Book Review May 2009

The secret code of successTitle: The Secret Code of Success: 7 Hidden Steps to More Wealth and Happiness
Author: Noah St. John

Publisher: Collins Business
ISBN: 978-0-061715-74-7
Pages: 243

Noah St. John?s thought-provoking book The Secret Code of Success: 7 Hidden Steps to More Wealth and Happiness stands out in the crowded field of self-help tomes. Probably its biggest selling point is the fact that St. John used that secret code himself. After college, he moved aimlessly from one dead-end job to another until he discovered the code. Now an established author, television host and founder and CEO of, he is the ultimate proof that the secret code works.

Other books advocate the same old strategies, teaching the ?how-tos? of success, St. John notes. In theory, this should work just fine. But many people are afraid of success, so it doesn?t matter how many steps they are given ? they just won?t use them, St. John says. And therein lies the meat of his secret code. St. John coined the term ?success anorexia? to describe the disorder that prevents us from achieving our full potential. Many of us have been settling for the ?crumbs of life? and ?starving ourselves of success.? The purpose of this book, then, ?is to give you permission to be who you really are ? permission to succeed.?

The first step is ?Afformations.? St. John argues that traditional affirmations do not work for most people. As we stare in the mirror and tell ourselves that we are rich or successful, many of us also hear a voice saying ?yeah right!? St. John prefers to ask questions and find the answers within us. Instead of saying you are successful, try asking yourself why you are successful. This encourages you to really evaluate yourself and your situation.

In Step 2, ?Loving Mirrors and Safe Havens,? St. John contends that ?you are the least capable person to know what you?re truly capable of? because you are usually your worst critic. He likens it to looking into a fun-house mirror that distorts your reflection. You come to believe that this is an accurate representation of you. St. John advises to look through a ?loving mirror? for an accurate reflection of yourself and he describes just how to do that. In ?Systems of Support,? Step 3, St. John urges readers to be involved with people, activities and an environment that encourage their goals and motivate them to succeed. Step 4, ?Goal-Free Zones and Goal Replacement Surgery,? argues that you have to stop setting goals at some point, even temporarily, to avoid burnout.
Ultimately, no one can make you successful. You have to want success and be ready for it in order to achieve it. The Secret Code of Success: 7 Hidden Steps to More Wealth and Happiness puts you on the path to achievement.

More than just a raceMore Thank Just Race: Being Black and Poor in the Inner City
By William Julius Wilson

W. W. Norton & Co., March 2009
256 pp., $24.95

In a recent NPR interview, Wilson described himself as a ?New Deal liberal.? In his latest book, More Thank Just Race, the esteemed sociologist and Harvard professor posits that when we talk about the plight of poor, urban Blacks, one must couple structural forces, meaning ?the way social positions, social roles, and networks of social relationships are arranged in our institutions,? along with cultural forces such as ?national views on race, shared outlooks, modes of behavior, and traditions?.? In chapters such as ?The Economic Plight of Inner-City Black Males? and ?The Fragmentation of the Poor Black Family,? he presents critical research for framing such needed and serious discussion of the timely subjects.

Life is short but wideLife Is Short But Wide
By J. California Cooper

Doubleday, March 2009
336 pp., $24.95

Once again, Cooper delights readers with her marvelous storytelling. ?I have seen most people just skip through their life and don?t pay no attention to what they are missing in life: the lessons!? begins 91-year-old Hattie B. Brown, the narrator of this tale of family, love, jealousy and struggle among generations of folks in the small town of Wideland, Okla. The story focuses on the respectable Strong family, as Val and his wife, Irene, raise their two daughters in a household where the pursuit of happiness and one?s zest for life is encouraged. As years go by, moments of joy and misfortune befall them. The burdens of dear friends are also implicated in the drama. Cooper?s trademark affable voice, colorful characters and age-old wisdom are front and center.???? ???
Clarence V. Reynolds