2018 is shaping up to be the year of self-help books for me. Of course, when compared to readers who have long enjoyed self-help as a genre, this might be a bit of an overstatement. But before this year I had read only a couple of books that could be shelved in the self-help section, mostly creative manifestos like Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic. In general, I was something of a self-help naysayer. With their often corny titles and seemingly out of touch authors, I felt like most self-help was just too "out there" for me, and definitely not going to do much of anything for me. But for various reasons, I've found myself drawn to these books more and more over the past six months. And I've largely enjoyed spending time with reads that have one main purpose: to make me feel good. Maybe you find yourself wanting to hop on board the inspirational book train, too, but you're still not sold on the idea of self-help. Believe me, I get it. That's why I think Amber Rae's Choose Wonder Over Worry is the advice book you need to add to your TBR this summer.
Rae's book is not your "typical" self-help book in many ways. In fact, I would classify Choose Wonder Over Worry as a memoir-meets-advice book more than a classic self-help tome. There is no strict program, no items to check off a list to get to self-actualization, no hard-and-fast rules or recommendations to follow here. Instead Rae chooses to share stories from her own life — grief over her father's untimely death, drama in her romantic relationships, anxiety-inducing career-mishaps and her struggles with addiction — in order to shed a light on the many ways that we can lose our innate sense of wonder, and how we can get it back.
"As a ravenous consumer of vulnerable narratives, the stories that resonate with me most are the ones that reveal in vivid detail the journey of the author. Not the this-is-why-I-am-so-great-and-successful kind of vivid detail. But the this-is-how-I-f*cked-everything-up-and-got-knocked-down-and-stood-back-up kind of vivid detail... I held myself to that same ethos in writing this book: to tell stories so truthfully and so transparently, and to fill them with wildly uncomfortable yet honest details that have me feel as if I am standing naked before you with nothing to hide. My hope in doing so is not so that you can know me, but rather so that you can see you."
And that is precisely what you get from Choose Wonder Over Worry, which is separated into sections of "Worry Myths" — those lies we tell ourselves that keep us from living the lives we most want — including self-doubt, imposter syndrome, anxiety and perfectionism. For each myth, Rae has an anecdote from her life in which she has experienced the negative effects of these all-too-familiar worries, and she does not shy away from the grittier aspects of her experiences. Whether she is discussing her father's fatal car crash or sharing how she was able to tell her boyfriend that she needed more from their sexual relationship, Rae shows readers how the Worry Myths have applied to her own life, and walks you through the ways she worked through them — not because she assumes we will all have the same stories, but because she hopes that sharing hers will encourage you to dive more deeply into your own.
The book offers journaling prompts with every section for that very reason: to figure out exactly what the Worry Myths mean to you and how you can work through them in your own life. That is where this book differs from many other self-help tomes: Rae doesn't come to the conclusions for you, and she doesn't offer a step-by-step process to overcoming your worries. Instead, she asks you to do the work yourself, to figure out which of these myths is impacting your best life and how you can work on eliminating them. If you are a fan of impactful memoir, or a devotee of advice columns, you'll probably love Choose Wonder Over Worry — and if you've been side-eyeing self-help for as long as you can remember, now might be the time to forget everything you thought you knew.