A short, pithy, sometimes-trite assemblage of optimistic and funny sayings.

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MOMENTS TO PONDER

An unremarkable book of uplifting quotes and tidbits.

Gesmundo’s slim nonfiction debut is a collection of inspirational mottoes the author has accumulated over time—sayings and jokes that have worked to help him through all kinds of difficulties, including the loss of loved ones, the challenges of running a business, and the major and minor obstacles he’s faced during 40-plus years in the hospitality industry. The book isn’t strictly an anthology; the quotes on every page are truisms that anyone in any culture in any time period could say as a matter of course. Gesmundo ends the collection with humorous observations (“Mothers’ menu consisted of two choices / Take it or leave it,” he writes, adding the kind of brief autobiographical note that happens throughout the book: “I can remember this during my early years during World War 2 when most times you did not even have two choices”), but the bulk of the work offers broad morale boosters. “Nothing changes / If nothing changes,” for instance, or “When you don’t know what you are talking about / You won’t know when to stop,” or “Angels exist but sometimes they don’t have wings and are called Friends.” There’s little complexity here; the reader is generally left alone with the author’s distilled, greeting-card-esque ideas: “Everyone smiles in the same language.” The author’s personal reminiscences interspersed throughout the book are straightforward and sometimes touching, like when he recalls his stern but fair father, and the advice he offers throughout often has a kindly, paternal tone to it: “Worry is wasting today’s time to clutter up tomorrow’s / Opportunities with yesterday’s troubles.” Readers looking for a bucking-up shot in the arm will find plenty here.

A short, pithy, sometimes-trite assemblage of optimistic and funny sayings.

Pub Date: June 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-984500-55-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: XlibrisAU

Review Posted Online: Sept. 7, 2018

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

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The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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