Review: Constructive Wallowing: How to Beat Bad Feelings by Letting Yourself Have Them

Constructive Wallowing: How to Beat Bad Feelings by Letting Yourself Have Them
Constructive Wallowing: How to Beat Bad Feelings by Letting Yourself Have Them by Tina Gilbertson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s your party, you can cry if you want to. Cry if you want to. Cry if you want to. Or as Tina Gilbertson says in her new book CONSTRUCTIVE WALLOWING, “Even if the feelings are hard, it’s easier to feel them than to pretend they’re not there.” The goal of the whole book: feeling is healing.

“Think about a difference it could make in your life if you only had to deal with each feeling once instead of over and over again,” writes Gilbertson. And it’s true. Instead of pushing the feeling away, suppressing it, or covering it up, just deal with it. Wallowing is allowing. “Once I could accept my feelings as they were, they changed.”

The big pull of this book is Gilbertson’s TRUTH acronym that helps you establish a constructive wallowing process. I’ll give it away here, but you have to read the book for the full meaning and explanation:

T – Tell yourself the situation
R – Realize what you’re feeling
U – Uncover self-criticism
T – Try to understand yourself
H – Have the feeling

You may see wallowing as acceptance of the negative, but Gilbertson writes, “If you are serious about not being negative, don’t negate your own feelings.” Much like Tolle writes in my favorite book on feelings, Gilbertson echoes those sentiments with: “feelings are neither positive nor negative. They’re just feelings.”

I feel there are a couple of incongruent items in this book. Gilbertson says to explore your emotions and put a label on them (list of emotion names on page 62). This doesn’t jive with the strategy above about being positive or negative. She also allows bringing up past feelings as much as needed. This doesn’t concur with present-mindedness or feeling the emotion of the moment.

The whole of CONSTRUCTIVE WALLOWING stands upon solid advice that will help conquer the hurdles of emotion by dealing with them head-on.

Thanks to Viva Editions for sending this book to me for review.

You can find this book’s preview and other reviews here: Constructive Wallowing: How to Beat Bad Feelings by Letting Yourself Have Them


Channel your inner Quixote and achieve your impossible dream with Chris Guillebeau’s THE HAPPINESS OF PURSUIT

The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life
The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life by Chris Guillebeau
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is not about happiness. Throughout, the author writes about loneliness, failure, despair, and the “post-quest funk”. If you are seeking a book about happiness, I have some recommendations for you below. Instead, this book is about the quest. It is about channeling your inner Don Quixote and dreaming your impossible dream–and then going for it! This book is a guide: about picking your quest, planning your quest, and achieving your quest.

Are you ready? Author Chris Guillebeau says you are.

Quests come in all shapes and sizes. THE HAPPINESS OF PURSUIT gives you plenty of examples. You can decide knit or crochet 10,000 hats like Robyn Devine, or you can produce the world’s largest symphony performance like Gary Thorpe, or you can run marathons in 99 countries like John “Mad Dog” Wallace. The quest is up to you. It’s yours. Here are the categories that Guillebeau presents:


Guillebeau provides ways to discover your ideal quest, how to fund and prepare for it, how to keep a positive mindset during the lonely periods, and what to do if things don’t exactly tie-up. All of this kept reminding me of this quote from Steve Jobs:

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

Guillebeau has an inviting writing style that you’ll connect with. He talks and relates to everything from Shakespeare to video games. Judging by the other stellar reviews, Guillebeau has already made that connection hundreds of times.

Overall, if you need motivation, guidance, or support for your quest, THE HAPPINESS OF PURSUIT should be your go-to guide. And you are welcome for getting “To Dream the Impossible Dream” stuck in your head.

Here’s a video of the song for added effect:

As for those books about happiness, I recommend these:

10% HAPPIER by Dan Harris
THE POWER OF NOW by Eckhart Tolle (my favorite of the bunch)

Thank you Harmony for sending this book to me for review.

