A book cover

Book review: Every Waking Moment

8th November 2022

John Russell from our volunteer book review team tells us what he thought of 'Every Waking Moment: The Journey to Take Back My Life from the Trauma and Stigma of Stuttering' by Christopher Anderson. 

Christopher Anderson describes his self-published book Every Waking Moment as an exploration in self-help, and has come up with a deeply personal and detailed — and at times emotional — account  of living with a stammer and his on-going struggle to hide it at all costs. It soon became his every waking moment.  Hence the title!  

The plus for me in reviewing the book is that it contained within each of the three parts several sub-sections focusing on, say, an aspect of Anderson's struggle/attitude with stammering, etc, which made it easy to follow.


A lot of people who stammer are likely to relate to his school experiences, as a child being taken out of class and walked down dimly-lit corridors for speech lessons and wanting to hide in the bathroom when he knew he would be required to speak in class. 

Anderson uses a metaphor of a 'snake travelling around the class', knocking over students like dominoes after each one had read aloud. He describes how he took on the voice of a baby to appear fluent to his non-stammering peers and being haunted as a child by the conversations between his mum and the speech pathologist.

As a young man, working for the FBI, Anderson describes being caught in a silent block when asked his name by the Director, and being told in a job interview situation "How can you work in a such a stressful situation when you cannot even hold a conversation with people?".  As devastating as this was, the author viewed 'every failure' as helping him to become more resilient.

The second part of the book is titled 'Transcendence' and describes how being invited to join a self-help group where the goal was not fluency but being able to say what the participants wanted, when they wanted.  This produced the first of many 'lightbulb' moments for the author.  Another such moment was realising that stammering openly would release him from the 'chokehold' 
that it had over him. Being in a group with other people who stammer gave him the tools and freedom to do this. The plus for Anderson was that it was the catalyst for him to stammer openly in public. 

Alongside the progress made in the group, the author used cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to reframe situations that were a challenge, and to develop more effective strategies for coping with those challenges.

An interesting question was posed in this section: can you learn to thrive if you have a stammer? The author describes in detail how he trained, prepared and competed in a number of Ironman competitions as a way of distracting himself from stammering. In another part he states how he wouldn't try and do things in case 'stuttering got in the way'. 

Another lightbulb moment for Anderson was sitting in the audience at a National Stuttering Association of America conference open mic session and listening to someone who appeared 'broken' and described how stammering had 'ruined their life'. I was not the only one, he thought to himself! Anderson describes how the words would get stuck in his throat and his stammer would be characterised by a series of silent blocks.

In part three, Anderson describes the 'propellers of change', a phrase I have not encountered before. The Hierarchy of fear, where he put speaking situations into a hierarchy of difficulty, was another interesting observation — similar to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.


Every Waking Moment provides a human story of a man who has gone through life with a stammer and will, I believe, resonate with many other people who stammer. It will also appeal to speech and language therapists, researchers and parents of children who stammer. Phrases such as lightbulb moments, Hierarchy of fear and propellers of change will, I think, prove to be very appealing and initiate further investigation. 

Christopher Anderson is to be congratulated on writing such a detailed and often raw account of being a person who stammers. For him, coping with it really has been his every waking moment.

Every Waking Moment: The Journey to Take Back My Life from the Trauma and Stigma of Stuttering by Christopher Anderson is available on Amazon in paperback, hardback, eBook and audiobook (read by Christopher).

You can hear from Christopher Anderson himself, who tells us the story behind the book and what things helped him to come to terms with stammering. Read his article 'Every Waking Moment  My Book for the Stammering Community'.

Two women in running outfits holding flags and looking at the camera
Tayo & Bhupinder
A speaker on stage at STAMMAFest 2023

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