I bought this book as soon as it came out because I was such a big fan of Charlamagne’s first book. I started reading it, but I couldn’t really get past the first chapter because I just couldn’t relate to what he was talking about. For the past two years, it’s been collecting dust on my bookshelf, but I finally picked it up because I needed to read something that would make me feel like what I’ve been experiencing is normal. This quarantine has been really rough on me, guys. I’m not enjoying it all, but I’m trying not to complain because I still have things I can be grateful for. If you’re experiencing anxiety or depression during this weird and uncertain time, I hope this review will inspire you to pick up this book.
Shook One is part memoir and part self-help book. Charlamagne shares his experiences with mental health problems and tries to shed light on where he thinks these problems started. He talks about how his rise to fame has impacted his anxiety, how his relationship with his father affected his marriage and his parenting style, and he explains how therapy has changed his life. He also enlists the help of a psychiatrist, Dr. Ish, who makes clinical connections for all of the personal anecdotes Charlamagne tells.
Length: 254 pages
Additional Sections: Foreword by Brad “Scarface” Jordan and Introduction (intro is a must-read)
Year Published: 2018
The Good Stuff
The book is split up into 7 sections, and all of them explain how anxiety has permeated different parts of Charlamagne’s life. This book is definitely equal parts memoir and self-help – this is not a universal how-to guide on tackling anxiety, but I still thought a lot of it was relatable. There are things Charlamagne has experienced that I will never experience, but I was able to connect parts of it to things that have happened in my own life.
I feel like my life has been pushing me towards seeking therapy a lot lately. I keep seeing other people open up about their stories, and everything I’ve seen is making me realize that I need to talk some things out. I went to a therapist three years ago when I was in college, but so much has happened since then and this was the final push to make me realize I should talk to someone.
One of the biggest things I’ve learned from this book is that panic attacks can take many different forms. I appreciate Charlamagne for being so open in this book, because many people would be scared to admit that they’ve been through the things he’s experienced. Panic attacks are not always people hyperventilating and passing out. Sometimes they involve irrational thinking that gets so bad that you can’t function, or that you make a rash decision. This book and my friend Brianna’s recent YouTube video about anxiety made me realize that I’ve had many panic attacks before, and that what I’ve been experiencing isn’t an anomaly and it has a name.
I thought it was incredibly smart of Charlamagne to have a psychiatrist contribute to this book. At the end of every chapter, Dr. Ish ties everything together (I did have one problem with his parts of the book – see the next section). The most useful part of his contribution for me was where he broke down the difference between a psychiatrist, a psychologist, and a counselor. In my mind I’ve always been very eager to pick one therapist instead of shopping around and meeting with several before I choose one. Dr. Ish made it clear that it’s a good thing to meet with a few before you find someone you connect with, and I definitely plan on doing that in the future.
I was inspired by how much work Charlamagne has done. I’ve disagreed with him several times on so many different topics and situations, but I can’t deny that he’s done the work to better himself. If you’re a fan of his or you listen to the Breakfast Club, then you know that Charlamagne cheated on his wife a lot. The section on parenting paranoia was one of my favorites, even though I’m not a parent yet. So many of us behave the way we do because of things that happened to us during our childhood. It takes a brave person to figure out how to heal from it and to push themselves to continue the same cycle of toxicity or abuse that was used on them. It was great to read how Charlamagne made connections and used what learned to be a better husband and father.
The last section of the book is on the fear of failure, and I enjoyed the advice Charlamagne gave on how anxiety can be a superpower in the pursuit of success. I learned a lot from this section about the usefulness of daily affirmations (to be honest, I used to think they were very corny) and about the importance of not downplaying my accomplishments. I also enjoyed the tips on how to cope with anxiety in the moment. Breathing exercises are the most effective for me, so I always like learning new ways to practice breathing in a way that relaxes me.
This book was wonderful. It made anxiety more relatable and less scary for me, and I applaud Charlamagne for writing in a way that was easy to understand and not so intimidating. Even if you don’t come from the same circumstances as Charlamagne, you can probably stand to learn something from this book.
What I Would Change
I’m not sure if I just notice grammatical errors more now than I did before, but this book had enough that it was noticeable. I know every book has a few, but this book had several. 90% of them were in Dr. Ish’s sections. I don’t know if nobody proofread his parts of the book, but the way they were written took away from the message at times. It wasn’t just spelling mistakes, it was poor sentence structure. I shouldn’t have to read one sentence multiple times to figure out what he’s talking about. I was kind of surprised that the parts written by a doctor were done poorly, and it distracted me from his message.
Overall Rating: 9.5/10
If you want to hear more discussion about my personal journey with anxiety, please check out episode 26 of my podcast with Brianna Stuckey. Please also let me know if y’all are interested in a blog post about where my anxiety comes from and how I’ve been handling it. I’m done with self-help books for now, y’all. Next book I’m reading is Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid, and I’m excited to dive into a good fiction book. I’ll be back with another review soon! Thank you for reading.