One month after Sheryl Sandberg’s husband died, in June 2015, the Facebook COO posted an essay about her grief and ongoing recovery, crediting Adam Grant, her friend and an organizational psychologist, with teaching her about resilience. The essay went viral and spawned Sandberg and Grant’s Option B (Knopf, 2017), which has sold 338,000 print copies.
The subject of resilience had been gaining traction in self-help circles before Sandberg and Grant published their book. Eric Greitens, a former Navy SEAL who began his first term as Missouri governor earlier this year, shared his correspondence with a former SEAL comrade who was struggling through PTSD in 2015’s Resilience (HMH), which has sold 63,000 print copies and which PW’s starred review called a “no-nonsense self-help book filled with lessons that can apply to anyone’s life.”
Donna Loffredo, an editor at Harmony Books, says that such titles are helpful at a time when people are feeling “especially rattled by political forces and economic forces.” She edited the forthcoming Resilient (Apr. 2018) by Rick Hanson—a psychologist whose books include 2009’s Buddha’s Brain (New Harbinger; 231,000 print copies sold)—and Forrest Hanson, his son.
The book grew out of the online course Rick Hanson started in 2014, the Foundations of Well-Being, and is built around what he deems 12 key strengths, including aspiration, confidence, and motivation. Readers can work through the book’s material in conjunction with the yearlong course on which it’s based, or dip into sections as they appeal.
Eamon Dolan, v-p and editorial director at his eponymous imprint at HMH, is publishing David DeSteno’s Emotional Success (Jan. 2018), which he describes as taking “a new approach to the theme” of resilience. DeSteno’s book, based on evidence that the author has gathered with his colleagues at Northeastern University and elsewhere, emphasizes the role of prosocial emotions—compassion, gratitude, and pride—in developing resilience.
“We usually think of emotions making us more impulsive,” Dolan says, but Emotional Success shows readers how “emotions increase our self-control, not decrease it.”
The Five Gifts by Laurie Nadel (HCI, Apr. 2018), which features an introduction by her colleague Dan Rather, also emphasizes the role that emotions play in developing resilience, proposing that patience, empathy, humility, forgiveness, and growth can help build personal strength in the face of a disaster or other major chaotic event. Nadel, a journalist who was inspired by survivors’ stories to become a psychotherapist and counsel first responders, has been a field reporter around the world, covering the Rwandan genocide, the tsunami in Bali, 9/11, and the Newtown shooting, among other traumatic events.
Elizabeth Smart recounted her personal trauma—her abduction from her home at age 14—in My Story (St. Martin’s, 2013), which has sold 180,000 print copies. For the forthcoming Where There’s Hope (St. Martin’s, Apr. 2018), she interviewed 21 people who have overcome grief, sexual abuse, and other trauma.
“Elizabeth opens each chapter by describing going to a person’s house or calling them,” says Charles Spicer, v-p and executive editor at St. Martin’s Press. “It’s not a qa format, but a very personal book.” Where There’s Hope, which includes discussions with well-known figures like Anne Romney and Diane von Furstenburg, offers readers tools for overcoming tragedy, and lessons about resilience from the interviewees, and Smart’s own thoughts on subjects such as rage and forgiveness.
Several forthcoming books propose that resilience can develop not only out of major trauma, but also out of the challenges of daily life. Illustrator Meera Patel, for example, faces a familiar foe head-on in My Friend Fear (TarcherPerigee, Jan. 2018). “This year has been filled with fear for me,” she says. “I’ve made so many changes in almost every part of my life, and I’m learning to see my fears in a way that can help me.”
Patel is the author of the 2015 guided journal Start Where You Are (TarcherPerigee), which has sold 165,000 print copies. (For more on guided journals, see “The Write Direction.”) In her new title, which she also illustrated, she shares 13 essays “walking you through how fear takes root and affects all parts of your body and your outlook on the world.” The book, she says, positions fear as a means to know oneself and to learn to overcome the obstacles that fear creates, in order to build resilience.
With a pub date timed to Valentine’s Day, Guy Winch’s How to Fix a Broken Heart (TED, Feb. 2018) encourages resilience in the face of another common adversity: heartbreak. Winch, whose TED Talk “Why We All Need to Practice Emotional First Aid” has more than five million views, is a practicing psychologist, and his book follows the stories of a handful of patients as they deal with different aspects of a broken heart.
“Guy Winch identifies heartbreak as not necessarily connected to love, but a state that you can attach to any important life event,” says Michelle Quint, executive editor at SS imprint TED Books. “There’s a lot breaking people’s hearts right now, from politics to hurricanes.” Through the stories of Winch’s patients, readers learn the many faces heartbreak can wear, the tricks it can play on even the most grounded person, and how to move through and past it.
Julia Samuel, who has worked as a grief psychotherapist for 25 years, also draws on her work with her patients. Grief Works (Scribner, Jan. 2018), which was published to positive attention in the U.K. earlier this year, is organized thematically, with case studies showing the ways people may cope with the death of a particular family member, or in situations of terminal illness or suicide. It’s intended for those suffering a loss and for the loved ones who want to help them through difficult times.
New Harbinger has several new titles on the theme of resilience, among them Anneliese Singh’s The Queer Trans Resilience Workbook and Sheela Raja and Jaya Ashrafi’s The PTSD Survival Guide for Teens, both due in February 2018, and Kate Swoboda’s The Courage Habit, pubbing in May 2018. The Courage Habit is intended for a broad audience, while the other two titles address New Harbinger’s developing interest in providing books for marginalized communities. Books like The Queer Trans Resilience Workbook and The PTSD Survival Guide for Teens, says Ryan Buresh, acquisitions editor at New Harbinger Press, offer tools for building resilience that speak to the specific needs of people in those demographics.
The theme of resilience has long been relevant, Buresh says, but new books on the subject reflect a growing awareness of how the world works. “Resilience doesn’t ask the world to change,” he says. “It asks us to change our response” to it.