WILL THE REAL YOU PLEASE STAND UP?

TEST YOUR PERSONALITY

One hundred simple personality tests that may give readers glimpses of self-awareness.
Clinical psychologist Didato (The Big Book of Personality Tests, 2003, etc.) returns with another collection of all-new, easy tests for general self-improvement. The quick quizzes often have a true/false format, with answers provided. Chapters are divided into different categories, such as “Love and Romance” or “Home and Family.” In addition to these magazine-style quizzes, Didato also includes clear summaries of the topics at hand and an explanation of one’s final score. Written in a style that’s refreshingly devoid of scientific jargon, the test topics run the gamut, from “How Happy Are You?” to “Do You Have an Age Bias?” According to the author, all of his tests are backed up by research studies, clinical experience and surveys from professional literature. For example, in a test to determine one’s knowledge of premenstrual syndrome, he cites Johns Hopkins University as the first institution to develop a nondrug PMS self-management plan. Some answers are easy to guess; for example, in a test to determine if one has the traits of a creative person, one of the “true” answers is “I usually daydream more than most of my friends do.” However, other answers can be more illuminating: In the same creativity test, Didato cites a Yale University study that determined that children closer to their mothers tended to be more creative than those closer to their fathers. One test, which helps ascertain whether readers are happy with their jobs, seems a bit unnecessary; wouldn’t readers already know? Fortunately, Didato delves deeper into readers’ psyches with another compelling quiz that determines whether they use their “whole brains” on the job. This collection of hasty tests and statistics probably shouldn’t be taken as seriously as more researched discussions about personality and the power of the mind, but Didato’s questions about deeper topics—such as one’s potential for family violence—can be steppingstones for further learning.

An entertaining coffee-table book for self-analysis.

Pub Date: Jan. 25, 2014

ISBN: 978-1494211202

Page Count: 186

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2014

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

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

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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