Some Nerve

Some Nerve

Lessons Learned While Becoming Brave

Additional Formats
  • Hardcover
  • ISBN 9781594486050
  • 368 Pages
  • Riverhead Books
  • Adult


One woman’s quest to conquer her fears and embrace life—and to inspire others to do the same

Patty Chang Anker grew up eager to please and afraid to fail. But after thirty-nine years, she decided it was time to stop being a chicken. Motivated initially to become a better role model for her two young daughters, she vowed to face the fears that had taken root like weeds, choking the fun and spontaneity out of life. She learned to dive into a swimming pool, ride a bike, do a handstand, and surf. As she shared her experiences, she discovered that most people suffer from their own secret terrors—of driving, flying, heights, public speaking, and more. It became her mission to help others do what they thought they couldn’t, and to feel for themselves the powerful sense of being alive that is the true reward of becoming brave.

Inspired and inspiring, Some Nerve draws on Anker’s interviews with teachers, therapists, coaches, and clergy to impart both practical advice and profound wisdom. Through her own journey and the stories of dozens of others who have triumphed over common fears, she conveys with humor and infectious exhilaration the most vital lesson of all: Fear isn’t an end point, but the point of entry to a life of incomparable joy.

FEARS INCLUDE: Aging, Becoming Boring, Biking, Breaking bones, Bullies, Chaos, Clutter, Cold, Control (loss of), Crime, Death, Driving, Exercise, Failure, Flying, Heights, Letting go, Looking dumb, Math, Nature (esp. sharks), P.E., Pleasure, Public Speaking, Public toilets, Rejection, Roller coasters, Success, Surfing, Tubing, Unemployment, Unknown, Water, Writing. And Wedgies.


Named as a finalist for the Books for a Better Life Awards
Praised by Elizabeth Gilbert as “a compelling story of everyday courage.”
Declared “downright inspiring” by
Prominently featured in Marie Claire, USA Today,,, and Spirit Magazine
Named a Parents Magazine “Mom Must-Read”
Called “a hilarious and instructive romp sure to inspire” by American Way
“Honest and inspiring” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Downright inspiring.” – (featured Book That Will Make You More Confident, Happy and Spontaneous)

“Patty Chang Anker[’s]… first book blends memoir and journalism in her quest to understand and conquer fear… Anker grounds her observations in her own generous, warm world view. She’s at her wisest, funniest best when describing conversations with her two daughters, capturing both their fears and their fierce, childish courage.” –Boston Globe

“A hilarious and instructive romp sure to inspire the most faint of heart to venture forth and discover what it is to be truly alive.” –American Way

“This warm memoir is not a traditional self-help book, yet the joy that Anker and her peers feel when they allow themselves to be beginners—even after the age of 40—will be motivation enough for can’t-do readers to take steps toward making their lives a little bigger and better.” –Publishers Weekly

“[A] humorous account of how [Anker] transcended her ‘nervous nature… bookish upbringing and midlife responsibilities’ to discover her courage… inspiring.” –Kirkus Reviews

“With humor, humility and (most of all) self-compassion, Anker tells a compelling story of everyday courage—one that is sure to touch and help countless other people like her, like me, like all of us who have made worry into an art form. She proves that it’s not too late, that we can truly change ourselves and enlarge our worlds as a result.” –Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love

“Not everyone experiences the fear of flying, or water, or sharks, or the dark, but everyone understands what it is like to be afraid. Happily, everyone can give themselves the joyous gift of Patty Chang Anker’s insightful, funny, and brave book.” –Josh Hanagarne, author of The World’s Strongest Librarian

“This book is for anyone who needs to be reminded that it is possible to conquer our greatest fears at any age, and in the process learn more about what it feels like to really live.” –Lee Woodruff, co-author of In an Instant


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