WSIRN Ep 93: Books to help you manage anxiety + a book brunch that will have you drooling

WSIRN Ep 93: Books to help you manage anxiety + a book brunch that will have you drooling

Today’s guest, Kristin Economos, has an incredible story to tell and one many people will resonate with, including myself. After experiencing a season of severe anxiety, Kristin says her return from a decade-long reading sabbatical brought her back to life. She got professional help, which we chat about, and she ALSO soothed her anxiety with books, both fictional stories that transported her to other times and places, and nonfiction reads that about mental health and anxiety that helped her gain strategies AND helped her feel less alone.

Kristin’s experience with reading kicked off a personal project that she calls her “30 by 30” challenge, which of course I had to investigate. We also discuss Kristin’s preferred kind of escapist reading, the kinds of books her book club enjoys, and a bookish brunch that will either have you drooling with envy or planning your own. Today’s episode is truly delightful, and if you enjoy it even half as much as I did you’re in for a treat.

Let’s get to it.

What Should I Read Next #93: Books to help you manage anxiety + a book brunch that will have you drooling with Kristin Economos

Connect with Kristin Economos: Instagram

Books mentioned in this episode:

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• The Chemistry of Calm: A Powerful, Drug-Free Plan to Quiet Your Fears & Overcome Your Anxiety, by Henry Emmons MD
• The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah
• Behind Her Eyes, by Sarah Pinborough
• Small Great Things, Jodi Picoult
• Just Mercy: A Story of Justice & Redemption, by Brian Stevenson
• The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin
• 11/22/63, by Stephen King
• Where’d You Go Bernadette, by Maria Semple
• We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, by Samantha Irby
• Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman
• Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng
• Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng
• The Woman in Cabin 10, by Ruth Ware
• Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie
• And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie
The Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling
• The Secret History, by Donna Tartt
• The Likeness, by Tana French
• Special Topics in Calamity Physics, by Marisha Pessl
• Crime & Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
• Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh

Also mentioned:

Reading Personality Quiz
Daily Kindle Deals

What do YOU think Bethany should read next? Let us know in the comments!

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21 comments | Comment


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  1. Leigh Kramer says:

    Kristin, you might be my new favorite person. This was such a great episode! I too loved Just Mercy and hated Where’d You Go, Bernadette? It’s rare to find people who hated that one so I’m giving you a high five. I moved to the Twin Cities almost a year ago so my ears perked up at hearing you’re here too! It’s always good to find bookish people in the area. I’m tucking away the book brunch idea for future birthday celebrations.

    Anne briefly mentioned Special Topics In Calamity Physics when she was talking about The Secret History and it’s one of my favorites. I also loved Pessl’s other novel Night Film. Both are hard to put down and wrapped me up in their mystery.

    Along the lines as Just Mercy but approaching race and privilege from a different angle, I’d suggest Wesley Lowery’s They Can’t Kill Us All about Ferguson, Baltimore, etc., the biography Strong Inside by Andrew Maraniss, and Charles Blow’s fantastic memoir Fire Shut Up In My Bones.

  2. Rebekah says:

    Anne–I’m a podcast re-listener, esp. after I read a book you’ve recommended. I’m a bit distressed that I can no longer find the show notes for past episodes. Hoping that you’re re-doing the website in honor of your book launch and the podcast archive will soon be searchable again.

    Happy new Gamache book day!

  3. Megan Miller says:

    I second Leigh’s recommendation for Wesley Lowery’s They Can’t Kill Us All. Finding more than one other human who didn’t love Where’d you Go, Bernadette makes me feel less alone! Happy reading!

  4. Meaghan says:

    Such a fantastic episode! Thank you to Kristin for being so open about her experience with anxiety and for sharing her thoughts and resources. I’ve already requested “The Chemistry of Calm” from my library!

  5. Rebekah in Redlands says:

    Thank you Kristin for sharing your thoughts on anxiety. I’ve been through seasons of depression or anxiety without being able to recognize the symptoms at first. It’s always helpful to hear someone else’s story and resources.

    Just Mercy was one of my top/favorite books I read this year but it was hard. I appreciated Brian’s use of anecdote and statistic in the book. It helped him prove his point and helped me keep reading.

    I read “Where’d you go, Bernedette?” and enjoyed it, but I normally wouldn’t enjoy such a sarcastic, unlikeable character. Looking back, it seems like I was reading “Devil in the White City”, which I truly hated, at the same time, so maybe it was the wrong book at the right time?

