Something for Everyone | Self-Help Reviews, March 1, 2017

SOMETHING for EVeryone As most of us know, there are many ways to improve ourselves. There are the global avenues of fitness, nutrition, spirituality, and the like, and then there are the specific tasks we need to work on to accomplish our goals. This month’s column offers a selection of both. Familiar offerings on succeeding through changing one’s attitude and getting physically fit sit alongside others that concentrate on speaking or singing well. A couple of niche selections suggest ways of dealing with the pain of losing loved ones, or getting over specific trauma, while an all-encompassing Age-Proof considers the connections related to financial and physical health.

Caputo, Theresa. Good Grief: Heal Your Soul, Honor Your Loved Ones, and Learn To Live Again. Atria. Mar. 2017. 224p. ISBN 9781501139086. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781501139109. bereavement

When Caputo, the star of TLC’s Long Island Medium, refers to the Spirit, she is talking about the souls in heaven, including God, angels, etc., which love, protect, and guide those of us still on Earth. The author wants readers to know that the dearly departed give humans permission to feel pain but ask that they grow and learn from their grief. This book offers “how to” find happiness after tragedy. Caputo uses her clients’ personal stories as a jumping-off point and presents their lessons of healing. Exercises, meditations, and moments of reflection guide readers to feeling more optimistic about the future. VERDICT An excellent resource for those who wish to be in communication with deceased loved ones.

redstarChatzky, Jean & others. Age-Proof: Living Longer Without Running Out of Money or Breaking a Hip. Grand Central. Mar. 2017. 352p. index. ISBN 9781455567300. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781455567317. SELF-HELP/retirement

ageproof.jpg3117Today show financial expert Chatzky and Cleveland Clinic chief wellness officer ­Michael Roizen, with Ted Spiker (The Abs Diet), find vital connections between health and wealth, using principles such as inflow vs. outflow (e.g., “do we burn more calories than we ingest?”). With their team approach, they deliver tactics, strategies, and information on eight dimensions of physical and financial stability to help readers stay both fit and flush. They provide self-checks in the areas of overall health, illustrate how to reengineer unhealthy habits, deal with stress, and make the most out of retirement benefits. They further maintain that it’s never too late to get the balanced body or budget one wants. ­VERDICT A positive, practical book for anyone middle aged or older.

Cole, Joni B. Good Naked: Reflections on How To Write More, Write Better & Be Happier. Univ. Pr. of New England. Apr. 2017. 208p. ISBN 9781611689112. pap. $17.99; ebk. ISBN 9781512600544.

Moore, Dinty W. The Story Cure: A Book Doctor’s Pain-Free Guide to Finishing Your Novel or Memoir. Ten Speed: Crown. May 2017. 192p. index. ISBN 9780399578809. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9780399578816. comm

In Good Naked, author Cole (creative writing, Dartmouth Coll.; Toxic Feedback: Helping Writers Survive and Thrive) shows readers how daring to share their “naked” writing—early drafts—can help them become aware of certain foibles and encourage them to continue. She disabuses common misconceptions of how one should think, act, and be as a writer, exchanging those myths for ideas that feed creativity and productivity. Essentially, one doesn’t have to suffer to be a genuine artist. To use the Nike slogan, Just Do It.

Moore (director, creative writing, Ohio Univ.) offers various ways to tackle self-inflicted problems. For the self-proclaimed “Book Doctor,” it’s all about the story: how well writers can craft a narrative that comes alive in the reader’s mind. Both volumes steer readers through the roadblocks of self-doubt and inspire them to be themselves, albeit with a little tweaking. Cole focuses on process, embracing the day-to-dayness of writing and defusing mental obstacles that get in the way. Moore includes that advice as well but also poses pointed questions dealing with character, voice, and plot. ­VERDICT These two volumes accomplish what they set out to achieve. Good Naked is more appropriate for newbies. The Story Cure is a better option for anyone who has been ­writing for a while but feels stuck.

redstarCrowe, Kelsey. There Is No Good Card for This: What To Say and Do When Life Is Scary, Awful, and Unfair to People You Love. HarperOne. Jan. 2017. 272p. illus. by Emily McDowell. ISBN 9780062469991. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062470003. self-help

PhD Crowe (social welfare, California State Univ.) and Empathy™ Cards creator ­McDowell pack a punch with this book of upbeat drawings and minimal words. They point out that many of us care about our friends or family members going through hurtful struggles, yet we don’t feel we have the time or knowledge or courage to do or say something helpful. Not so, explain Crowe and McDowell, who offer an abundance of ideas that prove to be meaningful for the bereaved. In addition to advice, there are exercises, sample dialogs, and tools for building relationships and developing compassion. VERDICT A must-read for everyone navigating through real life.

