Atlas of the Heart [Book Review] #nonfiction #psychology #emotions

Filled with practical examples, Atlas of the Heart by Brené Brown is a comprehensive glossary of human emotions.

Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience  by Brené Brown

Atlas of the Heart by Brene Brown (cover) Image: a graphic illustrated image in the shape of a heart against a red background

Genre: Nonfiction, Essay, Social Psychology, Glossary of Emotions

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary of Atlas of the Heart:

In Atlas of the Heart, Brene Brown describes eighty-seven emotions of the human condition. She offers practical examples of each emotion with the priority of building connections with others. Brown believes that the power of accurately naming our emotions helps us build understanding, meaning, and choice.

My Thoughts:


Words and finding the exact perfect word for each usage brings nerdy joy to my heart! I found this book challenging, practical, and insightful as each emotion is presented and discussed. Rather than self-help, this is more accurately defined as a glossary of emotions filled with practical examples.

Tone and Content

Even though a great deal of research is presented, I found the tone of the book conversational and casual. The author narrates the audio book and I’m sure that’s engaging as well. While I didn’t find NEW concepts in the reading, I did appreciate the discussion and clarification of various emotions. This deep dive into emotions helps me identify and regulate my own emotions and encourages me to be a better friend and supporter to big and little people in my circle of connections. Often, we read nonfiction to learn something new. For me, the joy of this book is found in contemplation rather the acquisition of new knowledge. You probably already know about the emotions defined and discussed, but the examination and application is intriguing.

Children, Parents (Grandparents), and Teachers

What struck me over and over again during my reading experience is how important parents and teachers are in modeling emotionally healthy responses for children as they build their foundation of emotional intelligence during the childhood years. From identifying and naming emotions to setting expectations to handling disappointments to building resiliency, Atlas of the Heart is a helpful resource for anyone working with little or big people.


Atlas of the Heart is quoteable! Here are a few thoughts I noted:

  • “It’s possible that feeling bittersweet may be more frequently experienced or recognized by people who have a more nuanced ability to interpret their emotional states.”
  • “Developmental research shows that the experience of mixed emotions is not present in very young children, and that it develops gradually. At around age seven or eight, children report experiencing positive and negative emotions simultaneously, and by age ten or eleven, they can recognize and understand the tension caused by experiencing mixed emotions.”
  • “Hope is learned.”
  • “Boundaries are the distance at which I can love you and me simultaneously.”
  • “Across my research, I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgement; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”

Belonging and Fitting In definitions (graphic picture)

  • “In our research we found that everyone who showed a deep capacity for joy had one thing in common: They practiced gratitude. In the midst of joy, there’s often a quiver, a shudder of vulnerability. Rather than using that as a warning sign to practice imagining the worst-case scenario, the people who lean into joy use the quiver as a reminder to practice gratitude.”
  • “There’s a difference between feeling content and feeling tranquil. With contentment, we often have the sense of having completed something; with tranquility, we relish the feeling of doing nothing.”
  • “Calm is an intention. Do we want to infect people with more anxiety, or heal ourselves and the people around us with calm?”

Recommending Atlas of the Heart

I’m enthusiastically recommending Atlas of the Heart for all readers interested in the psychology of human emotions and for word lovers.

Related: Joyful by Ingrid Fetell Lee

My Rating:  5  Stars


Atlas of the Heart by Brene Brown (cover) a graphic picture of multiple images combined in a heart shapped collage against a red background with gold text

More Information Here link

Meet the Author of Atlas of the Heart, Brené Brown

Author of Atlas of the Heart, Brene BrownDr. Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston, where she holds the Huffington Foundation Endowed Chair at the Graduate College of Social Work. She also holds the position of visiting professor in management at the University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business.

Brené has spent the past two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy. She is the author of six #1 New York Times best sellers and is the host of two award-winning Spotify podcasts, Unlocking Us and Dare to Lead.

Brené’s books have been translated into more than 30 languages, and her titles include Atlas of the Heart, Dare to Lead, Braving the Wilderness, Rising Strong, Daring Greatly, and The Gifts of Imperfection. With Tarana Burke, she co-edited the best-selling anthology You Are Your Best Thing: Vulnerability, Shame Resilience, and the Black Experience.

Brené’s TED talk on the Power of Vulnerability is one of the top five most-viewed TED talks in the world, with over 50 million views. Brené is the first researcher to have a filmed lecture on Netflix, and in March 2022, she launched a new show on HBO Max that focuses on her latest book, Atlas of the Heart.

Brené spends most of her time working in organizations around the world, helping develop braver leaders and more-courageous cultures. She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband, Steve. They have two children, Ellen and Charlie, and a weird Bichon named Lucy.


Is this book of emotions on your TBR or have you read it?

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  1. I enjoyed reading your review of this book by Brene Brown. I especially like what you quoted about contentment and tranquility. I had the pleasure of hearing her speak in 2017 in Charlotte. She brings such energy and practicality to her books and presentations. A quote I made note of from her book, The Gifts of Imperfection is, “The greatest challenge for most of us is believing that we are worthy now, right this minute. Worthiness doesn’t have prerequisites.” She has a way of really getting to the heart of the matter and reminding us of things we already know but have trouble owning.

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