A fairly conventional self-improvement outline with an intriguing poetic twist.

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THE BLUEPRINT

BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR VISION

A self-help guide that offers a lifestyle plan based on a 118-year-old poem.

The famous 1897 Edwin Arlington Robinson poem “Richard Cory” provides an unconventional springboard for Corey’s nonfiction debut about “maintaining a positive belief in yourself and in your dream.” In Robinson’s much-anthologized work, the outwardly successful title character, who “glittered when he walked,” appears to be the envy of all the townspeople until the final line when he “Went home and put a bullet in his head.” But whereas Robinson seemingly intended the poem to be a wry commentary on the illusory nature of popularity, Corey interestingly envisions it as a great metaphor for human self-improvement, which he relates to seven immutable cosmic “laws.” The book’s first part consists of a law school seminar paper that the author wrote in which he styles Richard Cory as the embodiment of the American dream. In it, he reimagines the character as a billionaire, a lawyer, and devoutly religious, preaching not only faith in God but faith in self. The book’s second part elaborates on the first, taking the form of Richard Cory’s inner journal and presenting the “blueprint” of the title. It goes on to address such elemental questions as “What drives human behavior?” and “Why do people act in certain ways?” by referencing the aforementioned seven basic laws of creation, such as the law of rhythm, which states that “everything has a cycle,” and the law of gestation, which states that “everything takes time to manifest.” The steps by which Cory moves from these laws to standard self-help nuggets such as, “From now on, I swear to myself that I will disregard limits. I will practice what I preach and preach what I practice,” is never very clear, though, and the enthusiastic invocation of feel-good gurus such as Oprah Winfrey and Rhonda Byrne (author of the 2006 best-seller The Secret) don’t clarify matters. Readers will likely find the author’s highly imaginative deconstruction and reconstruction of the beloved old poem the most rewarding part of the book.

A fairly conventional self-improvement outline with an intriguing poetic twist.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1627461795

Page Count: 168

Publisher: Tate Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2015

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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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