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EMERGENCY KIT

SURVIVAL GUIDE TO ABUNDANCE

A thin, oddly theistic self-empowerment workbook.

Debut author Wallace encourages readers to listen to their conscious mind while quieting their subconscious in this self-help workbook.

We often know what we want (or think we do), and yet we are somehow unable to realize our goals. The problem, according to Wallace, is that our subconscious isn’t always on the same page as our conscious mind. The author demonstrates this in a fictional dialogue: “SELF: Yes, I can! I love and approve of myself. All is well in my world. I am in a loving space. SUBCONSCIOUS: I do not love and approve of myself—screw the world! SELF: I am now a size four and looking good. SUBCONSCIOUS: Who are you trying to kid? You are a large size fourteen.” In the dialogue, the subconscious starts to beat out the self until God himself swoops in to set things right. Wallace offers an explanation of why it’s important to understand what both halves want in order to make sure we are listening to our true selves and not becoming derailed by our subconscious. The bulk of the book is a series of near-identical work sheets where readers can fill out lists of their wants in an assortment of categories (relationships, health, careers) as well as blank spaces to construct small vision boards. The writing here is light and sometimes infused with humor, though it replicates the jargon of the motivation genre: “This condition of emergency can cause you to send out negative frequencies that will attract more unwanted, negative thoughts, creating a vicious cycle. Recognize this pattern of dialogue.” The inclusion of God (also referred to as the Higher Power or the Universe) is a somewhat incongruous choice. Wallace claims that by listening to ourselves we are really listening to God—which calls into question the ultimate agency of the self. The text sections of the book are brief and somewhat muddled, while the workbook section is rather repetitive and simplistic. Readers will be able to find the same ideas presented more clearly and comprehensively in numerous other works.

A thin, oddly theistic self-empowerment workbook.

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5043-3496-9

Page Count: 70

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2018

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MASTERY

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should...

Greene (The 33 Strategies of War, 2007, etc.) believes that genius can be learned if we pay attention and reject social conformity.

The author suggests that our emergence as a species with stereoscopic, frontal vision and sophisticated hand-eye coordination gave us an advantage over earlier humans and primates because it allowed us to contemplate a situation and ponder alternatives for action. This, along with the advantages conferred by mirror neurons, which allow us to intuit what others may be thinking, contributed to our ability to learn, pass on inventions to future generations and improve our problem-solving ability. Throughout most of human history, we were hunter-gatherers, and our brains are engineered accordingly. The author has a jaundiced view of our modern technological society, which, he writes, encourages quick, rash judgments. We fail to spend the time needed to develop thorough mastery of a subject. Greene writes that every human is “born unique,” with specific potential that we can develop if we listen to our inner voice. He offers many interesting but tendentious examples to illustrate his theory, including Einstein, Darwin, Mozart and Temple Grandin. In the case of Darwin, Greene ignores the formative intellectual influences that shaped his thought, including the discovery of geological evolution with which he was familiar before his famous voyage. The author uses Grandin's struggle to overcome autistic social handicaps as a model for the necessity for everyone to create a deceptive social mask.

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should beware of the author's quirky, sometimes misleading brush-stroke characterizations.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02496-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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BRAVE ENOUGH

These platitudes need perspective; better to buy the books they came from.

A lightweight collection of self-help snippets from the bestselling author.

What makes a quote a quote? Does it have to be quoted by someone other than the original author? Apparently not, if we take Strayed’s collection of truisms as an example. The well-known memoirist (Wild), novelist (Torch), and radio-show host (“Dear Sugar”) pulls lines from her previous pages and delivers them one at a time in this small, gift-sized book. No excerpt exceeds one page in length, and some are only one line long. Strayed doesn’t reference the books she’s drawing from, so the quotes stand without context and are strung together without apparent attention to structure or narrative flow. Thus, we move back and forth from first-person tales from the Pacific Crest Trail to conversational tidbits to meditations on grief. Some are astoundingly simple, such as Strayed’s declaration that “Love is the feeling we have for those we care deeply about and hold in high regard.” Others call on the author’s unique observations—people who regret what they haven’t done, she writes, end up “mingy, addled, shrink-wrapped versions” of themselves—and offer a reward for wading through obvious advice like “Trust your gut.” Other quotes sound familiar—not necessarily because you’ve read Strayed’s other work, but likely due to the influence of other authors on her writing. When she writes about blooming into your own authenticity, for instance, one is immediately reminded of Anaïs Nin: "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Strayed’s true blossoming happens in her longer works; while this collection might brighten someone’s day—and is sure to sell plenty of copies during the holidays—it’s no substitute for the real thing.

These platitudes need perspective; better to buy the books they came from.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-101-946909

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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