Like many people, I saw Brown’s TED talk that went viral a few years ago about how important vulnerability is in recovering from trauma. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but recently listened to Daring Greatly based on a recommendation. Both Daring Greatly and this book are rather short, and there’s a lot of overlap between the two of them. She has a lot of the same material, and uses the same quote, and some of the same stories as well.
On one hand, it’s a cheap shot to publish two books when you barely even had enough material for one, but on the other hand, some subjects bear repeating. I feel like this is really valuable mid-life spiritual development stuff that a lot of us, myself included, can really use. The fact that it’s all based on research and that Brown admits when the data doesn’t back her theories and changes her theories to suit the data rather than the other way around (you know, like a good scientist is supposed to) gives me comfort.
This audiobook was like a live album in that she was presenting the material to an audience. You hear the claps and sighs, and at times she explains what the audience is doing for those who can’t see it. You miss a lot this way, because some of her explanations and humor are based on facial expressions.
So what’s it about? It’s about shame and vulnerability and fear and about how to live a wholehearted life. It’s about the dangers of trying to fit in and about how to learn who to open up to and the insidious way that trying to act cool will deprive you of joy. Some of it needs to be further explored and expanded, but I think that it’s probably a work in progress.
The good thing about this book is that it’s valuable and interesting stuff that’s relevant to just about everyone. The bad thing is that it’s the Tori Amos album of sociology, when every “new” book is about 50% reworked material. I think this one was better and contained more material than Daring Greatly, so if you haven’t read any of them and are choosing between them, this is a better choice. I’ve heard Gifts of Imperfection is even better.