Book Review: The Anxiety Book by Elisa Black

Wednesday, August 17, 2016
I love reading. Books are amazing. They are a form of escapism, yes, but they are also inspiration, joy, and... well. Goodness. I think in some ways I have used my appetite for reading to define parts of my personality, so it made sense for me to review some of what I read! Here we go...

Title: The Anxiety Book
Author: Elisa Black
Publication Date: May 31st 2016

Synopsis: "'Just stop worrying' - Adelaide journalist Elisa Black has been told this her whole life.

Elisa is one of the ten per cent of Australians who live with an anxiety disorder. Weaving science with memoir, in The Anxiety Book she explains why 'just stop worrying' doesn't work and explores the various treatments that do, as well as including the latest in research and science about anxiety and its causes.

With breathtaking honesty, Elisa uses the stages of her own life to explore the different types of anxiety that many of us face. Elisa's story will inspire the millions of Australians who live with anxiety to believe that it is possible not only to manage their condition but to live meaningfully. Her story offers hope that anxiety does not have to control you - it can be conquered."

My thoughts: I didn't really get on that well with this book. I definitely applaud Black for writing it - for having the courage and ability to give it a go and write about her own story. However, I felt like the blending of her own story with research wasn't super effective. I felt like there wasn't a logical pattern or flow that I could follow, so whenever she switched between a info about her own life to research, it didn't always feel seamless or even make a lot of sense to me.

I deal with anxiety myself, and I did get a little bit out of this book from certain parts, but mostly I felt like I didn't really connect that much to Black's experience. Partly I think this is because my anxiety isn't as severe as hers is (or as specific to certain things) and so I found it hard to identify with her, but there was also parts where Black would talk about teasing her brother or pinching him cruelly, and I just felt disassociated from all of that instantly. I don't doubt that her writing probably would connect with someone who has had a similar experience of anxiety, but for me it just kind of fell flat a little - though I did gain kind of a perverse joy from feeling like I wasn't as messed up as I thought I might be.

I felt like some parts of this book could have used a bit more editing, and that the layout of the book would have been better served by identifying specific chapters on anxiety research and then identifying chapters which were memoir-based. Reading this book did encourage me to write a list of things I was scared of, which was very important for me, but otherwise I just didn't feel like I got a lot out of it (of course, I have some experience with research on anxiety and depression, so that could have played a part!).

Overall, I think read this if the synopsis really appeals to you, but I don't think I will be reading this again.

{I received a review copy of this book from Hachette in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!}

A favourite line from the book: "A problem shared, when that problem is anxiety, really is a problem halved. To hear the fears of others, especially when they mirror your own, is to step out of the shadows. You are not alone. You are not a freak. You are human, that is all.
Just don't spend too much time with the arseholes."

You would like this book if: You have dealt with anxiety for a long time and relate to Black's story.

Tea to drink while reading this book: Something super calming, perhaps a nice chamomile?

Rating:  6/10

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