Book Reviews by Genre: Inspirational/Self-help

Man's Search for Meaning
Frankl, Viktor E.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Man’s Search for Meaning gives a rare perspective on life during the Holocaust. Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl was forced into four different labor camps during WWII, and ultimately survived, while his family members were all slaughtered. Most books from the Holocaust are centered around horror stories from prison camps, and the sheer brutality of one of human history’s most devastating genocides. Frankl gives the psychiatrist’s view on life after camp and works to answer one essential question - how do we move on from grief? He recounts the moment he was free to leave as confusing - almost more shocking than freeing. What do you do after your entire family is killed? Where do you go after being released from a death camp hundreds of miles from home?

The book’s storytelling is devastating and beautifully crafted, and its exploration of humanity’s search for lives worth living - lives significant for the individual - has become one of America’s most influential pieces of literature. The book is heartbreaking, but so is any story worth telling. It has everything to be expected from such a terrifying chapter in our history, but what makes it so unique is the way it addresses life after the terror ends. Anyone wanting to search for meaning in their own lives, or at the very least get a new perspective on the Holocaust, needs to read this.

Reviewer's Name: Malachi
The Art of Impossible: A Peak Performance Primer
Kotler, Steven
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

As the title would suggest, "The Art of Impossible", by Steven Kotler, prescribes a regime for achieving what he calls the "Infinite Game". In other words, achieving goals to continually improve, even in ways that might be considered impossible. Kotler depicts what top performers do on a daily, weekly, and yearly basis, and even adapts such habits into ways the average reader can understand and implement them. And while he does so in a systematic and understandable fashion, he also goes in-depth into the science behind each of the things he says. Although it sometimes gets deeply analytical, it never stops being intriguing. There are some parts that aren't completely family friendly, but the content remains solid.

Reviewer's Name: Noah
The Happiness Advantage
Achor, Shawn
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Happiness Advantage is a wonderfully helpful book. Through many staggering statistics, Shawn Achor proves beyond a doubt that a positive mindset is essential for success and well-being. In addition, Achor's seven simple practices are easy to implement and will have a drastic impact in your career and personal life. This book is also easy to read and quickly moves from point to point so as not to be too repetitive. Whether you are a student, well into your career, or are retired, this book can have a dramatic effect on your life. I highly recommend this book to everyone.

Reviewer's Name: John B.
Outliers: The Story of Success
Gladwell, Malcolm
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Malcolm Gladwell takes a unique perspective on success in Outliers. Rather than focusing on the brilliance, innate talent, or incredible work ethic of successful people, Outliers concentrates on the advantages and unique opportunities surrounding the successful. Gladwell analyzes the culture, families, generation, and the upbringings of many successful people and groups of people from Bill Gates and successful New York lawyers to Canadian Hockey Players and airline pilots. Above all, Gladwell emphasizes that the truly successful do not do it alone, and Outliers encourages people to examine their own opportunities and advantages so that they too may become successful. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it for everyone.

Reviewer's Name: John
The XX Brain
Mosconi, Lisa
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This is like a self help book. it was very intriguing and helpful. The steps it gives to help make your brain work weren't hard, and they work.

Reviewer's Name: Laura P.
Fortitude
Crenshaw, Dan
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book is fantastic! Dan Crenshaw offers brilliant advice on mental toughness and how to combat the outrage culture with critical thinking. Crenshaw's methods are simple, easy to practice, and are what is missing in today's society. Written from his life experiences of being a Navy SEAL and United States Congressman, Crenshaw makes this book relatable and applicable to everyone's lives. Crenshaw also cites many articles, studies, and medical experts to backup his advice. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to become a well-informed voter, contributing citizen, or successful person.

Reviewer's Name: John
Working with Difficult People
Hakim, Amy Cooper
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Occasionally, I come across a book that doesn’t really work as an audiobook. Working with Difficult People is certainly a must-have for any working-class bookshelf. Still, it was difficult to follow the thread of different difficult personalities when it was being read aloud. Sure, there were useful descriptions of the types of people you’ll encounter in the workforce, but there were at least a few of them where I wanted to slow down and read through those archetypes again to better understand the people who irk me in life. Of course, going in, I was hoping I could read this book and understand how to handle people who I find difficult to work with. Instead, I kept listening to these people's descriptions and finding individuals who nearly matched them in my life. This was my main qualm with the book: people are more complex than a single difficult personality type. They often have two or three of these attributes combined in varying amounts to create their unique level of challenge. Alternatively, I also listened to this book and tried to identify where I fell in the “difficult people” spectrum. It can be a bit of an eye-opener when you realize, “Oh, I do that. That difficult person is me.”

I may still want to get this book in physical form, not only to appreciate its handbook format but to use it as a writer resource. I do try and strive for an amount of realism in the villains I write, so using this book as a structure for why certain difficult people (read: antagonists) are the way they are can help me create more meaningful and relatable villains and should help me avoid the standard supervillain archetypes that paint an antagonist as “purely evil.”

