The best books about fear

9 authors have picked their favorite books about fear and why they recommend each book.

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Small Animals

By Kim Brooks,

Book cover of Small Animals: Parenthood in the Age of Fear

On the opposite end of the crime continuum from A Mother’s Reckoning, this deeply researched personal narrative explores how the smallest missteps – leaving a child briefly alone in a vehicle in a public parking lot – can lead to a domino effect of potentially catastrophic outcomes for a mother figure, in this case, saved only by her white middle-class status. I’ve witnessed first-hand through personal experience and my husband’s work in the criminal justice system how communities rush to judge and persecute mothers for the smallest infractions.

Small Animals

By Kim Brooks,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Small Animals as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One cool spring morning, Kim Brooks made a split-second decision to leave her four-year-old son in the car while she ran into a store. What happened would consume the next several years of her life and ultimately motivated her to begin writing about the broader subject of parenthood and fear. In Small Animals, Brooks asks, Of all the emotions inherent in parenting, is there any more universal or profound than fear? To be a parent is to be afraid. And yet, the objects and intensity of our fear vary based on culture, temperament, and the historical moment in which we…

Who am I?

I wear many aprons. I am a writer; a professor of creative writing and literature; a mother to five children – daughters and sons; the wife of a criminal defense attorney; and the daughter of therapists. I read and write at the intersection of these influences: crime, motherhood, and psychology. When I teach children’s literature, I lean toward the Brothers Grimm. Childhood is grittier – more suspenseful – when we darken the stories. The same is true of motherhood. Nobody wants to read about a perfect mother, especially when mothers spend so much of our psychic energy worried about our children in the forms of violence, illness, and death. I prefer to seek out books that complicate the otherwise pristine stories of our lives we pretend to tell.


I wrote...

The Motherhood Affidavits: A Memoir

By Laura Jean Baker,

Book cover of The Motherhood Affidavits: A Memoir

What is my book about?

With the birth of her first child, soon-to-be professor Laura Jean Baker finds herself electrified by oxytocin, the “love hormone”—the first effective antidote to her lifelong depression. Over the next eight years, her “oxy” cravings, and her family, only grow—to the dismay of her husband, Ryan, a freelance public defender. As her reckless baby-making threatens her family’s middle–class existence, Baker identifies more and more with Ryan’s legal clients, often drug-addled fellow citizens of Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Is she any less desperate for her next fix?

Baker is in an impossible bind: The same drive that sustains her endangers her family; the cure is also the disease. She explores this all–too–human paradox by threading her story through those of her local counterparts who’ve run afoul of the law—like Rob McNally, the lovable junkie who keeps resurfacing in Ryan’s life.

Scaredy Squirrel

By Mélanie Watt,

Book cover of Scaredy Squirrel

This book is adorable and hilarious. It takes worries to the nth degree which can help children realize they are not the only ones filled with anxiety. Scaredy Squirrell thinks about the pros and cons of taking risks and eventually figures out a way to get what he wants in spite of his worries. I think this is really helpful to teach coping skills. Anxiety doesn’t always go away but we can learn tools to deal with it. 

Both my daughter and I have issues with anxiety except I didn’t know I had it too until I started trying to help her navigate her fears. This book was a fun way to laugh about both of our aversions to taking risks.

Scaredy Squirrel

By Mélanie Watt,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Scaredy Squirrel as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Who am I?

I'm not really an expert on anxiety other than being an adult who suffers from it. I thought I was normal and everyone felt the way I did until I started looking for books to help my daughter with her panic attacks and I realized I have it too! I've since been diagnosed and lead a pretty great life with the help of therapy and medication. What parents share with their children during nightly story reading or on the couch to read a few books is very bonding and intimate. I think that's the best time for kids to ask their parents questions and share their emotions. My goal is to help those conversations happen.


I wrote...

It's Not About You, Little Hoo!

By Brenda Ponnay,

Book cover of It's Not About You, Little Hoo!

What is my book about?

This is a story of a little anxious owl who thinks everything is his fault. His friends run off, he thinks they don’t like him, his bike doesn’t work, he thinks he’s a bad bike rider, he gets picked last for the soccer team, he feels rejected… but his father, Papa Hoo, tells him gently why each scenario is actually not about him at all. His friends had to go home for dinner, his bike needed a tune-up, and somebody has to get picked last. Not everything is personal. 

