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Nerve: Poise Under Pressure, Serenity Under Stress, and the Brave New Science of Fear and Cool

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  623 ratings  ·  108 reviews
Nerves make us bomb job interviews, first dates, and SATs. With a presentation looming at work, fear robs us of sleep for days. It paralyzes seasoned concert musicians and freezes rookie cops in tight situations. And yet not everyone cracks. Soldiers keep their heads in combat; firemen rush into burning buildings; unflappable trauma doctors juggle patient after patient. It ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published March 6th 2011 by Little, Brown and Company
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Average rating 4.01  · 
Rating details
 ·  623 ratings  ·  108 reviews

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Mar 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
*Fear not the fear!*

Fear! Anxiety! Stress! If reading those words just about pushed you over the edge, then Read! This! Book! (Now!).

Non-trembling hands down, Taylor's book _Nerve_ is one of the best ones I've encountered on dealing with the "nervous trinity" of fear, anxiety, and stress. The author is actually the perfect person to deliver the message that fear is not the enemy we assume it to be. In the beginning of the book he admits that:
"I am hardly the cool-headed master of fear. I'm not a
Mar 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Taylor Clark is entertaining and humorous as he writes about fear, anxiety, and stress, and how the seemingly fearless actually handle fear with heroism. Clark's thesis, embracing fear and working with it to discover cool under pressure, is a theme we have heard before. But Nerve is very readable, full of case studies that brim with the personalities of the subjects and of Clark himself. His humorous footnote at the bottom of one page, "Incidentally, most of what we know about the science of fea ...more
Jay Kamaladasa
Dec 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
The thing about fear is that it's a rather straightforward and simple subject when you're not afraid. However, when fear takes over your mind, it's another story. Hence the science behind fear might seem trivial, but it is very real, and is extremely practical. In this context, the science that's described in the book might seem trivial, yet it adds so much practical value that this book might end up being the best thing you'll read.

The book is loosely categorized into chapters that from the fi
Jun 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
I can honestly say that this book about the psychology of fear was fascinating. Unlike the textbooks I read in college for my Psychology minor, each topic is illustrated by real-life examples that turns a possibly dry discussion into an emotional rollercoaster. The author's intellectual wit make for a fun, interesting read. ...more
Avery Runstedler
Aug 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An excellent collection of stories about how people from all walks of life either cope or give in to the highly stressful situations that are placed in front of them. Whether it's a professional sports player, a trauma unit surgeon, or an innocent bystander at the beach, Clark pulls the reader right into their lives. The author also provides great suggestions on how to cope with stressful situations in your own life. ...more
May 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
A somewhat lighthearted take on a serious subject, 'Nerve' was an interesting read with a lot of examples that brought the content to life. The primary message of the book is that fear is not our enemy - the bravest of people feel fear; they just have a smarter way of interacting with it than the average person. 'Nerve' was not a technical read, but was an entertaining book touching on stress, anxiety, and fear. ...more
Lindsay Hickman
Sep 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a very funny book because the author admits to having problems with anxiety himself, so it doesn't feel preachy at all. I really like how the chapters are separated and each one begins with a narrative of a stressful situation. The author is not only a great writer about something everyone deals with, stress, but he is a great storyteller.
This book also has tons of fun facts about stressful events in history. Example did you know why PTSD was first called Shell Shock? Because troops du
May 29, 2011 rated it really liked it

I was thrilled to receive this book in a Firstreads giveaway and enjoy reading literature on resiliency and survival. Nerve is an entertaining, well-written exploration of fear, phobias, anxiety and just plain nerves. Taylor Clark delves into the physiological and mental aspects of fear’s manifestations and what we can do to overcome its hold on us. Most importantly we must accept our fears and face them bravely. Avoidance is one of the worst things we can possibly do.

One of the most interesti
The book is entertaining (I felt like I’m reading a magazine). The book is filled with interviews/stories of athletes, firefighters, surgeons … etc.


*Amygdala is the home center for our fear in the brain. In any dangerous situation, the amygdala “takes over” the frontal cortex (thinking area). The amygdala also has its own memory and that’s why you don’t forget fear memories, unlike any other memories.

*To overcome fear, we shouldn’t avoid it but face it. Facing fear over time will lead to the
Apr 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
"Work with your fear instead of wasting energy fighting it. Fear is normal for everyone. Those who succeed just learn to expect and embrace it."

That quote is my attempt at an 80/20 of this book's core message. This non-fiction book is well-written. While not an academic work, I wouldn't classify it as a thin, "pop-business" book either. It's somewhere in between. "Nerve" is well researched and the blend of solid research and effective storytelling means the books lessons have a better shot of st
Nicole Marie
Oct 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
I just couldn’t finish this one. There’s nothing wrong with it per se, it’s just that I read Jonah Lehrer’s How We Decide last year and was wowed by his prose and ability to make esoteric studies captivating and relatable. Given that this book draws on much of the same research but takes things much much more slowly—perhaps in an effort to make it applicable to the masses—there just wasn’t anything I was reading that I hadn’t heard before…. And some of the stuff was like high school biology basi ...more
Dec 23, 2012 rated it it was ok
I have a high standard for work written in layman's terms discussing scientific discoveries. These books need to be pretty compellingly written for me to take the time to read them. Similar information is widely available from other sources, written in tiny consumable bites. I often ask, why does this subject need to be discussed in a longer format? To me, this book doesn't answer that question.

