An earnest, uplifting self-help work that concludes awkwardly.

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LIFE IS LIKE RIDING A BICYCLE

In this debut self-help memoir, a lifelong asthmatic rediscovers his love of bicycling, which he connects to life lessons.

While attending elementary school in the 1970s, Guerra loved football, but he struggled with annual bouts of tonsillitis. Spurred on by his coach, he succeeded in tackling players much larger than he was until middle school, when his classmates finally outgrew him. He also suffered from then-undiagnosed exercise-induced asthma, which dealt a further blow to his confidence. As a result, he didn’t take up sports again until he was in his 30s; this time, it was cycling, because of his fond memories of riding as a young man. Overweight, saddled with a sedentary job that he hated, and feeling unattractive (“I looked like a doughboy,” he writes), Guerra not only decided to shed the pounds but also to leave his high-salaried job. Drawing on retirement funds, he reinvented himself as a trainer, speaker, and writer. He also embarked on harrowing cycling challenges that required him to push his limits. Despite all of the back story, however, this book isn’t intended solely as a memoir, but also a self-help guide. The author quotes Albert Einstein (in the title) and motivational authors Dr. Wayne Dyer and Jack Canfield, among others. He concludes each chapter with “René’s Rules for the Road” which reiterate points, offer self-reflection exercises, and suggest techniques for living in the moment (“Don’t allow your ego to keep you from moving forward in your journey”). Overall, Guerra is a highly engaging storyteller, and he successfully draws parallels between lessons he’s learned while cycling and his optimistic outlook on life. The account of his mother’s death in 2016 and of being surrounded by butterflies on an exhausting multiday ride are particularly touching. He often references God throughout the text, but in an expansive, undogmatic way. However, in Chapter 11, Guerra quotes several testimonials from friends that could have been more organically woven into previous chapters.

An earnest, uplifting self-help work that concludes awkwardly.

Pub Date: July 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5043-8245-8

Page Count: 121

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2018

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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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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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