A passionate, statistics-based argument for women’s equality in the workplace.

AWAKENING

LADIES, LEADERSHIP, AND THE LIES WE'VE BEEN TOLD

Advice for thriving as a woman in the workplace.

In this self-help book, Martin, whose last book was Make It Rain (2018), encourages women to learn about systemic sexism and to push back against gendered challenges in the workplace and in general. Martin, a lawyer, journalist, and entrepreneur, shares her own and friends’ and colleagues’ professional experiences to illustrate the problems women face in professional settings. The book’s first section addresses misconceptions about women’s potential for success, which Martin presents as the lies women have been told (“You Can’t Be a Working Woman and Raise a Family”). The middle chapters explore some of the underlying reasons women contend with setbacks in their careers, from assumptions about how parenthood will influence professionalism to unequal opportunities for mentorship and support, and the final section provides solutions and strategies for getting past obstacles, although it does not get into specifics about how to bring about major systemic changes. Each chapter ends with an “awakening action item,” which gives readers journaling prompts, potential discussion topics, and recommended activities. The system as a whole, Martin argues, is at fault when it comes to institutionalized prejudice and discrimination, and while minor fixes do have limited impacts, a wholesale rethinking of relationships, work, and professionalism is needed.

Martin’s personal narrative, which is about her struggles and successes (“A Black woman with Harvard credentials is still a Black woman,” she notes), is at the book’s core. The author is a strong writer and storyteller, and she does an excellent job of capturing the essences of the women she features here. She also provides a wealth of pithy pull quotes (“You can’t open a door simply by ‘leaning in’ to it”) that will prompt highlighting and underlining. At times, however, the book seems unwilling to trust its readers’ knowledge base (for instance, by suggesting that TV shows like Veep and Madam Secretary are the first places many saw women represented in positions of political power, as though their fictional protagonists are the only women visible in positions of power) and misses opportunities for more substantial analysis. Recommendations for achieving structural change range from individual action items, like developing a personal mission statement and setting achievable goals, to more conceptual activities, like identifying and challenging internalized stereotypes. Although the book calls for large-scale systemic changes, it includes little in the way of specific advice for how to “dismantle and rebuild the system,” making it more a tool for consciousness raising and relationship building than wholesale revolution. Readers will find motivation and validation via both anecdotes and statistics. But those who have already read The Memo (2019), Lead From Outside (2018), or Did That Just Happen?! (2021) may find that the book covers familiar territory. Martin’s greatest strength, however, is in her presentation, and even jaded readers are likely to put the book down feeling that their perceptions of sexism are accurate, the problem is indeed a fixable one, and Martin is in their corner, cheering them on as they try to transform the world.

A passionate, statistics-based argument for women’s equality in the workplace.

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63735-013-3

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Leaders Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 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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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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