A chatty guide to surviving the single life from a traditional, marriage-oriented perspective.

JUST GIVE ME YOUR LAST NAME

A debut motivational work encourages single women to love themselves first.

Olaniyan used to feel bad about being single. Part of this attitude came from other people. The author recounts one particular Thanksgiving when her aunt and uncle told her that there must be something wrong with her since she hadn’t found a husband yet. “My single life was miserable,” recalls Olaniyan. “When I got tired of this misery, I had to be deliberate about finding the root cause of my situation. You can bet I found it: perspective. Perspective was my miracle, not finding a man.” With this book, the author sheds light on achieving a healthy mindset during singledom. The most important tip for singletons is that they should get to know themselves rather than waiting for someone else to come around and provide them with an identity. She cautions women to think about what married life really entails—and whether they are even ready for it—while encouraging them not to settle for unworthy partners. The whole point is that, in order to find Mr. Right, you must first turn yourself into Ms. Right: be the woman whom you want to be and whom the man you want would be excited to meet. The author believes that it is God who ultimately connects people and that women must have faith that he will lead them to their perfect mates. She also discusses dating strategies and ultimately reveals the story of how she found her own Mr. Right. Olaniyan’s prose is cheerful and easygoing, if not always completely smooth: “Your life is like a house. How can you show people around a house you are not familiar with? When people come into your life, it is your responsibility to show them around, educate them on what the house really stands for, and keep them out of rooms where they shouldn’t be.” Her advice will likely strike some as overly traditional. It is rooted in Christianity and the Bible (the word “helpmeet” appears twice), and the goal is to eventually find a husband, not to stay single forever. But for those with a similar worldview and aim, the author’s positivity will likely assuage any doubts.

A chatty guide to surviving the single life from a traditional, marriage-oriented perspective.

Pub Date: June 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-973662-79-2

Page Count: 142

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2020

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

HAPPY-GO-LUCKY

Sedaris remains stubbornly irreverent even in the face of pandemic lockdowns and social upheaval.

In his previous collection of original essays, Calypso (2018), the author was unusually downbeat, fixated on aging and the deaths of his mother and sister. There’s bad news in this book, too—most notably, the death of his problematic and seemingly indestructible father at 96—but Sedaris generally carries himself more lightly. On a trip to a gun range, he’s puzzled by boxer shorts with a holster feature, which he wishes were called “gunderpants.” He plays along with nursing-home staffers who, hearing a funnyman named David is on the premises, think he’s Dave Chappelle. He’s bemused by his sister Amy’s landing a new apartment to escape her territorial pet rabbit. On tour, he collects sheaves of off-color jokes and tales of sexual self-gratification gone wrong. His relationship with his partner, Hugh, remains contentious, but it’s mellowing. (“After thirty years, sleeping is the new having sex.”) Even more serious stuff rolls off him. Of Covid-19, he writes that “more than eight hundred thousand people have died to date, and I didn’t get to choose a one of them.” The author’s support of Black Lives Matter is tempered by his interest in the earnest conscientiousness of organizers ensuring everyone is fed and hydrated. (He refers to one such person as a “snacktivist.”) Such impolitic material, though, puts serious essays in sharper, more powerful relief. He recalls fending off the flirtations of a 12-year-old boy in France, frustrated by the language barrier and other factors that kept him from supporting a young gay man. His father’s death unlocks a crushing piece about dad’s inappropriate, sexualizing treatment of his children. For years—chronicled in many books—Sedaris labored to elude his father’s criticism. Even in death, though, it proves hard to escape or laugh off.

A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-39245-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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