Technically this is a “Did Not Finish” because my library loan expired when I was about 30 pages from the end and I’m not going to bother re-borrowing it, mainly because I was so close to the end I’m certain I have gotten everything out of the book that I was going to get. It’s fine. It’ll probably do more for some other folks, but for me it was fine.
Self-help books like this usually aren’t my thing, but this is part of what I like about CBR Bingo, it pushes me out of my comfort zone and gets me to try something I might normally have skipped over. Even if it doesn’t end up being a favorite, there is something satisfying about knowing I tried it. This Not My Wheelhouse book is kind of in the middle. I did get some good things out of this book, I’m glad I read it, but I wouldn’t say I really liked it, if that makes sense.
I can’t quite put my finger on exactly why, but this book was a bit of a slog for me. The fact that, even though I was steadily reading it, I ran out of time on my library loan is pretty telling in that regard. I’m generally a fast reader, three weeks should be more than enough time for a 350pg book. I wasn’t bothered by her style, and I do like that she uses not just other case studies but examples from her own life to help illustrate her concepts, I like that a lot, actually; but for whatever reason I just couldn’t get into it. Maybe I wish she was just a little less wordy with her examples? I don’t know, though, that doesn’t feel right either. Eh, I couldn’t get into it, I’ll leave it there.
This book is mainly geared towards women and how women specifically experience and deal with shame. I think, while both men and women obviously both experience pressure and shame in negative ways in our culture, I do think it’s easy to agree that there are some things that are more specific to women than others. This concept of needing to be “perfect” might exist in both genders, but how it manifests, what the requirements are, is different. In this book, Brené talks about the ways in which women tend to feel shamed and pressured into being “perfect.” She covers a lot of territory, including the big ones: looks, weight, “acceptable” behaviour, work attitudes and performance. I found it really interesting when she touched on some of the less universal things as well, such as what happens when you grow up in America with a name that isn’t “white” or when a subculture you are a member of has an expectation that is in conflict with the culture at large.
She also talks about what we need to do in order to get that shame we are bound to encounter under control. She talks a lot about how empathy is a major tool for combating shame, both empathy for yourself and showing empathy and compassion to others. Things like having compassion not only when people are feeling shame, but when good people slip and do the kinds of behaviors that impose shame on other people. Why do we all do that? Because we do all do that. I found a lot of this interesting, I don’t know how actionable I found all of it, but it did give me ideas to mull over.
Overall it is interesting stuff, just not served up in my preferred style, I guess. I was a little unsure going in based around her “Wine Moms” popularity at the moment (yes, that is a generalization, and I don’t mean offense, but its the best description I could come up with). I was afraid it would be a little too “Everything About You Is Perfect! Everyone else IS Stupid! There is NEVER a reason to change! Be a Sunflower!” Honey Snow-esque for me (yep, that is a Frasier deep cut reference. I am on the bleeding edge of pop culture, folks, my judgements should be taken very seriously). I was pleasantly surprised at how straight forward, practical and factual her advice is. I just really wished I liked the book more.
I might try another book of hers at some point, maybe one that doesn’t have quite as specific focus would work better for me.
This is my “Not My Wheelhouse” Square for Bingo.