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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One of the NBA’s 50 greatest players scores another basket—a deeply personal one.

BACK FROM THE DEAD

A basketball legend reflects on his life in the game and a life lived in the “nightmare of endlessly repetitive and constant pain, agony, and guilt.”

Walton (Nothing but Net, 1994, etc.) begins this memoir on the floor—literally: “I have been living on the floor for most of the last two and a half years, unable to move.” In 2008, he suffered a catastrophic spinal collapse. “My spine will no longer hold me,” he writes. Thirty-seven orthopedic injuries, stemming from the fact that he had malformed feet, led to an endless string of stress fractures. As he notes, Walton is “the most injured athlete in the history of sports.” Over the years, he had ground his lower extremities “down to dust.” Walton’s memoir is two interwoven stories. The first is about his lifelong love of basketball, the second, his lifelong battle with injuries and pain. He had his first operation when he was 14, for a knee hurt in a basketball game. As he chronicles his distinguished career in the game, from high school to college to the NBA, he punctuates that story with a parallel one that chronicles at each juncture the injuries he suffered and overcame until he could no longer play, eventually turning to a successful broadcasting career (which helped his stuttering problem). Thanks to successful experimental spinal fusion surgery, he’s now pain-free. And then there’s the music he loves, especially the Grateful Dead’s; it accompanies both stories like a soundtrack playing off in the distance. Walton tends to get long-winded at times, but that won’t be news to anyone who watches his broadcasts, and those who have been afflicted with lifelong injuries will find the book uplifting and inspirational. Basketball fans will relish Walton’s acumen and insights into the game as well as his stories about players, coaches (especially John Wooden), and games, all told in Walton’s fervent, witty style.

One of the NBA’s 50 greatest players scores another basket—a deeply personal one.

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4767-1686-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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The author’s sincere sermon—at times analytical, at times hortatory—remains a hopeful one.

THE ROAD TO CHARACTER

New York Times columnist Brooks (The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Achievement, 2011, etc.) returns with another volume that walks the thin line between self-help and cultural criticism.

Sandwiched between his introduction and conclusion are eight chapters that profile exemplars (Samuel Johnson and Michel de Montaigne are textual roommates) whose lives can, in Brooks’ view, show us the light. Given the author’s conservative bent in his column, readers may be surprised to discover that his cast includes some notable leftists, including Frances Perkins, Dorothy Day, and A. Philip Randolph. (Also included are Gens. Eisenhower and Marshall, Augustine, and George Eliot.) Throughout the book, Brooks’ pattern is fairly consistent: he sketches each individual’s life, highlighting struggles won and weaknesses overcome (or not), and extracts lessons for the rest of us. In general, he celebrates hard work, humility, self-effacement, and devotion to a true vocation. Early in his text, he adapts the “Adam I and Adam II” construction from the work of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, Adam I being the more external, career-driven human, Adam II the one who “wants to have a serene inner character.” At times, this veers near the Devil Bugs Bunny and Angel Bugs that sit on the cartoon character’s shoulders at critical moments. Brooks liberally seasons the narrative with many allusions to history, philosophy, and literature. Viktor Frankl, Edgar Allan Poe, Paul Tillich, William and Henry James, Matthew Arnold, Virginia Woolf—these are but a few who pop up. Although Brooks goes after the selfie generation, he does so in a fairly nuanced way, noting that it was really the World War II Greatest Generation who started the ball rolling. He is careful to emphasize that no one—even those he profiles—is anywhere near flawless.

The author’s sincere sermon—at times analytical, at times hortatory—remains a hopeful one.

Pub Date: April 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9325-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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