The best books to reduce anxiety about uncertainty

Who am I?

All of these books come with elements of uncertainty and risk – it takes heroism (or stupidity) to tackle them head-on. Fantasy and Science Fiction are nice settings for it – authors can and have conjured up situations that we possibly couldn’t tackle in the real world – but their solutions are often very much what we would go with in the real world. Besides, anxiety creates problems. The more we have anxious, unprepared people – the more problems we get – which is why it should be important to learn everything one can about uncertainty, heroics (and not the pathological kind), and risk.

I wrote...

Eysin - ACE 301 - Not Quite the Gladiator

By Silvi Simberg,

Book cover of Eysin - ACE 301 - Not Quite the Gladiator

What is my book about?

How to survive as a stray on a fractured Earth, 300 years in the future? In a world with giant underearth worms building Temples for humans, and automated quarantine – and anti-flight swarms of Eesian drones limiting when and how humans move. Crisis brought back raiders and pirates to the seas and the roads. Warlords are having a blast hunting the worms, raiding the temples for their powerful technology, and threatening to spread through the busiest trade routes like a plague.

Eysin, a stray from Reval gets involved with a local security guild studying Eesian tech. The guild is promising to be powerful enough to help the region stand against any raiders, pirates, and warlords – yet, problems with the closest people steal all their attention.

The books I picked & why

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By Frank Herbert,

Book cover of Dune

Why this book?

My mother was a huge fan of the bookso, I had access to that universe very early on through the book, movies, game. It was my first exposure to science fiction, and much of it stuck. I found especially handy how simple the structuring of the story was, how the author lays out dialogue vs. description. The universe seems complex, yet it is made simply so by not adding too much hard science-fiction style nerd-stuff (or none at all, to my mind 2the lore" is very tastefully done)yet, there is not enough romance to my taste, and belonging to a great royal lineage and being schooled by high-class sorcerers isn't exactly relatablebut the story is an epic, and it is not supposed to.

The Witcher: A Grain of Truth

By Jacek Rembis, Jonas Scharf (illustrator), Jose Villarrubia (illustrator)

Book cover of The Witcher: A Grain of Truth

Why this book?

Since I have been thinking in the direction of creating an RPG/Action/Adventure game out of the universe that I'm baking, I picked up something that has already achieved that (note: that's before the fancy TV series came out). Witcher is a messy book, and I'm not exactly in love with the characters (except for the vampire), yet, it is hard to put down. The events unfolding with and around the characters are... well, eventful, and the questions the author manages to bring up in my head need answers. The complex universe is complexly donethe lore is rich with earthen mysteriessuppose, Polish folklore and such attempts of folklore honoring or revival, to my mind, seem like an interesting thing to doit is the untapped power of exoticism. I mean, aren't we all worn out by the most common, comic-book revived characters from the Greek Pantheon, Viking Mythology, or most used tropes and archetypes of Christianity? I mean, they are great, but they stopped feeling "fresh" a long while ago... In local folklore, there is a lot of "old" that can be used to bring up something "Fresh" without having to really invent anything sketchy.

The Gunslinger: The Dark Tower I

By Stephen King,

Book cover of The Gunslinger: The Dark Tower I

Why this book?

King is a true master when it comes to simplicity and clarity. He writes as much as if he gets paid by page, and sometimes I would wonder, couldn't this have been presented with fewer words? Yet, for most of the time when I read, there were no words – the picture was just running! Loved the mixed-up themes in the world a cowboy knight, barren landscapes, a mystery man in black, and vivid companions for the adventure.

Pippi Longstocking

By Astrid Lindgren, Lauren Child (illustrator),

Book cover of Pippi Longstocking

Why this book?

What an incredible character she is read as an adult, she's inhuman, really like a sort of a jester, or a demon with a flaming head. It's a children's book and reading it didn't require straining the brain at all but there were the occasional emotional moments (really grim ones at that), which made me put down the book and meditate on "what the fuck just happened?" Pippi is a treasure I find her way more interesting as a character than say, Alice (of the Wonderland) yet only the latter gets movies and games made out of her and the wonderland universe (and even so, they still leave out the good funky parts 😋).

Incerto: Fooled by Randomness, The Black Swan, The Bed of Procrustes, Antifragile, Skin in the Game

By Nassim Nicholas Taleb,

Book cover of Incerto: Fooled by Randomness, The Black Swan, The Bed of Procrustes, Antifragile, Skin in the Game

Why this book?

Incerto, that is Fooled by Randomness, The Black Swan, Antifragile and Skin in the Game (+ Bed of Procrustes, which is a collection of very smart aphorisms) are not exactly fiction, but maestro added fiction into it anyway. Nero, Fat Tony, Jevgenia demonstrate on unrelated occasions how the ideas and properties (found in the "real world" discussed in the book would unfold. The overall theme of the book, however, discusses risk - risk-taking. And believe it or not, risk exists in all domains of life, hence, using this book to meditate on it deeply made me appreciate... It made me appreciate life, and all things in life  more than I used to. It might sound like a lot, and it is... If there is just one non-fiction book you will read, make it Taleb's Incerto.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in anxiety, good and evil, and galactic empires?

5,309 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about anxiety, good and evil, and galactic empires.

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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Kissing Hand, The Concept of Anxiety: A Simple Psychologically Oriented Deliberation in View of the Dogmatic Problem of Hereditary Sin, and Changes That Heal: Four Practical Steps to a Happier, Healthier You if you like this list.