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Category: self-help

Stephen R. Covey, '7 Habits of Highly Effective People' author, dies

Stephen R. Covey book cover
Stephen R. Covey, author of the bestselling self-help book "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People," died Monday, his family announced. Covey, 79, had been injured in a major bicycle accident in April.

Covey's signature work was published in 1989 and became a lasting bestseller — in 1994, it had been on the New York Times bestseller list for 220 weeks. Currently its sales are tallied at more than 20 million copies. He went on to write a number of sequels and spinoffs, including "The Third Alternative" (2011) and "The Eighth Habit" (2005). He was also a sought-after management advisor.

Covey was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. He got an MBA at Harvard, then returned to Utah to get a doctorate from Brigham Young University, where he taught business management.

The Salt Lake Tribune writes:

Covey’s management post at BYU led to "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People," which launched a second career as management guru for companies and government agencies, among them Saturn, Ritz Carlton, Proctor & Gamble, Sears Roebuck and Co., NASA, Black & Decker, Public Broadcasting Service, Amway, American Cancer Society and the Internal Revenue Service.

The books have legions of adherents in corporate America who swear by its principles. But critics tend to see it as part of a cult of the self-help American frenzy of past decades or so that tends to trivialize big problems.

Covey founded a Utah-based management training center that sold books and videos and held training seminars. In 1997 it merged with FranklinQuest, a deal from which Covey was said to have made about $27 million in cash and stock.

"We believe that organizational behavior is individual behavior collectivized," he told Fortune magazine in 1994. "We want to take this to the whole world."


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-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Stephen R. Covey in 2003. Credit: Ric Feld / Associated Press.

Dolly Parton to publish new book, 'Dream More'

Dollyparton_dreammoreA new book by Dolly Parton is on the way from G.P. Putnam's Sons, the publisher announced today. "Dream More" is coming in November 2012, in time for the holidays.

Described as a book of "inspirational wisdom," "Dream More" is based on a commencement speech Parton gave at the University of Memphis in 2009.

In a statement about the book, Parton said:

I know that I’ve learned some things in my life that are important to me, and I think maybe they might be good ideas to pass along to you. Not as advice, but as information that I have found has helped me over the years. Enough to share, and a little to spare....

If you’re lucky, your dreams will never die, you may not always achieve them, but if you always have dreams and reach for them, you’ll never be a failure. I still have dreams of what I want to do next.

Dolly Parton was born in a small rural town in Tennessee in 1946, but her singing talents brought her to the Grand Ole Opry by the time she was 13. Parton's career went on to include singing, songwriting, acting and founding a theme park, Dollyland.

Parton was awarded a Kennedy Center Honor for her achievements in the arts in 2006. She has won 10 Country Music Assn. awards, five Academy of Country Music awards, three American Music awards and seven Grammys. Twenty-six of her songs have reached No. 1 on the Billboard Country Music chart. She has written, her bio states, a whopping 3,000 songs, including  "Jolene" and "I Will Always Love You." She has sold more than 100 million records.

Prior to "Dream More," Parton penned the memoir "Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business." In a release about her new book, Ivan Held, president of G. P. Putnam’s Sons, said, "Everyone knows Dolly Parton — it's an honor and a privilege to be able to publish her words of deep and abiding wisdom. 'Dream More' is her wish for each of us — and the philosophy she's developed over many decades."


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— Carolyn Kellogg

Did Christian parenting book contribute to child deaths?

TotrainupachildA Christian parenting book has come under fire after the deaths of three children from abuse. The families are reported to have  been following the guidance of the book "To Train Up a Child" by Michael and Debi Pearl.

The "Today" show reports:

Hana Williams, 13, died of hypothermia after allegedly being starved, abused and locked outside by her parents. Lydia Schatz, age 7, died after being repeatedly beaten by her parents. And 4-year-old Sean Paddock suffocated after his mother wrapped him in a blanket too tightly in an effort to keep him from getting out of bed.

The children lived in three different states: Washington, California and North Carolina, respectively. But all three were adopted by parents who used the teachings of a self-proclaimed Christian parenting book, "To Train Up a Child."

The book, first published in 1994, frequently cites Proverbs 13:24, which teaches that "he that spareth his rod, hateth his son." In it, authors Michael and Debi Pearl compare training a happy, compliant child with training a dog. It advocates sitting on a rebellious child to spank him, and "hold him there until he has surrendered."

Michael Pearl told the "Today" show that his book is pro-spanking, but that discipline should not cause children harm.

