A thin, oddly theistic self-empowerment workbook.

EMERGENCY KIT

SURVIVAL GUIDE TO ABUNDANCE

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

BRAVE ENOUGH

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. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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Clever and accessibly conversational, Manson reminds us to chill out, not sweat the small stuff, and keep hope for a better...

EVERYTHING IS F*CKED

A BOOK ABOUT HOPE

The popular blogger and author delivers an entertaining and thought-provoking third book about the importance of being hopeful in terrible times.

“We are a culture and a people in need of hope,” writes Manson (The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, 2016, etc.). With an appealing combination of gritty humor and straightforward prose, the author floats the idea of drawing strength and hope from a myriad of sources in order to tolerate the “incomprehensibility of your existence.” He broadens and illuminates his concepts through a series of hypothetical scenarios based in contemporary reality. At the dark heart of Manson’s guide is the “Uncomfortable Truth,” which reiterates our cosmic insignificance and the inevitability of death, whether we blindly ignore or blissfully embrace it. The author establishes this harsh sentiment early on, creating a firm foundation for examining the current crisis of hope, how we got here, and what it means on a larger scale. Manson’s referential text probes the heroism of Auschwitz infiltrator Witold Pilecki and the work of Isaac Newton, Nietzsche, Einstein, and Immanuel Kant, as the author explores the mechanics of how hope is created and maintained through self-control and community. Though Manson takes many serpentine intellectual detours, his dark-humored wit and blunt prose are both informative and engaging. He is at his most convincing in his discussions about the fallibility of religious beliefs, the modern world’s numerous shortcomings, deliberations over the “Feeling Brain” versus the “Thinking Brain,” and the importance of striking a happy medium between overindulging in and repressing emotions. Although we live in a “couch-potato-pundit era of tweetstorms and outrage porn,” writes Manson, hope springs eternal through the magic salves of self-awareness, rational thinking, and even pain, which is “at the heart of all emotion.”

Clever and accessibly conversational, Manson reminds us to chill out, not sweat the small stuff, and keep hope for a better world alive.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-288843-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2019

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