In the Bookcase


Book Review: Present Over Perfect

Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist (5 star review)

Present Over Perfect
Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living

written by Shauna Niequist

240 pages // published in 2016 // Christian encouragement


Instead of pushing for perfection

A few years ago, I found myself exhausted and isolated, my soul and body sick. I was tired of being tired, burned out on busy. And, it seemed almost everyone I talked with was in the same boat: longing for connection, meaning, depth, but settling for busy.

I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, neighbor, writer, and I know all too well that settling feeling. But over the course of the last few years, I’ve learned a way to live, marked by grace, love, rest, and play. And it’s changing everything.

Present Over Perfect is an invitation to this journey that changed my life. I’ll walk this path with you, a path away from frantic pushing and proving, and toward your essential self, the one you were created to be before you began proving and earning for your worth.

Written in Shauna’s warm and vulnerable style, this collection of essays focuses on the most important transformation in her life, and maybe yours too: leaving behind busyness and frantic living and rediscovering the person you were made to be. Present Over Perfect is a hand reaching out, pulling you free from the constant pressure to perform faster, push harder, and produce more, all while maintaining an exhausting image of perfection.

Shauna offers an honest account of what led her to begin this journey, and a compelling vision for an entirely new way to live: soaked in grace, rest, silence, simplicity, prayer, and connection with the people that matter most to us.

In these pages, you’ll be invited to consider the landscape of your own life, and what it might look like to leave behind the pressure to be perfect and begin the life-changing practice of simply being present, in the middle of the mess and the ordinariness of life.

My Review

5 Star Rating

Sometimes you have to learn that it's better to be present (in the moment, with your family, taking a breather), than it is to have people believe that you're leading a perfect, successful life. Besides, “perfect” in based on whose terms?

A big lesson Shauna shares about that I need to use more often in my life? I can't say yes all the time to please people. I have to take care of myself and my family, and sometimes (many times) this may mean saying no to requests for my time. It's not rude. It's prudent.

Another lesson I learned? You need to be honest to yourself. A lot of times we fudge the truth a bit with ourselves. We think that planning an event won't take too much of our time, taking on eight random projects to complete in a week will be a little hard but doable. No. We've got to stop those thoughts. Be honest. Be real.

“Perfect and the hunt for it will ruin our lives.”

Like Shauna, I probably have worn filters over my eyes – like sunglasses, affecting how or what I perceive. And filters over my ears and mouth too. Just like when Dorothy visited the fabled Land of Oz, and upon putting on green glasses, she believed that the entire city was sparkling in emeralds. These similar filters affected how I saw the world, and how I thought people were judging me or looking at me. Well, guess what? Everyone else has their own filters, and more than likely, theirs are different than yours. So those tiny details you fret over about yourself probably go unnoticed by others.

“Present over perfect living is real over image, connecting over comparing, meaning over mania, depth over artifice.”

There are some details I picked up on the book where Shauna relates some of her beliefs which are a little bit different than mine. It's just a difference of the kind of churches we each attend, and that's okay. In no way did this detract from the spiritual encouragement that I received.

I think from this time on, I'll always remember some key principles that Shauna brings out. One of these good reminders will always be at Christmastime, when I hear the words “...and the soul felt its worth.” Those words have never rung so beautifully in my ears as they will now when I hear them this next Christmas. Thanks, Shauna.

I enjoyed this kind of encouragement, from a woman who's been around the block a few times, and knows how to inspire through words.

Available on Amazon in hardcover, ebook and audio format.

Add to Goodreads

P.S. Like and vote for this review on Goodreads and Amazon.


  1. Great review! This looks like a good one. I've been meaning to read it for ages. I think I might suggest it to my book club next month.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Kate. This is definitely a memorable read for me. I'm basically ready to read it again -- it's that good!

  2. sounds inspiring