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Conquering Fear: Living Boldly in an Uncertain World

3.47  ·  Rating Details  ·  273 Ratings  ·  56 Reviews
From the best-selling author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People, an illuminating book about fear—and what we can do to overcome it.

An inescapable component of our lives, fear comes in many guises: fear of unemployment; fear of aging, illness, losing beauty; fear of a terrorist attack or natural disaster. In uncertain times, coping with these fears can be especially c
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published October 6th 2009 by Knopf (first published 2009)
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Jason Koivu
Oct 03, 2012 Jason Koivu rated it liked it
Though I tend to have allergic reactions to self-help books, I saw Conquering Fear... on the shelves and thought about reading it, then put it back thinking, "What do I need a book about fear for?" A minuscule part of me was also afraid of what people would think if they saw me reading a book about fear. Yes, I feared people would think I harbored some form of fear. "Perhaps I should read this book," I said in defeated resignation.

Conquering Fear: Living Boldly in an Uncertain World follows a li
Feb 20, 2016 Alyssa rated it liked it
Well, maybe I should have read the descriptor of this book before reading it, because it wasn't at all what I was expecting. Still a great book, but I was looking for something more along the lines if helping me conquer my fear in everyday situations/my own self doubt. This book focuses more on the "big" fears in life in general that everyone worries about. Still a great read. I found it comforting. It jis wasn't what I expected.
Mar 03, 2010 Margie rated it liked it
Shelves: religion, society
A quick read. I like Rabbi Kushner's writing, though it's a bit like reading mystery novels by a favorite author; you sort of know what to expect.
This book takes on different types of fears in the various chapters (fear of death, fear of loss of self, etc.). Nothing earth-shattering, but comforting without being platitudinous.
Kevin Orth
Sep 09, 2015 Kevin Orth rated it it was amazing
I am consistently impressed by Rabbi Kushner's ability to situate his writing in the narrow spot among easy reading, deeply insightful, and pearls of wisdom.

This book is among the consistent wonderful reads this wonderful author has offered us. The fact that he is able to accomplish such depth and meaning in concise books further adds to his appeal. Highly recommend.
Oct 19, 2009 Kathy rated it really liked it
As with all of Rabbi Kushner's books, I always find both comfort and inspiration from his writing. While addressing humanity's fear in the 21st century, he has an interesting perspective on issues as varied as technology, aging, terrorism, and rejection. This is definitely a book to be read more than once and one that everyone could find something that relates to their own life.
David Phillips
Jul 02, 2012 David Phillips rated it really liked it
While you might not always agree with this theological framework, Kushner provides words of wisdom for overcoming fear through different periods of life. It is a volume that encourages and inspires, provokes and challenges and causes you to question your own actions. At the same time it provides help for those dealing with uncertainty and fear.
Sep 06, 2014 Wendy rated it it was amazing
I suffer from Anxiety and Depression. I wish I would have read this book years ago and gotten over some of my fears that I've lived with in my lifetime. Also, I love how he weaves his words throughout historical events, human sociology/psychology, religious views of several religions on the topic of fear. I also loved how he used his own personal experiences to relate to the topic and the choices one can select to overcome fears--whether founded or conjured up with worry, anxiety, physical ills ...more
Debra Ham
Sep 20, 2011 Debra Ham rated it liked it
Recommended to Debra by: No one
I thought that this book did a great job at identifying the things in our lives that people typically fear. There could have been more expounding on ways to conquer the fears. At times I felt as though the author was saying "get over it", but of course that doesn't work for everyone. Other times I felt like the author was rambling. There were many points where I thought the chapter was surely going to end and then there was an additional 10 pages in the chapter. So, that alone made this a book a ...more
Aug 10, 2013 Jacqueline rated it it was amazing
I've read many of Kushner's books and I can always recommend them. While I have some qualms about his theology because I have a deep need to both pray for protection and express gratitude for the good things in my life, Kushner's insights still touch and inspire me. Here are some my favorite quotes from this book.
P.162 "Don't let the fear of the unknown rob you of the pleasure of anticipating all the good things that await you."
p. 165 "The alternative to success is discovering that people don't
Andrew S.
Nov 09, 2014 Andrew S. rated it liked it
Written by a rabbi, the book is solidly established on religious beliefs which is not for everyone, and it wasn't for me. But I made myself to read through chapters that offer nothing more than “God is here to help us” and I have to say I still enjoyed this insight into Judaism. The author makes some brilliant nonreligious points along the way and makes a beautiful conclusion what religion is and what it means for him.
Mar 23, 2016 Htb2050 rated it liked it
I didn't know going into this book that it was written by a Rabbi but I was pleasantly surprised. This wasn't a 70 year old Rabbi living in the past but a Rabbi who had kept up with times and knew what he was talking about. Only drawback was that he kept talking occasionally about what he hopes to see in the future or what should people do to bring a change but that might be good in sermons it was of no value in a book.
Apr 01, 2015 Rafael rated it really liked it
Great book! I love how Rabbi Kushner covered various fears that people face and tied it in to faith and the unkown without being "preachy." There are a lot of great quotes and pieces of wisdom throughout the book that I found very helpful and encouraging. It's also a short read, only 173 pages so it didn't take very long to finish. I got a lot out of this book, especially it being a short read.
Christy Terry
Aug 09, 2014 Christy Terry rated it did not like it
Shelves: self-help
Not such a great book for me. Supposed to be about helping with anxiety/fear. Well, if I wasn't already freaking out about terrorism, I am now. Don't read this book if you overly anxious about anything. It just made me worse. Thought it would be a more personal help with fear. Not such a broad history lesson, etc.
Jul 18, 2014 Joe rated it really liked it
Going into this book, I was unprepared for how much of it would be influenced by religious beliefs. I'm not a religious person and am usually turned off by religious text. However, I decided to give the book a chance and was pleasantly surprised. Although I was initially hoping for discussion on smaller fears that were not laced with religious beliefs, I instead was able to absorb a lot of good advice about overcoming big fears. And while the religious bent is off-putting at times, the author wh ...more
Jun 10, 2016 Melissa rated it it was ok
I greatly admire Kushner's humility. He does a fantastic job of dissecting modern fears, presenting them in a kind and thoughtful manner. However, the book was too theological for me to fully relate to it, despite trying my best to the isolate the overall message. I appreciate that this is how Kushner personally relates to readers, though. And, it was extremely refreshing to be presented with theology from such a humble and inquisitive standpoint. There were definitely some gems.
Bobbie N
An easy-to-read, easy-to-understand, common sense approach to grappling with fears of such things as terrorism, natural disasters, rejection, growing old and death by living with purpose, trust, hope, courage, and faith.
Sheilah Levin
Jan 13, 2015 Sheilah Levin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great book and a source of comfort

