Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Menopause Moi Book Review–Some Nerve by Patty Chang Anker

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Book Review B-FB-T
Image courtesy of foto76 at

I have wanted to start a book review for a while. However, my To Be Read list is overwhelming. Where to begin? Given that this blog is about midlife, I decided to make that my focus. Not necessarily books on the subject, though some might be, but books written by women who are here (or almost).

I selected Some Nerve as it resonates with how I currently feel. In this book, the author details how she set out to overcome her own fears in order to become a better role model for her daughters. As part of the process, she encountered others on a similar path, whose stories she also shares.

The writing style is easy to read – friendly, approachable and relatable. Ms. Anker shares her own thoughts and experiences of conquering fear with self-deprecating humour, while handling the challenges of others, as they struggle with their own phobias, with empathy and compassion.

Indeed, from the outset, it seemed Ms. Anker was talking directly to me. On the second page, she writes “I was not only afraid of failing, but I was afraid of the fear I would feel while trying not to fail. Afraid of feeling fear itself.”

These two sentences perfectly capture what my own, ever-diminishing world seems to be. Stuck, imprisoned by fear, afraid of almost everything. I wanted to know there was an escape, from someone who had faced her fears and lived to tell the tale.

A quick scan of the contents revealed that the book addresses common fears that people have – death and public speaking – as well as two, very specific, fears of my own – driving and falling. I was hooked.

However, after the first few chapters, despite being inspired by what I was reading, I wondered Where are the how-to’s? Where were the step-by-step instructions that would guide me to fearlessness?

This was to be my one criticism of the book. That there was no roadmap for me to follow. However, I continued reading and by the end, I was enlightened. There can be no step-by-step, one-size-fits-all solution to surmounting what we fear.

The bottom line is that we can only beat our fears by doing what it is we are afraid of (a caveat here with fear of death!). There are many ways to get to that point, and we must each find our own. I suspect the reasons behind our trepidation, the Whys, come into play as we try to defeat it.

People share many of the same fears, which is good to know; to realize we are not alone in what scares us. Some Nerve also shows us that slaying dragons single-handedly is the stuff of myths and saints. As Ms. Anker, and the others she portrays in the book show, we are more likely to succeed if we enlist help in taking on our demons.

I have not yet become brave, but I am inspired. I learned something new in my struggle to expand my life back out beyond my fear (I was not always this timid). And, with this new-found knowledge, I have begun to search out my own cheerleaders to help me do so.

Finally, Some Nerve teaches us is that, out beyond what frightens us, is fun – the adrenaline rush, a sense of accomplishment, confidence, growth. Fear, and the courage to be brave is the means to that end. If you feel as I did, mired in dread, check out Some Nerve! It may be just the boost you need!


  1. Patty and her book are incredible. She has become an entire movement, encouraging and inspiring people to get the nerve and just do it! She's inspired me in more ways than I could say and has taken the time to be like a mentor. Kicking my butt!!! Great review and nice looking blog, Donna.

    1. Yes Cathy, from her writing she struck me as someone who is kind and encouraging. I loved her sense of humour. She has inspired me also. I'm hoping to write about some of my overcome fears before too much longer! Thanks for the comment re: the blog - Katie P's work!

  2. oh lawd...I need to find some cheerleaders! (Actually, I'm not afraid of much--I've spent the past 20 years standing up in front of teenagers.)

    1. Kirby, I think we need cheerleaders, no matter what we're doing! I'm sure standing up in front of teenagers does indeed make you fearless, though! Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Apparently someone dropped me off the side of a boat when I was a toddler. I've been afraid of water ever since. That doesn't mean I'm not drawn to water. We live at the beach and I like cruises, but I never learned how to swim and never go near the deep end. Good review!

    1. Wow! Yes, I can see that an experience like that would stick with you. I can relate to what you mean about being drawn to water, however. I am not a strong swimmer, but love being in or beside water.