Julie Christine's Reviews > Rising Strong

Rising Strong by Brené Brown
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really liked it
bookshelves: best-of-2016, reference-instructional, read-2016, writing-companions

There are books that meet you at just the right time, when you most need and are open to their messages. I can well imagine encountering the warm Texan embrace of Brené Brown's brand of social psychology at other times of my life and being turned off by its fierceness, volume and confidence. I may have looked askance at the cult of Brené Brown, with legions of devotees who discovered her through her TED talk gone viral, read her previous works, taken her Oprah-endorsed self-actualization workshops, or listened to her CD series on vulnerability and shame. Rising Strong is in fact my first encounter with Brené Brown's work. It was pressed into the hand of the person who gave it to me as a gift last Christmas, the bookstore clerk assuring him it was a life-changing read, and now I will be the one to press it into everyone else's hands.

So yes, let's just get it out there: the subtitled theme of Rising Strong, this triumvirate of Reckoning-Rumble-Revolution is schticky and looks like pop-psychology gone wild. It will likely turn off others who rely exclusively on data and peer-reviewed research to support social science theory and prescriptive methodology.

What I came to love about Brown's narrative is the marriage of research and inspiration, her ability to take grounded theory and apply it to art-the art of emotion, the art of knowledge, the art of faith.

What is this book about exactly? It's about surviving hurt, acknowledging shame, embracing vulnerability, learning how to tell our stories, and getting back up to do it all over again, with courage and determination.

The emphasis on personal narrative touched me deeply. As a writer, I believe we are wired for story and my greatest healing has come by turning to the page, not only in telling my own stories, as I do when spilling my guts in my journal, or constructing a personal essay that is meant to reveal more universal truths, but in creating fictional worlds with characters who are born of my heart, my emotions, and in a tangential way, my experiences. So Brown's insistence that we use the physical act of writing out our narratives as a way to achieve truth and emotional release resonates deeply. Only in writing our stories can we examine what's real and what isn't, when we've conflated nostalgia with memory, when our memories have failed us and we fill in the gaps with drama or denial, where there is room for change or a different way of looking at the past that has shaped us.

There are too many components of this book that touched me, made me nod or tear up with recognition, made me turn to my partner and read aloud. Just too many. Here are a few: The destructive nature of comparative suffering. The phenomenon of "chandeliering", when we've packed down hurt so tightly that a seemingly innocuous comment can send us straight up to the chandelier with an emotional reaction well out of proportion to the situation. The need to sustain our creative souls. The idea that everyone is simply doing the best they can and recalibrating your responses accordingly. Creating boundaries to access compassion. Courage is contagious. Hope as a learning process, not a fly-by emotion. Embracing regret as a path toward empathy and how trauma leads to shame, and unacknowledged shame prevents us from being vulnerable.

Although I found many of the anecdotes that led to the development of theories and the concrete plans for personal engagement a bit trite, the approach to change Brown offers—like both hands extended to lift the reader up—is ripe and right, with practical, actionable guidance.

I'm on board. All in. Let's do this.





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Reading Progress

August 7, 2016 – Started Reading
August 7, 2016 – Shelved
August 8, 2016 –
page 25
7.44% ""Wake up in the morning and think, 'No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.' Going to bed at night thinking, 'Yes. I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn't change the truth that I am brave and worthy of love and belonging.' " Not even through the introduction and I'm already in sobs."
August 9, 2016 –
page 65
19.35% "“People who wade into discomfort and vulnerability and tell the truth about their stories are the real badasses.”"
August 11, 2016 –
page 121
36.01% ""Self-righteousness is just the armour of self-loathing.""
August 16, 2016 –
page 217
64.58% ""Regret is a tough but fair teacher. To live without regret is to believe that you have nothing to learn, no amends to make, and no opportunity to be braver with your life.""
August 16, 2016 – Shelved as: writing-companions
August 16, 2016 – Shelved as: read-2016
August 16, 2016 – Shelved as: best-of-2016
August 16, 2016 – Shelved as: reference-instructional
August 16, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-7 of 7 (7 new)

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message 1: by Erika (new)

Erika Nerdypants Awesome review Julie. Reading and listening to Brené Brown has made a huge difference to my life. I love her mix of compassion and courage. Vulnerability is such a scary thing, but I'm with you, all in.


Julie Christine Erika wrote: "Awesome review Julie. Reading and listening to Brené Brown has made a huge difference to my life. I love her mix of compassion and courage. Vulnerability is such a scary thing, but I'm with you, al..."

Thank you, beautiful friend. I listened to her TED Talk recently (finally) and it brought me to tears. She's the real deal!


Jess (Primrose) Awesome review! I really like Brene Brown. I've watched several of her lectures on YouTube. Her work on vulnerability is brilliant and moving.


Anna Henke Great review of a book that is so meaningful to me. I have already relistened to this book once and will likely do so again and again at tough times. I'm also a big fan of her "marriage of research and inspiration."


Julie Christine Jessica wrote: "Awesome review! I really like Brene Brown. I've watched several of her lectures on YouTube. Her work on vulnerability is brilliant and moving."

Much belated thank you, Jessica! I find I keep returning to this book for inspiration and comfort. Brene is amazing!


Julie Christine Anna wrote: "Great review of a book that is so meaningful to me. I have already relistened to this book once and will likely do so again and again at tough times. I'm also a big fan of her "marriage of research..."

Oh, I'm so glad this one touched you as well, Anna. I just picked it up again this morning and was reinspired!


Sippy nice review, thank you.


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