2019 Reading List: Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

I will start with this: I love Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant. That’s why I picked up this book. I love Lean In. I love WorkLife. I love their Ted Talks. I love Facebook.

I did not love this book. And I’ll tell you why.

This book, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy, sounded from the title like it would help people who were struggling with everyday challenges. People who were trying to get promoted at work. People who were trying to find meaningful careers. People who were trying to make tough choices. It sounded like it would contain applicable advice for work life and personal life and emotional life.

But actually, it was about recovering from very acute trauma, specifically the death of a spouse. This was essentially Sheryl Sandberg’s journal of recovery after her husband very suddenly and very unexpectedly passed away while they were on vacation.

I don’t fault Sandberg and Grant for writing this book. Sandberg needed this. They needed to do the research and dig through this trauma to come out the other side whole and clean, if not exactly the same.

But this was not the time in my life when I needed this book. Maybe someday I will return to its words of encouragement, its acceptance, its raw honesty and emotion. But right now, I don’t need to be brought down into Sandberg’s sadness. It’s a hole that I don’t want to be in, where I felt out of place, too privileged to have never experienced this kind of pain, to not be able to relate.

In this book, Sheryl Sandberg spells out the days and minutes leading up to her husband’s death, and then carries on spelling out the days and months afterward. Woven through her memories are the lessons about facing challenges and building resilience. But I couldn’t stop feeling her sadness and experiencing her pain. I myself have a husband. I would be wrecked if he were to die. This book made me think about that possibility much more than I would have liked.

I am sure there are a lot of people who find encouragement in her story and in these words. I am sure that this book really helped people overcome their own personal challenges. But I believe this book best helps those in very traumatizing situations. People whose lives are suddenly upended. People who must face terrible things. People who experience complete loss. People who are experience death, grief, and devastating pain.

I am so very lucky and grateful not to be one of those people. I pray that I will not every have to face these types of things, but this is life and life is unpredictable and scary and messy.

If you have experienced personal trauma, or know someone who has, then I recommend this book. If not, save it for when you might need it.


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