- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1 edition (July 3, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1439177309
- ISBN-13: 978-1439177303
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 286 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #176,828 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety Hardcover – July 3, 2012
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“I read Monkey Mind with admiration for its bravery and clarity. Daniel Smith’s anxiety is matched by a wonderful sense of the comic, and it is this which makes Monkey Mind not only a dark, pain-filled book but a hilariously funny one, too. I broke out into explosive laughter again and again.” —Oliver Sacks, bestselling author of The Mind’s Eye and Musicophilia
“Monkey Mind does for anxiety what William Styron’s Darkness Visible did for depression.” —Aaron T. Beck, father of cognitive therapy
“You don't need a Jewish mother, or a profound sweating problem, to feel Daniel Smith's pain in Monkey Mind. His memoir treats what must be the essential ailment of our time—chronic anxiety—and it does so with wisdom, honesty, and the kind of belly laughs that can only come from troubles transformed.” —Chad Harbach, author of The Art of Fielding
“Daniel Smith maps the jagged contours of anxiety with such insight, humor and compassion that the result is, oddly, calming. There are countless gems in these pages, including a fresh take on the psycho-pathology of chronic nail biting, an ill-fated ménage a trois—and the funniest perspiration scene since Albert Brooks’ sweaty performance in Broadcast News. Read this book. You have nothing to lose but your heart palpitations, and your Xanax habit.” —Eric Weiner, author of The Geography of Bliss
“I don’t know Daniel Smith, but I do want to give him a hug. His book is so bracingly honest, so hilarious, so sharp, it’s clear there’s one thing he doesn’t have to be anxious about: Whether or not he’s a great writer.” —A.J. Jacobs, author of Drop Dead Healthy and The Year of Living Biblically
“Daniel Smith has a written a wise, funny book, a great mix of startling memoir and fascinating medical and literary history, all of it delivered with humor and a true generosity of spirit. I only got anxious in the last part, when I worried the book would end.” —Sam Lipsyte, author of Home Land and The Ask
“In this unforgettable, surprisingly hilarious memoir, journalist and professor Smith chronicles his head-clanging, flop-sweating battles with acute anxiety. . . . He’s clear-eyed and funny about his condition’s painful absurdities.” —People (four stars)
“This book will change the way you think about anxiety…. Daniel Smith's writing dazzled me….. Painful experiences are described with humor, and complex ideas are made accessible…. Monkey Mind is a rare gem.” —Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Monkey Mind is fleet, funny, and productively exhausting.” (Ben Greenman The New York Times Book Review)
“Superb writing [and] marvelous humor . . . If you're chronically anxious and want to better explain to a loved one what you're going through, hand them Monkey Mind.” —Psychology Today
About the Author
Daniel Smith is the author of Muses, Madmen, and Prophets and a contributor to numerous publications, including The American Scholar, The Atlantic, The New York Times Magazine, and Slate.
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Maybe it was my high expectations, but the book wasn't all it was cracked up to be. It was funny and even clever at times, but I was expecting to feel the highs and lows of the anxiety-ridden author. Instead, I felt like I was reading a collection of awkward experiences (which was amusing) and stumbled right along with him. It was hard for me to really identify with the book, and that's not necessarily the book's fault. In the book, Smith says, "Anxiety is a narcissism machine. To have found a way to use it for good is unusual indeed," and I get the feeling that this book was written as a way for the author to unload his burden.
In all fairness, there were some really hilarious stories and I'm glad I read the book (overall). Smith is a good writer with a lot of insight into the mind of the anxious, and I think he could go quite far in the world of non-fiction. The book had a very self-helpish vibe, so maybe that's a genre that Smith should consider. He has a way of breaking down anxiety's complexities and placing them in nice and neat little sentences. They were so neat and nice that they sounded a lot like the daily affirmations that you would hang on your bathroom mirror.
In summation, if you love memoirs or are extremely anxious, then you should read this book. If nothing else, you'll learn some breathing techniques and take temporary comfort in the fact that you are not alone. Plus, your embarrassing moments are probably nothing compared to Smith's, and you'll get in a few good laughs.
But the book is about him and not the condition. There is a lot of description of his life events and some of it doesn't really reference his anxiety. I suppose that this is necessary so you can get to know the author, but as I read this, I felt as though I was clearly reading a biography of the author who happened to be anxious, rather than a biography of the condition anxiety with descriptions of how people with the condition felt. Maybe it's splitting hairs, but the book was just not quite what I expected.
The book has a very satisfying end (I won't reveal that here) in which 2 significant things happen to the author. I found myself being very happy for him and very hopeful that he would be able to conquer his problem.
If you're interested in mental health diagnoses, this one is a short read which is interesting. I would recommend it.
I have struggled with anxiety and expected to receive something I coudl relate to, something to bring humor to this disorder, something to possibly give me a few tricks on relaxation.
Instead I got a self insulgent, meandering, boing book with little reference to anxiety. The best way to expalin it would be if Twitter gave him unlimite characters. We learn about his family, his crushes, his every minute thought, almost like he typed without a mental filter. Boring and self indulgent. Dont bother.
If you suffer from anxiety, if someone you know does, this is a great book. It will show you exactly what is going on inside the mind of one anxious person, and you'll come away with a new perspective.
The first part is not so much about anxiety: it's the experience of anxiety. Very well written. The second part tells you
really good, interesting stuff about anxiety. Different from any other book I've ever read. It's certainly not a textbook:
go elsewhere if you're looking for a sociological overview. It's not case notes, because it's written by an author troubled
with anxiety, not a shrink. It's not a manual for how to cope. It's what it's like to live with anxiety. Very interesting, touching,
personal, and informative. Very original, too, there's no other book like it that I know of.
Totally recommend this book for anyone who wants to understand this mental illness better.