by Ronda Conger ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 13, 2015
Easy-reading thoughts to ponder in an eye-catching design.
In her energetic self-help debut, Conger offers familiar ideas for personal improvement and success.
Like many others on the shelf, this perkier-than-thou book believes in the power of positive thinking. Splashed with bold color designs and action photographs of people—like a woman with outstretched arms in a field of bright yellow flowers—Conger’s exuberant pep talk feels like a warm and fuzzy motivational poster. Many of the colorful pictures include inspirational quotes, such as these attributed to Estée Lauder: “I never dreamed about success. I worked for it.” Indeed, hard work and grit are the cornerstones of Conger’s message, one often tinged with humor. A photo of a pretty young woman asleep in bed is accompanied by the message, “GET THE F*@% OUT OF BED.” Conger also jokingly compares the Broadway musical Annie to her own “hard knock life.” When Conger was 3, her mother died, and she had a turbulent adolescence. But she didn’t let hardship stop her from reaching her goals. This slim, easy-to-flip volume offers familiar concepts for self-improvement, such as becoming a more loving person (the author suggests smiling at cashiers) and learning gratitude. Conger’s upbeat kaleidoscope of advice isn’t a step-by-step guide, but it does have some usable ideas. For example, to cultivate a grateful heart, Conger suggests sending 10 thank-you cards to people and keeping a “gratitude journal.” Likewise, she recommends Dr. B.J. Fogg’s “Tiny Habits” (and reading for four minutes a day) to foster positive life habits. The author’s voice is friendly, and she sometimes addresses readers directly when making a point: e.g., “Are you ready for it?” She also offers book recommendations, like Smile and Move by Sam Parker, and thought-provoking items, such as the “How Not To Be Thankful” poster by Mark Russell available on her website. Readers looking for in-depth discussion might not be sated, but those without a lot of reading time can find inspiration in Conger’s quick, cheerful words.Easy-reading thoughts to ponder in an eye-catching design.
Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015
Page Count: 164
Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2015
Review Program: Kirkus Indie
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by Glennon Doyle ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 10, 2020
Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.
Awards & Accolades
New York Times Bestseller
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
Page Count: 352
Publisher: Dial Books
Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2019
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020
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by Cheryl Strayed ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 1, 2015
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
Page Count: 160
Review Posted Online: Aug. 15, 2015
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015
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