A heartfelt guide to personal success.

ILLOGICAL

SAYING YES TO A LIFE WITHOUT LIMITS

An accomplished athlete becomes a cheerleader.

In 2015, Nigerian American linebacker Acho suffered an injury that caused him to be dropped by the Philadelphia Eagles. The footballer, who had been cut five times by the age of 25 and traded after his rookie season, faced a real dilemma: the need to reinvent himself as something other than a football player. Acho draws on that experience, biblical stories (David and Goliath, Noah), and the successes of people like Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, and his own immigrant father to offer upbeat encouragement to anyone mired at a crossroads in life. Now an Emmy Award–winning sports analyst for Fox Sports and host of the podcast—and author of the book—Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man, Acho urges readers to follow their dreams, take risks, and refuse to let other people tell you that what you want is not logical. “Take the chance,” he advises. “Life is short and tomorrow is not promised. Do not live a half-filled life leaving yourself to wonder, ‘What if ?’ Just go do it.” He cautions against letting other people determine your value or success and even advises against aiming toward one particular goal: “If you open up your peripheral vision to different paths your impact is so much greater than crossing one finish line.” Children, he reminds readers, “just believe, they don’t overcomplicate things” by weighing the pros and cons of whatever they want to do. “My coach always used the phrase, ‘Paralysis by analysis,’ ” Acho writes. “Don’t overthink, just believe, and thus achieve.” The author urges readers to find their natural gift—something they’re inherently good at or thoroughly enjoy—and develop it through perseverance and hard work. Never let other people’s doubt stop you, he insists: “The moment you think to yourself, ‘I might be crazy,’ is the first checkpoint on your path to accomplishing greatness.”

A heartfelt guide to personal success.

Pub Date: March 22, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-83644-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: An Oprah Book/Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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

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GREENLIGHTS

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 refreshing celebrity memoir focused not strictly on the self but on a much larger horizon.

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WILL

One of Hollywood’s biggest stars delivers a memoir of success won through endless, relentless work and self-reckoning.

“My imagination is my gift, and when it merges with my work ethic, I can make money rain from the heavens.” So writes Smith, whose imagination is indeed a thing of wonder—a means of coping with fear, an abusive father with the heart of a drill instructor, and all manner of inner yearnings. The author’s imagination took him from a job bagging ice in Philadelphia to initial success as a partner in the Grammy-winning rap act DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. Smith was propelled into stardom thanks to the ministrations of Quincy Jones, who arranged an audition in the middle of his own birthday party, bellowing “No paralysis through analysis!” when Smith begged for time to prepare. The mantra—which Jones intoned 50-odd times during the two hours it took for the Hollywood suits to draw up a contract for the hit comedy series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air—is telling, for hidden within this memoir lies a powerful self-help book. For Smith, all of life is a challenge in which one’s feelings are largely immaterial. “I watched my father’s negative emotions seize control of his ample intellect and cause him over and over again to destroy beautiful parts of our family,” he writes, good reason for him to sublimate negativity in the drive to get what he wanted—money, at first, and lots of it, which got him in trouble with the IRS in the early 1990s. Smith, having developed a self-image that cast him as a coward, opines that one’s best life is lived by facing up to the things that hold us back. “I’ve been making a conscious effort to attack all the things that I’m scared of,” he writes, adding, “And this is scary.” It’s a good lesson for any aspiring creative to ponder—though it helps to have Smith’s abundant talent, too.

A refreshing celebrity memoir focused not strictly on the self but on a much larger horizon.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984877-92-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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