If you haven’t been introduced to the infamous Brené Brown and her incredible books, allow me to be the one to do so! You can thank me later. ? My therapist introduced me to her insightful works back in 2019 (okay, okay, she actually told me about them much earlier than 2019, that was just the year that I happened to listen to her recommendations and begin reading them) and they’ve quite literally changed my life.
So let’s start by answering your first question – who is Brené Brown? I’ll try to summarize this as best as I can, but I should start by telling you that she is a living L E G E N D in the world of psychology! I know what you’re thinking, “cool, so why should I care?” Well, friend, you should care because Brené has devoted the past two decades of her life to researching and understanding courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy – things that affect and impact all of our daily lives. She’s taken her findings and shared them with us (via a variety of different media types) to help us better understand ourselves while teaching us to be more compassionate to others. What a gift this woman is to the world!
Now, let’s get to my experience with discovering Brené… The first Brené Brown book that I read was The Gifts of Imperfection as my therapist asked that I begin with this book due to the mental state that I was in at the time. Not only was this book one of the important starting points towards transforming my life from a miserable mess into a beautiful, happy and fulfilled dream life, but it also sent me down the rabbit hole of all things Brené Brown.
I’ve read all of her books, watched all of her Ted Talks and streaming specials (Netflix – Brené Brown: The Call to Courage & HBO – Brené Brown: Atlas of the Heart) and I’ve even tuned into just about every podcast episode that she’s ever recorded (Unlocking Us with Brené Brown & Dare to Lead with Brené Brown). Talk about some serious fan-girling, am I right?!
You may be feeling extremely excited about all of these fascinating new sources to explore, though it might also be a little overwhelming. Trust me, I feel you! That’s why I’ve decided to rank her books in order of most valuable, based solely on my opinion after having reading all of them, in order to help you figure out where to begin. I’ve also included a short review of each book that I wrote shortly after reading it. I hope that you’ll find at least few of these books intriguing, that you’ll add them to your reading list and that you will be able to benefit from them as much as I have. Additionally, I hope my rankings help you sort out which one you’d like to start with, as taking the first plunge can often be difficult. Enjoy, my friend!
***A friendly reminder that this entire article is solely my opinion. Please be mindful of this while reading. Additionally, this post may contain affiliate links to things like Amazon associates and products. These help me earn a small commission at no additional charge to you.
I found this book to be very helpful. I love how Brené uses her real-life experiences to help us learn to move on and make peace in our lives. My favorite way to learn is by digesting information through the stories and experiences of others, and this book does just that! One thing that I didn’t realize upon first picking up this book was the amount of Christianity references that it included… I actually skipped a chapter or two because they were completely faith-based experiences which I cannot relate to.
For those looking for some guidance in terms of healing from past hurts, this is definitely a great place to start! If you, like me, aren’t about Christianity, just skip the chapters that go into the topic too much and absorb the information that you need. It’s worth reading at least once, if not a few more times later!
I’ve ranked this book #1 because I have issues with perfectionism that used to be severe and debilitating, but this book helped me to move past them. Honestly, I’m not sure if I would have been able to work on the targeted issues within myself that Brené discusses in her other books had I not read this one first. Click to order this book on Amazon.
This book taught me the importance of living life courageously and “whole-heartedly”. Brené stresses that a life worth living is one that requires us to get out of our comfort-zones and have tough conversations with the people that we love and care about. While this may seem absolutely terrifying at times, I’ve been practicing this myself and, in the end, I have found that it is always worth it. If you’re currently struggling with setting boundaries, I’d recommend picking up this book immediately as it’s a great source that can offer you some excellent guidance.
I ranked this book #2 because I feel that once you’re able to get past letting perfectionism get in your way, the next step is to learn get out of your comfort zone. Also, setting boundaries is incredibly important when building and maintaining relationships with others and since this book hits on this topic, it’s yet another reason why I’ve ranked it number two. Click here to purchase this book on Amazon.
This book is yet another teaching about vulnerability from Brené, although this one specifically teaches us about how owning our stories of struggle can be our greatest call to courage. We have the power to write a new ending to the stories of our lives if we’re willing to walk through heartbreak, disappointment and failure in order to rise strong. If you’re feeling like you just can’t catch a break from life lately, I highly recommend that you read this book ASAP! You’ll find inspiration and new ways of thinking that can help you turn your life into the direction that you want it to go in.