  6. Stephanie says:

    Great episode! Kristin, I love your confidence in knowing what books do and don’t work for you. I’m another who didn’t feel the love for Where’d You Go, Bernadette. I also didn’t love Maria Semple’s newest book either, so I think maybe her style just isn’t what I’m looking for.

    A book I just finished and think you might enjoy is The Dry by Jane Harper. It’s a mystery set in a drought-ridden rural area in Australia, with the main character (Aaron Falk) trying to solve a present-day murder case while the reader is trying to figure out if Aaron is involved in a past crime. It was on Anne’s summer reading list, so it’s not just me who thinks it’s worth a read!

  7. Andrea Methvin says:

    As someone who has suffered with anxiety, it is always “good” to hear that you are not alone. Meds and prayer have long had mine under control, but I still appreciate the book recommendations! Thanks Kristin and Anne. And, (insert squeal of delight here) I heard a super fun announcement at the end of the podcast, Anne’s book tour is coming to my hometown bookstore, Malaprops in Asheville!!! All the feels!

  8. Megan says:

    Thank you, Kristin, for sharing your story! I can totally relate to everything you shared about your anxiety. I appreciate your willingness to be vulnerable, and to also share your love for reading!

  9. Halle says:

    What a wonderful episode! Kristin, I want to be part of your book club (and also friends with people who will throw me a book party!) I feel like we have similar taste in books so I wanted to recommend a few books I’ve really enjoyed: I See You by Clare Mackintosh; The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton; Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

    And I read an advanced copy of Little Fires Everywhere and second that recommendation. It is one of the best books I read this year.

  10. Anne and Kristen, I wasn’t sure I was going to like this podcast for multiple reasons. I’m living the life of my dreams as a writer, but your conversation reminded me that it took me a really long time to get where I am today. When I was in my late twenties, early thirties, I was stressed too. Your conversation reminded me of that. I was lucky to have friends who suggested keeping a journal, trying out for some plays at my college, and later friends who recommended great books. The first book that helped was THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED by M. Scott Peck. This was shortly after it was published and was so popular that it stayed on the NYT best seller list for several years. Thanks for sharing your story and helping me remember what it was like to live through my late twenties and early thirties. I have empathy for your struggles. Happy reading all your birthday books.

  11. Lindsey says:

    I literally cheered out loud when Anne recommend The Secret History. I just recently read this book and absolutely loved it! Also, I have yet to read 11/22/63 (it’s on my list) but I love Stephen King and The Stand is one of my favorites. I think Kristen would really enjoy it.

  12. Beth says:

    I just finished listening as I got my BOTM September selections email and immediately selected Little Fires Everywhere and shipped my box 🙂

    Loved this episode!

  13. Kerry Peddle says:

    Hi Anne,
    First and foremost, your podcast is my favorite thing to listen to each week!

    I was looking for your travel schedule you mentioned in this episode as I live in Charlotte and will be so excited to see you visit the Charlotte area and Davidson, NC! I hope to get to meet you! Could you let me know or send me to where and when you are going to be here? I can’t seem to find the details on your website or on the show notes, of course this could be user error…

    Thanks so much,


    • Anne says:

      The events page is here:

      I hope to meet you in Charlotte! I’ll be at the Nest Fest on October 21, and Main Street Books on October 22. Two very different and VERY fun events!

  14. Justyna says:

    Hi, Anne! Just a few thoughts:
    1) I, too, have gotten a lot of use from your Kindle deal emails! SO many books from my TBR list are now in my library thanks to you!
    2) Are you still accepting submissions for guest readers?
    3) I would LOVE if you could put out a list of your favorite SHORTER books (I’m thinking maybe fewer than 300 pages). If you already have something like this, I am definitely interested in checking that out!

  15. Ang says:

    I loved this episode, especially about how reading helps you deal with anxiety. Please read “And Then There Were None” rather than wasting your time on “The Woman in Cabin 10.” The first was wonderful, but the second was poorly developed, and even though it was plot driven, left me highly disappointed in the end.

  16. April S says:

    I’ve just begun listening to this episode but I identified so completely with what Kristin said right at the start, that I paused it to come and comment.

    I had a brain aneurysm rupture in May of 2016 and I have recommitted to reading as a kind of self therapy. It’s something I enjoy that I previously wasn’t very committed to, and I feel like it re-trains my brain to focus on one thing for an extended period. Something I feel like I NEED in this multitasking world! Through my recovery process I have identified a high level of anxiety which I am learning to cope with. I am the mother of an autistic child (now a young adult) and it took a health crisis which stopped me in my tracks to pay attention to the real need to take care of MYSELF. I can’t wait to hear the rest of the conversation!

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