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Apr 6, 2011

"Nerve" Book Review

About the Book:
"Nerves make us bomb job interviews, first dates, and SATs. With a presentation looming at work, fear robs us of sleep for days. It paralyzes seasoned concert musicians and freezes rookie cops in tight situations. And yet not everyone cracks. Soldiers keep their heads in combat; firemen rush into burning buildings; unflappable trauma doctors juggle patient after patient. It's not that these people feel no fear; often, in fact, they're riddled with it.

In Nerve, Taylor Clark draws upon cutting-edge science and painstaking reporting to explore the very heart of panic and poise. Using a wide range of case studies, Clark overturns the popular myths about anxiety and fear to explain why some people thrive under pressure, while others falter-and how we can go forward with steadier nerves and increased confidence."

About the Author:
Taylor Clark is a writer based in Portland, Oregon. A graduate of Dartmouth College and a Pacific Northwest native, he has written for GQ, Slate, and Psychology Today, among other publications.

My Take
When I was a kid, I always got stage-fright before performing. Whether it was a solo in a chorus concert or the lead in a camp play, my stomach would turn into knots. But once I began the performance, my anxiety would dissipate and I would begin to truly enjoy the experience. One time, however, I wasn't fully prepared for a recital. My throat was so dry that even drinking water wasn't helping. I began singing and part way through the song, my voice cracked. It was SO embarrassing, but I basically put the event out of my mind and never let that one experience bring me down.

Many people aren't like that. A case of nerves can cause even the most skilled athletes and performers to freeze and/or play like amateurs. In Nerve: Poise Under Pressure, Serenity Under Stress, and the Brave New Science of Fear and Cool, Taylor Clark writes about the what, when, why and how of fear...and the best ways to counteract it.

Fear is actually a good thing, provided you can harness it. In fact, if you don't feel any fear before a performance or speech, you may not do as well! The object is not to allow fear to take over your brain and body. Working with fear is not difficult, it just takes some practice of the "right" ways to handle it.

I very much enjoyed reading this book. Many times I get part way through a "self-help" book and just stop reading because it's too dry. Nerve reads like a novel at many points, because Taylor gives many stories and examples of how different people have been affected by their nerves...and how they've overcome it.

Cost: You can buy Nerve from Amazon.com for $17.15. ($$$$)

Overall: We give Nerve a 10/10!

We were sent Nerve free of charge for the sole purpose of this review; no other compensation was received. All opinions expressed are my own.

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