Genuinely thought-provoking strategies for the various stages of life.



A life guide organized around five major stages.

Danon, a Columbia University Certified Life Coach and founder of a successful consulting company, puts forward a new vision for personal development, one that flies in the face of many rise-and-grind business motivation books by drawing a broader, longer map of what constitutes success. Danon makes no small claims about his system, which he says will “minimize your regrets, decrease your worries, and enable you to lead a joyous, meaningful life.” Whether this is warranted or not, Danon’s outline is intriguingly blocked off into five 18-year segments—“The Dreamer,” “The Explorer,” “The Builder,” “The Mentor,” and “The Giver”—each of which has its own restrictions, priorities, and joys. But Danon stresses that the positives of his system hold true at every stage. “One of the key benefits of allowing yourself to explore your options for 18 years is that it will minimize your regrets—and the fewer regrets, the better, since you never know what life may throw at you,” he writes. “If you wait around for something important to happen to you, you may never get to do it.” In keeping with Danon’s long experience as a coach and motivator, his prose is bright and compulsively readable. And the main strength of his approach is that it far more closely conforms to everyday lived experience than most of the more hustle-oriented volumes of this kind. He reiterates that learning takes time, and opportunities flow as much from chance and experience as from blue ocean strategy (creating new demand rather than battling for market share). Danon is at his most interesting when he’s leaning into this individualistic bent, declaring business-world heresies like: “There is no need to try to make serious money before you turn 36.” This is a skillful rearrangement of the paradigm.

Genuinely thought-provoking strategies for the various stages of life.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-73629-944-9

Page Count: 174

Publisher: Blue Branch Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

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A refreshing celebrity memoir focused not strictly on the self but on a much larger horizon.

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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 handful of pearls amid a pile of empty oyster shells.


Bestselling author Haig offers a book’s worth of apothegms to serve as guides to issues ranging from disquietude to self-acceptance.

Like many collections of this sort—terse snippets of advice, from the everyday to the cosmic—some parts will hit home with surprising insight, some will feel like old hat, and others will come across as disposable or incomprehensible. Years ago, Haig experienced an extended period of suicidal depression, so he comes at many of these topics—pain, hope, self-worth, contentment—from a hard-won perspective. This makes some of the material worthy of a second look, even when it feels runic or contrary to experience. The author’s words are instigations, hopeful first steps toward illumination. Most chapters are only a few sentences long, the longest running for three pages. Much is left unsaid and left up to readers to dissect. On being lost, Haig recounts an episode with his father when they got turned around in a forest in France. His father said to him, “If we keep going in a straight line we’ll get out of here.” He was correct, a bit of wisdom Haig turned to during his depression when he focused on moving forward: “It is important to remember the bottom of the valley never has the clearest view. And that sometimes all you need to do in order to rise up again is to keep moving forward.” Many aphorisms sound right, if hardly groundbreaking—e.g., a quick route to happiness is making someone else happy; “No is a good word. It keeps you sane. In an age of overload, no is really yes. It is yes to having space you need to live”; “External events are neutral. They only gain positive or negative value the moment they enter our mind.” Haig’s fans may enjoy this one, but others should take a pass.

A handful of pearls amid a pile of empty oyster shells.

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-14-313666-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Penguin Life

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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