Books I Read: October

Books I Read: October

It feels weird that I’m not saying I read a bunch more because I actually started and didn’t finish like 3 other books this month. One expired, one sucked, one just wasn’t enough of a priority at the time. But hey I did finish 2 great self-help books AND binged an awesome podcast.

{SIDEBAR: the podcast is called Dirty John and it’s super good. All 6 episodes are up so you can binge all the way to the conclusion. Very captivating. If you enjoy true crime you’ll love it, if you are into suspenseful and nutso stories you’ll love it. Give it a try!}

I did not set near enough dedicated reading time in October so I am making it a point to read a little bit every day in November! I’m excited about it. Anyway here’s ma booooooks!!

The Four Tendencies

While studying habits for Better than Before (stop and read that RIGHT NOW), Gretchen Rubin determined a set of patterns that all center on one thing – the way we respond to expectations. Essentially people fall pretty squarely into one of four tendencies: Upholder, Obliger, Questioner, and Rebel. This book is all about each of the tendencies and how we can use them to our advantage. Whether you’re learning how to minimize your own tendency’s shortcomings and maximize your strengths, learn to deal with your spouse or child, or how to motivate your employees… you need to know these tendencies and how they work.  (Take the Quiz to see which tendency you are here)

This book was JUST. SO. GOOD. I love self-help books, and I love Gretchen so no one should be surprised. I did a live video over on Danica Plans when I finished the book, so you can check that out if you want too. My one complaint about Better Than Before is that there wasn’t very much about Rebels… and guess what Ryan is? And now I have a sinking suspicion that Reese is also a Rebel. This is SUCH a helpful handbook for literally any person, in any situation.


  • I love that she addresses how you might deal with a person of each tendency as a spouse, child, coworker/manager/employee, or health professional. We spend so much of our lives trying to get people to do what we want, which is why this framework is SO helpful and immediately useful.
  • She is really balanced with all of the tendencies. I went into it thinking Upholder was clearly the best because we are the Hermione Grangers who make the world go round. As she’s going through the advantages of Upholders I’m like “everyone should be more like us.” And then she turned to the disadvantages and difficulties of Upholders. Yikes. It rang really true and reminded me of so many of those good things that can actually be bad things. I got to the Rebel chapter thinking “these no-good annoying lazy rule-breaking so-and-sos” but then I really left it seeing Rebels in a new light because they do have SO many strengths. Gretchen don’t hate on any of them.
  • Health Stuff!! She has a section within each tendency that is specifically directed at how health professionals should communicate with each of the tendencies. We are a nation of people who are increasingly overweight, anxious, exhausted, and generally unhealthy. Do we go see doctors? Do we listen to them? How do we respond to health expectations? For example I am an Upholder, and you have to be careful what you say to me because I can take it too seriously. I was one pound over a normal gain at like 2 months pregnant with Reese and my doctor mentioned it and I freaked out for a month. If you tell a Rebel to watch their weight they will purposely NOT watch their weight. So determining what type you are (or a patient/client/customer is) can completely change the way you treat your health.
  • More than almost anything the tendencies can help with families. I can already see how the Four Tendencies will inform my parenting. If Reese is a Rebel like her father, I now know how to communicate more effectively with her to increase the chances that she does what I want and need her to do. This also explains why things your parents said might have worked for one sibling but not you!
  • Literally anyone. Literally anyone and everyone can benefit from this book! It’s so helpful, immediately applicable, and EASY. It’s not hard or complicated.
  • She narrates the audiobook, and I like her voice and personality so I enjoyed it. It was a really fast listen. But I might buy it to refer back to, and also it might be helpful to be able to read it specifically for a tendency you need to learn about.

Less Good

  • Like Happiness Project and Better than Before it gets a little repetitive. Having the hard copy of the book might have made this easier so I could skim or skip the parts where I was like “OK I get itttttt.”

The Gifts of Imperfection

Do you spend your days striving to be perfect? Hiding flaws and mistakes? Beating yourself up? Projecting a “cool” exterior? Doing whatever you can to fit in and feel like you belong? Yeah, us too. In her second work Brene Brown addresses the harmful practices that shape our everyday thinking and how we can break those chains to accept who we are and the power that comes from it. 

I read Daring Greatly a couple of years ago and LOVED it like any sentient person would. A lot of these principles are included in that work, but I needed this specific focus at this specific time. She really hones in on our flaws, imperfections, mistakes, and all the “blah” stuff about us. She shares the concept of Wholeheartedness and the 10 Guideposts she uncovered in her research that can help us live a more Wholehearted life.


  • I always knew perfectionism was *technically* a bad thing, but deep down I was like “Yeah but it’s why I am so successful at things I try! It’s why I hit deadlines and have two degrees and know how to do my makeup and never fight with people.” So to hear Brene describe why perfectionism is so damaging and bad and addicting legitimately shook me to my core. Being “perfect” guarantees nothing and honestly only makes me worse!
  • Creativity, Talents, Meaningful Work. She spends several Guideposts sharing the importance of going after the things we love. I have already had a whole blog post brewing in my head about this, but now I feel like it’s properly fleshed out. The things that make us feel alive, the things that help us feel “flow” – they matter. They make us better.
  • Share it! The most empowering thing, the basis for Daring Greatly, is sharing the shame, the imperfection, the gremlins. Speak it. Shed light on it. Tell someone who has earned the right to hear your story. I am definitely the type to bury my scary stuff deep down, and that actually gives it a lot of power over me. I’m gonna work on that.
  • I LOVED her emphasis on Spirituality. As a Mormon I often feel my spirituality is deeply intertwined with perfectionism. But it shouldn’t be like that! My spirituality shouldn’t be centered on my drive to be perfect, but a meaningful connection with something higher. I’m trying to reconfigure my perspective to this more gentle, helpful view.
  • TGIF – on her blog she shares her weekly gratitude posts in this format, and now I’m gonna do the same in my journal each week!
    • Trusting – what she’s trusting
    • Grateful – what she’s grateful for
    • Inspires – what’s inspiring her
    • Faith – how she’s practicing faith

Less Good

  • I’d like a little more direction. She says it isn’t a How-To, but it wouldn’t hurt to have included some more concrete ways to begin working on these Guideposts.
  • How about helping others embrace who they are? How do we do that? As spouses, parents, and friends it would be great to know how she would recommend responding to others in a way that helps them be more Wholehearted.

For November I’m FINALLY going to get to Dark Matter, a cool illustrated encyclopedia called Women in Sports, and my book club’s pick for November – Finding Audrey. It’s the perfect month to curl up with some hot chocolate (lol nope I still drink Diet Coke no matter how cold it is out) and just read!!!

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