Friendly inspiration for toastmasters, speechwriters, and anyone looking for bits of wit.

"DON'T QUOTE ME"

AN INSPIRING AND HONEST APPROACH TO DISCOVERING A HEALTHIER AND HAPPIER LIFE

A debut book mixes common-sense advice with more than 200 notable quotes from famous figures.

Sounding a lot like dear old Dad (“Nothing in life is free—nothing!”), Pollack doles out practical observations, accompanied by quotes from a variety of personalities—such as President Donald Trump, Oscar Wilde, and hockey player Wayne Gretzky. This eclectic compilation also includes a hodgepodge of themes, including parenting, embracing friends, exercising, and achieving a balance in life. A breeze to browse, the book puts quotes in boldface and provides short chapters that can be read quickly. Often upbeat, Pollack begins with college basketball coach Jimmy Valvano, who, battling a rare cancer, urged: “Don’t give up....Don’t ever give up!” The author also showcases his favorite rocker, Bruce Springsteen, and his take on perseverance: “Well, keep pushin’ till it’s understood and these badlands start treating us good.” Some of the quotes are humorous, like the quip attributed to W.C. Fields: “Warning: The consumption of alcohol may lead you to think people are laughing with you.” Pollack also adds a few poignant personal anecdotes, like the time he held a loved one’s hand as she died. Smooth-flowing and conversational, Pollack’s voice is down-to-earth. On the subject of risk-taking, he describes gambling: “Hell, sometimes it’s worth going to the ponies just to get the blood flowing.” A couple of quote placements are ironic; for example, the rough-and-tumble Gen. George Patton and the soft-mannered TV sitcom character Frasier Crane appear on the same page. Leaping from one thought to the next (the subject of children having too many play dates quickly turns into the importance of taking videos of kids), Pollack offers well-worn conclusions, such as his advice on practice: “It’s not enough to have talent or a gift—it’s how hard you work to enhance your God-given talents that makes the difference.” Several unrelated topics—like the author's opinions on plastic surgery and gun control—seem messily strung together in the conclusion. Nevertheless, this spirited conversation is a pleasant day trip through familiar territory.

Friendly inspiration for toastmasters, speechwriters, and anyone looking for bits of wit.  

Pub Date: Dec. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4525-5545-4

Page Count: 170

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: June 7, 2017

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The author’s sincere sermon—at times analytical, at times hortatory—remains a hopeful one.

THE ROAD TO CHARACTER

New York Times columnist Brooks (The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Achievement, 2011, etc.) returns with another volume that walks the thin line between self-help and cultural criticism.

Sandwiched between his introduction and conclusion are eight chapters that profile exemplars (Samuel Johnson and Michel de Montaigne are textual roommates) whose lives can, in Brooks’ view, show us the light. Given the author’s conservative bent in his column, readers may be surprised to discover that his cast includes some notable leftists, including Frances Perkins, Dorothy Day, and A. Philip Randolph. (Also included are Gens. Eisenhower and Marshall, Augustine, and George Eliot.) Throughout the book, Brooks’ pattern is fairly consistent: he sketches each individual’s life, highlighting struggles won and weaknesses overcome (or not), and extracts lessons for the rest of us. In general, he celebrates hard work, humility, self-effacement, and devotion to a true vocation. Early in his text, he adapts the “Adam I and Adam II” construction from the work of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, Adam I being the more external, career-driven human, Adam II the one who “wants to have a serene inner character.” At times, this veers near the Devil Bugs Bunny and Angel Bugs that sit on the cartoon character’s shoulders at critical moments. Brooks liberally seasons the narrative with many allusions to history, philosophy, and literature. Viktor Frankl, Edgar Allan Poe, Paul Tillich, William and Henry James, Matthew Arnold, Virginia Woolf—these are but a few who pop up. Although Brooks goes after the selfie generation, he does so in a fairly nuanced way, noting that it was really the World War II Greatest Generation who started the ball rolling. He is careful to emphasize that no one—even those he profiles—is anywhere near flawless.

The author’s sincere sermon—at times analytical, at times hortatory—remains a hopeful one.

Pub Date: April 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9325-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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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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