A friendly, all-purpose compendium of thought-provoking intellectual odds and ends.

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RICHARD THE POORER'S 'GLUTEN FREE' FOOD 4 THOUGHT

A SMORGASBORD OF THOUGHTS AND IDEAS FOR COGITATORS OF ALL STRIPES...PLUS DESSERT!

A collection of quotes and inspirational ruminations on all aspects of life.

As its title suggests, Fitzgerald’s well-designed follow-up to his Beyond Chicken Soup (2019) takes its initial cues from Poor Richard’s Almanack, collecting the author’s wisdom and gentle humor on a wide variety of topics ranging from ethics and morality to God to loneliness to sports. The author shifts easily from a tone of jocularity to one of serious concentration and back, and the focus of his meditations likewise shifts. One little segment is an ode to the wonders of “Real books, flesh-and-blood books” (as opposed to electronic books, presumably) while another digs into a gentle indictment of the false nature of consumer culture: “Happiness in our culture is largely fool’s gold peddled by all manner of hucksters and pied pipers, ranging from auto dealers to fast-food purveyors to televangelists.” Some sections use historical grounding to ponder a topic, as when he suggests a “Bill of Responsibilities” to accompany the Bill of Rights with examples like “I will offer forgiveness” and “I will hold myself accountable.” Other sections are composed of quick aphorisms like “What compassion is to kindness, empathy is to civility” or “A leader stands in front of the flag; a politician, behind it.” The rustic simplicity of some of these sentiments stands at odds with the complexity of the issues they raise (many parents, for instance, might take issue with being told “Loving parents are the children of loving parents; like begets like”), but Fitzgerald’s straightforward sincerity is always evident, and the wry, common-sense tone he adapts from Poor Richard works well in modern contexts (“An alarm clock can only wake us; it can’t get us out of bed,” and so on). The tone adopted throughout is that of inviting conversation; readers seeking practical reminders of everyday wisdom will doubtless respond.

A friendly, all-purpose compendium of thought-provoking intellectual odds and ends.

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2019

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Kingsley Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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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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