I ranked this book #3 because my opinion is that after you’ve read #1 and learned to embrace life’s imperfections then went on to read #2 and learned to get out of our comfort-zone and set some boundaries, the next thing that might get in your way is yourself. Reading this book taught me that while it is often incredibly hard to be vulnerable and to set boundaries, it’s usually always worth it. Will I get knocked down along the way? Absolutely! But I can also pick myself back up and keep going, stronger than ever. Click here to purchase this book on Amazon.
While I love all of Brené Brown’s works, I really, really appreciated this one and wish I would’ve gotten to it sooner (it was the second-to-last book of hers that I read). It’s one of her first published books so she hadn’t fully found her style yet, but the message is still as beautiful as ever. Understanding that you’re not alone in times of struggle is very important when it comes getting through it. The overall message of this book is that you are not alone; there are many people who walk in similar shoes as you, but because as a society we’ve been taught not to talk about our faults and struggles, we often suffer in silence. I hope you choose to read this book and that it will inspire you to be vulnerable, courageous and to connect with those around you to bring about comfort, peace and healing.
This book landed itself into ranking #4 because although I find the information to be important, my opinion is that focusing on the ideas and information discussed in the books that I’ve ranked ahead of this one should come first. Again, this is purely my opinion that I’ve made after reading all of these books and evaluating them against my own life… But I think that once you’ve learned to embrace imperfections, be vulnerable, set boundaries and rise back up once you’ve fallen down, shame might begin to creep in where it is unwelcome. This book will help you learn how to overcome shame and teach you what you can do to move past it. Purchase this book on Amazon.
5. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead
Brené’s teachings throughout this book helped me understand the power behind being vulnerable in everyday situations. She teaches us to choose vulnerability over comfort in order to deepen our connections with the people in the world around us. Additionally, this book really helped me understand that vulnerability is not only brave, but choosing to be vulnerable with people that we love allows us to be able to love them more wholeheartedly, and vice versa.
Lastly, this book inspired me to decide to use my voice as a powerful source in order to help raise awareness about mental health via a podcast that I’ve titled “Distressed to Joyful; Bailey’s Way“. Thank you, Brené!
I chose to rank this book #5 because even though I found the information both useful and important, the books that I’ve ranked #2 and #3 also heavily touch on this topic. In my opinion, #4 needs to come before this book in my ranking system as #4 can help you with new issues that may arise when you begin to implement the ideas discussed in the books that I’ve ranked #1, #2 and #3. You can purchase this book on Amazon using this link.
6. Dare to Lead
This is focused more on professional relationships rather than Brené’s usual teaching relating to personal relationships. Here, she teaches the importance of creating boundaries with coworkers as well as leading from a place of care and courage in order to create healthy connections in the workplace. I highly recommend you add this to your list whether or not you are currently a leader in your place of employment. It will add tremendous value to both the current and future state of your career.
I’ve ranked this one #6 because I truly believe that we need to work on ourselves before we try to work on helping others by leading them. I mean, how can you “lead by example” if you’re not yet the example that you want to set for others? Reminder, this is just my opinion, and because this book focuses on relationships and leading others in the workplace, I’ve decided that it would be best to focus on this after focusing on yourself first. Purchase this book on Amazon.
I rated this book 4 stars because it’s not the typical Brené Brown book that I’m used to and always adore, which is also why I’ve ranked it #7 on my list… This book is less storytelling and more research-focused. I found the majority of the information super interesting and useful, it’s just not the type of book that I’d expect from Brené. She is amazing at storytelling and while there was some storytelling in this book, there wasn’t enough to keep me from wanting to put it down. Regardless, I do think that this is an excellent read for those of you who, like me, are always looking to better yourself. Purchase this book on Amazon.
Whether or not you choose to read these books in the order that I’ve listed them is completely up to you! I’ve simply chosen to rank them based upon my opinion after reading each of them. Another thing to keep in mind is that you may want to select the first Brené Brown book for you to read based upon a current situation that you are dealing with in your life. Regardless, I hope that you’ve enjoyed your lesson on all things Brené Brown and that you’ll be inspired to begin reading one of her amazing works very soon!
***A friendly reminder that this entire article is solely my opinion***
Looking to add more books to your reading list? Check out these articles to learn about additional self-development books (by an array of authors) that will inspire you to work on becoming the best version of yourself!
Do you, like me, prefer reading a physical book versus a digital copy? If so, are you tired of your paper book marks getting torn up, wet or lost? Consider purchasing some Fabric Bookmarks from my Etsy Shop, Bailey’s Way Designs. Not only are they incredibly durable, but they are also eco- and environmentally-friendly! Check out this 4-Pack of Fruit-Themed Fabric Bookmarks, sure to brighten anyone’s day!