In October, Slate took a look at "To Train Up a Child" and noted that its lessons could be misconstrued. The book says, "A little fasting is good training. If you get a child who is particularly finicky and only eats a limited diet, then feed him mainly what he doesn’t like until he likes it." The parents of Williams, who died in Washington in May, were charged with starving her.

Some Christians have clearly disavowed and criticized the book; more than 9,000 people have signed a petition asking Amazon to remove "To Train Up A Child" from its site.


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-- Carolyn Kellogg

Where do Deepak Chopra's publishing affections lie?

DeepakchopraOver the weekend, news surfaced that bestselling author Deepak Chopra had signed a book deal with Amazon's new New York-based publishing imprint, Amazon Publishing. Chopra and his brother Dr. Sanjiv Chopra will co-author a memoir tentatively titled "Brotherhood: A Tale of Faith, Big Dreams and the Power of Persistence."

That's good news for Chopra and his fans, but maybe not so good for Crown and parent company Random House. They signed a deal with Chopra for his own imprint, Deepak Chopra Books, whose first books are expected to hit shelves in 2013.

The New York Observer writes, "Mr. Chopra’s Seven Spiritual Laws for Success do not apparently include a binding clause to tie him to his longtime publisher."

Chopra's agent, Robert Gottlieb, may have stirred emotions up at Crown and Random House. "I am delighted that Amazon, Deepak and Sanjiv Chopra are in business together in a major book deal," he said, "that is a game-changer for the publishing industry."

Publishers Weekly reports that Random House responded in a release stressing that Deepak Chopra "has had several publishers simultaneously throughout his career" and that Crown has "multiple future books of his under contract."

Amazon Publishing is being led by publishing veteran Larry Kirshbaum, a former CEO of Time Warner Book Group. Deal trackers in the publishing industry have noted three major signings: a memoir from actress/director Penny Marshall, a book from self-help author Tim Ferriss and the Chopra brothers' memoir.


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-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photos: Deepak Chopra in December 2010. Credit Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

Jane Fonda's QVC appearance pulled over Vietnam, she says

Janefonda_primetime Jane Fonda writes that a planned Saturday appearance on QVC was canceled by the shopping network after viewers complained, citing Fonda's political statements during the Vietnam War. Fonda was scheduled to promote her aging-with-spirit book "Prime Time: Making the Most of Your Life," due out Aug. 9.

On her website, Fonda writes:

The network said they got a lot of calls yesterday criticizing me for my opposition to the Vietnam War and threatening to boycott the show if I was allowed to appear. I am, to say the least, deeply disappointed that QVC caved to this kind of insane pressure by some well funded and organized political extremist groups. And that they did it without talking to me first. I have never shied away from talking about this as I have nothing to hide. I could have pointed out that threats of boycotts are nothing new for me and have never prevented me from having best selling books and exercise DVDs, films, and a Broadway play. Most people don’t buy into the far right lies. Many people have reached out to express how excited they were about my going onto QVC and hearing about my book.

QVC has confirmed it canceled Fonda's appearance but declined to say why or respond to her criticism of the action.

Fonda does herself a disservice by immediately blaming "well-funded and organized political extremist groups" -- she doesn't know where the calls came from, and was surprised by the cancellation.

But QVC has done itself a disservice by not allowing Fonda to appear. As she writes, she does not shy away from talking about her political convictions, actions and even regrets -- they came up, without any rancor, during her talk at the closing session at Book Expo America in May, publishing's biggest conference.

At that talk, Fonda spoke with enthusiasm about her book "Prime Time," a kind of how-to guide for living the last act of life fully, on its own terms. One key tool is conducting what Fonda calls a "life review," creating new goals and dreams. On the one hand, Fonda, now 73, occasionally loses her train of thought; on the other, she's full of vigor and is entirely candid. When asked how she looks so good, Fonda replied, "Good genes -- and a lot of money."

Would QVC watchers really not be able to make up their own minds about Jane Fonda, nearly 40 years after her visit to North Vietnam?

Fonda's last book, "My Life So Far," was a bestseller. We'll see later this summer if "Prime Time" finds its audience.


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-- Carolyn Kellogg

10 books for Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver


News that the high-profile former first couple of California was splitting last week came as a surprise. What would cause ex-Gov. and action star Arnold Schwarzenegger and his journalist wife, Kennedy scion Maria Shriver, to separate after 25 years together?

