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Present over Perfect

Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living
Written by: Shauna Niequist
Narrated by: Shauna Niequist
Length: 4 hrs and 44 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (63 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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In this book, New York Times best-selling author Shauna Niequist invites you 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.

As she puts it: "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."

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.

©2016 Shauna Niequist (P)2016 Zondervan

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Great listen

Well writen & narrated. I liked the compilation of relatable stories. They kept me wanting to hear more. I cought myself thinking "really? Me too", more than once.

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Loved it!

I loved hearing Shauna’s experiences and really identified with what she has gone through. I loved hearing her read it on audible too. It really felt like I was in her story! We studied this book in our book cub and all of us loved it and could relate to many different elements of what and how she writes. I have fallen victim to the expectation of wanting to be perfect and this book was a great journey through Shauna’s experience of finding her own ground. It is relatable and inspiring. #Audible1

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    3 out of 5 stars

A little long.

I really enjoyed parts of this book, but found themes repeated too often. Shauna’s points could have been just as effective in half the length.

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My companion for a more present life

I have listened to this audiobook three times now, on my work commutes. Previously, I had read the book, but this recording, read by Shauna Niequist herself has been such a gift. To hear her words, spoken into my heart, has a power all its own. Her presence through this book walked me through important decisions for me and my family that will change an entire season of life for us.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

VERY whimsical

It is a good book if you want to curl up somewhere and imagine everything that she is saying because there is so much detail. It is her story, not a helping book. There was a couple of moments for me where I was like "I really understand how you feel" but I found it quite hard to finish because I felt like she was just repeating herself over and over in different ways.

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My soul is full!

simply the best book ever! This is a game changer. I cried and laughed. this was just what I needed.

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Not perfect

Didn’t realize it had such a big religious component to the book. That ruined it for me. Painful in places.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Not what I was expecting, just not for me.

The narrator was great, the book is just not what I was expecting. I am sure others will love it!

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Fromatoz
  • 2017-02-13

A long, curious blog post

This book follows a current theme of blog writers attempting to write books that often turn into extremely long blog post that seem to get lost in themselves. Another reviewer commented that it seems like a diary that has simply been put into book form, and I think that's accurate. The book Manders and drags on and many parts and leaves me baffled at the good reviews.

I had a hard time relating to much of what was said including an upscale School having a beach house and it just a life that is only hard because the author feels like having a hard life. It's clear that most of everything that the author struggles with can be dropped unlike my own life or, I'm guessing, the life of many other readers.

I have to wonder if most of the good reviews are simply people were already fans in the blog and read the book knowing what they were going to get. I struggled to finish the book, many parts of Simply seem to drag on with unnecessary descriptions. And one part the author even talks about how they are having trouble finishing the book. Clearly, placing emphasis on word count in book length is not a good way to create a readable book. The author seems like a really good person and I'm likely to check out her blog, however this book was dreadful.

377 of 393 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Mom4Life
  • Michigan
  • 2018-08-06

Should be classified as memoir/essays anything but what it is

I guess I expected more of a self help book or tips, advice, something...but what it is, in fact, is her telling us about her experiences and it really felt like reading someone’s personal journal. There were a couple of golden nuggets in there but I wasn’t really caught up in it enough to recommend to my book club or anyone else for that matter. I also was concerned about some of it not settling right with me...like I really felt like the spiritual part was not of sound teaching and could lead people the wrong way. Just my opinion.

18 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • Sunshinegirl
  • 2017-11-03

Aimless and humble bragging

If you want to hear an entire book about her “humble bragging” accomplishments and her extravagant life- mixed with a handful of random babbling that makes no sense and has no direction, with uncertainty about which religion she associates with (she mentions going to temples, rabis, pastors, spiritual director, cathedrals..) - then this is the book for you!
Honestly this book is written for wealthy stay at home trophy wives who brag about all “the hardships” in their life like going on extravagant retreats and vacations to Hawaii... also, this book is SO random... she goes from talking about “don’t say yes to everything” to “say yes to everything!” And then, randomly includes stories about her friends affairs and just all around I don’t recommend this book.

336 of 353 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Jane
  • 2018-05-29

Rambling

I do not recommend this book. Some basic thoughts and ideas were good but were presented in such a rambling way the book was unenjoyable.

