"Given my druthers," Patricia Pearson begins her insightful, entirely readable and relatable psychological memoir, A Brief History of Anxiety: Yours and Mine
(Bloomsbury), "I would prefer not to be afraid of the following: phone bills, ovarian cancer, black bears, climate change, walking on golf courses at night, being blundered into by winged insects; unseemly heights, running out of gas, having the mole on my back that I can feel, but not see, secretly morph into a malignant melanoma." With generous amounts of humor and courage, Pearson chronicles her own battle with anxiety and its triggers (heartbreak, job loss, the flu pandemic, 9/11) while investigating what makes 21st-century American culture the most anxious in the world. She questions why we have chosen prescription drugs over the insights of our greatest poets, philosophers, and theologians (many of whom were hospitalized for acute anxiety themselves), and ultimately gathers the courage to make her own leap, off Effexor and into faith. "Dare to be irrational," she urges us, "(because guess what? you already are) and wager that your life has a purpose, a meaning, an overarching story. And imagine within yourself a light or spark or Lord that will show you the way."
— Pam Houston