Jaffe, Barbara. When Will I Be Good Enough? A Replacement Child’s Journey to Healing. Lisa Hagan. Jan. 2017. 206p. ISBN 9780997469998. pap. $16.99. memoir

Educator/author Jaffe breaks new ground with her book on the issues that “replacement” children—those who were conceived to fill the loss of an earlier child—face throughout their lives. A replacement child herself, the author knows how high expectations can torment, and how the feeling of “not being worthy” can last through a lifetime. Her hopeful message demonstrates how she was able to overcome self-limiting beliefs and affirm her positive qualities to enjoy a productive, joyful life. VERDICT While Jaffe’s memoir speaks to a niche audience, it shows how feelings of unworthiness can be overcome, whatever the source from which inadequacy stems.

Knight, Sarah. Get Your Sh*t Together. Little, Brown. Jan. 2017. 304p. index. ISBN 9780316505079. $18.99; ebk. ISBN 9780316505062. SELF-HELP/humor

Knight continues where she left off in The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck by teaching readers how to manage the different aspects of their lives so they can get things done their own way, on their own schedule. The key components of guiding people toward reaching their individually tailored goals include strategy, focus, and commitment. Knight applies these elements to practical objectives such as saving money, getting physically fit, and using time effectively. Down-to-earth language, numerous examples, and a humor-tinged delivery combine to make getting it all together almost fun. VERDICT Recommended especially for those seeking a fresh, lighthearted approach to accomplishing what they set out to do.

Larsen, Stephanie S. Discover Your Master Chakra: Reveal the Source of Your Spiritual Gifts. Llewellyn. Feb. 2017. 312p. ISBN 9780738749266. pap. $17.99. spirituality

masterchakra.jpg3117Spiritualist teacher Larsen (founder, ­AwakenedbyStephanie.com) holds that each of the seven colored chakras (the centers of spiritual power in the human body) serve to structure an individual’s life purpose. Therefore, to discover one’s chakra is to focus one’s attributes. Following a self-quiz offered at the beginning of the book, Larsen describes the gifts of the chakras in detail (e.g., reds are leaders, greens are fixers), then provides exercises for each soul-ray color. Readers will likely use the information to strengthen their natural talents while working to correct any “traps” or weaknesses. Each personality (chakra) type is given questions for reflection and methods for interacting with those of other soul-ray colors. VERDICT Anyone wanting to understand themselves better will find that Larsen’s work offers a clear-cut, alternate point of view.

Lehrhaupt, Linda & Petra Meibert. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction: The MBSR Program for Enhancing Health and Vitality. New World Library. Mar. 2017. 232p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781608684793. pap. $15.95. mindfulness /personal growth

For those who aren’t experiencing life-altering, watershed moments, or even for those who are, Lehrhaupt and Meibert (both, Inst. for Mindfulness-Based Approaches) present a relief from the urgency and strains of everyday life. Beyond this, they provide instructions and exercises to achieve a mindful way of living, which helps practitioners attain a way of being present. While there is a bit of pressure to join a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) class, the authors do provide an eight-week course, complete with conducting body scans, practicing mindful breathing, and dealing with emotions that can give readers a head start in this therapy. VERDICT While the genre of mindfulness expands to encompass every area of life, the problem of stress is valid and can most likely be alleviated by the advice in this volume.

