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Book Review: On Becoming Fearless… in Love, Work, and Life by Arianna Huffington

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Now in paperback, Arianna Huffington’s On Becoming Fearless …in Love, Work, and Life identifies the top areas in which women need to conquer their fears: the body, love, parenting, work, money, aging and illness, God and death, leadership and speaking out, and changing the world – and offers solutions for each and every one.

That’s no small task for a book that weighs in at a slight 228 pages, but Huffington and her guest contributors (including former head of Paramount Sherry Lansing, Oscar-winning actress Diane Keaton, and Huffington’s own sister) aren’t interested in process or even in proscription. Rather, they’re here to convince you that you can pull it off — whatever it is — if you just believe in yourself. It’s the big sister school of self-help.

Not that this is a bad thing, per se. In fact, while reading On Becoming Fearless I was reminded of the years I spent in an all-girls school, where each morning we sat together as a school, all 250 of us from 5th-12th grade on the floor of the cafeteria for morning prayers. We didn’t pray, we listened: to our teachers, to older girls, and to alumnae. Once a week we had chapel, which was a longer talk, and which often involved guest speakers, such as Congresswomen, successful professionals, and artists. Each woman who stepped up to the podium had a different story, yet the underlying message was the same: you can. You will. You have already.

Much of On Becoming Fearless read like those speeches I soaked up during the seven years I sat on that floor in my striped skirt and brown shoes, inspirational, motivational, and anecdotal. Huffington draws on a wellspring of life experience and resources from literature, philosophy, and the lives of other women, and the best passages in the book offer good advice on keeping priorities straight and not letting the inner critic get a foothold.

On Becoming Fearless is least successful when Huffington talks about herself, which tends to sound self-congratulatory instead of inspiring. Overall, this isn’t the deepest book in the world, but as self-help books go it’s got a strong message that could actually inspire change in the lives of readers.

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