Archive for February, 2012

Getting Unstuck: 8 Simple Steps to Solving Any Problem

February 22, 2012

Browne, Joy. Getting Unstuck: 8 Simple Steps to Solving Any Problem. Hay House. Sept. 2002. c.256p. ISBN 1-56170-946-8. $23.95. SELF-HELP

Folks who love to hate Browne will be disappointed with this book–it presents some pretty good advice. The titular eight steps are part of a larger method for “getting unstuck from the past, and getting on with your life.” However, readers can’t skip around from step to step. The entire book helps readers identify, evaluate, objectify, and actively solve problems. Using concepts from cognitive behavioral therapy, Browne focuses on the process as well as the product. Thus, “extracting your emotional self from a situation” and acting in your own best interest are both key to getting unstuck. Browne presents scenarios that mimic call-ins from her radio show to exemplify various concepts, and although these scenarios are varied, readers may want more concepts and fewer examples. As in her earlier, readable Dating for Dummies, Browne’s tone here is easy yet insightful and informative. Recommended.

This book was reviewed in Source: Library Journal 127.13 (Aug. 2002): p121. The galley was recycled on February 23, 2012 – almost ten years after.

Ten Poems To Set You Free

February 18, 2012

Housden, Roger. Ten Poems To Set You Free. Harmony: Crown. Jan. 2004. c.144p. ISBN 1-4000-5112-6. $15. SELF-HELP

This niche title uses vocabulary as vehicles for self-help. As in his previous Ten Poems To Change Your Life and Ten Poems To Open Your Heart, Housden expands on the work of poets both well known (e.g., Thomas Merton) and obscure (e.g., Anna Swir), with an eye toward improving oneself. Housden’s ardor for verse–it is “the spark, the fire at our center … the one thing worthy of our true name”–approaches infatuation; are certain revelations present merely because Housden is looking too hard? Also, because he draws on some of the same poets here that he did in his earlier books (e.g., Rumi, Mary Oliver, and Naomi Shihab Nye), Housden gives the impression that he’s only repeating himself.

This review appeared in Library Journal 129.1, January 2004: p138; the galley was recycled on February 18, 2012.

Living Alone & Loving It: a Guide to Relishing the Solo Life

February 17, 2012

. Feldon, Barbara. Fireside: S. & S. Jan. 2003. c.176p. ISBN 0-7432-3517-7. pap. $10. SELF-HELP

This breezy memoir chronicles how actress Feldon (Agent 99 from Get Smart) found herself alone after a divorce and the end of other serious relationships. Beginning to despair of ever finding happiness, she came to understand that she could be perfectly–even radiantly–happy living alone. (Indeed, she sometimes sounds a bit desperate as she hammers home her theme.) Astute and optimistic, she notes the problems inherent in regarding “single status as inferior to being married” and advocates consciously embracing the solo life so as to live life on one’s own terms. Her wise words (e.g., “Stop believing that marriage is the solution to loneliness”) will be useful to anyone, single or otherwise. For public libraries and the night stand, along with Wendy Burt and Erin Kindberg’s lighthearted and upbeat Oh, Solo Mia!: The Hip Chick’s Guide to Fun for One.

This review appeared in Library Journal 127.19, November 15, 2002; the galley was shredded on February 17, 2012.

Surviving Saturn’s Return: Vital Lessons for Overcoming Life’s Most Tumultuous Cycle

February 16, 2012

Schostak, Sherene & Stefanie Iris Weiss. Surviving Saturn’s Return: Vital Lessons for Overcoming Life’s Most Tumultuous Cycle. Contemporary: McGraw-Hill. Jan. 2004. c.226p. ISBN 0-07-142196-3. pap. $14.95. SELF-HELP

Professional astrologers Schostak and Weiss write for women in the 25-35 age bracket who “are probably freaking out.” There is a reason for their turmoil and depression, however: the planet Saturn’s return to the original location in the astrological birth chart. Personifying the planet as a grumpy, nasty dictator who challenges readers to overcome their failings, the authors insightfully describe the characteristics of the zodiac signs and then catalog Saturn’s effects on them. Free of jargon and with a clear format, this succeeds as an astrologically based tool for self-analysis, but the brief “survival skill” sets provide only rudimentary how-to. Convincing, humorous writing (containing soft profanity) uses anecdotes and stories to good effect, though it is occasionally dramatic. Similar to Elizabeth Rose Campbell’s Intuitive Astrology: Follow Your Best Instincts To Became Who You Always Intended To Be, this is an optional purchase for large public libraries.

