A self-help guide with real-world value and applicability, which proves it’s never too late to grow up.

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    Best Books Of 2012

LIVING THE LIFE YOU LOVE

THE NO-NONSENSE GUIDE TO TOTAL TRANSFORMATION

In her practical, hard-hitting yet realistic program for self-improvement, Renaye demonstrates that there’s still plenty to say in the self-help industry.

A professional life coach and transformational speaker, Renaye has created a concise, encyclopedic guide-cum-workbook that does the job of multiple existing titles, all while adding profound, useful insights and strategies to the conversation. She breaks self-exploration and retooling into manageable, sharply focused steps that help push the reader into honest reflection, emotional and physical health, and ultimately, empowerment and maturity. Though hints of other popular spiritual works shine through, such as the creation of vision boards to visualize what you want in life, the perspective is refreshingly grounded, and Renaye’s confessional, empathetic narrative invites readers to identify with her while buying into her approaches. Each chapter focuses on a discrete issue or aspect of life—feeling stuck, body wisdom, living for others—and ends with a transformational insight worksheet (copying is advisable, since space is limited) with questions for self-analysis. Even without the worksheets, tripwires for aha moments run throughout the book. Recognizing that some difficult people are unavoidable, she prescribes stockpiling diversionary tactics in advance. She also lays out simple, sanity-saving strategies for navigating conversations, as well as tips for climbing out of inevitable dips in mood. She expands the vision board concept into a vision script that can help reprogram your thinking, with guidelines, precautions and sample language for recording. She calls her methods tough love, but they’re also deeply human, compassionate and supportive.

A self-help guide with real-world value and applicability, which proves it’s never too late to grow up.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0967478692

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Diomo Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2012

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A handful of pearls amid a pile of empty oyster shells.

THE COMFORT BOOK

Bestselling author Haig offers a book’s worth of apothegms to serve as guides to issues ranging from disquietude to self-acceptance.

Like many collections of this sort—terse snippets of advice, from the everyday to the cosmic—some parts will hit home with surprising insight, some will feel like old hat, and others will come across as disposable or incomprehensible. Years ago, Haig experienced an extended period of suicidal depression, so he comes at many of these topics—pain, hope, self-worth, contentment—from a hard-won perspective. This makes some of the material worthy of a second look, even when it feels runic or contrary to experience. The author’s words are instigations, hopeful first steps toward illumination. Most chapters are only a few sentences long, the longest running for three pages. Much is left unsaid and left up to readers to dissect. On being lost, Haig recounts an episode with his father when they got turned around in a forest in France. His father said to him, “If we keep going in a straight line we’ll get out of here.” He was correct, a bit of wisdom Haig turned to during his depression when he focused on moving forward: “It is important to remember the bottom of the valley never has the clearest view. And that sometimes all you need to do in order to rise up again is to keep moving forward.” Many aphorisms sound right, if hardly groundbreaking—e.g., a quick route to happiness is making someone else happy; “No is a good word. It keeps you sane. In an age of overload, no is really yes. It is yes to having space you need to live”; “External events are neutral. They only gain positive or negative value the moment they enter our mind.” Haig’s fans may enjoy this one, but others should take a pass.

A handful of pearls amid a pile of empty oyster shells.

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-14-313666-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Penguin Life

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

THE LAWS OF HUMAN NATURE

A follow-on to the author’s garbled but popular 48 Laws of Power, promising that readers will learn how to win friends and influence people, to say nothing of outfoxing all those “toxic types” out in the world.

Greene (Mastery, 2012, etc.) begins with a big sell, averring that his book “is designed to immerse you in all aspects of human behavior and illuminate its root causes.” To gauge by this fat compendium, human behavior is mostly rotten, a presumption that fits with the author’s neo-Machiavellian program of self-validation and eventual strategic supremacy. The author works to formula: First, state a “law,” such as “confront your dark side” or “know your limits,” the latter of which seems pale compared to the Delphic oracle’s “nothing in excess.” Next, elaborate on that law with what might seem to be as plain as day: “Losing contact with reality, we make irrational decisions. That is why our success often does not last.” One imagines there might be other reasons for the evanescence of glory, but there you go. Finally, spin out a long tutelary yarn, seemingly the longer the better, to shore up the truism—in this case, the cometary rise and fall of one-time Disney CEO Michael Eisner, with the warning, “his fate could easily be yours, albeit most likely on a smaller scale,” which ranks right up there with the fortuneteller’s “I sense that someone you know has died" in orders of probability. It’s enough to inspire a new law: Beware of those who spend too much time telling you what you already know, even when it’s dressed up in fresh-sounding terms. “Continually mix the visceral with the analytic” is the language of a consultant’s report, more important-sounding than “go with your gut but use your head, too.”

The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-42814-5

Page Count: 580

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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