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Book Reviews: Brene Brown

Brene Brown TED talk: The Power of Vulnerability

I first heard Brene Brown's name about 18 months ago, at a Mom2Mom event. That's a monthly gathering of mothers at every stage, who come together to listen to a speaker, eat a delicious brunch, talk in small groups, and have childcare for those two hours of fellowship. A friend of mine did a talk on vulnerability, and opened with this 20 minute video of Brene doing a TED talk on that very subject. I remember at the event, I wrote her name down which is unusual for me, and watched it again that night. And another time. And then sent it to friends after that. Needless to say, I found her topic and research fascinating, and was happy to find out she had 2 books already published, and a third on the way.


This year I was able to read all three of her books in chronological order, the first being I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn't), which is Brown's body of shame research (yes, she's a shame researcher) that includes interviews, statistics, and scientific data she spent years collecting on shame and shame resilience. I found this book beyond fascinating. It's a bit of an academic read, more so than her two that came after, but I highly recommend reading them in chronological order since that is also how her research happened, adding other topics that bloomed out of that data like vulnerability and Wholeheartedness.

Brown's second book, The Gifts of Imperfection, was a much quicker read for me because not only is it about 100 pages smaller, it's also much more anecdotal and autobiographical. I believe I read this book in just under three days, which is my standard "I can't put this down" time-frame. In this book, Brown goes deeper into the meaning of Wholeheartedness; the 10 factors of those whose lifestyle defines wholeheartedness, and how these people living in this way use bravery and shame resilience, on a whole, much more than those who do not. From the research, there seem to be people who feel they are worthy of love, and those whose shame gets the best of them.

Finally, Brown came out with a third book late last year, called Daring Greatly. This book combines both of her two books into one (albeit small!) summary and then adds with it topics on how wholehearted living, shame, and courage affect our relationships in different environments including work, education, and home life. This book is the pinnacle of the two preceding books because not only does it combine all the research she's done, but it goes a step further with world views  education, parenting, and job culture, and how to change these places positively and with healthy attitudes.

This tidy little review will not help you learn more about what your personal shame triggers are, and rest assured, you have them. Brown's research for over a decade is pretty clear that shame is a universal feeling for women and men. This review won't give you any examples of how to define what gives you shame in your life, and what negative tactics we all use to cover up shame, but I hope it will encourage you to give at least one of these books a shot. Watch the video at the beginning and tell me your interest isn't piqued just a bit. I have really taken these three books to heart and have talked about them with friends and my husband, and have found the research both revealing and helpful in how I relate to others, and what I can be aware of in the future when I feel most vulnerable. I feel Brene has done us all a favor and taken this cringe-worthy information and made it both accessible and even funny in her books by her wonderful humor, and has created a very needed conversation that our country needs to wrap its collective mind around.

So, what are you going to do with this information? 


StephG said…
I first heard about her from The Pioneer Woman. :) I am sad to say I still have not read any of her books yet. Soon...

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