has collected 50 short poems that he finds therapeutic, covering a wide range of situations and emotions. Each chapter includes a poem as well as a brief essay on the question that the piece addresses. Chapter 1, for example, features Elizabeth Bishop’s famous poem “One Art” (“The art of losing isn’t hard to master”) followed by a discussion of loss from a psychological and biological perspective. Rosenthal includes a list of takeaways (“Accept the loss”; “Beware all-or-none thinking”) as well as biographical information about Bishop and a note about the poem’s villanelle structure. The poetry includes English language classics by the likes of Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, W.B. Yeats, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Derek Walcott as well as a few translations from Rumi, Antonio Machado, Salvatore Quasimodo, Anna Akhmatova, and Constantine Cavafy. Rosenthal’s breakdowns of the poems are clear and therapeutic, as here, where he discusses Steve Smith’s “Not Waving But Drowning,” about a man who drowned without anyone realizing he needed help: “We seek explanations to reassure ourselves that the dead are somehow different from us; we look for some reason to blame them. They did something wrong, which luckily we are clever enough to avoid.” The poets skew White and male, perhaps in part because the pieces are all quite old. The only living poets included in the book are Wendell Berry and Gillian Clarke (both currently octogenarians). That said, the selected poems are excellent and highly accessible, and Rosenthal uses them as a platform for readers’ self-investigations.

An insightful work that finds therapy in poetry.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72-250506-6

Page Count: 380

Publisher: G&D Media

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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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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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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