Talking animals effectively teach readers to move from despair to solutions.

THE EARTHQUAKE

YOUR JOURNEY FROM SETBACK TO BREAKTHROUGH

A group of metaphorical creatures presents lessons about perseverance and mental strength in this guide.

In this follow-up to The Ant and the Elephant (2004), Poscente returns to the two animals who are his stand-ins for the conscious (ant) and subconscious (elephant) minds. Adir the Ant and Elgo the Elephant go everywhere together. Adir has learned how to make sure he and Elgo are working toward the same purpose in pursuit of excellence. Their idyllic existence is interrupted by an earthquake that destroys their home—and Adir’s extensive and highly leveraged real estate enterprise—and the two fall into despondency. After trying to rebuild as all their animal neighbors leave the area, Adir and Elgo eventually set out on a quest for a safe place to serve as a new home. With periodic advice from Brio the Owl, Adir and Elgo set goals for themselves, find a path through unfamiliar territory, and learn new ways to work together. They also face external challenges: Villains Chromia the Wolf and Valafar the Vulture see Adir and Elgo as potential prey. When Adir and Elgo’s conflicts aren’t driving them further from their goals, the predators are. By implementing Brio’s lessons (“Adir, criticism is like manure. It stinks but helps you grow”), Adir and Elgo are eventually able to triumph. In the introduction, Poscente writes that the book was inspired by his “own personal earthquake,” a confluence of bad financial decisions coupled with the falloff of his public speaking business during the recession of the late 2000s, which forced him to learn the lessons Adir and Elgo discover in the story. While the talking animal storyline may not appeal to all readers, it follows the successful path of earlier titles like Spencer Johnson’s Who Moved My Cheese? (1998) and Holden Rothgeber and John Kotter’s Our Iceberg Is Melting (2006) and does so equally well. Each chapter ends with a restatement of the pithy lessons taught by the tale, presented as an entry in Adir’s collection of notes to himself. The volume’s insights will be familiar to pop-psychology veterans, but the format is a smooth and persuasive way of concisely presenting them to new audiences.

Talking animals effectively teach readers to move from despair to solutions.

Pub Date: Nov. 30, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-953295-71-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Matt Holt

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 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 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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