Me, Myself, and I seem to be the subject of this month’s selection of self-help books, as most of the authors encourage readers to become their best selves by not drawing comparisons to others and pushing away undesirable thoughts. The irony is that the more people accept who they are, the more tolerant and forgiving they are of those around them. Take the concept of humility, which is all about respecting the talents of others, as opposed to narcissism, a trait that fosters narrow-mindedness in regards to all aspects of life. Drag queens and advice columnists are also rife with opinions and suggestions, as are those who take the long view of society and where it’s headed—in a positive, though challenging direction. Enjoy.
Adams, Louise. Mindful Moments: 30 Day Plan for Supercharged Results. Wilkinson: John Blake. Nov. 2016. 128p. illus. index. ISBN 9781925265521. pap. $14.95. Mindfulness/mind & body/SELF-HELP
In this beautifully written and illustrated book, clinical psychologist Adams goes beyond traditional mindfulness training to teach readers compassion-based techniques. According to the author, when clients treat themselves with kindness and have the desire to soothe, they experience less anxiety, stress, and shame. She offers exercises that promote focusing on the present, breathing affectionately, ridding oneself of judgment, and essentially cultivating self-compassion. No special equipment or quiet space is required, as practice of these methods can take place during moments of everyday life. VERDICT Highly recommended for its presentation, simplicity, and concentration on self-care.
Barnett, Rosalind C. & Caryl Rivers. The Age of Longevity: Re-Imagining Tomorrow for Our New Long Lives. Rowman & Littlefield. Sept. 2016. 222p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781442255272. $35; ebk. ISBN 9781442255289. SELF-HELP
There’s lots of good news in this panoramic view of a longer-living population from Barnett (senior scientist, Women’s Studies Research Ctr., Brandeis Univ.) and Rivers (journalism, Boston Univ.). Among the highlights are that older workers are actually creating more jobs for younger people through their participation in the economy. The authors further shatter the myth that retiring baby boomers are going to drain government funding. There are challenges, however, including multigenerational workplaces, shifting family sizes, and skyrocketing education costs, all of which the authors’ abundant research and proposed scenarios address. VERDICT A thorough study of the present and an impressive predictor of the future.
Bonney, Grace. In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from Over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs. Artisan. Oct. 2016. 360p. photos. ISBN 9781579655976. $35; ebk. ISBN 9781579657260. business success
Inspired by the talent and entrepreneurial spirit of individuals she met through her work, Bonney, founder of the website Design*Sponge (designsponge.com), highlights women across the globe who have overcome adversity to start their own creative businesses. Interviewees, including writer Tavi Gevinson, designer Maya Lin, actress Issa Rae, and poet Nikki Giovanni, represent all walks of life, launching careers in various industries, from fashion houses and restaurants to arts organizations and academia. Each tells of her favorite aspects of the workspace, the lessons she’s learned, the force that keeps her going, and her observations of the world at large. VERDICT An excellent source of inspiration for women (and men) of all ages.
Casey, Karen. 52 Ways To Live the Course in Miracles: Cultivate a Simpler, Slower, More Love-Filled Life. Conari. Oct. 2016. 224p. ISBN 9781573246842. pap. $16.95. spirituality
Prolific author Casey (Change Your Mind and Your Life Will Follow) is renowned for her inspirational and supportive works, and her latest book is no exception. Enabling readers to transform their perceptions and to experience a greater sense of peace moment by moment, Casey’s lessons impart a principle, an affirmation, and further elaboration for meditation. Advice comes in an array of forms such as “Forgiveness is the key to peace” and “Don’t let the past define the present.” VERDICT Each entry of this volume supplies motivation and stimulus to make oneself and the world a better place. Well done.
Coquette. [The Best of] Dear Coquette: Shady Advice from a Raging Bitch Who Has No Business Answering Any of These Questions. Icon. Oct. 2016. 368p. ISBN 9781785780950. $16.95; ebk. ISBN 9781785781353. SELF-HELP
The title of this book is a fairly accurate representation of the material within. The anonymous Coquette, of the hugely successful blog DearCoquette.com, is full of no-holds-barred advice for those seeking revelations on relationships, family, and a plethora of other subjects. Arranged in a question-and-answer format by topic (e.g., “On Love,” “On Dating,” “On Friends”), entries range from “Why won’t guys look at me?” to “Why isn’t life fun anymore?” Coquette doesn’t mince words in telling advice seekers to grow up or warning them that their planning is stupid and juvenile. VERDICT Useful guidance for millennials in particular; great reading for fans of advice columns.
Daly, Jane. The Caregiving Season: Finding Grace To Honor Your Aging Parents. Focus on the Family. Sept. 2016. 208p. ISBN 9781589978690. pap. $14.99. SELF-HELP
Daly (Because of Grace) has found through experience that it’s possible to navigate the guilt, exhaustion, and frustration of dealing with aging parents with grace and fortitude that comes from depending on Christ. The author considers all of the practical issues in caregiving, from mourning losses, handling medical and financial matters, and dealing with situations such as taking away car keys. She counsels people to not only take care of themselves but to develop a sense of love, forgiveness, and peace when coping with a parent’s dementia or unrealistic demands. VERDICT Although geared toward those with a Christian faith, this book will help the countless baby boomers who are providing for their loved ones.
DeAngelis, Camille. Life Without Envy: Ego Management for Creative People. St. Martin’s. Sept. 2016. 288p. ISBN 9781250099341. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250099358. SELF-HELP
Novelist DeAngelis (Petty Magic) dedicates her debut self-help book to people who are tired of comparing themselves to others and often feel invisible or misunderstood. That envious voice in one’s head, says DeAngelis, is the ego, and it tends to feed on eternal discontent. To counteract being stuck in our thoughts on a feedback loop, the author first points out the many misapprehensions that bring misery such as, “I just need to prove myself…and then I’ll be someone important,” and then offers strategies and inspirations for creating fulfillment and understanding. VERDICT DeAngelis does a terrific job of describing the ego and hits home with her wisdom on how to tame it.
