A motivating read for those seeking to use the Bible’s teachings to live a more satisfying, anxiety-free life.

READ REVIEW

Take No Thought

GOD'S REPLY TO OUR BORROWED ANXIETY

This Christian self-help guide by a knowledgeable pastor aims to inspire readers to adjust their lifestyles by having faith in God’s plan. 

In his debut, Winfrey applies the Bible’s teachings to real-life scenarios to give readers practical recommendations for removing debilitating anxiety from their lives. The narrative centers on Jesus’ statement to his followers in the Book of Matthew to “take no thought”—or, as the author puts it, to not “get bent out of shape worrying”—about things that one can’t control. Winfrey draws lessons from his own experiences, such as when he was a disobedient child and tried to justify his actions. He notes that people tend to find ways to ignore the truth and do things that they know are wrong, as it perpetuates their idea of living a comfortable lifestyle. The author also shares stories of encounters he had with greedy people within the church who manipulated the Bible to get money and power. A particularly intriguing chapter details his experience with pastors selling “survival packs” to churchgoers in preparation for supposed Y2K-related disasters: “As I looked at this deception and misrepresentation of truth, my heart was saddened. I saw people being robbed without a gun while the leaders of this deception saw money and more money.” Winfrey’s wit, caring, and taste for humor come through in extended analogies, driving home his points while making them relatable and easy to understand. For example, the book’s second part begins by comparing people parking their cars as closely as possible to their destinations with too-comfortable Christians not wanting to leave the earth when they die. Overall, the book is full of enthusiastic slice-of-life moments, expressed in a refreshingly personable voice. It will surely resonate most with a Christian audience, but its central lesson about living a life full of graciousness and trusting in faith may be widely appreciated.

A motivating read for those seeking to use the Bible’s teachings to live a more satisfying, anxiety-free life.

Pub Date: July 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4759-9540-4

Page Count: 142

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Sept. 8, 2016

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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 timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

STILLNESS IS THE KEY

An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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