Books, Music, Podcasts

Life is Nonfiction: Part II

In my post Life is Nonfiction I shared a list of 25 favorite nonfiction audiobooks. In the upcoming weeks I want to share an overview of each audiobook and some key insights I gained from listening while working on crafting projects, walking my dogs, or riding in the car. So let’s start with the first five (5):

Brown, Brené (2012). Daring greatly: how the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead. New York, NY: Gotham Books.

Overview:  This book explores the concepts of “shame” and how shame holds us back from our full potential: the thinking that we are not good enough. The author shares how to be aware of the perils of shame;  how learning to let go of shame and accepting and “owning” our vulnerability can allow us to embrace our fears so we can “dare greatly”. Daring greatly allows us  to the take risks that will lead us to achieve our dreams and become more deeply connected with others. Check out Brené Brown’s TED Talks on “Listening to shame” and “The power of vulnerability” and then read or listen to this inspiring book on becoming fearless by embracing your vulnerability and letting go of shame.

Key Insights: This book served as a reminder that I am good enough; that I do not have to be perfect; and that allowing myself to be vulnerable and open is the starting point for innovation and change

Burroughs, Augusten (2012). This is how: proven aid in overcoming shyness, molestation, fatness, spinsterhood, grief, disease, lushery, decrepitude & more – for young and old alike. New York: NY: St. Martin’s Press.

This book is the ultimate anti self help book – it breaks the rules of the standard pump-you-up-so-you-can-feel-good-about-yourself fare of many self-help books. Instead Burroughs provides brutally honest and down to earth straight talk about difficult issues such as suicide, loss and grief. He shows how the standard canned advice does not really work to deal with major life challenges and he irrelevantly but compassionately speaks openly about this own struggles, and how major life hurdles are really faced. He is like an empathetic version of David Sedaris – in many ways the same biting truth telling wit (I had to stop whatever I was doing at times while listening to laugh for several minutes) but with intense compassion on the struggles we all face. His insights on suicide (and how killing yourself is a really stupid idea) and addiction are very powerful.

Key Insights: Many times being brutally honest with oneself is the way to move beyond something in your life that is holding you back; and if you have experienced a significant loss it is okay that the grief will always be part of you – you can still have a fulfilling and happy life and you don’t have to “get over” the loss to get on with your life.

Cain, Susan (2012). Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking. New York: Crown Publishing.

This audiobook is a must listen/read for introverts and extroverts and those like myself who are hybrids. Introverts will gain new appreciation of themselves and extroverts will gain new insights and respect for those who are quieter in nature. This book shares examples of introverts who have quietly yet powerfully changed history and provides incredible insights into how introverts interact with their environment. It discusses how intro vs. extraversion can be identified from a very early age (infant) and offers excellent insights for parents with introverted children and people who have introverts in their life.

Key Insights: I come across as an extrovert but in my heart and in my “secret self” I am an introvert. I could identify with many of the characteristics of introverts discussed in the book. This book also helped me evaluate how being a quieter observer in some situations can be more powerful than being an active participant in a drama unfolding before me.

Fey, Tina (2011). Bossypants. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.

This awesome audiobook, narrated by the author, chronicles her adventures from awkward youth to humble comedic genius writer and actor. Her ability to laugh at herself while sharing life lessons is so wonderful. This was another audiobook in which I would have to stop quilting or dog walking for a moment to have a serious belly laugh. Despite many obstacles in her life, mistakes, stumbles and falls, Ms. Fey continued to push towards her goals. There are lots of wonderful stories, much self-depriciating humor and many important lessons threaded throughout this book.

Key Insights: Even if others think you can’t do something or they try to hold you back – go for what you want anyway (and have a sense of humor about the whole experience)!

Gilbert, Elizabeth (2010). Committed: a skeptic makes peace with marriage. New York, NY: Viking.

This audiobook is narrated by the author and I loved her authentic down to earth narration style. When listening to audiobooks, I always think it is an added bonus if the author is also the narrator (they wrote the book and they seem to really connect with the reading of the book). This serious and humorous book explores the history, traditions and complexity of marriage as the author struggles to come to peace with potentially having to marry the man Felipe she met and fell in love with during her book Eat, Love, Pray. 

Key Insights: I gained an appreciation of how marriage is viewed in other non Western cultures and how complex marriage is – definitely not something for the faint hearted. I also gained a deeper appreciation for my long time marriage to  my husband and the friendship at the core which is the glue that bonds us together through any challenge.