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WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND

A GUIDE TO HOW LIFE REALLY WORKS

A successful guide that uses anecdotes to reveal powerful truths about life.

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In this debut self-help book, the author employs narratives about friends, family, and former associates to show the way thoughts and perspectives shape readers’ experiences.

Through short narratives describing the paths of different people he met along the way, Davis illustrates his imperatives for meditative, conscious, and positive living. Through stories about friends who learned from their mistakes and others who could not escape their own prisons of thinking, the author gives readers not just points or principles to ponder, but real human experiences that demonstrate them. For example, in one passage, Davis tells the tale of his teenage daughter, who, when allowed to make her own choices, realized she was in over her head and risked a loss of control. The story demonstrates both the potency of autonomy as well as the importance of finding the courage to ask for help, change one’s mind, and self-regulate. In another anecdote, the author deftly describes a woman he admired for being so energetic, upbeat, and seemingly content. Yet, to his shock, when his friend attempted suicide, Davis learned that outward cheer is not as simple as it might seem. The tales, while not all culminating in happy endings, effectively prove one point: Humans are the authors of their own stories, and only through self-reflection and accountability do individuals gain strength from experience. Through witnessing and sharing the personal plights of his friends, family, co-workers, and bosses, Davis skillfully provides surrogates for some of life’s hardest lessons, from humility to heartache to joy. The book ends with a compelling section of optimistic statements that can embolden readers if utilized as reflections or affirmations. A stable, positive, nonpreachy, objective voice makes the manual stand apart from others in the genre.

A successful guide that uses anecdotes to reveal powerful truths about life.

Pub Date: Dec. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-73256-650-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: BookBaby

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2018

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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