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Staff Review: My Age of Anxiety

Originally posted on Saturday, 03 May 2014 at ROPL.org.

By Scott Stossel
Narrated by Michael Goldstrom
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Review by Sarah Nagelbush, Adult Librarian

Are you prone to anxiety? Depression? Phobias, manias and the like? Do you live with someone who is? Most people suffer from anxiety (of one degree or another) or know someone who does (friend, family member, coworker) and while My Age of Anxiety won’t help you overcome your anxiety, it will help in other ways. This review is for the audio book version (we also own the print version).

Scott Stossel has anxiety. He also has depression, a lot of phobias and other health issues. My Age of Anxietyis about all of those, but it’s not just a book about Stossel’s health. Instead, it’s a book about what it’s like to have anxiety (and similar/related health issues). It’s also about the history of anxiety (and, to a large extent, psychology, psychiatry and the mental health drug industry as a whole). Stossel gives us lessons on what it means to have anxiety within the context of the history of anxiety. He relates the lives of famous people throughout history who suffered from (sometimes this is just a guess, sometimes it’s based on fact) anxiety to one degree or another.

This makes for an interesting read (or in my case, listen). The way Stossel can weave his own experiences into the history of anxiety means that you never feel like you’re being lectured to. That’s part of what makes this book so good. But the real reason is that it reminds those of us with anxiety that we’re not alone and that, perhaps, anxiety is not something to be ashamed of. It reminds us that some of the greatest people in the world most likely suffered from anxiety. Stossel also talks about treatments and how to live with anxiety. For non-sufferers, it gives them a window into what it’s like having anxiety.

Michael Goldstrom does a superb job of bringing Stossel’s book to life. I had to remind myself that it wasn’t Stossel narrating, because his style of writing made me forget that someone else was doing the read. I highly recommend it to anyone who suffers from anxiety (though, be aware that there are parts that might make you feel more anxious, but it’s worth it), but also to people who live/work with anxious people. My Age of Anxiety lets you into a world we anxiety-ridden people seldom talk about. You might just learn something!

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