Must read book

Now read this: The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker

If you only read one book this year, read The Gift of Fear – And other survival signals that protect us from violence by Gavin De Becker. 

The opening scene grabs you by the throat and tells the story of a violent attack in progress and then twists the narrative in such a way to confirm the author’s authority on the subject of fear.

To me, fear is a negative thing. Violent crime happens all the time. Shouldn’t I be afraid of that?

According to the author, no. And yes.

This book takes a close look at what fear is and how recognizing fear can be life-changing.

As I listened to the audiobook, I found myself rewinding over and over because I didn’t want to miss a single bit of insight he had to offer about the gift of fear.

Here are some of those insights (noted from the audiobook :

“Trusting intuition is the exact opposite of living in fear.”

“Unwarranted fear has assumed a power over us…It need not be this way.”

“Understanding how fear works can dramatically improve our lives.”

“Real fear is not paralyzing. It is energizing.”

“Worry, anxiety or panic, concern are not fear.”

“Worry is the fear we manufacture.”

“When worrying, ask yourself, ‘How does this serve me?’”

“What you imagine, like what you fear, is not happening.”

“Though the world is a dangerous place, it is also a safe place.”

Intuition vs. fear

I believe in the power of intuition, but always thought of it as a internal compass for making life decisions and choosing life paths in a big picture way.

But the author doesn’t touch on intuition in that context. His take on intuition takes more of a practical, in the moment, small picture way. 

That feeling you get when you walk into a room and something doesn’t feel right, for instance. You don’t know what it is and can’t explain it, but you don’t feel comfortable there. Something tells you to leave.

Do you listen? Or do you deny the feeling and rationalize that you sound like a crazy person because it’s fine. And you come up with a handful of reasons you are right to suppress that feeling. 

The author analyzes how victims of violence saved themselves by listening to their intuition.

As I listened to the book I thought of exact instances in my life when I did the latter and realized that I had failed to see that “feeling” as my intuition, failed to recognize its power. 

I recommend this book for everyone, especially people who tend to worry or fear things that could happen, but aren’t actually happening. 

So, tune into your intuition, listen to it, and act accordingly.

The Gift of Fear is a quick read. I listened to the approximately 3-hour long audiobook (abridged) on Libby.

To learn more about Libby, read Want to read more books? Maybe Libby can help on the blog.

3 Audiobooks well worth a listen

3 Audiobooks well worth a listen

I read each of these audiobooks via my local library Libby app and they are all well worth a listen.

Two non-fiction memoirs and one novel. There are similar topics in each of them – family, poverty, memory – but they address each in different ways.

Educated – A Memoir by Tara Westover

Tara Westover was raised off the grid. She had a non-conventional upbringing, including working in her father’s junkyard, not attending school, never seeing a doctor, helping her mother prepare herbal remedies, and assisting her mother on midwife calls.  Her father prepared the family for “end of days” and distrusted all forms of government. 

But she wanted to go to school, so she studied on her own and got help from an older brother. 

She had never set foot in a classroom before her first day of classes at Bringham Young University. It was then that she discovered how much she had to learn.

I found her story incredible. It brought to mind how we are each formed by our experiences and how the beliefs, attitudes of those who raise us also make a deep and lasting impression. Those attitudes help define who we are and what we believe. 

She says the book is an account of her memories, which may be different from her sisters’ or brothers’ memories.

My sister and I can remember an incident from our childhood but we remember it with vastly different details. We’d each swear we were right about it.

Such is the nature of memory. 

But how does a person raised in this way go on to excel academically at BYU, Cambridge, Harvard? 

It’s a fascinating story.

For more information about the book and author go to tarawestover.com

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance

Hillbilly Elegy is a memoir and commentary about what it took for the author to break out of the cycle of poverty and abuse.

His story exemplifies a deep cultural divide between many poor American whites from the Smoky Mountain region and middle class America and the American dream.

He points out that it’s very hard for a child to see his way out of a bad situation unless someone shows, teaches, and believes he can. 

His grandparents were that force in his life, and while their’s was an abrasive and tough-love type of nurturing, he learned how to figure things out, work for what he wanted, and see that he could break the cycle of poverty and addiction. 

For more information about the book go to to the publisher’s book page at harpercollins.com.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Kya is a young girl abandoned by her family and left alone in the marshlands of Norh Carolina. She comes to be known as the Marsh Girl by the people in town. 

