A clear, no-nonsense distillation of one person’s guidelines for leading a more satisfying life.


The author outlines his belief in the value of willpower, hard work and making the most of one’s time, and supports his views with incidents from his own life.

After a pair of tragedies early in life—a debilitating sports injury and the murder of a younger brother—Simmons became determined to make the most of his life. After a period of reflection, he opted for a relentless application of willpower, which he defines as “resolutely controlling your behaviors” in order to achieve a goal. Simmons believes that by using willpower to overcome the “lazy bug,” by making the most of one’s time, and by acknowledging weakness while still trying “to stay as close to the perfect side as possible,” the reader can lead a productive life, while achieving personal and professional goals. Simmons outlines and elaborates on this approach, citing examples from his own life and listing concrete steps that can be taken in order to maximize one’s potential. Written as one extended, almost manifestolike essay, the guide brims with passion and energy. Concepts are introduced via key terms, which are defined, then exemplified with anecdotal incidents from the author’s life. The idea that willpower and effective time management lead to success is not new; however, the author presents his philosophy clearly. While the autobiographical examples can appear self-aggrandizing, the intentions are pure, and the author truly wants to improve the reader’s lot. The prose is simple but effective; however, metaphors tend toward overextension, and advice that addicts need only muster up willpower to overcome addiction is simplistic. Still, while there are few new ideas, many may find inspiration in Simmons’ concise, enthusiastic statement of his commonsense beliefs.

A clear, no-nonsense distillation of one person’s guidelines for leading a more satisfying life.

Pub Date: May 19, 2010

ISBN: 978-0984397105

Page Count: 69

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2012

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

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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 final word from an actor who leaves a legacy of compassion and kindness.


The late actor offers a gentle guide for living with more purpose, love, and joy.

Mixing poetry, prescriptive challenges, and elements of memoir, Heche (1969-2022) delivers a narrative that is more encouraging workbook than life story. The author wants to share what she has discovered over the course of a life filled with abuse, advocacy, and uncanny turning points. Her greatest discovery? Love. “Open yourself up to love and transform kindness from a feeling you extend to those around you to actions that you perform for them,” she writes. “Only by caring can we open ourselves up to the universe, and only by opening up to the universe can we fully experience all the wonders that it holds, the greatest of which is love.” Throughout the occasionally overwrought text, Heche is heavy on the concept of care. She wants us to experience joy as she does, and she provides a road map for how to get there. Instead of slinking away from Hollywood and the ridicule that she endured there, Heche found the good and hung on, with Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford starring as particularly shining knights in her story. Some readers may dismiss this material as vapid Hollywood stuff, but Heche’s perspective is an empathetic blend of Buddhism (minimize suffering), dialectical behavioral therapy (tolerating distress), Christianity (do unto others), and pre-Socratic philosophy (sufficient reason). “You’re not out to change the whole world, but to increase the levels of love and kindness in the world, drop by drop,” she writes. “Over time, these actions wear away the coldness, hate, and indifference around us as surely as water slowly wearing away stone.” Readers grieving her loss will take solace knowing that she lived her love-filled life on her own terms. Heche’s business and podcast partner, Heather Duffy, writes the epilogue, closing the book on a life well lived.

A sweet final word from an actor who leaves a legacy of compassion and kindness.

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2023

ISBN: 9781627783316

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Viva Editions

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2023

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