Title: The Book of Knowing
Author: Gwendoline Smith
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Rating: 3.5/5


This is a very good book for a general young audience with average problems. You’ve got exam stress. Friends suck. Life’s thrown you a curveball. You’re a teenager and these things are kinda causing emotions that, when combined together, make you feel out of your depth.

If that’s you, you’ll get a lot out of this book. It’s easy to read, the pictures are clear, a part of the text, and are not distracting. It runs through some of the basic tenets of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, pretty much like a pocket therapist. Gwendoline runs us through some common negative thinking patterns and a few ways to combat each one, as well as scenarios where they pop up and how to deal with those scenarios where emotions are complex. It has charts to fill out and helpful strategies for analysing the emotions and working with them productively. The affirmation-style flashcards are a brilliant idea.

Pretty much, this book offers a friendly, short, easy, and a simple approach to the big problems in daily life.But, like life, this book isn’t entirely sweetness and light, so here are the negatives. I was raised to already have these and better tactics when dealing with emotion, so I’m picky. Keep that in mind.

There were errors (the definition of epigenetics, which is my field of study, is not quite correct, and shouldn’t have any place here as it was almost always found in brackets anyway), and no recognition that CBT works for most but not all people. It is very likely to work for you, don’t get me wrong, and you should give it your all if you want to try it out. But, if you read this book and it isn’t working for you, to the point that you are feeling worse by following its advice: me too. CBT doesn’t work for me, and that’s okay. CBT tends to focus on thinking impacting feeling impacting actions, so thinking is the target. That’s not always the way people work in every circumstance and there is no scientific evidence of thoughts before feelings, that’s wrong. If you’ve tried this book’s approach to your fullest and it’s not working, I recommend looking up DBT (Dialetical Behavioural Therapy), which includes mindfulness and acceptance, and was designed to help people with even the most complex life-issues.

Just remember, there’s something for everyone. This is just one toolbox in a whole shed of them. It’s a pretty good one too. If not everything in The Book of Knowing toolbox works for you after giving it a good go, that’s okay! Find another toolbox. There are plenty out there.


Need someone to talk to?  

Lifeline: 0800 543 354

Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email [email protected]

Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7)

What’s Up: online chat (7pm-10pm) or 0800 WHATSUP / 0800 9428 787 children’s helpline (1pm-10pm weekdays, 3pm-10pm weekends)

Kidsline (ages 5-18): 0800 543 754 (24/7)

Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155


MACKENZIE STEELE is Tearaway’s resident evil Aspie queen. Mwahaha! She’s dead set on becoming a geneticist, but she’s interested in other things too. Like Sims, cats, owls, Sims, books, music, Sims, Ancient Roman life, Latin, Sims…


You like? Check out more of Mackenzie’s work below:

How To Be A Life-Saver: Giving Blood Is Easier Than You Think
2018 In Science
100 Years: Remembering World War 1