This month I read two books by Brene Brown:
- The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are
- Daring Greatly: How The Courage To Be Vulnerable Transforms The Way We Live, Love, Parent, And Lead
I was pleased to hear our pastor quote from Daring Greatly twice in the last month. Although Brown's books are not from an overtly Christian perspective, they have a strong spiritual element. Brown is a shame researcher, and in both of these books she discusses the things that keep us from living wholeheartedly -- such as feelings of shame, fear, scarcity, and unworthiness. Daring Greatly is the newer of the two and is the one I've seen mentioned in many recent "Twitteratures"; it focuses particularly on how practicing vulnerability can help us live more courageous, authentic lives. I liked both books very much, though I found Daring Greatly's tone a little over-the-top at times: some of her expressions seem cutesy (such as "Gremlin Ninja Warrior Training" to combat shame), and her frequent references to "my dear friend [name famous writer/researcher here]" start to wear a bit thin. I suppose this is mainly a function of her excitement about her work, and in any case it's a minor criticism. Both books are very powerful and practical, and I had many "Been there, felt that" moments as I read them.
I also read Lila by Marilynne Robinson. This novel follows her books Gilead (in which elderly minister John Ames reflects on his life, his relationship with God, and his legacy to his young son) and Home (which is about Ames' friend Robert Boughton, Boughton's daughter Glory who comes home to care for him in his old age, and his prodigal son Jack). Lila is the story of Ames' wife, an orphan who has lived a life of loneliness and destitution before wandering into Ames' church and hearing him preach. She marries him, but learning to trust him -- and his God -- is a slow process. This is a beautifully written and very moving book that reflects on themes of God's grace and the eternal destiny of those we love.