17 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • Michelle D
  • 2018-01-24

oh where to begin..

First off, I resent that it is filled with so many references to Christianity and nowhere in the summary does it say that this book leans so heavily in that direction. I don't have a problem with books about religion, in fact most of the books that I read pertain to religion. But I want to make the choice as to which type of religion I'm reading about and I feel that if someone is quoting Biblical scripture, then it would be nice if the reader knew that going in. Second, I could only get to chapter 9, before I became so sick of listening to this upper middle class woman complain about how unsatisfied she was. She has complained about not knowing whether to have the housekeeper come more often, about sitting by the pool with friends and not having enough time to see friends more, too many travel plans? This has to be one of the most ungrateful people I have ever had to listen to.. Less than 10% of the world's population has enough food, shelter, education, time and money to even PONDER our place in the universe and I am supposed to feel sorry for someone who isn't grateful enough to thank God or the universe that she doesn't have to work 3 minimum wage jobs and still doesn't have enough to feed her kids. I just can't listen to anymore but would love to get my time back.

140 of 147 people found this review helpful

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  • Scott Brown
  • 2018-04-13

Uninteresting and difficult to connect with

Following the extremely inspirational audiobook, Why Buddhism is True, I was really looking forward to a story (true or not) that would help guide me in my quest to be present. I searched through blog posts, friend recommendations and similar audiobooks to aid my quest. When I came upon Present over Perfect, I thought I had found what I was searching for. I eagerly begun the audiobook with my wife as we started our four hour road trip across the state. After roughly the two hour mark we stopped the audio for a quick discussion. Neither of us could ‘get into’ the story and found the material uninteresting. Now I admit this could potentially be a product of my assumptions, expectations and personal situation but I was still bummed out. We found it really hard to relate to the content and author and, instead of forcing something that clearly wasn’t there, we stopped listening. I soon after returned the audiobook for a refund and chose another title.

I’m sure the message in this audiobook will resonate with others on a number of different levels but for my wife and I, it did not.

76 of 80 people found this review helpful

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  • Lara
  • 2016-11-14

Ok

What would have made Present over Perfect better?

The whole concept of the book can be summarized in a few paragraphs. Instead the author goes on and on and on with metaphors and imagery that is really not necessary.

What was most disappointing about Shauna Niequist’s story?

The author wants us to believe that she is slowing down yet she tells us the story of how she writes a book, attends church, has speaking engagements, goes out with friends, speaks daily to friends... it's exhausting! And my goodness the whiny voice! Too much.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Exhaustion

Any additional comments?

Am I the only one who is tired of these bloggers wannabe writers who over flourish/over complicate their language when what they really say is simple? SHe talks about the tenderness of a conversation.... what????

33 of 35 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2016-11-09

Somewhat repetitive; a lot of "I"

I listened to this book straight through on a road trip. It might better be consumed a bite -- or essay -- at a time. From the beginning, I identified with so much Niequist had to say, and I've already taken many if the steps she suggests to transform my life. However, I can understand how some other reviewers couldn't identify with the lifestyle, opportunities, and choices she presents. I have friends without college degrees working minimum wage jobs to help support the family that would have a hard time relating to the author's life. On the other hand, reading the book for them could spark imagination and broaden their thinking about possibilities in their lives.
On another note, the Niequist's delivery of the Audible version reminded me of Brene Brown. Brown, however, has the benefit of being able to intersperse personal anecdotes and realizations with stories from her research, so listening at length doesn't become tiresome. And she's more humorous and laid back in her delivery.
Overall, a good book in smaller doses than I took.

50 of 55 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Lauren
  • 2016-10-19

Lovely concept but lacking

Loved the whole concept of this lovely book. To be honest, it felt like it was mostly her telling her story, which was nice. Yet- there wasn't a ton of help for the listener. I wanted to be guided, not just listen to author share her story.

34 of 38 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Sheri
  • 2017-05-03

Trite and repetitive

Overall good message but could have been delivered in a chapter or two. The author repeated herself and her stories many times. These practices are too new in her life to write about them as an "I've done this" story. Lets see how she's doing in ten years. That might be worthy of a book.

16 of 18 people found this review helpful