When it comes to improving yourself and finding a new perspective, it helps to look through someone else’s eyes. By reading life-changing books, we learn to explore life’s challenges in new ways. Whether we explore the works of an industry expert or explore a memoir, it’s important to expand your horizon in these new ways.
Dr. Brené Brown is a research professor and author. With over two decades of research in courage, vulnerability, empathy, and shame, she is one of the best-selling authors of self-help and career books today. Her biggest motto is “courage over comfort,” and learning how to push yourself each and every day.
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If you’re looking to explore your horizons, Dr. Brené Brown’s books are the best place to begin. However, with so many titles and famous bestsellers, where do you begin? In this guide, we’ll share the top must-read books by Brené Brown for every type of reader.
In What Order Should You Read Brené Brown Books?
If you’re new to Dr. Brown’s work, where should you start? While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to her excellent bestsellers, there are a few ways to approach her reading list. Dr. Brown encourages her readers to start with:
These books above are all about learning how to be you, be all in, and try again. These books above are some of her older works, and they’re available in audiobooks as well so they’re very accessible.
Another option is to start with her most popular books. Some of the most well-known titles include:
All of Dr. Brown’s books are books on empathy, leadership, and finding yourself. No matter where you begin, you’re sure to find inspiration and courage to take the next step in your own life. Now, let’s explore Dr. Brown’s full collection of books to identify the top reads for your next reading session.
Newer Brené Brown Books
With several New York Times bestselling books, Dr. Brené Brown continues to be one of the top authors and researchers in her field. Her newest titles don’t shy away from topics like social issues, race, and resilience.
1. You Are Your Best Thing
Dr. Brené Brown co-authored You Are Your Best Thing with Tarana Burke, the founder of the current ‘Me Too’ movement. Though Dr. Brown’s works are intended for all, her past titles weren’t specifically written with the Black experience in mind.
Through You Are Your Best Thing, Dr. Brown and Burke share essays on Black shame and healing, utilizing the words of top leaders, writers, and professionals in the space. This is a book about healing from shame and accepting vulnerability.
2. Dare to Lead
Leadership is hard to put into words. Based on research conducted with the world’s leading change-makers and culture shifters, Dr. Brown describes what it means to “dare to lead” bravely in Dare to Lead.
The perfect pairing for her podcast by the same name, this book debunks what it means to lead. It’s not about titles and status. It’s about unlocking the potential in others and doing good.
3. Braving the Wilderness
What does it mean to belong to a community? We all long for togetherness and belonging, but it doesn’t always come easy. In Braving the Wilderness, Dr. Brown claims we’re always searching for meaning, and this is a new cultural awakening.
In reality, we need to be okay with standing alone and being one with ourselves. This is where you find true courage and bravery. Like the wilderness, it’s okay to be untamed and alone. It’s okay to find your own sacred space in the world that’s just for you.
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4. The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting
Is there such a thing as a perfect parent? How do we raise children to be courageous and compassionate? In The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting by Dr. Brown, we learn that the perfect parent doesn’t exist.
Though social expectations tell us we need to be a specific way, that just leads to feelings of shame and disappointment. With 12 years of vulnerability research, Dr. Brown presents 10 guideposts to greeting wholehearted families.
5. Rising Strong
Another New York Times bestselling book, Rising Strong is a conversation on vulnerability and shame. How do we find our own path towards belonging? Dr. Brown believes it's through vulnerability—feeling like you might fail.
With stories of bravery and trying again, this book is an inspiration to live life fearlessly. Emotion is the key forward. Though it feels dangerous and scary to accept that hurt might be necessary to grow, Dr. Brown guides her readers with compassion and kindness.
Older Brené Brown Books
Dr. Brené Brown’s books are a great resource for many. With quotes about strength and togetherness, she taps into some of our deeper fears and worries. Her work as a social scientist has affected readers for years, and here are some of her best earlier works.
6. Daring Greatly
One of Dr. Brown’s most well-loved books, Daring Greatly is about how to find the courage to transform the way you live life. While life often feels like a race to ‘win,’ this is a dead-end street. Instead, she argues, you need to open yourself to hurt and criticism.
You don’t want to waste your days worrying about what-ifs and what-could-have-beens. Instead, live boldly and dare greatly. Whether you’re navigating a new relationship, your new job, or family conversations, learn from Dr. Brown’s vision.
7. The Gifts of Imperfection
Imperfections often hold us back, but could they be gifts in themselves? According to Dr. Brown, you can find strength through your imperfections. With over 2 million copies sold across the globe, this is a favorite read for a reason.
Unlike the average self-help book, The Gifts of Imperfection dives into the psychology behind “imperfect” living. There is never a better time to learn to love yourself and accept change than right now.
8. I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t)
It’s easy to feel like you always need to be perfect in today’s world. There’s so much pressure to do it all and always be your best. However, in I Thought It Was Just Me, your imperfections are what really set you apart.
Instead of protecting yourself from shame and criticism, this book says it’s time to take back your life and your freedoms. Connecting with your real purpose means not worrying about perfection. Through reading this book, you make the journey from "What will people think?" to "I am Enough."
9. Women and Shame: Reaching Out, Speaking Truths, and Building Connection
In Women and Shame, Dr. Brown takes a closer look at an experience that particularly affects women. Things like appearance, sex, motherhood, health, parenting, body image, and aging all uniquely affect women. More importantly, they often lead to feelings of shame and resentment.
Shame is a powerful emotion, and it often guides our decisions and daily lives. In this book by Dr. Brown, women are encouraged to release themselves from shame. This feeling is left behind, and instead, it’s important to embrace confidence in yourself.
It’s important to note that this title is only available in audiobooks or to buy used. It’s been revised and updated under the new title I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t). Still, this edition is considered a classic for a reason.
10. Men, Women, and Worthiness
Lastly, what does it mean to have self-worth? Though you might meet expectations in your career and personal life, how do you create a real sense of worthiness? Dr. Brown’s research shows that shame is often the barrier. Men and women experience shame differently, and we can leverage this knowledge to free ourselves from guilt and shame once and for all.
In Men, Women, and Worthiness, Dr. Brown identifies the four elements of shame resilience. Not only do you learn your own strengths, but you step away from your weaknesses. What is the antidote to shame, according to Dr. Brown? It’s empathy. This is something anyone can unlock, no matter where they’re at with their lives.
Change Your Life with Dr. Brené Brown
When it comes to asking for help, it’s not always easy to know where to begin. Reading is a source of peace and understanding for many, and it helps you learn new perspectives outside of your own experience. Dr. Brené Brown is one of the world’s leading researchers on shame and worthiness. Through her work and writing, she helps others break free from the trap of shame to uncover their real selves.
Like Atul Gawande’s books, Dr. Brown isn’t afraid to talk about the challenges in life. Though things won’t always be perfect, we can adapt our responses to suit our needs. By learning how to manage our feelings and accept who we are, we live our lives fully each and every day.