A TIME top 100 must read book of 2020—a spellbinding dive into paralyzing fear that Rolling Stone says “could not be timelier”
Since childhood, Eva Holland has been gripped by two debilitating phobias: fear of losing her mother and fear of heights. The worst comes to pass with her mother’s sudden death in 2015, and something shifts for Eva. Then, when an ice-climbing expedition ends with Eva embarrassed and in tears, a new resolve kicks in: Fear may define her past, but it won’t decide her future!
Through incredibly moving storytelling and boots-off-the-ground investigation, Holland peels back the layers of paralyzing dread to ask: Is fear necessary? Is it rooted in the body or the mind? And even: Is there a better way to feel afraid? By grappling with, even embracing, her innermost dreads, Holland aspires to give us all the nerve to face down the phobias that limit our lives.
About the Author
Eva Holland is a correspondent for Outside magazine, and a former editor at Up Here, the magazine of Canada’s far north. Her work has also appeared in Esquire, Wired, Bloomberg, Pacific Standard, AFAR, Smithsonian, Grantland, Seattle Met, National Geographic News, and many other outlets. Her work has been nominated for a Canadian National Magazine Award, anthologized in The Best American Science and Nature Writing, The Best Women’s Travel Writing, and Best Canadian Sports Writing, and listed among the notable selections in multiple editions of The Best American Essays, The Best American Sports Writing, and The Best American Travel Writing. She lives in Canada’s Yukon Territory.
A TIME Top 100 Must-Read Book of 2020
An International Bestseller
"An intimate and wide-ranging look at fears and how we overcome them.
— The New York Times
Eva Holland survived her worst fear. Since childhood, she worried about losing her mother. But after her mother died and she endured the grief that followed, she also found new strength and hope—and decided to write a book about why fear takes such a hold of just about everyone.
— A TIME Top 100 Must-Read Book of 2020
The publication of Nerve could be one of the most germane and significant books to help people navigate through our current dark and unfamiliar emotional and physical territory. With acuity of purpose, author Holland demonstrates to her audience that armed with a baseline of knowledge, fear is an emotion that can be experienced, examined, and conquered, thereby strengthening the human psyche and its ability to deal with future catastrophes.
— New York Journal of Books
Brave and emboldening. Nerve exposes fear for what it really is: a flush of chemicals, an evolutionary instinct, a mirror to the self.
— Kate Harris, author of Lands of Lost Borders
Eva Holland is afraid of many things [and] counter-intuitively, makes a living doing things that would scare the bejesus out of most people. . . A few years ago, Eva decided to find out what was at the root of all these fears.
— Noel King, NPR’s Morning Edition
Nerve is brave and tender, and an example of why journalists treating themselves as guinea pigs should never completely go out of style.
[Holland’s] comprehensive look at fear, sometimes as a test subject and other times as a critical observer, reframes the conversation of how we approach these often-paralyzing reactions that seem ingrained in our personalities.
— Discover Magazine
Science and psychology inform the engaging memoir of an author on a self-help mission. . . . Her goal is not to eliminate fear, but to put it into perspective.
— Kirkus Reviews
Combining anecdotes that document her personal vulnerabilities with tales of outdoor adventure and just enough scientific research, Holland crafts an engaging and unique memoir. Fans of the self-help genre and popular science in the style of Mary Roach will enjoy this debut title.
— Library Journal
A readable overview of what happens when human beings lose their nerve, author Holland employs relatable life experiences to explore multiple facets of fear. . . . Readers share in the journey as Holland confronts her fears and comes to successfully manage them. . . . This might encourage readers to identify, examine, and tackle fears of their own.
A fascinating book . . . Much of the enjoyment of Nerve involves rooting for Holland as she attempts to wrestle her own fears to the ground, and to report on the outcome of that effort would spoil that pleasure. It’s enough to say that by the end of this account, her relationship to fear has changed, something that may well happen to the readers of her engaging book.
— Shelf Awareness
[A] courageous chronicle of many fraught years facing down two debilitating phobias. . . Poignant and humorous, Holland’s demon-chasing journey is an inspiration.
— Foreword Reviews
Holland delves into gene theory, evolutionary biology, and psychoanalysis looking for answers to why we fear the way we do, but ultimately, scientific knowledge can only take her so far; gradually, she comes to accept herself and her complicated relations
— Sierra Club Magazine
An enlightening intellectual road trip . . . Holland is an ideal companion—warm and intelligent, open-hearted and clear-eyed. . . . [She] has felt, and conquered—and then captured and made sense of—fears so intense that they made me wince just reading about them.
— Rob Moor, author of On Trails
I really enjoyed Nerve—Holland perfectly balances her personal story with actual science, and I appreciated the clarity with which she describes her experiences. It gave me a lot to think about.
— Alex Honnold, rock climber and author of Alone on the Wall