cover image Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life

Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life

Arnold Schwarzenegger. Penguin Press, $28 (288p) ISBN 978-0-593-65595-5

Schwarzenegger (Total Recall) shares in this pragmatic and plainspoken guide the life lessons that fueled his success as a bodybuilder, actor, and governor of California from 2003 to 2011. Growing up in the 1950s and ’60s in a remote Austrian village in a house without running water, Schwarzenegger was driven by crystal-clear visions of success (“I could see myself on the top step of the podium holding the winner’s trophy.... I could see the crowd going wild”) to train harder than his peers at the gym, and advises readers that they too must “have a clear picture of what you want your life to look like and a plan for how” to achieve it (“the people who feel most lost have neither.... They look in the mirror and they wonder, ‘How the hell did I get here?’ ”). Elsewhere, he emphasizes that nothing worthwhile is gained without effort, noting that he dutifully stuck to a regimen of dedicated “reps” in his bodybuilding training, as well as his gubernatorial speech prep. To that end, pain is useful because it “tells you whether you’ve begun to give enough of yourself in pursuit of your dreams.” While Schwarzenegger’s principles (and boundless enthusiasm for old-fashioned grit and hard work) aren’t revolutionary, readers will welcome his can-do approach and easily understood (if harder to implement) guidance. This gets the job done. (Oct.)