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The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

4.15  ·  Rating Details ·  41,154 Ratings  ·  3,109 Reviews
Each day we face a barrage of images and messages from society and the media telling us who, what, and how we should be. We are led to believe that if we could only look perfect and lead perfect lives, we'd no longer feel inadequate. So most of us perform, please, and perfect, all the while thinking, What if I can't keep all of these balls in the air? Why isn't everyone el ...more
Paperback, 138 pages
Published August 27th 2010 by Hazelden (first published January 1st 2010)
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Eric Merrill Try going to your library's website and see if they have an ebook program like with overdrive. Then you can borrow it and read it on kindle or in…moreTry going to your library's website and see if they have an ebook program like with overdrive. Then you can borrow it and read it on kindle or in other formats (including online or in the kindle desktop app)(less)
Quiet by Susan CainEat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth GilbertDaring Greatly by Brené BrownThe Gifts of Imperfection by Brené BrownThe Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
books from TED
4th out of 82 books — 314 voters
The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené BrownDaring Greatly by Brené BrownI Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn't) by Brené BrownQuiet by Susan CainThe Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
Books to help Women Live Healthy and Happy
1st out of 130 books — 87 voters

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Community Reviews

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Ed McKeogh
Aug 29, 2012 Ed McKeogh rated it really liked it
Shelves: self-help
I've read more than my fair share of "self-help" literature, so I can assert with conviction that this is not a self-help book. Instead, it's a revelation book. Each chapter triggered numerous "ah-Ha!" moments for me, because Dr. Brown goes a step (or two, or five) beyond the common way of looking at or framing an issue to reveal the interconnectedness of elements that stall or sabotage our efforts to live a more satisfying life. Instead of the "that doesn't quite resonate" vibe I often get from ...more
May 11, 2016 Bdalton rated it really liked it
I read this book after watching Brown's TED talk on vulnerability. The TED talk was shown as the last exercise for a leadership class at work. The talk was intriguing and I wanted to know more. Also, I noted that many of the comments regarding this fairly brief talk were often negative. I found the talk inspiring so I wanted to see if there was any validity to the negative comments.

The question that I had in my mind was why was this shown at work? Does Brown suggest that people should be vulnera
May 14, 2011 Lara rated it it was amazing
You may have noticed a theme in my last couple posts. I'm rundown, overwhelmed and I realize that, while my priorities are right in my head, they aren't in reality. So the book I'm reviewing today really came at a perfect time in my own personal crisis. In fact, as I was reading along yesterday (yes, I totally procrastinated reading it due to other books taking up my precious little reading time) I thought to myself, "This book could be companion material for President Uchtdorf's talk at confere ...more
Dani (The Pluviophile Reader)

This book changed my life. Dramatic as it sounds, it's true.

I wrote this on Brené's Facebook page:


I've just about finished your book "The Gifts of Imperfection" which I discovered after watching you speak on TED talks and I can honestly say that this book is helping me completely change my life.

I suffer(ed) from a condition called Dermatillomania ( and I've tried everything from therapists, medication and herbal supplements to help manage
May 21, 2012 Anna rated it liked it
I really like Brene Brown--she gave a terrific and funny TED talk about her research concerning the importance of vulnerability, of imperfection, of failure, and so I read her book. I think her thesis is superb, her research about shame and wholeheartedness really interesting, and the message of the book necessary to modern life. But! I can't help it. I hoped for a little more "perfectionism" in the writing (and structuring! of the book as a whole) which could have used another round or two of e ...more
Ann Lewis
Mar 03, 2013 Ann Lewis rated it did not like it
I had to mark this as read to get if off my list. Actually I had to abort the read. Just could not relate to a word of it at all. I feel like this author is speaking a different language. I have a hard time believing anybody really CARES that much about what others think about them. It's amazing to me. A Whole book telling you it's OK if you're not who someone wants you to be?? I feel like saying "GET A LIFE!"
I also Really had trouble with the writing. This author reminds us on almost every sing
Matt Evans
Listening to this book, I felt like I was being lectured to by the kind of person who concludes her cell-phone's voicemail with the word, 'namaste' -- a Hindi word that means 'I acknowledge the divine in you.' Actually, 'namaste" also signifies that its user knows an exotic Asian concept-word. (Total aside, but in my experience, chronic 'namaste' sayers tend to be impatient and prone to pedantic rages, when life hits them between the eyes with two-by-fours of difficulty and stress; I don't know ...more
Dec 06, 2015 Elyse rated it liked it
Update: I thought this book was 'fair'. The structure of the chapters was too repetitive. Plus, more personal stories needed to be added to make the book feel more human.

Yesterday I started listening to "Rising Strong" by this same author. I had no idea she was the same author as this book, nor did I know that this book, and "Rising Strong", is part of a trilogy. I highly doubt that it matters.
I'm getting much more enjoyment - with Brene Brown's gentle kick in the ass messages from "RISING STR
I am having a hard time writing this review, probably for two reasons. First of all, there is so much that I liked in this book that I know I will be reading it again. If the copy I read had been mine, I might have underlined most of the book.

