What We’re Listening To: Atlas of the Heart by Brené Brown

atlas of the heart: mapping meaningful connection and the language of human experience by brené brown, read by the author
Available as an audiobook through Dogwood Digital Library

Emotional intelligence is HARD, but being able to identify where your emotions are coming from and actually having the language to identify those emotions (and the differences between them) can help.

This book was read via audiobook by Meredith Lewis, the (mostly) Orange County Campus Librarian.

Title: Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience

Author and Narrator: Brené Brown

Genre: Psychology, Social Science, Self-Help/Awareness/Mindfulness

Read Great Things 2022 Categories: A happy or hopeful book; Blast from the past: A book that will help you with your self-care (2021), A social science book (2019)

Why did you choose to read this book?

Quite simply, I needed an audiobook to listen to while I was doing some work with my hands.

I’m not always great with audiobooks; I get confused listening to high fantasy without being able to see some of the words, and with other genres, I tend to just zone out depending on the narrator. I’ve used familiar audiobooks to fall asleep so often that sometimes they just make me sleepy.

I picked this book up (digitally) because I know a lot about Brené Brown but hadn’t actually read anything by her before. I only read about one self-help-y book a year (strangely, around this same time each year– last time it was Wintering by Katherine May, also partially by audiobook). I’ll be honest: I didn’t expect to listen to more than an hour or so–it was just meant to be noise company–but Brown’s engaging narration style (it’s like a very long podcast) and the actual content of the book kept me interested. I’m very interested in emotion science and emotional intelligence since it has so much to do with how we navigate the world and how we react to conflicts or stress.

What did you like about it?

I think one of the things that I liked about it was also what some of the semi-critical reviews disliked about it: the book is “definitions” of different emotions, grouped into situational and feeling groups (called “land masses, which is cheesy but not off-putting since it’s just the organizational structure and not mentioned in the narration that I recall). Brown details 87 emotions, divided into groups such as “Places We Go When Things Don’t Go As Planned” and “Places We Go When We’re Hurting.” Detailing the nunaces between sympathy and empathy, happiness and joy, shame and embarrassment was really interesting to me. Brown’s also a really friendly narrator; she has some audiobook specific asides when she gets excited about a certain phrase or topic and her enthusiasm is contagious.

The whole premise of the book is that by being able to name our emotions and identify their origins/motivations, we can be more emotionally intelligent. My personal work with mindfulness and upping my own emotional intelligence (though I’m far from even skimming the surface of perfect) aligns with this.

Who would you recommend this book to?

Anyone looking to further develop their own emotional intelligence. The chapter on empathy and some of our empathy pitfalls was particularly poignant to me, as were the chapters discussing grief and joy. Honestly, I think most folks could benefit from more clarity around their emotions.

Did it remind you of any other books?

wintering: the power of rest and retreat in difficult times by katherine may

Yup! As previously mentioned, it reminded me of my self-help-y book from around this time last year, which is conveniently available at the Orange County Campus Library. Wintering is all about leaning into what you’re feeling instead of trying to ignore it and defer it to later.

These have been an exhausting few years; I guess books that validate my feelings are what I need.

Want to read more books by Brené Brown, about emotion science, or emotional intelligence? Check out our Dogwood Digital Collection (available for download via the Libby app, just like your public library!) or browse our collections in-person or search online.

You can also reach out to your Durham Tech Librarians to request read-alikes.

Have you read a book/ebook/audiobook, listened to a podcast, or watched a tv show or film that you’d like to review for the Durham Tech Library Blog? We have a form for that!

For our blog readers– Is there a book that changed your way of thinking and that you think your colleagues or peers would definitely benefit from reading? Let us know what that book is. As usual, we have a form for that!

About Meredith Lewis

Meredith is a librarian at Durham Tech on both the Main and Orange County Campuses.