Mason-John, Valerie. Detox Your Heart: Meditations for Healing Emotional Trauma. rev. ed. Wisdom. Feb. 2017. 240p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781614293873. pap. $16.95; ebk. ISBN 9781614294030. SELF-HELP/inspirational

Speaking from her own experiences with conflict, resentment, and fear, anger management trainer Mason-John demonstrates how to recognize emotions and develop self-care in order to heal. She uses fables and personal examples to help people rid themselves of the feelings that can lead to substance abuse, overeating, intense irritation, and other self-harming behaviors. Mason-John instructs readers who are committed to change to apply the tools of mindful breathing, daily meditation practice, the imagination, and seek the support of others to recover from damaging emotions. A particularly insightful chapter addresses the guises of hatred in both aggressive and depressive persons. VERDICT An optimal resource for those suffering from addictions as well as destructive mental attitudes.

redstarOlson, Deborah A. with Megan Kaye. Success: The Psychology of Achievement. DK. Jan. 2017. 224p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781465453600. pap. $19.95; ebk. ISBN 9781465463913. SELF-HELP

Full of colorful and enlightening charts and diagrams, this latest offering from DK is a winner in terms of helping readers understand the gamut of attaining their goals in both the workplace and at home. Olson, a specialist in leadership development and mid/late career growth, has compiled a guidebook for success that highlights honing one’s attitude, developing strategies, beating procrastination, and creating a balance among work/home life and whole self-care. Besides the expected guidance, Olson delves into emotional intelligence, mindfulness, and tips on letting go. VERDICT Perfect for anyone starting out in their career or those who need a bit of inspiration.

Sullivan, Amanda. Organized Enough: The Anti-Perfectionist’s Guide to Getting—and Staying—Organized. Da Capo Lifelong: Perseus. Feb. 2017. 256p. ISBN 9780738219325. pap. $16.99; ebk. ISBN 9780738219332. SELF-HELP

Sullivan’s credentials include managing the Perfect Daughter, one of the top organization consulting businesses in Manhattan, a position she reached by taking her own advice. As the subtitle indicates, the goal is not to be perfectly organized but to be structured enough to enjoy a sane and serene life. Sullivan’s key strategies are to break down goals into small chunks and use the building blocks of taking inventory, carving out free time, doing a final sweep, setting limits on stuff, buying less but better, performing ten-minute maintenance, and cultivating consistency. She elaborates on these suggestions and explains how fear fosters clutter, how slowing down helps to simplify life, and how establishing one good habit at a time can lead to success. VERDICT Sullivan offers valuable, accessible wisdom that readers can employ immediately.

Wiking, Meik. The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living. Morrow. Jan. 2017. 240p. ISBN 9780062658807. $19.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062658814. SELF-HELP

Wiking (CEO, the Happiness Research Inst.) maintains that the Danes are the happiest people in the world because of hygge (pronounced hoo-ga), a concept that embodies atmosphere and experience over things. Some of the elements of ­hygge involve living in the moment, making relationships a priority, relaxation, equality, and comfort. Wiking offers ideas for finding such well-being in the areas of food and drink (e.g., eat slowly), clothing (e.g., dress for comfort), and in the home (e.g., use a lot of candles). He also claims that one can make an office or cubicle more hygge by organizing potlucks, decorating with plants, and bringing one’s dog to work. VERDICT An exciting and intriguing guide, full of ideas for making everyday life more cozy.

Your Voice Is Calling

outfront.jpg3117Love, Roger with Donna Frazier. Set Your Voice Free: How To Get the Singing or Speaking Voice You Want. rev. ed. Little, Brown. Jan. 2017. 320p. ISBN 9780316311267. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780316311281.

Shames, Deborah. Out Front: How Women Can Become Engaging, Memorable, and Fearless Speakers. BenBella. Jan. 2017. 192p. bibliog. ISBN 9781941631676. pap. $19.95; ebk. ISBN 9781941631683. SELF-HELP

With Set Your Voice Free, Voiceplace president Love, with writer Frazier (coauthor, Emotional Blackmail), shares techniques and exercises that help singers/speakers strengthen and effectively use their voices to connect with and move audiences. He employs examples from well-known artists he has coached and applies a wide range of methods to improve voice quality and delivery. In Out Front, Shames (coauthor, Own the Room) guides readers through the mechanics of effective public speaking via emotional intelligence, leadership skills, and storytelling. Love concentrates more on dynamics, asking readers to focus on breathing, expanding one’s range, and changing diet and personal habits to establish a clear voice. Shames works on developing assurance, personality, and language, paying attention to the quality of speech but also emphasizing the need to communicate the passion of one’s message. In essence, Love, who zeroes in on technique, offers a series of voice lessons. ­VERDICT While both books are effective in their own ways, if one wants to gain confidence, go with Shames. If one has confidence but needs vocal assistance, choose Love.

 

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