You can find this book’s previews and other reivews on Amazon: The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life


Review: The Anatomy of Dreams

The Anatomy of Dreams
The Anatomy of Dreams by Chloe Benjamin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I know the problem here: THE ANATOMY OF DREAMS’s description mostly defines the last third of the book. The pace picks up, the mystery tightens, and the suspense rises. Before that though…

We need a description that accurately describes the first two-thirds of the book. I’ll give it a go. Chloe Benjamin’s new book, THE ANATOMY OF DREAMS, tells the story of two kids, with two different histories, and two different personalities walk a unified path of mystery, love, and learning. Not all is as it seems. Benjamin slowly burns her reveal across two time periods, decades apart. The much admired professor holds secrets the main characters are not soon to find out.

This is a tale that flows with a casual energy, painting its tale with a youthful vibrancy. Relatable as a YA book, yet triggers deep enough to spark the adult mind.

Don’t expect to be dropped off the surprise cliff when events reveal at 65-percent, but pieces do assemble into a moving part the quickly speeds up. Enjoy the initial character-building moments and hold fast to the ride.

This is not the next INCEPTION, but THE ANATOMY OF DREAMS holds up well enough on its own. It just needs a description that describes the book as a whole.

Thank you Atria for providing me with an electronic copy of this book for review.

You can find this book’s preview and other reviews on Amazon: The Anatomy of Dreams: A Novel

Review: Guys Read: True Stories

Guys Read: True Stories
Guys Read: True Stories by Jon Scieszka
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love this book, but it needs a new title. Dudes drool, we know that—but both guys AND gals can, and will, enjoy these stories. How about instead of GUYS READ: TRUE STORIES, we call it WE ALL READ: TRUE & FUN STORIES.

There is something for everyone here: regular form story; cartoons; and even poetry. I LOVE that everything here is a true story. This book is marketed to grades three through seven, but it feels so good to learn something as an adult, too. The mix of styles is a great way to keep the brain engaged.

I do have one criticism: that history of dentistry was painful. Ouch! At least this is geared to kids and not too graphic, but still! Beeswax stuffed into a split tooth…I shiver at the thought. But that’s not a real downer: I actually learned something, it was entertaining, and the author did a great job of making it relatable and readable.

This collection is a testament to Jon Scieszka. Not only are his shelves breaking under the weight of all his awards, but he’s a teacher, too. He knows kids. He knows learning. Scieszka brought in the best of the bunch, and every story shows off the respective author’s individually mastered skills.

Parents: buy with confidence, knowing this is high-quality, educational, and—fun!

If you are not a parent, you’ll love this, too.

Thanks to Walden Pond Press for sharing this book with me to review.

You can find this book’s preview and other soon-to-be reviews on Amazon: Guys Read: True Stories


She is a master of the language and excels at her craft: STONE MATTRESS Margaret Atwood

Stone Mattress
Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What did I just step into? Hole-e-cow. Here’s a confession: STONE MATTRESS is my first Margaret Atwood reading experience. Allow me to pick my jaw off the floor and stop my tail wagging as I move on with this review. I’ll need your help at the end.

I’ve read a bunch of short story collections this year and this is the best one I’ve read so far. This includes prize-winning authors and award-nominated collections. Several stories here are joined by theme or characters, but all are delicious and unique. Again, as my first foray into the world of Atwood, I’m impressed.

What grips me is her style of writing—consistent throughout all nine stories. She builds emotion, writes with intelligence, portrays the human condition, and dazzles with her wit. And then she pokes in a twist, or two. Or three. I don’t think I’ve been this consistently entertained by any other collection of stories. Usually one or two stand alone, but Atwood nails it throughout.

For instance, I have an indelible image of a cold man shivering as he tries to start his car. As a reader, I am lead by Atwood to feel sorry for this man. She delivers a few male-oriented puns and jokes to help us commiserate with him in his frozen and unfortunate position. A paragraph break later, we see him as a miserable piece of scum. We stand applauding the cheer-worthy woman, thanks to Atwood’s reversal of circumstance, narration, and tone. But that story is only half complete…

What I have witnessed here is a master of the language and a writer exceling at her craft. I apologize if this seems gushing, but it is well deserved. Poetic and stylish, her stories are woven into near-perfection.

And here is where I need your help: as I have skipped the last part of her latest trilogy for fear of being lost, where should my next Margaret Atwood book begin?

