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

Reviewed by:  Anna Oelerich, Professional Writing Student, Taylor University, Upland, Indiana



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

Author: Shauna Niequist

Publisher: Zondervan

Publication Date: June 2016

Format: Print Book

Length: 234 pages


“What kills a soul? Exhaustion, secret keeping, image management.

And what brings a soul back from the dead? Honesty, connection, grace.”

So claims Shauna Niequist, writer, wife, mother of two—and, up until recently, someone utterly exhausted. A lover of simple family meals and days at the lake, she found herself tugged away from the things she most enjoyed by speaking schedules, demands from society, and her own inability to say “no.” In short, her soul felt compromised, and she knew she needed a change.

Present Over Perfect takes the reader through Shauna’s journey to live more simply and more soulfully, without a formula or road map. Guided by her love of liturgical teaching and desire to enjoy her family more deeply, Shauna chronicles the beauty she’s found in stripping away all the “extra” until only what is most essential is left. This includes turning down speaking opportunities, playing more pick-up basketball with her boys, and getting rid of household items that only take up space. It also includes gaining a better sense of her God-given passions, what makes her thrive. The result is a refreshing book that reminds the modern believer that less is often more—especially for the soul.


Rating (1 to 5)


I’m not usually one for superlatives, so when I say this is the best book I’ve read in a long time, I mean it. Shauna’s words, passions, and writing style resonate with me so deeply that I feel I’m reviewing the work of a dear friend. Shauna doesn’t write as a Christian self-help guru who has discovered the secret to happiness, nor does she present a cookie-cutter thesis for the believing woman-on-the-go. Rather, Present Over Perfect is written as a personal quest for deep, Christ-centered satisfaction, raw and honest in a time when “raw and honest” is often anything but. Shauna’s prose—slow, rhythmic, uncluttered—reflects the life she has chosen for herself, and it is a joy to read.

Suggested Audience

Christian women 18 and older, particularly those who find themselves far too caught up in today’s fast-paced society

Christian Impact

Personally, I found this book strengthened my faith in an unexpected way. It’s easy to forget that the Lord loves us even when our schedules aren’t full; isn’t constant activity the mark of a good Christian, a good woman? Shauna Niequist reminds readers of the deep contentment our souls can find when we choose our “yeses” wisely and put away frantic for good.


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

About Ceil Carey

The Evangelical Church Library Association, founded in 1970, is a fellowship of Christian churches, schools, and individuals.

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