The second reason that I am struggling here is that I haven't done anything with what I have learned. I have now read two books by Brown; she has pointed out some things I need to be doing for myself and I am resisting following her lead. I know that being
Jun 16, 2015 Diane rated it it was ok
I had to read this for work, but even without the burden of assigned reading, I would not have liked this book. It feels slight, filled with padded stories about shame and vulnerability and the author's reaction to said shame and vulnerability. (And sometimes the author's reaction to her reaction to the shame. Sigh.)

I shall now summarize the book's precepts: Feel Good About Yourself. Be Compassionate and Grateful. Blah blah Laugh Dance Love blah blah.

The book is only about 130 pages and can be r
Jul 05, 2014 Hanne rated it it was ok
It’s true, I’m a sucker for social science research: the human mind just intrigues me like there is not tomorrow; and the emotional side even more so than the rational one. After accidentally seeing Brené Brown’s TED speech for a second time this week, I was intrigued enough to pick up her books.

Unfortunately her book is nowhere near as exciting. First of all, for someone who claims to be an obsessive organizer, there is a remarkable lack of structure in her book. It seems more like a collectio
I read this after geeking out hard because of her TED talk. I think there is a certain point in some these books where you have to have a big fold out section that says in type as big as your face: DO YOU HAVE MONEY? and also DO YOU HAVE A FAMILY? and if you say no, the last 25% of the book will disintegrate or turn into dust. The first 75% was great, relevant, filled with good thoughts and information and quotable stuff. Then she gets to the "my husband's on call a lot" and "my kids dance in th ...more
Jan 08, 2013 EJ rated it really liked it
A little disclaimer: The title isn’t fair to this book. It gives the Illusion this is a self help book. In my opinion its more about human behavior and embracing the life you have.

After watching a Brene Brown TEDtalk I purchased her most recent book, Daring Greatly. Her authenticity or pursuit of it, is what kept my attention.

A lot of authors who write self-help oriented books frustrate me with the façade of perfection. You can just see the word “Namaste” ooze out of their pores. Their seemingly
Feb 27, 2011 Froztwolf rated it liked it
It is quite unfortunate how much the author seems to be stuck in the write style appropriate to blogs, because this book is horribly structured. Each of the chapters tackles a huge subject in a few pages. They have only a marginal connection to one another and there is no flow throughout the book, often leaving the reader confused.

I say this is unfortunate not just because I spent my time reading the book, but because it contains a lot of good information based on the authors research. It conta
Jul 26, 2012 Raven rated it really liked it
I came to this book after watching Brown's TED talk on vulnerability and seeing this book mentioned elsewhere online. The messages of this book are so very important and they really spoke to me. The idea that we are worthy: "The greatest challenge for most of us is believing that we are worthy now, right this minute. Worthiness doesn't have prerequisites." Some of the prerequisites she mentions are "I'll be worthy when I lose twenty pounds," "I'll be worthy if everyone thinks I'm a good parent," ...more
In addition to reading West, I've also been into a lot of mindfulness books/stuff that's related to mindfulness lately, like this one. I found and really liked her TED talk by chasing down some references from Buddha's Brain, so I decided to read her book after that. Overall, I think a lot of her points are well-taken. I also liked that she reiterates constantly that all of her ideas are research and statistics based, not something she just, like, felt one day. I also give her props for being op ...more
Brene Brown tries to distill her research and reporting what she found are the differences between "wholehearted" people and the rest of us running-scared-dogs.

What she doesn't do is make it any easier for us to bridge the gap between where we are and where we'd like to be. She claims she made some serious attitude shifts through a year of intensive therapy, then wraps up each chapter with some easy (and unfounded in her research) platitudes and daily affirmations about "digging deep". Which ar
Dec 17, 2012 Betty rated it it was ok
A couple of general points that were interesting to consider--such as setting boundaries for yourself and holding people accountable for their behaviors. This means we should address specific actions by the people in our lives, not attack who they are. We often convince ourselves that someone is hateful or deserving of our dislike when what we really have issue with is a something they've done or some way they've behaved. However by failing to establish our own boundaries (or standards) we feel ...more
Jul 28, 2011 Lisa rated it really liked it
Brene Brown is not the typical self help guru. "And you know how there are people that, when they realize that vulnerability and tenderness are important that they surrender and walk into it? A. That's not me. B. I don't even hang out with people like that." When I heard Brown say this in a recent TED talk, I knew she was the struggling perfectionist I could take advice about letting go from. I find it much harder buy into life advice from someone who hasn't also completely effed it up like me. ...more
Stephanie R
Mar 17, 2013 Stephanie R rated it really liked it
I actually rate this book 4 1/2 stars.

I think what Brown has to say is incredibly important. Our society is permeated by shame; it destroys our mental and physical health and sickens our ability to connect with one another. My own life has been crippled by shame that was instilled in me at birth.