A simple resource for classifying difficult people, I give Working with Difficult People 3.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens
Covey, Sean
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Seven Habits remade!

6 stars. (This helped me a LOT with my state of mind ☺)

I loved seven habits because it helped me see that a lot of the stuff that we blame on others is actually the fault of ourselves, and it taught me to be kind to both myself and others. I highly recommend Seven Habits for Teens to anyone who is having a tough time. It taught me to have a clearer mind, a better outlook, and to trust myself. Although it is very hard to implement these changes in yourself, it helps you be so much better. Anyone can read this book and feel better about themselves if they follow the book's
instructions. If you don’t read this book, then it’s your loss.

Reviewer's Name: Ethan
Real Artists Don't Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age
Goins, Jeff
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

I’m a little conflicted with this book’s message, mostly because it downplays its definitions at the beginning of what an “artist” really is. It would be nice to make a living on my writing, but this book isn’t about how to do that. In fact, I’m already the artist that this book describes: someone who sells their creative hobby while pursuing it on weeknights and weekends. I have a full-time job, so my art isn’t my primary profession like the term “starving artist” is meant to invoke. Sure, there are bits of useful advice sprinkled throughout this book, but it wasn’t anything I hadn’t already picked up by now.

Perhaps the audience for this book is the individual who is thinking of taking a considerable risk and quitting their job to jump wholly into being an artist? Any more, the current Millennial mindset of “hustles” makes this an old way of thinking. We don’t have just one job: we have many, which we also juggle with our relationships and our hobbies. Furthermore, with online communities bringing together like-minded creative individuals with no limitations of geographical separation, some of the advice in this book is already dated three years after it was published.

Even if I already knew a lot of the advice in this book, it was encouraging to know that I’m on the right track for the artist I want to be. There are plenty of examples of successful artists in this book that give me hope that I’m doing the right things to advance my artistic career. It even filled in a few gaps that connected pieces of information I had learned but hadn’t put together yet. In the end, being an artist is a mindset, and it’s not a binary “all or nothing” that we used to consider it. Hopefully, we can soon retire the “starving artist” moniker because many artists don’t make a living on their art.

Fairly evident advice for a redefined group of artists, I give Real Artists Don’t Starve 3.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself
Singer, Michael A.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Wow...reading this book will take you on a spiritual journey unlike any other. If the idea of becoming more mentally and emotionally free, mindful, concious, happy and self-actualized interest you, then give this #1 New York Times Bestseller a read today!

Reviewer's Name: Alyssa
The Code of the Extraordinary Mind: 10 Unconventional Laws to Redefine Your Life and Succeed On Your Own Terms
Lakhiani, Vishen
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Written by the founder of the successful online learning platform MindValley, this book will change your life, or at least spark a bit of self-reflection. Vishen takes the reader through 10 life-redefining laws leading to success, which are then divided into 4 parts. Part I explains how we have each been shaped, for better and for worse, by our culture and childhood. In Part II, the reader is challenged to either accept or modify what was brought to the surface in Part I. Part III is entitle "Recoding Yourself" and delves into mindfulness, discipline, "bending reality," goal setting to lead to lasting fulfillment every time and other compelling topics. Finally, Part IV provokes the reader to find their quest, and change the world. This is one of the most worthwhile self help books I have ever read and I recommend it to anyone wanting to change their life, thinking patterns, or habits for the better.

Reviewer's Name: Alyssa
Travel As Transformation: Conquer the Limits of Culture to Discover Your Own Identity
Diehl, Gregory
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Part travel, part philosophy, part self help, this book is certainly a compelling read. Gregory Diehl shares his unique perspective and riveting accounts from his time spent traveling around the world. He describes in depth how his experiences and sometimes dark and uncomfortable lessons he learned while living in multiple countries around the globe have shaped his unique identity. He also challenges readers to examine the lessons in self discovery they too have encountered when traveling and to experience immersion in other cultures in order to develop a more well-rounded identity and life experience.

Reviewer's Name: Alyssa
The Survival Guide for Making and Being Friends
Crist, James
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

This a a short book, but you get a whole package when buying it! I think this book was a bit young for me. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone ages 7-10. However, this book gave me a little reminder on the effects kindness has on others. This book gives many dialogue suggestions for on-the-spot situations. The author gives information about friendships that 100% of people with experience involving peers would agree with. This text gives tips on what friends really are, how to make friends, how to hold onto friends, how to avoid arguments, how to talk through arguments, and the most important of all, how to kindly and properly end a friendship. The author emphasized that everyone has the potential of being a good friend and I think that that is extremely important. This was a good refresher on important social skills.
Reviewer: Grade 8

Reviewer's Name: Samantha
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens
Covey, Sean
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens is a must-read for every teenager. Sean Covey's 7 habits touch on a variety of subjects and will help you in every aspect of your life. This book has something in it for everyone and really shows how you can live up to your potential. Sean Covey gives small, simple steps that will make a big difference so that you can become a balanced, well-rounded individual. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens is full of humor, relatable stories, and great advice. I highly recommend this book for every teenager.

