Non-Fiction for the New Year: How Do You Map The Human Experience?

Non-Fiction for the New Year: How Do You Map The Human Experience?

A review of ATLAS OF THE HEART by Brené Brown.

I had no idea what to expect when Brené Brown’s ATLAS OF THE HEART arrived on my doorstep. I was inspired to select it for my 2022 Non-Fiction for the New Year, and as a long-time reader of her work I knew the general arena I would be stepping into, but other than that, I had no idea what awaited me. A collection of quantified feeling words? A compendium of emotional expression? A culmination of her work as a coffee table book?

Just beyond the beautiful cover, the Table of Contents struck me like a lightning bolt. Instead of listing all the items to be defined and explored, a series of sections begin with “Places We Go When….,” followed by a grouping of emotions and experiences. For example, “Places We Go When It’s Beyond Us: Awe, Wonder, Confusion, Curiosity, Interest, Surprise.” Surprise and Curiosity were certainly what I felt as I read through the sections. This simple re-orientation of emotions and experiences as places we go struck a match in my imagination; if these are places we can go, then perhaps we can find our way into and out of them as well.

From there I had to take the book in small sections, allowing time to process. I began the book simply reading it, but as I got deeper I took a pen to the pages (!), writing notes, and flagging pieces to revisit. In every section I felt like I was walking through a forest I’d once thought of as familiar but I was now discovering hidden temples and dormant volcanos. And as I look ahead at 2022 it feels rich with growth and possibility, because as Brown concludes ATLAS, “The real gift of learning language, practicing this work, and cultivating meaningful connection is being able to go anywhere without the fear of getting lost. Even when we have no idea where we are or where we’re going, with the right map, we can find our way back to our heart and to our truest self.”

Buy it HERE and be prepared for a journey of the soul.

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