An entertaining, inspiring approach to life-hacking that begs to be implemented by the willing reader.

THE ART OF IMPOSSIBLE

A PEAK PERFORMANCE PRIMER

“Very little is impossible with ten years’ practice.” Journalist and performance coach Kotler delivers an incitement for us all to up our games.

Just about every human achievement was once deemed impossible, whether breaking the 4-minute mile or landing on the moon. Kotler’s Flow Research Collective, borrowing from the insights of psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, studies “the neurobiology of human peak performance,” training and quantifying the nervous system at its optimum. Neurobiology being universal, it works for everyone in theory, even though when personality enters the picture, psychological traits such as risk aversion can affect the outcome. No worry, writes the author. Peak performance is attained through motivation, learning, creativity, and flow, the last of which is “how you turbo-boost the results beyond all rational standards and reasonable expectations,” surprising even yourself with the mastery that comes after figuring out how to do something perfectly. Kotler has something of the cheerleader about him, to be sure, but he’s thoroughly grounded in science, writing of the biological systems that drive fear, anger, grief, lust, and other emotions, all of which can be turned to advantage. He also offers a novel approach to learning, removing stress and letting curiosity make a game of it. “We’re letting our pattern recognition system find connections between curiosities that make us even more curious—which is how you cultivate passion,” he writes after chronicling a user-friendly approach to learning a new subject. Other strategies for performance optimization include getting enough restorative sleep; eating properly; spending your time effectively, including scheduling time for meditation and focused thinking; and avoiding stress. Kotler’s up-and-at-’em approach never sounds a false note, and it’s clear that he has applied his advice to himself. Besides, it’s fun to read sentences like, “Remember, the ROI on reading says books are the best way to go.”

An entertaining, inspiring approach to life-hacking that begs to be implemented by the willing reader.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-297753-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Harper Wave

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

The lessons to draw are obvious: Smoke more dope, eat less meat. Like-minded readers will dig it.

F*CK IT, I'LL START TOMORROW

The chef, rapper, and TV host serves up a blustery memoir with lashings of self-help.

“I’ve always had a sick confidence,” writes Bronson, ne Ariyan Arslani. The confidence, he adds, comes from numerous sources: being a New Yorker, and more specifically a New Yorker from Queens; being “short and fucking husky” and still game for a standoff on the basketball court; having strength, stamina, and seemingly no fear. All these things serve him well in the rough-and-tumble youth he describes, all stickball and steroids. Yet another confidence-builder: In the big city, you’ve got to sink or swim. “No one is just accepted—you have to fucking show that you’re able to roll,” he writes. In a narrative steeped in language that would make Lenny Bruce blush, Bronson recounts his sentimental education, schooled by immigrant Italian and Albanian family members and the mean streets, building habits good and bad. The virtue of those habits will depend on your take on modern mores. Bronson writes, for example, of “getting my dick pierced” down in the West Village, then grabbing a pizza and smoking weed. “I always smoke weed freely, always have and always will,” he writes. “I’ll just light a blunt anywhere.” Though he’s gone through the classic experiences of the latter-day stoner, flunking out and getting arrested numerous times, Bronson is a hard charger who’s not afraid to face nearly any challenge—especially, given his physique and genes, the necessity of losing weight: “If you’re husky, you’re always dieting in your mind,” he writes. Though vulgar and boastful, Bronson serves up a model that has plenty of good points, including his growing interest in nature, creativity, and the desire to “leave a legacy for everybody.”

The lessons to draw are obvious: Smoke more dope, eat less meat. Like-minded readers will dig it.

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4478-5

Page Count: 184

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more