October 2016 – Janelle’s choice
“…understand that what you resolve will need to be resolved again. And again. You will come to know things that can only be known with the wisdom of age and the grace of years. Most of those things will have to do with forgiveness.”
This is a collection of letters that were submitted to the online advice column Dear Sugar on the website The Rumpus, and the responses from “Sugar”, a.k.a. Cheryl Strayed. At the time the letters were written, the identity of “Sugar” was unknown.
Straight up, let me say that this is the second time I’ve read this book, and I knew before I was even halfway through it the first time that it would be the newest addition to my shelf of favourite books.
It’s hard to pigeon-hole this book into a category, although “self-help” would be the closest. But the thing about self-help is that usually you go in with a topic in mind that you want guidance or insight on. Tiny Beautiful Things is not like that. The letters within Tiny Beautiful Things are so varied, they range from relationship troubles, to life-goal worries, to dealing with grief and loss, to self-acceptance, and everything in between. They are at times shocking, upsetting, and maddening.
It’s not the letters themselves though, but Cheryl Strayed’s responses, that are the magic in this book. They are so thoughtful and poetic and honest and profound, that somehow, no matter whether the problems raised in the letters resonate with you or not…..she speaks to you. She could be addressing some poor soul who is worried about the ickiness of their secret sexual fantasies, and you could find a message in her words that makes you think “yes, this totally applies to the work problem that I’m having right now!” It’s a combination of her life experience (and she’s had her share of experiences), her ability to stick with reason and truth, and her beautiful way with words, that provides insight like no one else can give.
This book makes me feel inspired, confident, and ready to take risks and win at life. It’s like a kick up the arse, a warm hug, a slap in the face and a big belly laugh, all delivered at the same time. Truly incredible. No matter where you’re at in life, or what ails you, you WILL get something out of this book. The back cover blurb sums it up best – “…this book is a balm for everything life throws our way.”
Did not like it – It was ok – Liked it – Really liked it – It was amazing
Let me start by saying, I didn’t like this book…I LOVED THIS BOOK! When Janelle first suggested we read this as a buddy read, I was sceptical. I had never read a book that was written as a collection of letters and responses from an advice column dubbed, ‘Dear Sugar’. But I love reading new things, so I gave it a go and I am not exaggerating when I say, it changed my life!
How did a book change my life, you ask? Let’s just say that if Cheryl Strayed started her own religion, I would join up. She is THAT amazing. I loved the way she put these anonymous debacles into perspective. Some of the questions asked were real head scratches, others were as simple as ‘WTF?’ (seriously), but the way ‘Dear Sugar’ responds to each and every one of these questions is amazing. She relates the issues back to her own life experiences and is able to break down the letters in a way that made me hug this book, several times over.
There was one response from ‘Dear Sugar’ that was in relation to becoming; how you don’t know what something will turn out to be until you’ve lived it. This entry was one of the ones that stood out to me the most and spoke to me, so much so that I got my husband to read this chapter as well. In a nutshell, Dear Sugar’s response is in relation to losing her Mother and how a simple act of kindness from her Mother, ensured that Dear Sugar’s future daughter would have a gift from her late-Grandmother to cherish forever. It seems like a simple and nice story, but for whatever reason, this gave me goosebumps and made me realise that what seem like simple acts to us in the present, could cause massive waves in the future.
If you have ever asked yourself ‘WTF?’ in relation to love, friendship, family, work or life in general and let’s face it, we all have, then you need to read this book. This book will make you view obstacles in a whole new light and cast perspective on how to step back from issues and “tackle” them head on, even if it hurts or is scary. It’s ok to be bitter at times, but maybe all you need is a little ‘Dear Sugar’ to sweeten up whatever is causing the bitterness!