Book review #1: Wish I Could Be There

Yes! I did it! I finished the book as I intended. I have also created a ranking system of sorts for the books that I will read and review in the next 6 months:

5. TOP SHELF: One of the best books I have ever read. Took it with me everywhere I went. Soul stirring and changed me for the better. Added it to my “top shelf” of keepers and books to refer back to. Underlined 83% of the book (or more!). I grew sadder as I turned each page knowing that the adventure would soon end.

4. MID-SHELF: Fabulous read. Hard to put down at times. Will recommend to friends. Underlined 30% of the book. Would pay full price and buy copies for all my friends because they can’t have mine! Quotable and energizing to the very end.

3. BOTTOM “SHELF” DWELLER: Average read. Would prefer not to pay full price. Won’t recommend to friends unless it is a perfect fit for them or something they are experiencing. Underlined a few quotes. It will probably get lost somewhere on one of my many bookshelves before I give in and donate it in a few years.

2. DOOR STOP: Below average read. Will donate to Goodwill ASAP! Do yourself a favor and read my review instead of buying the book for 99 cents at a yard sale. But then again, if you have insomnia, this book may just be the cure you need!

1. FIRE KINDLING: This book should have been used to make bookshelves because it was not worth reading. We will probably use as kindling to start fires in the fire pit. Don’t waste your time or money! Like watching mold grow on cheese. I struggled to the very end.


Book: “Wish I Could Be There: Notes from a Phobic Life”, 254 pages

Author: Allen Shawn

Ranking: MID-SHELF book (4 out of 5 shelves)

When I first picked this book up at a thrift store, I had no idea what I was going to read. However, I am glad I chose to read this book. As I mentioned last Sunday in my Trip Around the World announcement, I am very claustrophobic. I believe this phobia and the anxiety that is deeply connected to it started when I was a small child. I was run over by a tractor at the age of two. I was face down in the sand under the weight of the tractor and crushed by its powerful weight. I have no physical memory or recall from this event. However, I have no doubt that my body remembers what happened.

Additionally, my sister and I were “trapped” in an armoire when we were about 5 and 3 years old. We were playing in the bottom of it and pulled the doors shut. They locked from the outside and we panicked. In our hysteria, we pushed on the doors in a feeble attempt to escape and the armoire fell over, trapping us inside. We screamed frantically and were soon found by my dad who flipped the armoire over and rescued two panic-stricken little girls from that dark dungeon.

Needless to say, I am claustrophobic as an adult. There are certain situations I avoid and certain places I will not go. I am sure some of you are learning this about me for the first time. I hide it well. We all hide certain things about us that create anxiety or fear. However, I have been on a fascinating journey since March of 2011. I want to be able to say that I am not claustrophobic. I don’t want to feel anxious in certain situations. As   Robert Frost said, “…the best way out is always through…”.

Since my healing journey started, I have faced my demons and I have learned so much about what makes me tick. It has been a thrilling and unencumbering ride. And it continued as I read this book about phobias.

Allen Shawn struggles with agoraphobia. He says, “the agoraphobia predicament seems to be that one cannot easily move forward in the world without knowing already what lies ahead.” Throughout the book, Shawn looks at his own childhood and experiences for the source of his phobias. He also considers how genes play a role as well. He interviews many experts in the field and shares their research. By using both his own personal experiences and science, he leaves the reader with a plethora of information regarding phobias and anxiety. I enjoyed reading his honest self-reflections and I think he is to be commended for facing his demons and sharing his experiences with his readers.

I gave Allen Shawn’s book “Wish I Could Be There” 4 shelves for the following reasons:

1. It was relevant to my life and I could relate to most everything he discussed.

2. It met me exactly where I am on my own healing journey.

3. It challenged me to look at my life and my struggle with claustrophobia in a new light.

4. I am a different person as a result of reading this book.

I did not give it 5 shelves for the following reason:

1. Several chapters were very theory heavy. It was a review for me because of my background, but it was very dense reading. I struggled to read the theory chapters word for word. But I was eager to keep reading because he balanced the theories with his personal experiences quite well.

This book may not need to be on your bookshelf, but it has found a home on mine. I am grateful that I picked it up by “chance”…yeah, you know what I really mean. It was placed in my path. Grateful. Here is one of my favorite take aways from the book:

“When habits of avoidance and anxiety persist for a long time, they become a part of you, like chronic pain. The brain gets used to the connections, and they harden. Amazingly, though, even the adult brain can build entirely new connections. The old ones can become undone–if a person is ready to undo them–and eventually, with hard work, replaced.” pg. 194

I am ready to do the hard work. Coming undone is not such a bad thing….

And now, the book for this week is: “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie.

A dear friend of mine who is a life coach has recommended this book. She shared that it was transformational for her. I will post a book review next Sunday. Happy reading, friends!



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14 responses to “Book review #1: Wish I Could Be There

  1. Cathy Williams

    Hmmmm….might have to check this one out…..just might be a nugget in there for me…like maybe a tossed-upside-my-head nugget….

  2. Cathy Williams

    And btw, I have a copy of Dale Carnegie’s book as well…..

  3. staceydaze

    I finished The Hobbit. 🙂 Thanks for the spur. I have three books I’m working on now, but I”m hoping to finish Jacob the Liar by the end of the week. 🙂 I’m glad your book was a keeper!

  4. sophie

    Hey!!! Love the fire kindlin’ rating 🙂 Still working on “Leaving a Trace”….

  5. Thanks for your honesty Lizzie! I love your rating system! May I share it on my Blog?

  6. Oh you poor baby… My momma heart broke for you stuck in the armoire!!

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