Some Nerve: Lessons Learned While Becoming Brave

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Some Nerve: Lessons Learned While Becoming Brave
368 pages; Riverhead Hardcover
The Gist: Patty Chang Anker was raised by Chinese immigrants whose favorite phrase was xiao xin or "be careful, small heart." Now 40, with two adopted girls of her own, Anker felt as if, "given my nervous nature, my bookish upbringing, my midlife responsibilities, and boundless propensity for tripping and falling and hurting myself, my comfort zone was less a zone and more a skittish zigzag from car to coffee shop to supermarket to office to sofa to fridge to bed, where I lay awake worrying." She decides to challenge herself; first, by learning how to dive off a diving board—then, she pushes herself to tackle the rest of her fears, from throwing away clutter to riding a bicycle. Does she conquer them all? No. But she does confront them—and motivates her friends in the process, including the one who is afraid of driving. Reading her challenges is downright inspiring—once you get past her standing on a ledge.

Surfing Revelation We All Need to Have: "In the space between waves, we have choices. To jump, to dive, to ride, to play. To face what's coming without running away."

Advice from a Chinese Mother That We All Need to Follow: "If you dream of falling, you're growing."