As an adult I was excluded accidentally from a group trip and it hurt my feelings. The more I sat with these feelings, I realized they came from childhood feelings of being left out. I wrote this children’s book to help other anxious people like me. 

My Friend Fear

By Meera Lee Patel,

Book cover of My Friend Fear: Finding Magic in the Unknown

One of the challenges of running an online teaching business is starting on the path of the unknown. I’ve had to face many fears on my journey, some of them are so well-masked that it took years to understand what they are. These fears have held me back. That’s why I appreciate reading Meera’s reflections on fear, how to befriend it and see it as an indication for growth. Beautifully written and illustrated, this book is a delight to hold in your hands, and I believe its message will gently guide you towards a life of overcoming your fears so you can journey into a new land of entrepreneurship with more curiosity and confidence.

My Friend Fear

By Meera Lee Patel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked My Friend Fear as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Who am I?

The start of my own online teaching business in 2010 felt both liberating and frustrating. I enjoyed working for myself but struggled to make my offers unique, attractive, sustainable, and successful. I had no idea how to make my voice heard in the highly-saturated and fast-growing online teaching industry. Following the advice of famous online business gurus, I lost track of what I wanted my business to accomplish and burned out following every online teaching trend there was. The books I’ve selected helped me align with my own vision and values, inspired me to overcome my limitations and succeed on my own terms.


I wrote...

Grounded Growth: Sustainable and Profitable Online Teaching Business On Your Own Terms

By Elena Mutonono,

Book cover of Grounded Growth: Sustainable and Profitable Online Teaching Business On Your Own Terms

What is my book about?

Grounded Growth is a book for online language teachers and coaches who struggle to make their businesses profitable and their 1:1 client work sustainable. When most of your income comes from client work, you find yourself exhausted and anxious about the future of your business, as client numbers may fluctuate.

Grounded Growth shows to you, in detail, how sustainability and profitability work in an online language teaching business, what stifles growth, how money shame can sabotage your success, and what action steps you need to take in order to make your business healthy on your own terms. Find detailed examples, budget templates, and new teaching formats that work for any small and budget-conscious online teaching business.

Book cover of Feel the Fear...and Beyond: Mastering the Techniques for Doing It Anyway

Another thing that prevents people from treating themselves well is fear. Jeffers’ first book (Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway) is a classic for working through worries and anxieties. I usually recommend this book instead because it has more practical activities and suggestions for managing fear. When you do, you boost your self-confidence, your self-esteem, and your self-worth.

Feel the Fear...and Beyond

By Susan Jeffers,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Feel the Fear...and Beyond as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Who am I?

As a life coach and author of two dozen self-help books, I’ve spent the past twenty years helping people treat themselves better. Doing so is fundamental to personal growth and making real, purposeful change. When you fully appreciate yourself and treat yourself well, you will feel so much better! You will be in a much stronger position to overcome challenges, achieve your goals, and get more out of life. 


I wrote...

Self-Worth Essentials: A Workbook to Understand Yourself, Accept Yourself, Like Yourself, Respect Yourself, Be Confident, Enjoy Yourself, and Love Yourself

By Liisa Kyle,

Book cover of Self-Worth Essentials:  A Workbook to Understand Yourself, Accept Yourself, Like Yourself, Respect Yourself, Be Confident, Enjoy Yourself, and Love Yourself

What is my book about?

Self-esteem is how you see yourself. Self-worth is how you value yourself. Helping people improve how they view themselves has been a fundamental step in my coaching practice over the past twenty years.  I've devised practical techniques to improve people's self-perceptions and self-esteem.  I've designed this workbook to guide you through the seven essential phases of improving your self-worth. This book is for you if you would like to understand yourself better, accept those things you like least about yourself, like yourself more, treat yourself better, improve your self-confidence, find new ways to enjoy being you, and learn to love yourself. Yes, you are worth it.

Suffering

By Paul David Tripp,

Book cover of Suffering: Gospel Hope When Life Doesn't Make Sense

Sometimes life doesn’t go as we’d hoped or expected; sometimes it’s filled with layers of difficulty and struggle, and sometimes it’s flipped upside down with tragedy. And I’ve experienced all three. Out of nowhere, death, illness, job loss, etc, can change our lives and challenge our view of God, ourselves, and the world. But despite all the pain, confusion, and disappointment, we have hope.

Paul David Tripp wrote with personal experience about how we can learn to trust God in the midst of suffering. He’s helped me cling to God's promises in my trials, face my pain with honesty, and persevere with the hope of the gospel.

