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Written by: Brene Brown
Number of Pages: 208
Age Range: Adult
For anyone who isn’t yet familiar with Brene Brown’s work, let me be the first to introduce you. You can thank me later. Brown is a research professor, PhD and LMSW who has spent the bulk of her career studying shame and vulnerability. She’s got a couple of fabulous TED talks that are definitely worth your time and if you want a quick overview of her work, start with The Gifts of Imperfection. It’s a fast read but jam packed with lots to think about. Her overarching theme is that we need to open ourselves up to being vulnerable in order to grow and love and basically live a truly full life. The rest of her books expand (and divert a little, though still heading in the same general direction) the thoughts laid out in TGOI. My favorite by far is Daring Greatly, but they are all fantastic.
In Braving the Wilderness she tackles the idea of vulnerability within our roles in society, particularly calling out the political climate we are currently facing. (Mud slinging, endless bipartisan arguing and finger-pointing are never courageous!) She calls on her readers to find the courage to stand alone and stand for what they truly believe, not just to fall into the mob mentality of agreeing with the groups that are the most vocal or even the most accepting. True belonging isn’t just being a part of a group but being part of a group that accepts you for you who are, your most vulnerable and authentic self. And finding that self is hard but necessary if we want to have any chance of making a difference in your own life or in the world. They’re lofty goals and ideas and she acknowledges the difficulty but she also manages to infuse each book with hope and makes it all seem realistically doable.
While her studies and findings are priceless and pretty groundbreaking, its Brown’s personality, charm, and personal vulnerability that make her works really stand out. She never fails to share personal experiences (negative and positive) to illustrate the concepts she’s teaching and her candidness makes you feel as if you’re sitting on the couch sharing stories with a friend. If you’re looking to make some changes in the new year, start by picking up one of Brown’s books and committing to really internalize just one concept she introduces. I promise, your life will never be the same.