Huba, Jackie. Fiercely You: Be Fabulous and Confident by Thinking like a Drag Queen. Berrett-Koehler. Aug. 2016. 240p. ISBN 9781626568075. pap. $18.95; ebk. ISBN 9781626568099. SELF-HELP
How can thinking like a drag queen help people gain autonomy and self-assurance? Huba (Monster Loyalty) answers this question by showing readers how to conceptualize and actualize the person within. That’s the essence of the book—pulling out that alter persona and bringing it to life without fear of condemnation. Certainly a big order, but, according to Huba, the outcome is immensely rewarding. Real-life stories dominate the text and make for fascinating reading if not guidance in realizing the nature of our true selves. VERDICT A fun, insightful read that takes readers in surprising directions.
Kite, Gerad. Everything You Need You Have: How To Be at Home in Your Self. Harmony: Crown. Dec. 2016. 208p. ISBN 9780451498175. $17; ebk. ISBN 9780451498182.
Marsh, Jeffrey. How To Be You: Stop Trying To Be Someone Else and Start Living Your Life. TarcherPerigee. Aug. 2016. 208p. ISBN 9780143110125. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9781101993026. SELF-HELP
The theme of both of these guidebooks is to find enjoyment in being oneself and to be free of pursuing perfection. Kite, an acupuncture master, helps people tune in to their own rhythms and direct their perspectives toward a sense of calm self-awareness. Vine top blogger Marsh encourages self-acceptance through coloring in charts, discovering self-defeating patterns, and listening to the stories of others who have transcended societal expectations of race, age, and gender. While Kite’s work provides new ways in which to think about our relationship with the world, Marsh’s emphasizes achieving one’s own version of success. In compassionate chapters, he pushes readers to let go of the concepts of punishment and control and feel confident about being good enough. VERDICT Neither book is groundbreaking in offering suggestions for a self-acceptance to which all people aspire, but both suggest valid feel-good ideas.
Ryan, M.J. Habit Changers: 81 Game-Changing Mantras to Mindfully Realize Your Goals. Crown Business. Sept. 2016. 256p. ISBN 9780451495402. $22; ebk. ISBN 9780451495419. SELF-HELP
This Year I Will author Ryan helps people rid themselves of unwanted habits by using simple slogans inspired by Tibetan Buddhist mind training called Lojong. Essentially, the author provides readers with 81 mantras and explanations to recite as antidotes to these behaviors until they become ingrained brain responses. These often one-liners are listed under categories such as anger, conflict, and self-care, and include repetitions like “Stop, Breathe, Rewind” and “Don’t Turn Goof-Ups into Give-Ups.” VERDICT This book may be too simplistic for some, but others may find power from the easily remembered, invigorating mantras.
Schuitemaker, Lisette & Wies Enthoven. The Eldest Daughter Effect: How Firstborn Women—Like Oprah Winfrey, Sheryl Sandberg, J.K. Rowling and Beyoncé—Harness Their Strengths. Findhorn. Oct. 2016. 192p. bibliog. ISBN 9781844097074. pap. $15.99. SELF-HELP
First-born daughters Schuitemaker and Enthoven, life coach and writer/teacher respectively, were intrigued by the qualities that eldest daughters seem to share and went on to research, through studies and interviews, some of these attributes, including being dutiful, responsible, and efficient, as well as overriding doubt about being good enough. Here, the authors describe in depth the consequences of birth order and then write specifically to eldest daughters about applying their best qualities to areas of friendship, work, love, and children. Quotes from notable women who are eldest daughter (e.g., Angela Merkel, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Lady Gaga, and others) permeate the text and serve as a source of support for readers. VERDICT Eldest daughters and those who love them will find this book fascinating.
Tracy, Brian. Master Your Time Master Your Life: The Breakthrough System To Get More Results, Faster, in Every Area of Your Life. TarcherPerigee. Oct. 2016. 240p. ISBN 9780399183812. $22; ebk. ISBN 9780399183836. SELF-HELP
Tracy (Earn What You’re Really Worth) maintains that there are different approaches to time management depending on the tasks involved. Chapters here are devoted to “Strategic Planning and Goal Setting Time,” “Work Time,” “People and Family Time,” and so forth. The author covers the usual issues of time-wasting and finding balance and further details specific ways in which to brand oneself, continue to learn and grow, and listen well. What sets Tracy’s volume apart from other books on the subject is the attention paid to making space for quiet time. He discusses the benefits of mindfulness and meditation in terms of not only goal achievement but also inner peace. VERDICT Angled mostly for those in the twenty- to thirtysomething crowd, this book will be valuable to those looking to be more productive.
Williams, Pat with Jim Denney. Humility: The Secret Ingredient of Success. Shiloh Run. Oct. 2016. 256p. ISBN 9781634099059. $18.99; ebk. ISBN 9781683220268. SELF-HELP
Williams (senior VP, NBA’s Orlando Magic) delivers what he intends to be a cure for the narcissism prevalent in today’s culture, pointing out that humility—a modest and realistic view of a person’s importance—is one of the keys to success. Presenting accounts of those who have fallen from greatness owing to their own arrogance (e.g., Tiger Woods), as well as those who went on to lead future generations (e.g., Winston Churchill), the author maintains that a mind-set of honoring others, practicing teamwork, and having integrity are all relevant business assets. He maintains that humility is a learnable skill and that confidence can be realized without descending into boastfulness. VERDICT This accessible, knowledgeable book on a pertinent subject is sure to reach a wide audience.