Suffering

By Paul David Tripp,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Suffering as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Best-selling author Paul David Tripp weaves together his personal story, years of counseling experience, and biblical insights to help us in the midst of suffering, identifying 6 traps to avoid and 6 comforts to embrace.


Who am I?

I believe the Bible is God’s Word, that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, and that he loves us. But after enduring years of physical, mental, and emotional pain, special needs in one of our children, two job losses, and a degenerative ankle, I’ve struggled to understand why he’s allowed it. Over the years, God has been teaching me that there is more to our suffering than meets the eye. And what we see as pointless, God promises to redeem and use for his good purposes. As I’ve grown to trust Jesus, he’s changed me, and given me comfort, hope, and joy in the midst of my sorrows. 


I wrote...

Hope When It Hurts: Biblical Reflections to Help You Grasp God's Purpose in Your Suffering

By Kristen Wetherell, Sarah Walton,

Book cover of Hope When It Hurts: Biblical Reflections to Help You Grasp God's Purpose in Your Suffering

What is my book about?

Sarah and Kristen have walked through, and are walking in, difficult times. So these thirty biblical reflections are full of realism about the hurts of life—yet overwhelmingly full of hope about the God who gives life.

This book will gently encourage and greatly help anyone who is struggling with suffering—whether physical, emotional, or psychological, and whether for a season or for longer. It is a book to buy for yourself or to buy for a member of your church or friend. For anyone who is hurting, this book will give hope, not just for life beyond the suffering, but for life in the suffering. Each chapter contains a biblical reflection, with questions and prayers, and a space for journaling.

I'm a Shark

By Bob Shea,

Book cover of I'm a Shark

Shark is a totally awesome shark. And that must mean he isn’t afraid of anything, right? Right! Shark is not scared of dinosaurs or bears or the dark! He loves talking about how fearless he is (after making sure there are no spiders nearby.) Shark and I have one thing in common, and I’m not going to say what it is, but… can someone tell me if there’s a spider nearby? (Run away!!) Cartoon-y and super fun illustrations help make this a very enjoyable, hysterical read-aloud! 

I'm a Shark

By Bob Shea,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I'm a Shark as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Shark's not afraid of anything. The dark? Nah. A big mean bear? Don't make him laugh! But there is one thing that even Shark fears...Can you guess what it is?

Who am I?

I’ve worked with kids in preschools and elementary schools, (plus I’m a mom!) and to me, nothing is better than hearing kids laugh. I also just adore picture books and treasure my personal library, with its focus on (you guessed it!) humor. Sassy cats, bears who want to have kids for pets, chickens who interrupt, alphabets overrun by frustrated Zebras, picture books bravely go where other books might only tiptoe in a cowardly fashion—into the world of wild imagination and anthropomorphized everything. With amazing artwork!! Let’s be honest, I’ll choose funny picture books over War and Peace every time.


I wrote...

Tiny Spoon vs. Little Fork

By Constance Lombardo, Dan Abdo (illustrator), Jason Patterson (illustrator)

Book cover of Tiny Spoon vs. Little Fork

What is my book about?

Tiny Spoon vs. Little Fork is a tale of the epic battle between two spirited utensils who vie to be the MVP of baby-feeding (and get some help from big-hearted, ear-chewed Bubby Wabbit and a very frantic Clock along the way.) Comic-book style illustrations by the amazing creative duo Dan & Jason make this book extra-super hysterical. A perfect choice for new parents, babies, children with siblings, kids who love comics, or anyone who wants to relive the fun of feeding baby! It’s also a great story for teachers and caregivers who want to encourage teamwork and impart the joys of shared goals. 

The Doghouse

By Jan Thomas,

Book cover of The Doghouse

The Doghouse reads like a suspense-filled horror movie, with all the scariness centered around…the mysterious Doghouse! Adorable animals are playing together when their ball rolls into the doghouse. Oh, no! Well, someone has to go get it. But who in the world is brave enough? After Mouse convinces Cow, Pig, and Duck to go in, he is the last creature standing. Will Mouse summon the nerve to find out what’s going on in there? Boldly rendered and charming illustrations make this book extra-appealing. The cover featuring a mouse in a Home-Alone type face-clutching pose was enough to sell me, but come inside and see what’s really happening in…The Doghouse! 

