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40 Books to Read Before Turning 40

The manual for making your first four decades the most joyful, wise and stress-free of your life.
Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety
Photo: Ben Goldstein/Studio D

Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety

224 pages; Simon & Schuster
There's nothing funny about an anxiety so crippling that it takes only 30 seconds to turn a minor mistake at work into a potential disaster involving unemployment, homelessness, and death. And yet you'll laugh out loud many times during Daniel Smith's Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety—as when he says his wrung-out 23-year-old self resembled "Nixon resigning the presidency," or when he calls his anxiety a "drama queen of the mind." In the time-honored tradition of leavening pathos with humor, Smith has managed to create a memoir that doesn't entirely let him off the hook for bad behavior (is one's mother the source of every problem?) but promotes understanding of the similarly afflicted. (Who knew there were two kinds of sufferers: the stiflers and the chaotics?) Now, if only he had revealed the full name of the psychologist whose tough-love approach turned out to be the best medicine. What if the worst does happen, Smith had asked the good doctor; what if I do end up dead in a Dumpster? "Well," the therapist responded cheerily, "at least then you won't be anxious anymore!"
— Sara Nelson

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