Reviewer's Name: John
Book Cover
Duhigg, Charles
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

"The Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg is a great read if you are interested in changing your habits or changing your company's habits for the better. Duhigg guides the reader through how habits work in life and in business. What makes "The Power of Habit" a good read, though, is Duhigg's remarkable talent for storytelling. The narratives Duhigg presents are both informative and heartfelt. The stories are what make this book a real page turner, but when coupled with Duhigg's insights about habits, the book is both enlightening and informative.

Reviewer's Name: Melina D.
Level Up Your Life: How to Unlock Adventure and Happiness by Becoming the Hero of Your Own Story
Kamb, Steve
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Steve Kamb’s book Level up Your Life is one of those rare self-help books that manages to be a page-turner. As an avid gamer, Kamb’s approach to gamifying goal-setting really resonated with me, and his journey from “shy, risk-averse nerd” to diving with sharks on the Great Barrier Reef inspired me to start my own bucket list.

One thing to keep in mind before picking up this book is that a substantial portion focuses on achieving fitness-related goals. Kamb is, after all, the founder of a Nerd Fitness, a website geared towards helping gamers and comic book fans have fun getting fit. Although my own reasons for reading Level up your Life weren’t related to fitness, I enjoyed this section all the same. Still, I felt it was worth noting since this book isn’t specifically marketed as a fitness resource.

With that said, the principles Kamb discusses can be applied towards accomplishing any goal, whether it’s learning a language or writing a book. And indeed, Kamb includes stories from members of his own community (the Rebellion) which show them using gamification to do everything from designing apps to traveling around the world.

While Kamb’s primary audience is undoubtedly gamers and comic book fans, I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone interested in self-improvement.

Reviewer's Name: Lisa
Girl, Wash Your Face
Hollis, Rachel
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I really loved this book. It really hit home for me and made me think and examine some things in my own life. I would highly recommend this book to other women.

Reviewer's Name: Lisa S.
Cringeworthy: A Theory of Awkwardness
Dahl, Melissa
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Raise your hand if you’ve ever done something awkward. Now, raise your hand if you enjoyed that moment.

I’m willing to bet there’s not a single person in the world who would raise their hand in response to the second question. All of us hate awkward moments because they’re… well… awkward.

But in her hilarious book Cringeworthy: A Theory of Awkwardness, Melissa Dahl proposes that we learn to laugh at our awkward moments. In doing so, we can feel less alone.

Sounds pretty interesting, right? But Dahl goes one step further. She says that by actively seeking out awkward activities, we can diminish the power they have over us.

Some examples of these deliberately awkward activities include singing “Mary had a Little Lamb” in public, going to a crowded restaurant and asking a group of complete strangers to listen to your maid of honor / best man speech, and reading an embarrassing entry from your diary out loud to a live audience.

If the idea of doing any one of these activities sounds terrifying to you, you’re not alone. Indeed, the book opens with Dahl feeling like she’s in a waking nightmare as she reads an entry from her middle school diary out loud to a live audience.

But as Dahl later explains, these deliberately awkward activities are a form of exposure therapy prescribed by cognitive behavior therapists to help their patients navigate the realm of social anxiety. And it’s in anecdotes like these that the book’s strengths really shine through, as Dahl does an excellent job of balancing her own experiences of awkwardness with the more scientific aspects of social anxiety. The result is a book that’s both refreshingly honest and unusually grounded for a topic as seemingly trivial as awkwardness. Highly recommended for anyone who’s ever experienced the
discomfort of awkwardness (which is everyone… right?)

Reviewer's Name: Lisa
It's Not Supposed to Be This Way
TerKeurst, Lysa
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book was amazing. From a Christian standpoint, Lysa really gets into disappointments in the faith that I feel people are too shy to talk about. It is a very honest book with personal accounts of disappointments and fears. It isn't preachy, it is matter-of-fact. I have a hard time with general christian books because they can often times sugarcoat or completely ignore the stuff no one wants to talk about; so this book was very promising and refreshing!!

Reviewer's Name: Megan
You: The Owner's Manual
Roizen, Michael and Oz, Mehmet
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I wish this had been the book for my high school Health Class. The authors' light tone and sense of humor made the often dry subject enjoyable. I appreciated that these doctors tell you when the science is being heavily debated or is currently just a hypothesis. The title could just as easily be "What Western Medicine Has Learned So Far". That is absolutely a compliment to these doctors and their commitment to the idea that every patient is different and each of us is ultimately responsible for our own health care.

Reviewer's Name: LJO