I didn't feel I was learning anything new in this book, and the writing was not good enough for me to
Jonathan Henricks
Feb 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Not going to lie, this book has been amazing! Rarely do I feel the need to talk about the books I read in conversation, however this one managed to pop up in some way every day since I've read it! The book covers incredibly interesting topics and tells vivid stores which only make the reader ready to take action against their own fears and challenge what they thought would be impossible! Already I've used 10+ hours talking about this book and its subjects alone! Don't you love it when you read s ...more
Oct 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book is amazing it gives you the basic information involving fear, stress, and anxiety. So for people who are new to psychology this is perfect. It give little stories, and interview so that it keeps the reader interested for the whole book. At the same time they provided us with new information thats also easy to understand. It doesn't give us too much information that we don't understand what we are read either. So it's a great book if your just getting into psychology, and I suspect that ...more
Jul 02, 2013 rated it it was ok
I thought this book was lazy. Perhaps it's because I've read numerous books like this, but it uses the most obvious anecdotes (Buddha, Ganhdi, etc) and doesn't bring anything new to the table. The advice the book gives is remarkably similar to Stoicism (learn to accept uncertainty, redirect your focus), but the author never mentions Stoicism, just throws around the word "amygdala" a lot. ...more
Carol Harlow
May 27, 2011 rated it it was ok
This book will really strike a little fear as you read about snakes and tsunami’s! I goes through lots of case studies and gives advice on overcoming fears. It’s kind of like reading a series of magazine articles.
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: gave-up
I only lasted 50 pages. What started as interesting sort of fizzled out quickly and got too dry.
Die Upussy
Nov 30, 2020 rated it liked it
A penetrating thrust into what is behind stoicism. Plowing into the dry subject, bottom to top, alternating the bottom’s pain with the top, ultimately leaving the load on the face presented. The author no doubt used his own words as a salve, a defense for being the major contributor to another’s slow demise, brought down by the authors expose. The Large Bill will be collected, poise will be tested as the back passage is entered repeatedly with vigorous intensity, the ginger broken. Check out the ...more
Apr 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, self-help
Quite interesting, gripping at times, stories of people going through all kinds of stressful situations and how they dealt with it. Lots of practical tips on how to overcome fear and panic. The last chapter about how police, military, and other organizations have learned they must train their people is eye opening.
Aug 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Chapters 5 & 6 will be the most important for musicians. A little bit of a slow start but super interesting and ultimately positive. He advocates and shows ways to live with fear and anxiety rather than it being something to overcome. Acceptance that it will always be there and is there for a reason helps minimize its impact.
Kenneth Raphael
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was fascinating, and the author did a fantastic job of drawing the reader in. It felt as though I were sitting across the table from him, having an informative yet witty conversation. I can't wait to look up his other works.

Splendid stuff.
Sheryl Ipsen
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book!! Fun, interesting stories and I feel he has some great insight into fear, anxiety and stress! Both my husband and I really enjoyed listening to it on tape!!
Jun 03, 2018 rated it liked it
My take is iys all research inside the book. If somebody looking for some selfhelp probably can read last chapter . Else i think its a good read.
Les Hollingsworth
Jan 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Interesting read. The best aspects of the book were the stories/cases. I also really liked how it was steeply grounded in neuroscience rather than just tips for self help.
Carlyn Blount
Mar 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Apr 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A collection of heroic stories about stressful situations, and scientific explanations about fear with advice for stress handling.
Bayu Jibrael
Jan 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
God, this book is a life-changing read!
Sep 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
So I can use caffeine to emulate anxiety & train to cope with it. Nice.
Jun 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
I listened to this book and I really liked it because it matched these adages (that I like) which are basically "fake until you make it" OR "act as if..."
The book had a number of anecdotes about people acting well under circumstances of fear. I was disappointed that all the people featured were male. :(
The twelve ideas at the end of the book are extremely helpful:

1. Breathe--Deep breathing actually decreases reactivity in the parasympathetic nervous system, which reduces heart rate, resulting in
Mar 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
I chose this book because I read an excerpt from that pointed out a curious fact: Americans have the highest stress and anxiety level in the world even though we are in one of the safest countries in the world. What’s up with that? I can’t pretend to not understand those scared ‘Mericans. I have my own stress levels that sometimes bewilder me as well. So, I opened this book looking for some explanations.

Found ‘em! Tons of explanations. In a very conversational tone (this guy wri
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News & Interviews

“I'm in a weird place because the book is about to come out. So I'm basically just walking around like a raw nerve and I'm not sure that I...
41 likes · 8 comments
“Take the common Buddhist practice of “noting,” for example: practitioners learn to label their worries and feelings with a simple tag like “thinking” or “anger,” taking note of them mindfully without engaging them directly. In a 2007 study, the UCLA psychologist Matthew Lieberman showed thirty volunteers fear-provoking images and then asked them to note their feelings (“I feel afraid”) as he monitored their brain activity. Upon seeing the unpleasant images, the subjects’ amygdalae lit up at first, but the labeling process soon sparked activity in the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, damping activity in the amygdala. Lieberman believes this mindful noting—the simple act of putting our feelings into words—helps the brain disambiguate our emotions and provide a level of detachment from them. “One of the ways labeling is useful is in talking with other people,” he told me. “If you can get someone to talk about their feelings, it’ll end up being beneficial to them in ways they may not realize.” (Writing about how we feel in a journal serves the same purpose; it helps us sort out emotions, like anxiety, on a deeper subconscious level.)” 1 likes
“In tense moments, explains the clinical psychologist Rod Martin, the purpose of pranks like Venanzi’s isn’t merely to elicit a chuckle; joking actually reformats your perception of a stressor. “Humor is about playing with ideas and concepts,” said Martin, who teaches at the University of Western Ontario. “So whenever we see something as funny, we’re looking at it from a different perspective. When people are trapped in a stressful situation and feeling overwhelmed, they’re stuck in one way
of thinking: This is terrible. I’ve got to get out of here. But if you can take a humorous perspective, then by definition you’re looking at it differently—you’re breaking out of that rigid mind-set.”
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