I must also thank Nan A. Talese for sharing this wonderful book with me to review.

You can find this book’s preview and other reviews on Amazon: Stone Mattress: Nine Tales


If Content is King, then Ann Handley is its Queen: EVERYBODY WRITES

Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content
Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content by Ann Handley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Content, we know you are king, but it is time to meet your queen: Ann Handley. From small blogs to mammoth corporations, Ann Handley has reigned them all. With her eye for empathetic material that is easy to understand and implement, she is justified in her sovereignty.

Handley’s latest book, EVERYBODY WRITES, continues her double-decade trend of sharing techniques to cut the mush and filler and create what your reading clientele yearns to see: an attractive and informative message. The book has everyone’s favorite—short chapters!—that are organized in an accessible manner: how to write better; grammar rules; story rules; publishing rules; things marketers write; and, content tools.

Note from that list: writing better and grammar are two different things. Both are helpful; both stand alone. One of Handley’s most helpful pieces from the section “how to write better” is her writing GPS. She refers to it and expounds upon it throughout the book. In a nutshell, here it is:

1. Goal—what is it?
2. Reframe for the reader
3. Seek data and examples
4. Organize
5. Write to one person
6. Produce the Ugly First Draft (TUFD)
7. Walk away
8. Rewrite
9. Give a great headline or title
10. Have someone edit
11. One final look for readability
12. Give the reader a “what now”

Here’s a picture showing my own content-creation process about a different book:

As for grammar, Handley explores shibboleths such as avoiding franken-words and the shaming of adverbs (thumbs up for the numerous Steven King ON WRITING quotes). On one hand it is unfortunate that content creators have to be told the difference between “its” and “it’s”; on the other hand it is unfortunate Handley says, “I’d say don’t worry about it” about the differences between “that” and “which”. If you are looking for syntax instruction, I’d say read Steven Pinker’s upcoming book THE SENSE OF STYLE.

Grab this book for one thing: creating better content. That’s where Handley shines and that’s what most of EVERYBODY WRITES is about. She explains it with this formula: Utility x Inspiration x Empathy = Quality Content. For a math refresher, if any variable equals zero, the final product is zilch. You need utility! You need inspiration! You need empathy! Ann Handley teaches you how to achieve all three.

EVERYBODY WRITES is a great resource that is easily accessible and will be often referenced. You will see results.

To help illustrate the idea of reducing rhetoric in order to create meaningful content, I’m going to ask Weird Al to help me out:

Thanks to the kind folks at Wiley for sending this to me for review.

You can find this book’s preview and other reviews on Amazon: Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content


Review: Living Courageously: You Can Face Anything, Just Do It Afraid

Living Courageously: You Can Face Anything, Just Do It Afraid
Living Courageously: You Can Face Anything, Just Do It Afraid by Joyce Meyer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The scripture keeps me coming back. When my mom first introduced me to Joyce Meyer, I dismissed Meyer as a television and large crowd personality. Then I read one of her books—tons and tons of scripture! This is what I enjoy: seeing Bible verses dance back and forth in ways I haven’t thought about before. Meyer nails that.

LIVING COURAGEOUSLY seems to follow the theme of Meyer’s last book, THE APPROVAL FIX; that is: moving forward. In the latter, you learn to move forward with God’s approval, help, and blessings versus seeking the head-nods of your fellow man or woman. Here, Meyer transitions into the realm of fear, a natural God-given emotion that can be used to fuel movement. Meyer teaches us how to embrace the fear to achieve our God-directed passions and goals.

Joyce Meyer’s writing reflects much of the bravery displayed on TV (which is great…especially when writing about fear). Her confidence and charisma hold fast to every page. Make no mistake: though large in character, Meyer’s manner is relatable and personal. She reveals deep, emotional secrets about her life that reveal the fleshly human experience shared among us all.

The combination of scripture (plenty), gusto, and personality is more than enough to carry this book. I usually prefer books with scientific endnotes and journal footnotes, but the break into the spiritual is a nice reward and a welcome combination.

Thanks to FaithWords for providing this book for my review.

You can view the soon-to-be preview and other reviews on Amazon here: Living Courageously: You Can Face Anything, Just Do It Afraid