Book Review: Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist

Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist

Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living

by Shauna Niequist

Rating: 4/5

Pub Date: August 9, 2016

It’s no secret that I have adored Niequist’s other books. I have given out numerous copies of Bread and Wine to friends, both for the recipes and the wise words. I am using Savor as my devotional for the year and I am daily reminded of Niequist’s amazing insights into every day life. All of that is to say that I was primed to love Present Over Perfect.

I loved how Niequist shares her heart in this book. You really feel right there with her as she’s letting go while standing by the lake. Her story is so relatable — girl works hard, girl gets a little success, girl tries harder, girl works herself into exhaustion & forgets what really matters. I for one know exactly how draining that cycle is and it was so affirming to see another woman, especially one whom I respect so deeply, admit to feeling the same exhaustion.
“Essentially, my identity then depended on outward approval, which changes on a dime. So you dance and you please and you placate and you prove. You become a three-ring circus and in each ring you’re an entirely different performing animal, anything anyone wants you to be.”
I love the moments where Niequist shares precious pearls of wisdom:
“This is what our culture wants women to be: skinny and tired, from relentlessly shrinking and hustling.”
“Some of being an adult, though, is about protecting and preserving what we discover to the be the best parts of ourselves, and here’s a hint: they’re almost always the parts we’ve struggled against for years. They make us weird or different, unusual but not in a good way. They’re our child-sides, our innate selves, not the most productive or competitive or logical, just true. Just us. Just very simply who we are, regardless of how much quantitative value they add.”
The overall message of the book is about finding your true purpose. She writes about learning that just because you can do something, doesn’t mean that you should do it and that really matters is often what happens outside of the plans.
Where Present Over Perfect lost its way was in the final 1/4 of the book. Shauna writes about not being able to find a way to finish the book, tells a story, then cycles back to not being able to finish the book. I felt the frustration that she felt, and yet, I was not moved by it. I could see that I was supposed to get something out of the repetition, but I just didn’t.
However, it is a testament to the strength of the first 3/4’s that this final bit doesn’t bring the book down.
I loved this book and highly recommend it to anyone who is feeling a little overwhelmed, a little lost, or a little uncentered.


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