Books & Writers

Book Reviews of 2020 :: Part II

Quarter Two of 2020 was, at least in my reading list, looking a tiny bit more hopeful. Then the world happened, and turns out Quarters 2 and 3 need to be merged. 

If you missed the first 4 books (in the first 3 months: been a while since I was that far ahead!), please click here. Hilariously, I’m already behind again *smirk* Of course. 

Still. I caught up, and here are my next 4 book reviews of 2020. 


July :: Untamed – Glennon Doyle

5 Stars

Well. I began this book in March, and it’s taken 4 months to read and fully digest it. In my Kindle edition, I’ve made 228 Highlight(s) & 20 Note(s).

This book is a life-saver, a game-changer. This is kind of the book I want to write.

I hadn’t heard of Glennon before March, and the interview I saw spoke such deep truths to my soul, I had to get the book immediately. In every single chapter she manages to kick my feet out from underneath me about what I thought/believed/know about being human. In a good way; but I definitely took a few days off in between reading sessions to fully process the realisations and shifted perceptions.

I have multiple degrees in psychology, neuroscience and am trained to teach CBT techniques: and this book was even more powerful around that sense of power I have within me. This book is not going to be for everyone, and that makes me so frustrated, because I’ve done nothing but recommend it since the day I started, to almost everyone I meet.

Read this book. Pick up the free sample on kindle and let yourself feel the truth of Glennon’s words. We are all god damn cheetahs, and ‘we need to save ourselves because we need to save the world.’

This book is all the therapy and academia and understanding I’ve sought.


July :: Unf**k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Life – Gary John Bishop

2 Stars

This book was, to quote his own words, “peppered with interpretation.”

I review books beginning at 5 stars, and then dropping them down for severe issues. I began by ignoring the grammatical issues, the lack of original ideas, and tried to ignore the tone of this book.

It looks from other reviews that the audiobook is worth listening to; perhaps the Scottish accent helps get the tone across better?

I appreciate I am a self-help book reader turned mental health practitioner and thus have more knowledge than most about this kind of topic. Therefore, I don’t expect them to have ideas that are new to me: but value things I can see would be useful for the people I’ve helped (and my past self).

But considering the title, this book just seemed to miss the mark. I swung between bored, tired and frustrated. I read books with swearing, and have recently read some incredible motivating books for getting up and making a change. This came across as judgemental, privileged and downright confused. I could have summarised the first 34% in about a page and been a hell of a lot clearer.

I’ve never read a “hey, change your life” book that was so… tiring to read. It felt like he himself was exhausted and bored as he was writing it. So lacking in motivation.

Thankfully, it didn’t get any worse past 50% and at 82% we finally got our first exercise that would help the reader. Finally.
One review here commented on his explaining CBT, but he doesn’t really: he quotes a technique’s name without explaining the main step of doing it. And then, at 87% through he suddenly goes from this dreary “you should be better” to shouting in capital letters with exclamation points.

I’ve sat here trying desperately to keep it at 3 stars instead of 2. But this feels like a rushed, unclear collection of thoughts, from only one privileged viewpoint, ‘peppering in’ fancy language and in some cases mis-quoting concepts… And that’s without the grammatical and spelling mistakes. Multiple sentences even lacked a verb.

But it turns out, this is my first ever 2-star review: the lowest I’ve given. There was a good 5% that I felt would be helpful to know, between 82-87% through. So I’d recommend reading that if you don’t know about expectation shortfalls.


August :: Quiet Power Strategy – Tara Gentile

5 Stars

I actually picked the book up because I write and speak about our ‘everyday superpowers’ – that we have a lot of capability once you know how the mind, brain and body work… we’re just never taught it. If I had to give it another label, it would be a “quiet power” so… that’s really what drew me to it.

I have been following Tara for years on and off, including her Creative Live classes, so I knew what to expect from her tone and grounded approach. I have to admit I’ve not read many business books, and I did feel a bit “wait, should I be taking notes, will there be a clear worksheet to go through these aspects (there is one you can download form her website) but for the content, the ease of read, and the lack of patronising assumptions, I’m giving it 5 stars.

Tara’s personally and voice really comes through, the concepts are simple but also actionable and written with examples and in such a way that it’s okay for you to have not known or consciously focused on them before. She speaks for a whole chapter about how we are not taught how to discern what we want and what decisions to make as a psychological practitioner teaching people to reinvent themselves from their roots: I am so there and this is needed and I just love that it’s mentioned let alone explained and explored in a business book.

If you are struggling with decision-making, with following your gut, with taking steps forward… in anything in your life -> this is definitely worth a read.


September :: You 2.0: Stop Feeling Stuck, Reinvent Yourself, and Become a Brand New You – Master the Art of Personal Transformation – Ayodeji Awosika

5 Stars

I picked this book up because it mentions reinventing yourself – as CEO of Rooted Reinvention, it seemed I should take a look. The author speaks from personal experience, and came across as genuinely sharing his experiences.

I don’t agree with everything he says, and some of the ideas may come across as easier said than done. As always I have real issues with the “it takes 66 days to make a habit” that is supposedly based on research… (The problem with having a Masters in Cognitive Neuroscience is I know the limitations of that research) But the prompts, downloadable examples, and general principles are useful.

But as a guide to personal reinvention, it covers all the basics techniques I’d recommend. Again, it’s not a field guide for when you get stuck and ‘how to’ do each step in much detail, but for those people looking for a place to start, I’d say it’s definitely a good place to start

Especially comparing it with other self-help books, I’d say this had a more thorough blueprint and also acknowledged some of the difficulties readers may come up against too.


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