Book Recommendation: The Gifts of Imperfection

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown, Phd, LMSW

by Becca C. Kidwell

As I get ready to write this book review, I begin to look at my background as a high school teacher and having a master’s in English education and begin to worry about what will be the response to this review and will it be good enough, and then I remember what I just read in Brené Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection, and I am able to write this.

Brené Brown is a shame researcher, and in this book she explores how her work led her to embrace compassion (particularly for herself) and wholehearted living.  Brené discusses the struggles she’s had with perfectionism and offers suggestions on how to let go of the expectations that we hold for ourselves and for others.  She speaks about this compassion for ourselves, which leads us to be more compassionate, and loving to others. She differentiates between guilt and shame and how guilt is feeling bad about your actions while shame is feeling bad about who you are.

This book blossomed out of a Ms. Brown’s own experiences with shame, particularly as a motivational speaker who has been looked upon with fear and judgement by the people around her because she talks about the subject that makes us cringe:  shame. While reading the book, her style becomes apparent: she’s the Martha Stewart of psychology. If she could control her life, she would have her life completely sorted in neat boxes that shine with no flaws in sight. But, with her research and her own experiences, she recognizes how life is messy and how we need to allow ourselves to live with these complications because it is both the joys and the sorrows, the triumphs and the failures that make our lives full and contribute to what she calls “wholehearted living.”

This book looks at:  cultivating authenticity, self-compassion, a resilient spirit, gratitude, joy, creativity, play, rest, calm, stillness, meaningful work, laughter, song, and dance.  This book originally took me years to get through because it cuts right to the heart of my being.  As a perfectionist, as someone who pushes herself to always put out the most flawless product with whatever I am doing, I would read and then stop; I would start at the beginning again and then stop; and finally, this year I was able to read it all the way through.  Being compassionate, kind, and gentle with myself are some of the hardest skills to accept and apply. Practicing self-care and gratitude are necessary for the process. This book is one that I will continue to read and reread to remind myself that I need to embrace these skills so that I can become more compassionate towards myself, which leads towards being able to share this with others.  This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to open themselves up to life and live a full, more open life through “wholehearted living.”

Brené Brown’s Ted Talk, which inspired this book, is available at:

Book available at:

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