This review appeared in Library Journal 129.1, January, 2004: p139; the galley was recycled on February 16, 2012.

Attitude is Everything for Success: Say It, Believe It, Receive It

February 15, 2012

Harrell, Keith D. Attitude is Everything for Success: Say It, Believe It, Receive It. Hay House. 2003. c.144p. ISBN 1-4019-0201-4. $14.95.

Harrell (An Attitude of Gratitude: 21 Life Lessons) encourages readers to reflect on 30 words in 30 days. In identically formatted chapters, he introduces those terms (e.g., enthusiasm) then presents insights that help reinforce the essence of the term (this makes up the subtitle’s “say, believe, and receive” methodology). Quotes, like Vince Lombardi’s “If you aren’t fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm,” also help readers recall the lesson. Self-starters needing just the slightest jump-start will enjoy Harrell’s device and find the lessons simple and effective; however, readers who desire a more thorough approach will grow impatient with the lack of how-to. Pass; public libraries would do better to consider sincere, appealing titles like Fred Rogers’s The World According to Mister Rogers and Kent M. Keith’s Do It Anyway: The Handbook for Finding Personal Meaning and Deep Happiness in a Crazy World.

This review appeared in Library Journal 129.1, January 2004: p138; the galley was recycled on February 15, 2012.

I Do. I Did. Now What?: Life After the Wedding Dress

February 14, 2012

I Do. I Did. Now What?: Life After the Wedding Dress. Workman. Jan. 2003. c.272p. ISBN 0-7611-2599-X. pap. $18.95. SELF-HELP

Who is Lee? And why has she written a book on surviving marriage? While she intends to be whimsical and funny–the publisher, in fact, is marketing this to the Bridget Jones demographic–she comes off as snotty, shallow, and cold. She compares housewifery to slavery and insists that her flower- and jewelry-savvy husband is not gay, for example. Beautiful and married to a doctor, Lee dully drones on in a whiny list of likes (shoe shopping) and dislikes (picking up after her husband). Other concerns include expensive French sheets and rare, exorbitantly priced shampoos. Perhaps it’s unnecessary for her to mention that she felt “wholly unprepared for how big an impact marriage would have” on her life. Accordingly, her “advice” is useless (e.g., “honeymoon calories don’t count!”). Not recommended, even as light entertainment; for a more substantial view of matrimony, consider Iris Krasnow’s Surrendering to Marriage or Anne Roiphe’s Married: A Fine Predicament.

This review appeared in Library Journal 127.19, November 15, 2002: p90; the galley was gleefully, joyously destroyed on February 14, 2012.

Until Thy Wrath Be Past

February 13, 2012

Larsson, Åsa. Until Thy Wrath Be Past. SilverOak. Aug. 2011. 256p. ISBN 9781402787164. $24.95. F

Larsson is a renowned Swedish crime writer (dude, did you miss Det Blod Som Spillts?), and this completely engrossing novel starts out with the ghost of a murdered young woman saying, “I remember how we died.” As the book evolves into an evenly paced examination of the dark and light forces of life, embodied by the characters, it also radiates with an exciting frisson of lingonberry. So exciting, in fact, that to do the work justice, I must do what I told my editor (and my parole officer) I never would: revert to my native dialect and mother tongue, Swedish, to imbue this review with the nuanced flavors and subtle tones it deserves. Hooben flauben hågen düschken, euf der bin eitzen, mingaplorble flumen blooben. Icencoldenum, diesinriverdem, polizia proceduralenflaumen. Vit snow. Findem killeråmen. Heendy hooby bloomy floopy engi; schauzen guysembad versa Goodemcopfs. In any language, this is an addictive, juicy procedural that will keep readers turning pages long after the taste of pickled herring dissipates. Flooben?

