Book Review: Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown

My introduction to Brené  Brown came last spring when I was looking for something to listen to on my walks. A couple close friends suggested that I look for podcasts from her. Well, this just happened to be right around the same time that Brown launched her weekly podcast Unlocking Us which I immediately began listening to and looking forward to each week.  I did a little more searching and found her TED talks about vulnerability and courage and the Super Soul Interview that she did with Oprah. I perused the Brené  Brown website and ordered a few, okay all of her books.  I started with The Gifts of Imperfection and once I finished it, I just went back and ordered all the rest because I knew that I would eventually want to read them all. So, to say that in a very short time I have become a Brené  Brown super fan, would be putting it mildly.  Brown is a social scientist, researcher and storyteller, so her books are based on research, which I like. She does intertwine stories into her books, both personal and stories of people she knows or has interviewed. I feel like this helps make her books more personable and easier to read. For many reasons her work has really resonated with me and this month I wanted to share my thoughts on her book Braving the Wilderness.

The subtitle on the cover of the book is: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone. The book was published in 2017 and deals with how politics and social issues have caused our population to sort into more like minded groups. At the same time the number of Americans who report being lonely is also on the rise. As I was reading this book, I just kept thinking that adding a global pandemic and quarantines into an increasingly volatile society could only increase that feeling of loneliness being felt by many people. The book focuses on our need to find a sense of belonging. She starts the books with a quote from Maya Angelou, “You are only free when you realize you belong no place – you belong every place – no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.” She circles back to that quote throughout the book. Brown introduces four strategies for true belonging.  With these strategies she gives the readers ideas on how to have discussions with others on subjects that you might not agree on and how to really listen to people. One chapter focuses on the importance of human connections, which is something that many people are struggling with right now. Ultimately the book is about finding yourself and being comfortable enough to be yourself in all situations. This quote really sums up the book for me, “True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are, it requires you to be who you are.”

The Nov 4th Unlocking Us podcast, which was recorded on Nov. 3rd, election day, was really a summary of this book.  I listened to that podcast again after finishing the book and this is the quote that is sticking with me, “Fitting in is easy. Belonging requires the courage to be yourself and let the world see you”.  2020 has not been easy for anyone and it has been harder for some to navigate than others. For me, finding Brené  Brown and all of her work including this book, has made it a little easier to navigate the uncertain times that we find ourselves in. 

-Lisa Kickbusch, book lover, Brené  Brown Superfan

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