The Doghouse

By Jan Thomas,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Doghouse as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Mouse, Pig, Cow, and Duck are playing a carefree game of ball when (horror of horrors!) their ball gets kicked into . . . THE DOGHOUSE. Who will risk a run-in with scary Dog to get it back? Hysterical high anxiety ensues as Mouse volunteers each animal to do the dirty work - but you'll never believe what's really going on in the doghouse!

With Jan Thomas's fun, fresh art and priceless animal expressions, this timeless tale of fear and friendship will have young readers howling.

Who am I?

I’ve worked with kids in preschools and elementary schools, (plus I’m a mom!) and to me, nothing is better than hearing kids laugh. I also just adore picture books and treasure my personal library, with its focus on (you guessed it!) humor. Sassy cats, bears who want to have kids for pets, chickens who interrupt, alphabets overrun by frustrated Zebras, picture books bravely go where other books might only tiptoe in a cowardly fashion—into the world of wild imagination and anthropomorphized everything. With amazing artwork!! Let’s be honest, I’ll choose funny picture books over War and Peace every time.


I wrote...

Tiny Spoon vs. Little Fork

By Constance Lombardo, Dan Abdo (illustrator), Jason Patterson (illustrator)

Book cover of Tiny Spoon vs. Little Fork

What is my book about?

Tiny Spoon vs. Little Fork is a tale of the epic battle between two spirited utensils who vie to be the MVP of baby-feeding (and get some help from big-hearted, ear-chewed Bubby Wabbit and a very frantic Clock along the way.) Comic-book style illustrations by the amazing creative duo Dan & Jason make this book extra-super hysterical. A perfect choice for new parents, babies, children with siblings, kids who love comics, or anyone who wants to relive the fun of feeding baby! It’s also a great story for teachers and caregivers who want to encourage teamwork and impart the joys of shared goals. 

The Journey Beyond Fear

By John Hagel III,

Book cover of The Journey Beyond Fear: Leverage the Three Pillars of Positivity to Build Your Success

The Journey Beyond Fear is an outstanding work that provides both an understanding and a framework for creating a workplace that is productive and positive. Hagel continues his lifelong research with an entrepreneurial perspective that offers strategic advice for teams and organizations. He lays out a framework that emphasizes the need for productivity and positive human emotions. He underscores that fear-based work is counterproductive, and he illustrates the importance of positive emotion by sharing applicable behaviors and outlining specific ways of creating value from narratives, passion, and platforms.

The Journey Beyond Fear

By John Hagel III,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Journey Beyond Fear as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Conquer your fear, achieve your potential, and make a positive difference in the lives of everyone around you

Whether you're running a business, building a career, raising a family, or attending school, uncertainty has been the name of the game for years-and the feeling reached an all-time high when COVID-19 hit. Even the savviest, smartest, toughest people are understandably feeling enormous pressure and often feeling paralyzed by fear.

The Journey Beyond Fear provides everything you need to identify your fears, face your fears, move beyond your fears-and cultivate emotions that motivate you to pursue valuable business opportunities, realize your full…

Who are we?

The three co-authors of The Smart Mission: NASA’s Lessons for Managing Knowledge, People, and Projects have been at the center of organizational and leadership transformation. Dr. Ed Hoffman was NASA’s first Chief Knowledge Officer and the founding Director of the NASA Academy of Program, Project, and Engineering Leadership (APPEL). Matthew Kohut is the managing partner of KNP Communications. He has prepared executives, elected leaders, diplomats, scientists, and public figures for events ranging from television appearances to TED talks. Laurence Prusak was the founder and executive director of the IBM Institute for Knowledge Management and one of the founding partners for the Ernst and Young Center for Business Innovation.


We wrote...

The Smart Mission: NASA’s Lessons for Managing Knowledge, People, and Projects

By Edward J. Hoffman, Matthew Kohut, Laurence Prusak

Book cover of The Smart Mission: NASA’s Lessons for Managing Knowledge, People, and Projects

What is our book about?

At NASA, people say, “You come for the mission and stay for the people.” This is the essence of a “smart mission.” It begins with understanding the importance of both the mission and the human element. 

We recognize the project as the basic unit of work in many industries and organizations. Software applications, antiviral vaccines, and spacecraft are all produced by teams and managed as projects. Project management traditionally emphasizes control, processes, and tools—but human skills and expertise, not technical tools, are the keys to project success. Projects run on knowledge. This paradigm-shifting book—by three experts with decades of experience at NASA and elsewhere—challenges the conventional wisdom on project management by focusing on intangibles: knowledge, learning, collaboration, teaming, story, and culture.

