A thorough, inventive, and creatively executed life-improvement guide.



A manual offers a comprehensive system designed to modify behavior through better habits.

Performance psychology consultant Finn claims his “Habit Mechanic” tools “are tried and tested, and have already helped over 10,000 people” change their lives. This is very likely not hyperbole given the programmatic, science-based approach of the author’s methodology. The book details various tools and explains how to use them; it also includes frequent references to an accompanying website and app as part of the total package. The guide is divided into four “steps,” with the first two examining how individuals learn and then covering basic brain science. The third step explains the core tools and the fourth, optional one offers a new set of leadership tools, through which readers can help others develop better habits. With a new “core language,” numerous tools, 38 chapters, and over 540 pages, this book may appear intimidating at first glance. But readers need not be anxious; Finn does a fine job of providing uncomplicated definitions and clear descriptions. Chapters are short and divided into digestible chunks; examples are plentiful; and exercises are practical. Simple illustrations and diagrams enhance the text. Finn personalizes the content by relating portions of his own story when appropriate. While the first two parts of the manual go into a fair amount of detail about brain science, this information forms a strong, necessary foundation for the habit-based tools that follow. The volume’s most intriguing section, “Habit Mechanic Skills,” consumes 12 chapters and delivers a range of tools to develop better habits around will power, motivation, sleep, diet, exercise, stress management, productivity, and more. Each of the chapters describes one or more tools, shows illustrative examples, and includes exercises to complete. Many of the concepts are unique, such as Finn’s proprietary “Nine Action Factors” framework, which he discusses in detail. The author wisely relies on analogies throughout the book to simplify complex concepts, but the dizzying array of acronyms readers will encounter may at times seem exhausting. Still, as a soup-to-nuts, self-administered behavior modification system, the manual is marvelously constructed.

A thorough, inventive, and creatively executed life-improvement guide.

Pub Date: April 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5445-2895-3

Page Count: 580

Publisher: Tougher Minds Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2022

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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

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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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