As everyone knows now, the reason was a child. Specifically, a child that Schwarzenegger fathered with as an unnamed staffer who'd been with the family for 20 years. The staffer parted company from them in January; the child is thought to be 10 or 11 years old.

"After leaving the governor's office I told my wife about this event, which occurred over a decade ago," Schwarzenegger said Monday night in a statement issued to The Times. "I understand and deserve the feelings of anger and disappointment among my friends and family. There are no excuses and I take full responsibility for the hurt I have caused."

Perhaps spending a little quiet time alone with a book would be good for Schwarzenegger, as well as for Shriver, who in a statement asked for privacy "as my children and I try to rebuild our lives and heal." Shriver concluded, "I will have no further comment."

Below we have a suggestion of five books for Maria Shriver, five for Arnold Schwarzenegger, and one bonus, for the mother of Schwarzenegger's newly-acknowledged child.

For Maria:

  • "Infidelity: A Survival Guide" by Don-David Lusterman, PhD

  • "Private Lies: Infidelity and the Betrayal of Intimacy" by Frank Pittman (not to be confused with Arnold Schwarzenegger's film "True Lies")

  • "Parents Who Cheat: How Children and Adults Are Affected When Their Parents Are Unfaithful" by Ana Nogales, PhD

  • "Transcending Post-infidelity Stress Disorder" by Dennis Ortman, PhD

  • "Divorce Poison New and Updated Edition: How to Protect Your Family from Bad-mouthing and Brainwashing" by Dr. Richard A. Warshak

For Arnold:

  • "Fatherhood" by Bill Cosby

  • "Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father, and Son" by Michael Chabon

  • Whichever is appropriate: "Why a Daughter Needs a Dad" or "Why a Son Needs a Dad" both by Gregory Lang

  • "Two Plays by Denis Diderot: 'The Illegitimate Son' and 'The Father of the Family'" by Denis Diderot

  • "The Politician: An Insider's Account of John Edwards's Pursuit of the Presidency and the Scandal That Brought Him Down" by Andrew Young

And for the former household employee who is the mother of Arnold's child:

  • "Joint Custody With a Jerk" by Julie A. Ross and Judy Corcoran

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver in January 2007. Credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Shark attacks on dry land: Rene Lynch on Dr. Laura's tips

I feel betrayed by Laura Schlessinger’s new book, “How to Survive a Shark Attack (on Land): Overcoming Betrayal and Dealing With Revenge.”

The conservative -– and controversial -- radio talk show host is known for doling out advice to callers wrestling with a variety of moral and ethical dilemmas. For her legions of listeners, Dr. Laura’s pointed, no-nonsense advice offers a voyeuristic treat. (Love her or hate her, there’s nothing quite like listening to Dr. Laura let some “shack-up honey” have it with both barrels.)

Dr. Laura similarly uses callers’ vignettes to great effect –- as teaching tools -- in her bestsellers such as “The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands” and “Ten Stupid Things Women Do to Mess Up Their Lives.” But that element is sadly, sorely lacking from “Shark Attack.”

Her book is a trim 200 pages, buoyed by pages of famous quotes. The first three-quarters is largely consumed with Dr. Laura’s cogitations on the nature of betrayal and its motivations. But I picked up this book so I could tuck up my feet, dig into some popcorn and enjoy a guilt-free glimpse into the betrayal playing out in other people’s lives.

Listening from that safe and secure perch allows me to cluck “Oh, no, he DIDN’T!” and fantasize about what I’d do in that same situation. In truth, I like to think of Dr. Laura’s books and radio program as a practice run for the real thing. And, let’s face it, absolutely everyone will grapple with betrayal at least once in their lives. Unfortunately, there’s painfully little of those teaching moments in this little book.

Even the examples from Dr. Laura’s life are hard to grab onto,

[Continue reading after jump]

Continue reading »

Glenn Beck's self-help (almost) bestseller

Glennbeck_7wonders Glenn Beck is a popular culture powerhouse: He's got his show on Fox News, a nationally syndicated radio show and now, a new bestseller. Beck's new book, "The 7: Seven Wonders That Will Change Your Life," written with Keith Ablow, M.D., is currently at No. 3 on Publishers Weekly's bestseller list for hardcover nonfiction, after being in stores for just over two weeks.

In the book, Beck alternates chapters with Ablow, a psychiatrist. Beck's chapters -- "My Darkest Moment," "Isn't There Anyone To Hate" -- seem to represent admission of faults and difficulties. These are then offset by Ablow's chapters, which describe the seven wonders of the book's title.