Death as a Way of Life

By David Grossman, Haim Watzman (translator),

Book cover of Death as a Way of Life: From Oslo to the Geneva Agreement

In novels and non-fiction, Israeli author David Grossman has spent much of his career writing about the failed struggle for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. This series of essays, written over a period of years, chronicles moments of good will and hope on both sides, constantly undermined by sectarian passion and extremist opposition to peace. 

Death as a Way of Life

By David Grossman, Haim Watzman (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Death as a Way of Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Who am I?

I have spent my working life as a journalist, author and storyteller, aiming to uncover complexity that sheds new light on stories we think we know. I got my training at the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times—and from the wonderful editors of my twelve books. An Innocent Bystander, my book that deals with the Middle East, began as the story of a hijacking and a murder of an American citizen. But as my research widened, I came to see this story couldn’t be told without understanding many perspectives, including the Israeli and the Palestinian, nor could the political be disentangled from the personal.


I wrote...

An Innocent Bystander: The Killing of Leon Klinghoffer

By Julie Salamon, Julie Salamon,

Book cover of An Innocent Bystander: The Killing of Leon Klinghoffer

What is my book about?

My book is about the 1985 hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro and the killing of Leon Klinghoffer, a disabled American passenger. His murder became a historic flashpoint for the intractable struggle between Israelis and Palestinians and gave Americans a horrifying preview of what it means when terrorism hits home. An Innocent Bystander began as the story of that shattering moment and what it meant to the world and to the Klinghoffers, an American-Jewish family. As I learned more, the book’s scope widened, to investigate the tragic reverberations for the wives and sons of the Palestinian mastermind behind the hijacking.

Running through the core of my book lies the painful history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Through the stories of these families, An Innocent Bystander illuminates the complex web of personal and historic grievances that lay behind the geopolitics of a region that remains in turmoil.

Book cover of Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway

This is a book I read almost thirty years ago after struggling with confidence following a street attack in my teens. I still dip in and out of it today, albeit for very different guidance.

It may seem strange to some that I have picked books that put so much emphasis on ‘mind-work’ to help one achieve the goal of not only enjoying work so much they leap out of bed in the morning to it, but that also provides an abundant living. Yet, my years of successes and failures have taught me that the mind is the missing link in doing so.

I love the work I do and the life that it affords, and I would love for that to be your experience, too.

Enjoy my picks.

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway

By Susan Jeffers,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Internationally renowned author, Susan Jeffers, has helped millions of people around the globe to overcome their fears and heal the pain in their lives. Such fears may include:

Public speaking; Asserting yourself; Making decisions; Intimacy; Changing jobs; Being alone; Ageing; Driving; Losing a loved one; Ending a relationship.

But whatever your anxieties, Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway will give you the insight and tools to vastly improve your ability to handle any given situation. You will learn to live your life the way you want - so you can move from a place of pain, paralysis and depression…


Who am I?

I have been fascinated by human potential for as long as I can remember. As a youth, my passion manifested in physical skills, pursuing a career in professional tennis, then in martial arts, for example. In my twenties, my interest included the mental and ‘spiritual’ side of life, too. Later, a young family needing to be fed forced me to consider yet another area of life to ‘master’: work and business. With so much of our lives spent in the workplace (a third), it seemed the perfect environment to test all that I had learnt about pushing the boundaries of human potential; mind, body, emotions, and spirit.


I wrote...

How to be a Buddhist Millionaire: 9 practical steps to being happy in a materialist world

By Matt Jardine,

Book cover of How to be a Buddhist Millionaire: 9 practical steps to being happy in a materialist world

What is my book about?

Matt Jardine, award-winning author, podcaster, martial arts teacher, and entrepreneur, has spent 20 years seeking the answer to one of life’s conundrums: how to lead an authentic, spiritual and creative life in a relentlessly money-centric world. 

In this insightful book, he brings together Buddhist teachings, spiritual lessons, and the advice and experience of a variety of experts and professionals. With a light touch, he dispels the deep-rooted fears and limiting beliefs that hold us back, and forces us to question the very foundations of our lives and what really matters. How to be a Buddhist Millionaire teaches us that money doesn’t have to be a dirty word, and that if you search for happiness rather than the pot of gold, success is more likely to follow.

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