Generation Panic – Simple & Empowering Techniques to Combat Anxiety by Agi Heale (John Hunt Publishing), £11.99.

Harriet Cochrane

Generation Panic, by Agi Heale, is a guidebook for young people living with anxiety. Heale identifies herself as a member of this generation, or a “GP’er”, which she describes as “the group of people in their twenties or thirties who battle with anxiety on some level.”

The author aims to offer busy, stressed-out people handy tips and tricks to combat anxiety-related issues. Her chapters are split into different sections, each with a particular thought process for GP’ers to consider in times of panic, under headings such as “Snapshot”, “Importance to GP’ers”, “Jump into Action”, “My Experience”, and “Go for It”.  

Heale’s methods appear well-researched and easy to put into practice. But, while her techniques may be effective, some of them don’t seem to be hugely practical. Memorising phrases to say out loud to yourself in times of stress, for example, would hardly be useful in public situations. And whipping out flashcards with motivational quotes in an office environment doesn’t seem very professional.  

Perhaps I’m cynical, but surely there are ways to combat mental health issues in your own time, rather than letting them interfere with your working life. In essence, Heale’s sentiment and advice is sound, but her tone is somewhat elementary,  The ‘you can do it!’ mantra, paired with hand-drawn characters on every page, feels more suited to a younger age bracket. 

Despite this, Heale’s emphasis on looking after yourself and avoiding self-flagellation over minor slips and mistakes is something that all GP’ers need to hear. 

Walking The Invisible: Following in the Brontë’s footsteps by Michael Stewart (HarperCollins), £16.99.

John Freeman

In his new book, Walking the Invisible, Michael Stewart takes the reader on an informative meander through the geography that formed and inspired Charlotte, Emily, Anne and Branwell Brontë. He incorporates guides and simple maps of their Yorkshire homelands (the latter attractively drawn by Chris Goddard). It is not an earnest or “heavy” exploration of the Brontës but a book best savoured first in an armchair and later carried in a rucksack on walks over the moors.

There are many ways to “encounter” long-dead novelists in addition to reading the works they left behind. In the Brontë‘s case, Stewart believes the best way to do this is by following in their footsteps. They walked in a landscape often searingly wild and bleak, and that was not the only harshness they faced. Within the comparative shelter and warmth of the parsonage at Haworth, their lives were touched by much sadness and loss.

Stewart is an evocative writer with some vivid turns of phrase. He draws out convincingly how the Brontës’ hard lives in a demanding landscape generated novels that have entered the English imagination. Part of Stewart’s achievement alongside his relatively familiar depictions of Emily and Charlotte is to shine a light on their father and mother, giving due weight to Anne and extending real sympathy to Branwell too, who was ultimately ruined by drink and possibly afflicted with mental illness. 

If you are going to be in Yorkshire – perhaps for a staycation – in the course of this year, step out with Stewart and discover the Brontës anew, on foot.