Sunday, June 14, 2009


Although all M.J. Ryan's books are great, I thought her last book, This Year I Will was a masterpiece. This book is about how to make changes we want to see happen in our lives—losing weight, changing jobs, getting organized—and it combines optimism and encouragement with some real, for-sure scientific evidence about how the brain works and why we are motivated to do the things we do with some compassionate understanding. Kind of like having an awesome mother with a Ph.D. in neuroscience who mixes a mean margarita while she cheers you on and dispenses spot-on advice—powerful, intoxicating, but also subtle and non-judgmental.

Her latest book, Adaptability: How to Survive Change You Didn’t Ask For, addresses change of a completely different kind—not happy, proactive change like New Year’s resolutions, but change that is forced upon us like getting laid off from our job, losing our retirement money in the stock market, seeing our business implode—in other words, the stuff that many of us are going through right now.

M.J.’s publisher, Broadway Books, pushed this book through the normally snail-paced publishing process quickly because this is a book that we need immediately. To quote Broadway,

“In her book, (M.J.) teaches the fundamentals needed to become a master of change, These essentials will allow you to accept the need to adapt and become aware of your internal resources…and learn how to get your brain on your side.”

The back of the book has my favorite section—20 Quick Tips for Surviving Change You Didn’t Ask For. Here are a few of my favorites:

• Because feeling in control is so crucial to resilience, and unasked-for-change can leave us feeling very out of control, try asking yourself this question during the day: What am I free to choose right now?

• When considering options, before you say something won’t work, consider how it might work. Try it on for a while.

• Get out and help someone else. When we focus on someone else’s problems, we put our own in perspective. If we focus on helping others, panic diminishes.

• What really matters here? That’s a question that will help you keep the change in proportion. A woman who lost her house was told by her minister that what she needed was a home, not a house. It helped her move to a rental with greater peace and perspective.

For the other 16 Tips, you will just have to buy the book. Or better yet, go to M.J.’s talk at Towne Center Books in Pleasanton on Wednesday, June 17 at 7:30 p.m.

See you there!

1 comment:

she said...

i've been forced to adapt throughout my entire life it seems,

would have been great to have this knowledge in my youth

but having learned many of these lessons the hard way, i can at least, at 43, testify to their truth

thank you for this wonderful interview


as curious incident of the dog in the night time is my favorite novel

was thrilled to listen to every word in the discussion about mark haddon's work; his art

loved your guests! their insights

and it actually serves as testimony to the genius level of craft, that mark's extraordinary writing talent gets overlooked during talks about this novel

we love christopher! the plot, the adventure, to experience the inner-workings of this young man's mind as he addresses, to what extent he can, the complexities of the people and circumstances around him

but HOW this novel was crafted..

so seamlessly; the management of each character, sub-plots, dialogue (inner/outer), scenes/scenery

so consistent and smooth, layered/textured, but always moving forward

the genius of a murdered dog as a motivator for christophers adventures & growth

the creativity and compassion

each page such a reward

i consider it a masterpiece for that reason

sometimes you have a great story, or great characters, but the writing is average

sometimes you have great writing, but the story, and/or characters are average

but with the curious incident of the dog in the night time

you have a great story, great characters, great plot(s)

genius writing

the launch is beautiful
the journey enchanting

and the ending so utterly rewarding

i can't think of one way it could be improved upon

reading it again with my daughter this summer

thanks for ANOTHER great in a word show!