Capably carries out its valuable mission.


A straightforward, practical, and somewhat humdrum guide to coping with stress, with emphasis on the workplace.

In her debut as a solo author, Hird summons her years of experience as a corporate and personal counselor to offer concrete methods for responding to the ever widening scourge called stress. These methods appear to apply most to stressed-out, overworked employees in small offices and corporate divisions. Hird’s bottom-line advice to the overburdened is to request a sit-down with the boss, supervisor, or colleague seen as causing the stress; such a manner would lay out the problem in a civil, formal fashion that cannot be ignored. This approach, she says, is most likely to yield an acceptable solution. She presents numerous if sometimes slightly wooden examples to show how the process works and advises that the meeting requester come armed with suggested solutions to put on the table. This seems like very sound advice and a far better way to handle workplace stress than by, say, having a meltdown or being a doormat and suffering in silence. From an employer’s point of view, following Hird’s counsel could bring hope of improving subpar job performances and cutting down on absenteeism due to stress-related health problems. The emphasis throughout is on managing rather than succumbing to stress. For the sufferer, this begins with frank self-analysis of one’s own personality type and a lifestyle overhaul, if necessary, to help shed stress. A stress test to detect physical and psychological signs of incipient or already present stress is helpfully included. At the book’s core is Hird’s instructive analysis of what she identifies as the five basic coping strategies (not all of them positive or recommended) people use when stress strikes. Flight, for example, isn’t going to work well for someone who detests the job but needs the paycheck. The writing isn’t inspired but rather the competent work of a professional doing what she does best, though one imagines she probably does it even better in an actual group or one-on-one setting. Nonetheless, the print adaptation is nothing if not clearly presented, comprehensive, and almost certainly helpful in reducing stress.

Capably carries out its valuable mission.

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-1458217028

Page Count: 202

Publisher: AbbottPress

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 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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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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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. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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