But she stays away from nearly everyone and trusts only a select few.

The marsh is her refuge. Kya loves her home in the marsh and finds connection and solace there.

Her days are filled observing, listening, and drawing what she sees. In this way she creates her life’s work of chronicling life in the marsh—birds, insects, soil. 

When a dead body is found near her home, Kya becomes a murder supsect.

I found myself engrossed in the mystery and didn’t want to accept the possibility that she could be removed from her beloved marsh.

Owens’s writing, especially her descriptions of the landscape as seen through Kya’s keen eye, allows the reader to see, feel and love the relentless cycyles of the marsh.

I couldn’t help but feel that pulling her from it would be the real tragedy. 

The audiobook, read by Cassandra Campbell, is beautifully done. She performs each character’s voice distinctly.

For more information about the book go to the author webpage at deliaowens.com.

So if you’re looking for a good book, you can’t go wrong with one of these books.

For more information about Libby, see Want to read more books? Maybe Libby can help

The Radium Girls

Book recommendation: The Radium Girls

The Radium Girls, subtitled The dark story of America’s shining women, by Kate Moore is the true story about a group of young women, employees of the Radium Dial company in the early 1900s, who sounded the alarm about the dangers and health risks of radium. It’s an incredible story of courage, friendship, and resilience. Despite repeated setbacks, they fought their employer to tell the truth about what made them sick. 

A heartbreaking story. 

Imagine you’re a young girl living in a town with few opportunities for work. You’d like to help your family and yourself because you dream of getting married and starting your own family, but without money, that seems like a far-off dream. 

Then a clock making factory opens up in your neighborhood. They make a sought after watch whose dial numbers glow in the dark and they need young, hardworking girls to paint the dials. The job pays well and you’d be working with your friends. It’s perfect. You’re happy to contribute to your family and you love your work. 

When you begin to experience strange symptoms, like a sore jaw and aching teeth, you go to the dentist and he says your tooth must be pulled. And then another. Then another. And then your hips and knees begin to ache and the doctor has no idea what’s wrong with you. 

Your symptoms grow worse and most of your earnings, because you’re still dragging yourself to work, go toward doctor visits and medicine to relieve your symptoms.

But the cause of it all is a mystery. Then your friends start dying and you wonder if you’ll soon follow. 

This is the story of The Radium Girls. 

I found the story fascinating and horrible. Meticulously researched. The author, Kate Moore, explains in the Author Notes that she first heard of the Radium Girls when she directed the play that dramatized the story: Radium Girls: A Play in Two Acts by D. W. Gregory in London. The story so intrigued her she wanted to learn more. In the writing of the book, she researched historical records, interviewed descendants, some of whom shared letters, and journals of the women involved. 

When radium was first discovered by the Curies in the late 1800s, people didn’t know what to make of it. Products, elixirs, and serums containing radium had snake oil, cure-all claims. No one had made a connection to radium and radioactive poisoning. 

The glow in the dark property of radium made it an indispensable tool for soldiers on the battlefield during WWI. And the glow in the dark radium dials became a big money-maker for Radium Dial Company. 

Lip, dip, paint

In order to get a pen-like tip of the brush, they would lip, dip, paint.  

It meant bringing the tip of the brush up to their lips, moistening the brush with the tongue, and twist the handle as they pulled the brush away, making the tip fine like the point of a sharpened pencil. Then they’d dip the fine point in the radium and paint the dials. 

The lip, dip, paint went on all day every day.

Radium exposure is deadly, but they didn’t know that then.

They also didn’t know that their company had another factory in NJ whose employees suffered similar symptoms and fought a similar battle.

These women chose to stick together and fight for what they believed was right. They found a champion, attorney Leonard Grossman, to fight their case against their employer in the courts. Their cause became a battle for social justice, truth over profit, corporate responsibility, and employee safety. 

Author, Kate Moore, did a beautiful job researching the stories and breathing life into the brave women and their families who lived with the misguided belief that they could trust what their company and government told them, that they would be protected from harm and that their company would never intentionally put them at risk for profit’s sake. 

For more information about the book and author, go to theradiumgirls.com

The story of the Radium Girls are soon to come to life on film. Go to radiumgirlsmovie.com for more information.