Title: If You Feel Too Much: Thoughts on Things Found and Lost and Hoped For
Author: Jamie Tworkowski
Publication Date: May 26, 2015
Premise: If You Feel Too Much is a collection of stories Jamie Tworkowski has written over a decade of his life. From new beginnings to times of transition, Jamie details events in his life and those he feels connected to. He offers honesty and vulnerability, encouraging others to do the same while holding on to hope.
Other: An expanded edition of If You Feel Too Much was released September 6, 2016.
Ashley: I love this book so much—so much that I have several copies of it with each one serving a different purpose—and have lost track of how many times I’ve read it. It always inspires me to write, because it makes me feel too much every time I read it. In fact, If You Feel Too Much made me realize that I truly do feel too much. It’s the book that pushed me to be honest about whatever I felt, made me realize how it’s okay to be vulnerable, and inspired me to be more than a sports writer and journalist and to write personal, creative pieces.
There are stories of love, pain, hope, disappointment, and all the emotions they come with. The book leaves you feeling as though you’ve made a true human connection while reflecting on your own feelings and how you can find hope and comfort in your own life.
Amanda: Even if this weren’t such a quick read, I probably would have still finished it in a day, because I enjoyed it so much. (I too have multiple copies of the book for different purposes.) Even though these are all Jamie’s stories, they’re easy to relate to, as they all have some sort of universal human theme. Because of that, it’s not necessarily like you’re learning all about Jamie or reading about his life when going through If You Feel Too Much.
The way he’s written it makes it seem more like you’re connecting with him and/or other people mentioned in the book, which is absolutely amazing because Jamie is a firm believer that people need other people. This book is brutally honest and definitely makes you feel something. Personally it inspired me to be more vulnerable and write about emotional topics, and I don’t think I could ever get tired of reading this book.
Carly: This is a book that fills you up from start to finish. It’s like the words flow out of Jamie’s mouth and into your heart. Some of the stories Jamie grapples with are intense and difficult to read, but the overarching message radiates hope and comfort. It brilliantly portrays the struggle of being human and what it’s like to feel emotion. It’s the perfect book to carry with you and pick up whenever you need raw, human connection. This is a piece you can read over and over without getting tired of it, because different parts will speak to you at different points of your life. I myself continually come back to it; I consider the book like an old friend, and Jamie’s words never let me down.
What We Liked
Ashley: The title is absolutely perfect. It’s from one of the stories in the book, but it encompasses the overall theme and message of the entire book tremendously. Every time I read it, I very much so feel too much.
The book contains stories arranged chronologically, so Jamie’s oldest pieces are what you’ll find at the beginning of the book. But you don’t even need to read them in order. You can pick and choose stories to read, and it’s just as great. The stories themselves are short and easy to read, making the book easy to get through. They’re personal stories he has written for others, stories he has written about people in his life, stories about things in the world that he isn’t a part of, but it’s not like you’re reading all about Jamie. You’re taking in Jamie’s words—some of which concern his personal life—and learning about what it’s like to be human and truly feel.
Jamie does a great job of giving his insight through such pieces, providing honesty but also hope even when negativity arises. He has written it all in a way that really lets others in and lets others know it’s okay to do the same—that it’s okay to feel too much.
Amanda: My favorite thing about this book is that all of the stories inside can stand alone but together, show a small portion of Jamie’s life. It makes the book easy to come back to regardless of how much or how little you feel like reading.
It’s wonderful to read such well-written, deep, and vulnerable words like Jamie’s. I know most people know Jamie as the founder of a mental health non-profit, but this book isn’t a promotion for To Write Love on Her Arms or a how-to book on how to take care of your mental health. It just tells his stories, and while doing so, promotes the many ideas he’s tried to share through TWLOHA. He encourages everyone who picks up his book to be open and honest, to know it’s okay to be emotional and not be happy all the time.
Carly: I love the ease with which this book delivers its message. The stories are cut into short chapters, and each one offers a unique perspective on life. I like how Jamie opens his heart and pours all of his feelings onto the page, because his vulnerability invites you in. It’s an invitation to feel your own pain and to realize that it’s okay to do so. It’s a reminder to seek connection with others and to be honest. It’s a plea to be kind to others, because you never know the full story.
The poetic way Jamie writes is so special; his ability to capture his feelings and infuse them into his stories makes this book one of a kind.
Ashley: Jamie should’ve included a picture of him and Kyle Korver in either of the chapters Kyle is mentioned. That is all.
Amanda: I honestly don’t know how I’d improve this book. I mean, I’d like it to be longer because I want to read more of his stories and writing and I read the whole book so quickly, but the stories that compose If You Feel Too Much were chosen for a reason. They accurately tell the stories of that part of his life. Plus, he already released an expanded edition, so I guess I really don’t have any other complaints or anything about this specific book. I’m just waiting for the next one now.
Carly: I don’t have any criticisms of this book—I love the title, the content, the style, the physical dimensions of the book, and so on. I really just want there to be a book number two, which is something Jamie hinted at when he came to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as part of the One Book One Campus program. I went through this first book so quickly, and while I still pick it up every now and again to flip to my favorite sections, I would love some new stories. I have a feeling Jamie has a lot more to say, as he has been through a lot since writing the last book, and is entering a new phase in his life.
Ashley: This is one book is especially great if you’re like me and feel too much—obviously—because it makes it so you aren’t alone. The book is like a reassuring friend who’s always there to acknowledge you and validate your feelings.
But I think everyone could benefit from—which is one reason why I’ve gifted the book to several people. If You Feel Too Much is so open and honest, and Jamie’s words encourage people to do the same, to really feel what they feel—even if it’s difficult. The myriad of themes covered in If You Feel Too Much makes it so everyone can find a way to relate to a subject Jamie covers. So even if you don’t feel too much about one topic, there’s still another topic you do feel too much about to relate to.
Amanda: Are you an introvert? Do you overthink things? If the answer to either of those questions is yes, then you should read it.
But I honestly think anyone and everyone should read this book at some point in their life. It’s got topics that are relatable to a wide variety of people, especially as we all have emotions and feelings. This book is all about trying to be okay about being sensitive and emotional, and I think we could all benefit from learning that it’s okay to feel too much sometimes. Plus, it’s a quick read, so even those who don’t particularly like to read much could easily get through it. (Obviously I want like everyone to read this because Ashley and I have gifted at least nine copies of If You Feel Too Much to our friends.)
Carly: Anybody can find a story that speaks to them in this book. People who are sensitive or more emotional will find a lot of comfort in this book, and will relate to Jamie’s struggle with feeling too much. I implore everybody to pick up this book and give it a try; Jamie’s words will speak for themselves.