Title: My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind
Author: Scott Stossel
Pages: 416 / 15 hours, 40 minutes
Release Date: January 7, 2014
Publisher: Random House Audio (Audio) / Knopf (Print)
Genre: Memoir, Social/Psychological Studies
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
In this memoir, Scott Stossel examines his own deeply held anxiety while offering an overview of efforts to understand the condition through the ages by scientists, philosophers, and more.
Scott Stossel recounts a lifetime’s worth of excruciating and exhausting anxiety in My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind in this well-written and engaging memoir, juxtaposing his own story against an informative and well-researched account of anxiety through the ages.
I’m an anxious person. While that may surprise some people who know me (I hide it well), I’m not that great at going with the flow because I’m anxiety prone. I like having a plan, some sort of structure, in all areas of my life. I cope with my anxiety pretty well, but I also feel as though it’s more pronounced than most people’s—I don’t have a “normal” level of anxiety. Then I read My Age of Anxiety: Fear, ope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind and realized that my anxiety is child’s play compared to many people who have severe anxiety disorder. I’ve never had a panic attack, never been on medication, and I get through each day just fine. The same can’t be said for Scott Stossel.
The depths of Stossel’s anxiety as he describes it in My Age of Anxiety, quite frankly, floored me. I didn’t know how he could even function (and to be fair, neither did he a lot of the time). It was absolutely eye opening to see someone else’s anxiety, to understand how many people are considered “anxious,” and how “normal” I actually am. Stossel is brutally and painfully honest with the reader in this memoir; he doesn’t sugarcoat things. Often, absorbing the depths of his anxiety actually triggered mine: that’s how descriptive and well-written this book is. It was difficult at times but absolutely well done.
Stossel juxtaposes his own anxiety against a larger and broader view of the condition as perceived throughout history in My Age of Anxiety. It’s a fascinating historical overview from all kinds of sources; it’s clear on every page that the author did incredible amounts of research for this book. He keeps it personal, often relating things back to himself, which keeps this book from becoming a dry history. It’s amazing how he vents his frustrations and desperations about his condition without ever dragging the reader down. It’s difficult, yes, but there is always hope, a positive outlook that things will get better. They have to.
I listened to My Age of Anxiety on audio, and I enjoyed it. The narrator is Michael Goldstrom, and he does a great job; in fact, at times, you can hear the anxiety straining through his voice. The unabridged production runs almost 16 hours, and while I usually shy away from longer audiobooks, this one worked well for me.
If you are at all an anxious person, you should definitely consider My Age of Anxiety. Stossel’s frankness is refreshing, and many of his experience will leave you laughing out loud. At times his anxiety is exhausting, but the story itself is always entertaining. It’s a book that has caused me to examine my own anxiety in detail, and has helped me understand more about myself in the process.