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Dare to Read: 10 Nonfiction Books Recommended by Brené Brown

Do you love Rising Strong and Dare to Lead? Learn about books recommended by Brené Brown which will help you empower yourself and find your authentic voice.
by Jennifer Duffy | Oct 30 2023
Credits: © Chris Guillebeau

Dr Brené Brown writes about courage, shame and vulnerability. Her 2010 TED Talk ‘The power of vulnerability’, is one of the most viewed talks in the world. She has written five #1 New York Times bestsellers, including Dare to Lead and Braving the Wilderness. These books help readers take a personal journey of self-empowerment and self-realization. Her work has huge popular appeal, echoed by the fact that she was the first researcher to have a filmed lecture on Netflix. Her special, The Call to Courage, premiered on the streaming platform in April 2019. Brown’s goal is to teach her readers how to own their story and love themselves and her book recommendations echo her empowering motto, “courage over comfort”. Read on for a list of inspiring non-fiction books recommended by Brené Brown.

10 books recommended by Brené Brown

1. The Moment of Lift (2019) by Melinda Gates

“An urgent call to courage. It changed how I think about myself, my family, my work, and what’s possible in the world.”
— Brené Brown

This book focuses on empowering women and draws on the author’s experience as founder and co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Their mission has been to increase access to healthcare and reduce poverty. Tackling gender inequality was not originally one of their aims, but they came to realize that empowering women was essential to achieving their goals. The book shows how access to contraception and community healthcare initiatives can be transformative. Gates also strives to promote workplace diversity, particularly in the tech field.

To see a list of books recommended by Bill Gates, Melinda’s husband, click here

2. The Ride of a Lifetime (2019) by Robert Iger

“[This book] is leadership gold—you won’t forget the stories or the lessons.”
— Brené Brown

Many of the books recommended by Brené Brown give an honest look at journeys to success. This book charts Robert Iger’s path to becoming the CEO of Disney. When Iger took over at Disney in 2005, the company was in trouble but his innovative practices changed their fortunes. This book shows how Iger took chances with his dynamic and forward-thinking ideas. His bold acquisitions and mergers have reinvented Disney, giving it a renewed cultural relevance.

3. The Power of Starting Something Stupid (2012) by Richie Norton

“Already getting me in a heap of trouble. As I was reading it, I made notes to Steve (my husband). When I was done I handed it to him and said, ‘This could change the way we live.'”
— Brené Brown

Norton runs the successful blog ‘Start Stuff’ and in this book he helps readers learn to recognize ideas that are the New Smart. Plenty of products that are now success stories were initially dismissed as stupid. This book will help you judge which ideas are worth pursuing, and give you the courage to live your dream. Norton advises readers to reassess throughout the process to ensure the idea remains relevant and innovative. He also speaks of the importance of networks, and expressing your gratitude to those who help you along the way.

4. Imperfect Courage (2018) by Jessica Honegger

“Both an invitation and a challenge to bravely show up for ourselves, for the people we love, and for the strangers that we will one day call family. I say, ‘Amen!’”
— Brené Brown

Drawing on her own experience as an entrepreneur with a successful fair-trade business, Honegger inspires readers to be courageous and chase their dreams. Her story shows the rewards you can gain from taking a risk. If we chose imperfect courage over comfort, our lives can be changed for the better. Honegger addresses the fact that women are encouraged to stay quiet – she shows that facing your fear and speaking out will open up many opportunities. It is clear why this book is one of Brown’s book recommendations as it shows the value of embracing your vulnerabilities.

5. Everything is Figureoutable (2019) by Marie Forleo

“Smart, funny, and as brilliant as it is straightforward. LOVED it!”
— Brené Brown

This book provides a practical guide to self-empowerment. Oprah Winfrey’s SuperSoul 100 list listed Marie Forleo as one of today’s top thought leaders. Forleo’s journey as a life coach is inspiring – through her online TV show and podcast she now shares her wisdom with millions of people. This book is realistic about the difficulties you might face in pursuing your dreams. Forleo emphasises the importance of self-belief in reaching for your goals. She offers advice for building self-esteem, and harnessing your power. Like Brené Brown, she helps readers find their worth. The mantra “everything is figureoutable” will help you stop limiting yourself. Reclaim your time, regain agency over your life, and take advantage of the wealth of information and resources available to us online.