This review appeared online in the August 4, 2011 Books for Dudes (here) for Library Journal; the galley was recycled on February 13, 2012.

Who’s That Sitting at My Desk?: Workship, Friendship, or Foe?

February 12, 2012

Yager, Jan. Who’s That Sitting at My Desk?: Workship, Friendship, or Foe? Hannacroix Creek. May 2004. c.245p. ISBN 1-889262-94-3. $29.95. SELF-HELP.


Dry but logical, this book quantifies those friends-from-work relationships. Yager (sociology, Univ. of Connecticut) sensibly terms these relationships “workships” and examines how they begin, develop, and occasionally blossom into real relationships. Yager’s academic interest becomes evident as she probes factors affecting the success or failure of workships, including conditions that foster or stifle them. Carefully noting that workships often protect one’s career and even help it survive, Yager describes their benefits (e.g., increased morale, team-building, and worker comfort), advises readers on which relationships to cultivate and which to abandon (with an eye toward identifying helpful alliances), and shares structured lists (e.g., ten principles for beginning a model workship) that help frame the discussion. For large public libraries and academic collections focusing on sociology, especially those that hold Yager’s previous books, Friendshifts and When Friendship Hurts, which only touched on the idea of workshifts.

This review appeared in Library Journal 129.9, May 15, 2004: p103; the galley was recycled on February 12, 2012.

The Big Turnoff: Confessions of a TV-Addicted Mom Trying To Raise a TV-Free Kid

February 11, 2012

Currey-Wilson, Ellen. The Big Turnoff: Confessions of a TV-Addicted Mom Trying To Raise a TV-Free Kid. Algonquin. Apr. 2007. c.352p. ISBN 1-56512-539-8. $24.95. CHILD REARING

For much of her life, first-time author Currey-Wilson was addicted to watching television, the balm that kept her from “thinking about or feeling anything unpleasant.” When she became a parent, however, she did not want her young son to suffer the same isolating fate. In this memoir of her trials and tribulations in raising him TV-free, she shares her anxieties, frustrations, and tactics. While other parents may empathize with her admittedly noble goal, they may chafe (as this reviewer did) at her neuroticism and/or find her tone gratingly self-pitying. Overall, her main points are all handled better elsewhere. On the matter of TV being bad, see James P. Steyer’s The Other Parent: The Inside Story of the Media’s Effect on Our Children. For advice on fussy, colicky babies, turn to Barry Lester and Catherine O’Neill Grace’s Why Is My Baby Crying?: The Parent’s Survival Guide for Coping with Crying Problems and Colic. And on seemingly harmless habits (like watching TV), there’s Judith Wright’s The Soft Addiction Solution.

This review appeared in Library Journal. 132.1, January 1, 2007: p138; the galley was gleefully shredded on February 11, 2012.

Act It Out: 25 Expressive Exercises to Help You Heal from Childhood Abuse

February 10, 2012

Stolinsky, Stefanie Auerback. Act It Out: 25 Expressive Exercises to Help You Heal from Childhood Abuse. New Harbinger. 2002. c.185p. ISBN 1-57224-290-6. pap. $19.95. SELF-HELP

Children who have survived physical, emotional, or sexual abuse often have trouble finding and maintaining loving, trusting relationships. Here, clinical psychologist Stolinsky balances background information with stories, effectively illustrating (but not sensationalizing) the horrors of child abuse. In her clinical practice, the author, a former actress, found that her patients benefited from using acting exercises that create and explore different environments. These same methods allow abuse survivors to explore their feelings, as well as “some of the moments, sounds, sights, objects, and feelings” connected to the psychologically terrifying experiences that damaged them. Brief, informative analyses of symptoms common to survivors and their relationships are offered. Clearly written for a lay audience, this book respectfully and gently treats a difficult topic. Readers will appreciate the author’s obvious effort and concern. Highly recommended.

This review appeared in Library Journal 127.13 (Aug. 2002): p123; the galley was shredded on February 10, 2012.