Inspirational reading for athletes and, in particular, those injured in the pursuit of the prize.

WALKING MIRACLE

HOW FAITH, POSITIVE THINKING, AND PASSION FOR FOOTBALL BROUGHT ME BACK FROM PARALYSIS...AND HELPED ME FIND PURPOSE

A former NFL star writes about an on-field injury that threatened to paralyze him for life.

Shazier, a standout linebacker at Ohio State and with the Pittsburgh Steelers, liked nothing better than to smack up against the opposing line, and especially to sack opposing quarterbacks. Unfortunately, before the league rules changed, Shazier was a devotee of helmet-to-helmet contact, collisions that were “always dangerous”: They subject both offensive and defensive players to the danger of breaking a neck or experiencing a major concussion. Shazier found that danger realized in a game against Cincinnati, when, after a fairly routine tackle, he was unable to move his legs. Working with accomplished sportswriter Platt, Shazier digs into the statistics surrounding injuries in the football world. For example, defensive backs and linebackers suffer the greatest incidence of spinal injuries on the gridiron, and the numbers are appalling. The author’s injury was different in that it involved a back already compromised by scoliosis. With a grim medical outlook at first, it seemed that he might be forever wheelchair-bound, but Shazier fought the odds: “It actually took more fight and will and stamina to walk on a treadmill in the six months after my injury than it ever did to leave it all on the practice field as an NFL player….On the treadmill, I was fighting my own body.” Now retired from the game, Shazier launched a foundation to aid people with spinal injuries—he reckons there are about 295,000 in the U.S.—and fund research. He also draws on his Christian faith and appreciation of Roman stoicism to offer thoughts on how to keep going “when things look so bleak you want to quit,” thoughts given without the hollow rah-rah of so many sports-oriented motivational texts.

Inspirational reading for athletes and, in particular, those injured in the pursuit of the prize.

Pub Date: Nov. 30, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5387-0625-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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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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A sharp, entertaining view of the news media from one of its star players.

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GOING THERE

The veteran newscaster reflects on her triumphs and hardships, both professional and private.

In this eagerly anticipated memoir, Couric (b. 1957) transforms the events of her long, illustrious career into an immensely readable story—a legacy-preserving exercise, for sure, yet judiciously polished and insightful, several notches above the fray of typical celebrity memoirs. The narrative unfolds through a series of lean chapters as she recounts the many career ascendency steps that led to her massively successful run on the Today Show and comparably disappointing stints as CBS Evening News anchor, talk show host, and Yahoo’s Global News Anchor. On the personal front, the author is candid in her recollections about her midlife adventures in the dating scene and deeply sorrowful and affecting regarding the experience of losing her husband to colon cancer as well as the deaths of other beloved family members, including her sister and parents. Throughout, Couric maintains a sharp yet cool-headed perspective on the broadcast news industry and its many outsized personalities and even how her celebrated role has diminished in recent years. “It’s AN ADJUSTMENT when the white-hot spotlight moves on,” she writes. “The ego gratification of being the It girl is intoxicating (toxic being the root of the word). When that starts to fade, it takes some getting used to—at least it did for me.” Readers who can recall when network news coverage and morning shows were not only relevant, but powerfully influential forces will be particularly drawn to Couric’s insights as she tracks how the media has evolved over recent decades and reflects on the negative effects of the increasing shift away from reliable sources of informed news coverage. The author also discusses recent important cultural and social revolutions, casting light on issues of race and sexual orientation, sexism, and the predatory behavior that led to the #MeToo movement. In that vein, she expresses her disillusionment with former co-host and friend Matt Lauer.

A sharp, entertaining view of the news media from one of its star players.

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-53586-1

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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