I had tears at the end this book. Rabbi Kushner brings insight into all the fears that hold us back from being our best.

I would highly recommend this book.
Feb 10, 2016 Katerina rated it it was amazing
How interesting that I listened to this book directly after "No Impact Man," also read by its author. They share much of the same sentiment of the oneness of humanity.
Beth Anne
Jan 24, 2015 Beth Anne rated it it was ok
I have read other books by Rabbi Kushner and have really enjoyed them. I was disappointed by this book. I found it to be a bit disorganized, with arguments poorly built.
Aug 21, 2014 Diana rated it really liked it
Shelves: shir-ami
Read for retreat in 2013. Led to a discussion of how to be bold(er). Not as easy to have a group discussion on a self-help book.
Sara Johnson
Jan 17, 2016 Sara Johnson rated it it was amazing
I pretty much adore everything Rabbi Kushner writes. He's so good, so thoughtful, so kind, so wise.
Brendan Howard
A moving work on fear of the big things and a bit on how to gird yourself or accept the fear and move on.
Feb 04, 2015 Judy rated it really liked it
HIs writings always connect with me at a deep level. SO many things to thing about in this book
Jul 02, 2016 Simon rated it it was ok
Don't really remember this book at all, but I'm sure at the time (when I was going through a self-help book phase) it was something more impactful for me.

I don;t really have insignificant human fears that much. Like I;m not a pessimist or fear about things. There is the odd day where I am concerned about what my life is and where it may go, but really I've got plans that are coming out and into play. I work hard and am now making more of an effort than I ever have before.
Dec 08, 2012 Wendy rated it liked it
I agree with others who feel this isn't the most powerful of Rabbi Kushner's writing but there were moments of insight that rang true for me. For instance, praying for God to just be with you rather than prayer for a specific outcome was one moment of transformative thinking for me. There are little gems of thought like this scattered throughout the book. Nevertheless, the reading became labor-some towards the end and I was glad to move onto other reading.

Jun 23, 2012 Rebecca rated it it was ok
What can I say, I just don't like the self-help genre. I just couldn't relate to the fears that Harold Kushner talks about. Maybe I'm more together than I think. My professional women's book club always picks these types of self-help books and they really are my least favorite types of books to read. I have thought of quitting this club but I really like the women and most of the time I still gain something from the conversation.
Jan 18, 2014 Kriselle rated it it was ok
A little comforting, but nothing extraordinary. I've no desire to conquer fears after reading the book.
Jul 19, 2011 Belknits rated it liked it
I have read some of Kushner's books before and used to enjoy them. I can't say I got much out of this one. Kushner writes in a way that tries to appeal to a broad audience; his examples from the Torah are interpreted in a non-literal way, which I appreciated. At the end, though, I felt like I wasn't given any concrete ways to overcome fears, apart from embracing religion (which I'm not about to do).
Jan 21, 2010 Barb rated it liked it
It hit on all my fears for sure. Kushner put into words my own sense of how faith can be a rich response much different than the utterly ridiculous statements of simpletons like Pat Robertson. I look forward to looking up many of the other authors he cited. I would recommend it. Another quick read good for waiting rooms, etc.
not what i expected, kushner focuses more on the BIG social historical worries of the past 15-20 years. all of which are still valid and very much with us today, but somehow even as i agreed with him on many points... i just felt generally exhausted about it. Still an excellent book, which i recommend reading.
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Harold S. Kushner is rabbi laureate of Temple Israel in the Boston suburb of Natick, Massachusetts. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he is the author of more than a dozen books on coping with life’s challenges, including, most recently, the best-selling Conquering Fear and Overcoming Life’s Disappointments.
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“God’s job is not to make sick people healthy. That’s the doctor’s job. God’s job is to make sick people brave.” 8 likes
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