Present over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Neiquist – Book Review

51ysp75ny-lI found this book at the perfect time in my life.  I had already realized the key theme of this book and had begun making changes in my life.  This book wonderfully complemented my plan and expanded, explained, and put into words exactly what I was experiencing.  (If it wasn’t already taken, and I had been clever enough to have thought of it myself, Present Over Perfect would be a great title for my blog.)

I began reading this book in the ideal setting. Sitting on the deck at my in-laws’ lake home in the beautiful, quiet, peaceful yard. Breeze rustling the trees, birds fluttering in and out as in a game of tag.

The author, Shauna Neiquist, often uses her times at the lake to illustrate her story, contrasting her time at the lake with the daily, busy life in the city; how she wants the way of living she’s tasted at the lake to inform how she lives everywhere, all year long.

Shauna was living a hectic, overworked life, taking pride in being the capable, dependable, self-reliant one that everyone could count on.  Eventually, after ignoring the physical and mental warning signs, she reached her breaking point and decided to make some very intentional changes in her life.  She realized she was so busy accomplishing things, she was no longer connecting to others the way she wanted to in both her family and faith life.

Shauna shares what she has learned from her journey, 3 years and counting.  She discusses ideas, methods of prayer, and other things that have helped her bring some quiet, joy, connectedness, and balance back into her life.

One of the points that most hit home for me was the idea that each time you offer a “yes” (deciding by default, or purposely to do something), you also offer a “no.”  Basically, everything you say “yes” to takes resources away from something else. You are choosing one thing over another, whether you realize it or not.

“If you’re not careful with your yeses, you start to say no to some very important things.”                 -Shauna

As I was reading this book, making notes for myself, I realized that if I had kept up at the pace I was going, I would have been hand copying half the book!  So many things resonated with me.  I will be pondering the ideas in this book for some time, and coming back to it time and again as I plan on intentionally putting these ideas into practice.


Note: The Present Over Perfect book also has a companion Study Guide Workbook and DVD.

Do I need all 3?

I did the Workbook and DVD first, followed by the book.

The Study Guide Workbook and DVD need to be used together.

While you will notice some overlap/repeated information if you use all 3, personally I found a worthwhile amount of additional material in the book.

That said, you could do either the Book or the Workbook/DVD and still get the key points and understanding.  I find the exercises in the workbook are helpful to get one to slow down, think things through in terms of your own experience, and apply the ideas and methods in the book to one’s own life, so if you tend to rush to the end of a book, that might be a better choice.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Christianbook.com | GoodReads

2 thoughts on “Present over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Neiquist – Book Review

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