Those wonders, if you're wondering, are:

1. Courage

2. Faith

3. Truth

4. Compassion

5. Friendship

6. Family

7. Common Sense

"We believe that it was God’s plan for us to meet; that it was God’s plan for us to speak so openly with one another; and it was God’s plan that we share with you the seven wonders we discovered together," Beck writes. "We also firmly believe that it was God’s plan that this book now finds you at this exact moment in your life."

With that kind of encouragement, no wonder it's rising up the bestseller charts.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Wednesday: Molly Ringwald at Vroman's

Mollyringwald_2010 Molly Ringwald, star of the iconic teen films "Sixteen Candles,"  "The Breakfast Club" and "Pretty in Pink," has grown up. She addresses this head-on in the first pages of her book "Getting the Pretty Back: Friendship, Family and Finding the Perfect Lipstick."

"On Feb. 18, 2008, I turned 40 years old," she writes. "It hardly seemed possible." The book celebrates growing up -- to 40 and, well, beyond.

Maybe it helps that it comes from a woman who is aware how much her youthful self has remained alive in the minds of fans. To some, she remains frozen as Duckie's love interest, or as the girl who did that impossible lipstick trick -- yet she's grown up and lived a complete life beyond those roles.

Ringwald, who has lived in France, once took an L.A. Times photographer along while she went book shopping in Venice. In the thanks to "Getting the Pretty Back," the long-deceased John Cheever makes a surprise appearance. "Not only for reminding us of the 'salvation of prose,' " she writes, "but for inadvertently and fortuitously leading me to my husband through the elegance of his prose." Ringwald's husband is a writer and editor; quotes from Cheever are included in Ringwald's book, with his estate's permission.

Ringwald, who is a star of the television show "The Secret Life of the American Teenager," will be at Vroman's Books Wednesday in Pasadena at 7 p.m. She'll be signing copies of "Getting the Pretty Back," and the bookstore asks that fans leave any memorabilia they might want signed at home. But that doesn't mean that she wouldn't welcome a gift of some vintage Cheever.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Molly Ringwald at the 2010 Oscars. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

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Is all news good news? Ask Pete Carroll


When Pete Carroll signed his book deal in April 2009 -- for somewhere upward of $500,000 -- he was known as the most winning active coach in college football, with an 88-15 record in his nine seasons at USC. By the time "Win Forever" came out, he'd switched jobs, returning to the NFL to become head coach of the Seattle Seahawks.

And shortly before the book made it to shelves, the scandal broke.

In June, the NCAA announced sanctions against USC for rules violations during Carroll's tenure. Many of those violations were connected to star football player Reggie Bush -- USC has said it will return its copy of his Heisman trophy -- and while Carroll has said he was unaware of them, his own hiring of a coach/consultant was also considered a violation.

Carroll's reputation, which had verged on the heroic, has been, in some quarters, tarnished. There has been name calling; at CBSSports.com, columnist Gregg Doyel wrote, "Carroll is an idiot or a liar. And he's not an idiot."

And then there's the book. MSNBC's ProFootballTalk blogger Mike Florio has been referring to it by invented, alternate titles: "Win Forever . . . And Then Just Ignore It When They Take Those Wins Away After Evidence of Cheating Emerges" and, more simply, "Cheat Forever."

But does the bad news for Carroll's reputation mean bad news for his book? Co-written with Yogi Roth, the book isn't really a memoir. While it's filled with anecdotes from Carroll's USC coaching years, it's designed to be a kind of self-help, with football. In the style of John Wooden's books, it takes Carroll's winning coaching philosophy and translates it for everyday life.

The scandal hasn't stopped Carroll from making the book tour rounds. He was back in Los Angeles last week; the independent bookstore Vroman's -- located in Pasadena, home of the Rose Bowl -- tells Jacket Copy that "Win Forever" didn't make its bestseller list, but "it's moving relatively well."  It's currently in the 90s on Amazon.com's top 100 Self-Help category, and a publicist working with the book says it will make a national how-to bestseller list next week.

Has the scandal eaten away at the book's momentum? It's hard to say. This may be a case of all news being good news -- any conversation that touches on Carroll's phenomenal coaching tenure at USC has a chance of making readers hungry for his book.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Pete Carroll at a USC pregame warm-up in September 2009. Credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

Clicking on Green Links will take you to a third-party e-commerce site. These sites are not operated by the Los Angeles Times. The Times Editorial staff is not involved in any way with Green Links or with these third-party sites.

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