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IF YOU'RE FREAKING OUT, READ THIS

A COPING WORKBOOK FOR BUILDING GOOD HABITS, BEHAVIORS, AND HOPE FOR THE FUTURE

A quick read that provides tested techniques to reestablish equilibrium in one’s life.

A guidebook to help you through the rough spots in life.

In an upbeat, lighthearted narrative that combines elements of memoir, guidebook, and workbook, DeAngelis interweaves her personal story with therapeutic practices and exercises to help readers regain balance when all seems hopeless. The author’s past was filled with depression, bouts in psychiatric hospitals, and thoughts of suicide until she began applying these coping skills: paying attention to one’s breath, integrating movement to ward off depression, experiencing forgiveness, addressing grief, and more. Each of the 10 sections, which feature frequent lists, sidebars, and font changes, is intimate and expressive, pushing readers to fully explore what they are feeling or thinking at the moment. For anyone who has read the work of SARK, the format will feel familiar, with its handwritten notes interwoven with typed sections and blank spaces left for the reader’s own thoughts to be included on the page. DeAngelis combines insight into the realities of deep depression with humor and encouragement. Certain exercises may strike some readers as overly saccharine—e.g., creating a happy jar filled with happy thoughts—but most will help readers seeking to cope with the difficult aspects of life. “This is not one of those books where I am promising that your life will change if you take these simple steps,” writes the author. “I have no idea what will happen in your life and you do not need to try anything that does not sound cool. I do not and cannot know what is best for you or what will work for you.” With that in mind, readers can pick and choose what most appeals to them, knowing that all the exercises have worked at one time or another for DeAngelis, which is a good testament to their efficacy.

A quick read that provides tested techniques to reestablish equilibrium in one’s life.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-62106-901-0

Page Count: 157

Publisher: Microcosm Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2020

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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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