A successful and readable wellness and self-improvement manual.



A debut guide to health and happiness prescribes thought systems and practices to improve readers’ quality of life.

El Zein knows a lot about the journey to fulfillment. Drawing from her experiences of silent retreats, meditation, reading, learning events, and online research, she delivers a conversational and helpful strategy for removing some of life’s major obstacles to fulfillment. Discussing empathy, human connection, and the inner self, the author pushes readers to challenge negative beliefs and adopt positive practices that will enrich personal relationships and themselves. Commitment to healthy habits is emphasized as one of the most important ways to tackle anxiety. Pain and worry, El Zein explains, are often more comfortable to deal with than the change and work required to alleviate them permanently by digging deep into the soul for the foundation of the torments creating stress. The author references other thinkers and motivators, like Tony Robbins, and posits important principles, such as keeping the self in its “peak state” to achieve the best results. Commitment and fortification of goals are two mantras that ripple throughout the manual. In the later parts of the book, El Zein writes about confronting fear. She uses many famous figures as examples of people who overcame impairments and self-doubts in order to achieve their goals. From Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean) to Tom Cruise, the author employs anecdotes about well-known celebrities to show that sometimes setbacks can become springboards to success. El Zein ends with healthy nutrition tips and thoughts about hydration, exercise, and body image. Cleverly describing her cerebral program as a “mental diet,” the author handles thought processes and beliefs in the same way that she deals with beneficial foods. By feeding themselves constructive, affirming thoughts rather than criticisms and qualms, readers will alter their present states, according to the author. Overall, the book is lucid, full of effective ideas, and refreshing in its approach to positive steps toward self-reinforcement and change.

A successful and readable wellness and self-improvement manual.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2018

ISBN: 978-9-94839-700-7

Page Count: 251

Publisher: Be You International

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.


A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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