If you’re freaking out about this whole pandemic, please know I’m thinking about you. To the extent that I can offer comfort from afar, let me share with you the top five secular books that have allayed my fears, not only during these hard times, but in others as well:

1. The Fearless Mind:

  • Description and perspective: This book defines life as a performance–no matter what we do–and most of us as performers overcome with stage fright. Authored by sports psychologist Craig Manning, it’s geared toward teaching you how to beat mediocrity and embrace greatness, but it also helps shine the light on fear’s nonproductive, nonhelpful side.
  • What it says about fear: “When we attend to what may or may not happen in the future, we open the door to fear. Our attention is…directed away from the moment, lowering our ability to make good decisions.” (locat. 294)
  • Book Deal: $5.99 on Thriftbooks.com.

Gifts of Imperfection book cover

2. Gifts of Imperfection

  • Description: You wouldn’t think this self-help book by shame researcher BrenĂ© Brown would offer anything of value about how to handle fear, but read the passage just below, which she wrote in 2010. Boom. Gratitude and joy are still possible, even necessary! Yay!
  • What it says about fear: “These are anxious and fearful times, both of which breed scarcity, We’re afraid to lose what we love the most, and we hate that there are no guarantees. We think not being grateful and not feeling joy will make it hurt less. We think if we can beat vulnerability to the punch by imagining loss, we’ll suffer less. We’re wrong. There is one guarantee: If we’re not practicing gratitude and allowing ourselves to know joy, we are missing out on the two things that will actually sustain us during the…hard times.”
  • Book Deal: $8.99 for paperback on Amazon

How to Stop Overthinking book cover, with a repeated illustrated image of a raccoon playing with a brain in a bowl

3. How to Stop Overthinking

  • Description: This book talks about overcoming fear, particularly as it fits into anxiety or OCD. To the extent, though, that the real fear we may experience during a pandemic resembles the overblown- or illogical-but-still-gripping fears of anxiety or OCD, this book helps because of the practical tips it offers. In fact, the ten tips it offers from locations 517 to 597 may be the most solid of any book on this list.
  • What it says about fear: “Is the need to control…everything really making you feel better? If you answer is no, then take a look at these ways you can control your mind in a positive way. 1) Set a “worry time….”
  • Book Deal: $2.99 on Kindle

Big Magic book cover

4. Big Magic

  • Description: Author Elizabeth Gilbert talks about how to overcome fear to let one’s creativity grow, but her lessons about fear apply to fear of anything, I think.
  • What it says about fear: “I figured out that everyone’s song of fear has exactly the same tedious lyric: “STOP!” True, the volume may vary from person to person, but the song itself never changes because all of us humans were equipped with the same basic fear package when we were being knitted in our mothers’ wombs. But there’s nothing particularly compelling about that. You don’t get any special credit, is what I’m saying, for knowing how to be afraid of the unknown. Fear is a deeply ancient instinct…and an evolutionarily vital one…but it ain’t especially smart.”
  • Book Deal: Audiobook for $7.49 on Amazon.

Emotional Alchemy book cover

5. Emotional Alchemy

  • Description: According to author Tara Bennett-Goleman, we all have the natural ability to turn our moments of confusion or emotional pain into insightful clarity. This book teaches ways to do that, replace fear with empathy for ourselves and others through mindfulness.
  • What it says about fear: “Ordinary fears [can] escalate out of control, in what’s called catastrophizing. Of course, worrying can be adaptive when it moves us to take safeguards or prepare ourselves for a real risk. But the worry habit becomes dysfunctional when it continues well past the point of getting us prepared for a true problem, when it generalizes.”
  • Book deal: $3.98 on BetterWorldBooks.com.

Hope these help!

Are there any other books that you’ve found helpful in handling fear? Let me know in the comments!

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  1. […] week, I shared with you some books on how to not be scared. I know a lot of you are at least nervous or shaken, if not downright quivering in your boots with […]

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