Brown is very easy to relate to and her anecdotes are charming (you must see her TED talks). I am an extremely anxious person and I've read many, many self-help books. None of them have made an impressio
Oct 30, 2010 Amalia rated it it was amazing
You know books that come along at just the right time and really hit you where you are?
Yep, this was one of those for me.
The fact that this book helps provide a guide that is based upon research (well-designed qualitative research) is terrific; the science gives you the bigger picture of how this all works.
My one challenge while reading it is that I wanted to simply devour it, read it all in one or two settings- something that doesn't work for a book like this that demands introspection if you'
Oct 22, 2010 Jeannine rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Some good points, but most of the suggested solutions are pretty obvious. (Relax, play, center yourself spiritually whatever that means to you, stop striving, do something creative, blah blah blah).

It really annoyed me that she capitalized Wholehearted throughout the whole book. I would not be surprised to see a whole Wholehearted(tm) product line in stores soon. Journals! Notecards! Classes!

Ah well. Whatever works for you.

Cute slogans and catchphrases don't work for me. They turn me off.

Is it
Dec 31, 2014 Bryce rated it it was ok
I felt that the author's writing and insights were somewhat disjointed and scattered. The book didn't flow well from beginning to end and has a serious drop off in relevance in the final chapters. I did think a lot of the advice was truly useful and important, but this information was given in small snippets amongst a large amount of other information which was less useful and not very helpful.

It bothered me that throughout the book that the author kept talking about the years and years of quali
Jan 05, 2016 Carolyn rated it it was amazing
Pretty powerful stuff. The biggest takeaway for me personally is the idea of practice--that it's not just something you do to learn things (or perfect your abilities at things), but it's an accountability measure. If I say X is important to me, but I don't actively try to make X happen (by practicing whatever leads to X!) then I'm not giving myself any opportunities for X or even allowing it a place to be.

I'm not totally with her on what she thinks of as the spirituality aspect--maybe I would c
Sep 19, 2011 Gloria rated it it was ok
They say timing is everything.

I think I picked up the WRONG book after just finishing a harrowing novel on Vietnam.
It seemed vapid and navel-gazing, at best, after reading about these young kids being blown to bits.

Okay, but timing aside, what I did skim over in here seemed so common sense already.
And could have been summed up in one sentence.
Be who you are.
If you don't know who you are, you might have a problem which even this book won't help you answer.
Lisamarie Landreth
126 pages that will set you free...
Jan 29, 2016 Jess rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: people who have never once reflected on their lives before
Shelves: to-read-again
Minor updates 30 Jan 2016. Still panning it.

This book...doesn't really say anything new, at least, not to me - I'm not sure if this is good or bad news, but I'm pretty sure it's a bad sign for the book, because I'm only twenty, and if I've got all these 'life-changing' revelations figured out then something is very wrong with the universe. The first thing you will realize about this book is that EVERYTHING! IS! IMPORTANT! I lost count of the number of times a perfectly banal, bleedingly obvious
Andrea McDowell
Aug 23, 2015 Andrea McDowell rated it it was ok
I got about 65% of the way through this one, plus the appendix on methodology, before I gave up.

a) I find it very odd that in a book about embracing imperfection and "who you are," there is so much emphasis on being grateful, joyful, spiritual, etc. What is a person who is naturally somewhat grouchy and devoutly non-spiritual to do? One can only assume that such persons are encouraged to change, to embrace the parts of themselves that are imperfect in other ways.

This is unfortunate. While there
Jigme Datse
Aug 31, 2015 Jigme Datse rated it really liked it
I'm kind of having a hard time with this. I can't really say that it "was amazing". But that might be more to do with the fact that I'm feeling really in a bad place right now.

What I can say about this. Most of it really connected with me. The *minor* piece that didn't (and I am not really sure if it is more a semantics issue than anything else) was that a few places she talked pretty specifically about the *need for spirituality*.

The reason that I feel that it might be more a matter of semanti
Sep 02, 2013 Tamara rated it liked it
Recommended to Tamara by: Angie
Definitely had the self-help vibe, but for me, it didn't discount the useful knowledge housed within.

Also, due to a random quote by Bell Hooks, I am now inspired to go back and re-read everything she ever wrote.

Side note: One of my literary pet peeves is authors constantly quoting themselves by referring back to their earlier works. It just seems a bit too cannibalistic for my taste.

Favorite Quotes

You learn courage by couraging.

Courage originally meant "To speak one's mind by telling all one
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Dr. Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work.She has spent the past thirteen years studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame.

Brené is the author of two #1 New York Times Bestsellers: Daring Greatly and The Gifts of Imperfection.

Her latest book, Rising Strong will be released on August 25, 2015. In Rising Strong, Brené writes, “If
More about Brené Brown...

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“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.

Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.

Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed and rare.”
“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It's about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” 488 likes
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