Sunday, October 27, 2013

Some Nerve: Lessons Learned While Becoming Brave

Title:  Some Nerve:  Lessons Learned While Becoming Brave
Author:  Patty Chang Anker
Publication Information:  Riverhead. 2013. 368 pages.

Book Source:  I received this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program free of cost in exchange for an honest review. The book arrived as a paperback uncorrected proof.

Favorite Quote:  "The thing is, fear serves a function .... You can't just say 'Fear, go away!' and expect it to.  You need to ask 'Fear, why are you here? What are you trying to protect me from? Is it something I need protection for? Or is it a response to a situation that resolved years ago or that maybe even happened to somebody else?' If so, you can recognize the fear for what it is and say that this isn't necessary anymore."

Patty Chang Anker is the creator of the blog Facing Forty Upside Down and the mother of two daughters. Close to her fortieth birthday, she undertook a mission to try things she never had before and to overcome some of her fears in order to be a better role model for her daughters. Along her journey, she met and learned from other people facing similar fears. So, she set out to learn more and see if her input could help others conquer their own fears.

This book is a compilation of her research and her experiences. She includes numerous stories from friends and people she has met along the way. She also includes information gathered from therapists and other experts who can shed light on this journey.

Overall, the stories are interesting, and most people can find things to relate to - whether in the fact that we overcome a fear or in the fact that we feel the fear. Two things I feel are missing for the book. First, the fears that the book addresses are pragmatic ones - fear of water, public speaking, heights, and even death. An entire world of fears exist that are just as common but less concrete - fear of loss, abandonment, etc - and not surmountable by doing what scares you. Overcoming those fears is also a key element of becoming brave. I wish that book addressed at least some aspect of these more nebulous fears.

Second, the book has a very pragmatic tone. The book presents evidence and data from many different sources and tells many different stories. The number of stories decreases the level of depth in any one story. I would have preferred fewer, but in depth stories that delve deeper into the process. Overcoming any fear is very much an emotional journey, and I wish the book conveyed that emotion in a stronger way.

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