Full disclosure requires that your book reviewer note that she and Eva Holland are friends – but your book reviewer would have kept a polite silence if her friend’s book were no good. As it happens, and to everyone’s good fortune, Nerve: Adventures in the Science of Fear is not only good, it’s excellent — part personal memoir, part popular science deep-dive into the methods, mechanisms, and purposes of one of humanity’s core emotions,
Nerve manages to take a light touch to what could easily be a troubling topic. Holland’s recollections of her own fear-inducing experiences (a lifelong fear of heights, a series of traumatic car accidents, and dread at the thought of her mother’s death) are related with a gentle honesty that seeks to tell the tale without unnecessarily traumatizing the reader, too. A correspondent with Outside magazine and regular contributor to outlets such as Esquire and National Geographic News, Holland has spent her life engaged in the kinds of outdoor sports that most people would frankly blanch at — the discussion of her fears from within that experience serves to further humanize an experience many of us would rather not admit we have.
We all get scared, though, and to a very real degree, Holland discovers, it’s a good thing that we do. It’s how we use and live with our fears that matters.
Read a recent New York Times interview with Eva Holland.