6. Becoming (2018) by Michelle Obama

“Good for my heart, my head, and my soul.”
— Brené Brown

This book shows the importance of mentors in your field. Czerny Brasuell became a mentor to Michelle Obama at Princeton University, being both a strong black woman and a successful working mother. Obama’s memoir proves the value of following your passions – as she did when she left the law profession to work for non-profits. Choosing jobs that were meaningful to her helped Obama use her strengths and achieve more. As First Lady, she spearheaded a number of her own initiatives such as Let’s Move! which tackled childhood obesity. By embracing her own authentic voice, Michelle Obama owned her story. Of all Brown’s book recommendations, Becoming most celebrates the power of finding your true self.

7. Stretch (2017) by Scott Sonenshein

“Every now and then a book comes out that gives you new language and a new frame to better understand yourself and the people around you. Stretch is one of those books.”
— Brené Brown

Stretch is a comprehensive guide to reaching your full creative potential. Sonenshein explains the stretcher mindset – focusing on what you want to achieve with the resources you have at your disposal. Sonenshein also shows how thinking outside the box will give you an edge and suggests improvisation, and adjusting to meet challenges as they appear rather than sticking rigidly to plans. By injecting creativity and variety into your routine you can transform how you work. This book also gives useful advice to avoid overstretching yourself.

8. Self-Compassion (2011) by Kristin Neff

“[The author]’s powerful research and her ability to explain how self-compassion affects our everyday lives makes this book a transformative read.”
— Brené Brown

This book teaches readers to treat themselves more kindly. Neff explains how many of us have a deeply-ingrained habit of self-criticism that stems from childhood and societal pressures often reinforce this sense of inadequacy. Neff shows that self-compassion is a better and ultimately more helpful alternative, and in this book of the same name, you will learn about techniques such as self-soothing and creating distance between yourself and negative emotions. Like Brené Brown, Neff encourages readers to be courageous and strive for better.


9. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

“There’s a great quote in this book: When you’re on the right path the universe conspires to help you!”
— Brené Brown

“The Alchemist” is a transformative tale that explores the journey of self-discovery and following one’s dreams. Brené Brown highly recommends this book for its profound insight into the human spirit and because it reminds us of the importance of cultivating courage, listening to our hearts, and daring to pursue our deepest desires. Coelho’s inspirational story showcases the power of resilience, intuition, and the pursuit of personal legends through the protagonist’s travels. Readers are reminded of their own limitless potential and are encouraged to embrace uncertainty and trust in the path that unfolds before them.


10.Thirst by Scott Harrison

“About what matters most. Love.”
— Brené Brown

A captivating memoir that chronicles the transformative journey of the author from a nightclub promoter to a philanthropist and founder of charity: Water. In this book, Harrison shares his personal struggles and redemption, revealing the power of purpose and the profound impact one person can make in the lives of others. Brown praises Harrison’s vulnerability in recounting his own shortcomings and ultimate redemption, which encourages readers to confront their own fears and embrace vulnerability as a catalyst for change. She believes that “Thirst” is a powerful reminder that we all have the capacity to create positive change in the world, no matter where we come from or what we have been through.

In conclusion, Brené Brown’s recommendations offer a rich selection of thought-provoking and transformative books that will inspire and guide you on your journey of personal growth. Each one of these books imparts profound wisdom and invites you to embrace vulnerability, resilience, and the pursuit of purpose. If you’re eager to delve into these remarkable works but find yourself short on time, fear not! Blinkist offers a range of these books in Brené Brown’s curated collection, allowing you to absorb their key insights in just a few minutes. Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity! Subscribe to Blinkist for a 7-day free trial and unlock a world of knowledge and inspiration. Start your transformative reading journey today and turn your reading into doing.

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