The perfectionist's summer reading list

Ah, summer. Maybe it's the longer days, or maybe it's just leftover from childhood, but I tend to do the bulk of my reading during these months. At least, that's my intention!

As a counselor, I work with ambitious women who have perfectionistic tendencies. Perfectionists often have an all-or-nothing mindset, and so, when it comes to reading, many end up not reading at all. Perfectionists often have a stack of books on their nightstands, with every intention of reading them, but have trouble making it happen. It makes sense. After all, perfectionism is draining, often in more than one way. When your energy is zapped by striving and overthinking, it's hard to decide what, when, and where to read.

I'm constantly recommending books to my friends and clients. If you're looking for something inspirational, practical, or something to kickstart your personal development, look no further! Here are my top picks for the perfectionist's summer reading list:

Present Over Perfect: Leaving behind frantic for a simpler, more soulful way of living. Shauna Niequist takes you on a journey from a hurried, fast-paced life to a lifestyle of grace, compassion, and slowness. This is a great pick for anyone who is ready to ditch the heavy load of perfectionism and lean into grace instead. It's one of my favorite reads from the past year. The author has her own podcast, which I also highly recommend!

What kills a soul? Exhaustion, secret keeping, image management. And what brings a soul back from the dead? Honesty, connection, grace.
— Shauna Niequist

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let go of who you think you're supposed to be and embrace who you are. This book has laid the foundation for my own personal development, and I use it often in counseling. It's one of my all-time favorites. Brené Brown is an academic who writes in an accessible way- it's not hard to imagine her sitting across the kitchen table from you while reading this. Check this out if you like a blend of story and practical application. For a perfectionist's reading list, it's hard to beat topics like vulnerability and worthiness.

The universe is not short on wake-up calls. We’re just quick to hit the snooze button.
— Brené Brown

At Home in the World: Reflections on belonging while wandering the globe. Oh my. This one really did nothing to calm my wanderlust. Tsh Oxenreider chronicles her family's 9-month trip around the globe- with three children. The reason this is a great read for perfectionists is twofold. First, it deals with the dualism of deeply loving travel and deeply loving life at home. Often it feels like we need to choose one or the other- either be an adventurous traveler or be a steady homebody. This way of thinking is especially pronounced with a perfectionistic mindset. Second, this memoir sheds light on embracing the messy, unpredictable life of travel. Especially in a world where we splash our travels all over social media, it's refreshing to see the other, less glamorous side.

Two opposing things can be equally true. Counting the days till Christmas doesn’t mean we hate Halloween. I go to church on Sundays, and still hold the same faith at the pub on Saturday night. I shamelessly play a steady stream of eighties pop music and likewise have an undying devotion to Chopin. And perhaps most significantly: I love to travel and I love my home.
— Tsh Oxenreider

Love Lives Here: Finding what you need in a world telling you what you want. Never have I read a book and felt such an attachment to the author. This book includes stories from Maria Goff's life and family, and emphasizes love and grace above all. When the world is telling you to strive for perfection, Maria is here to point you toward warmth and compassion. She also drops difficult truths enveloped in empathy and humility. She is an inspiration for how to live a life full of grace, and prioritize family relationships in the hustle and bustle of the daily grind.

Sometimes we try to forget our past. We mask it, or medicate it, or try to ignore it completely, but we can only outrun it for a while.
— Maria Goff


Scary Close: Dropping the act and finding true intimacy. Donald Miller writes about his decision to stop pretending and instead show the world the truest version of himself. Scary Close is all about being authentic with yourself and the people around you. It's about how scary vulnerability is- and how you can end up down a dead end road without it. Perfectionism tells you to put up walls, show the world the pretty, Instagram-friendly version of yourself. Vulnerability tells you to show up and be seen. That's where the good stuff happens. And bonus- this book comes with a free soundtrack. Why don't all books have soundtracks?! What a lovely concept. 

Having integrity is about being the same person on the inside that we are on the outside, and if we don’t have integrity, life becomes exhausting.
— Donald Miller

I hope you enjoy and are challenged by these books. Maybe you're in a place where you'd like extra support and guidance. A place to work out some of the concepts you're learning in these books. Counseling can be that place. Schedule your first appointment to get started today.