tiny beautiful things

The second audiobook I listened to on my road trip to Wisconsin over Memorial Day weekend was Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed. From Goodreads:

Life can be hard: your lover cheats on you; you lose a family member; you can’t pay the bills—and it can be great: you’ve had the hottest sex of your life; you get that plum job; you muster the courage to write your novel. Sugar—the once-anonymous online columnist at The Rumpusnow revealed as Cheryl Strayed, author of the bestselling memoir Wild—is the person thousands turn to for advice. Tiny Beautiful Things brings the best of Dear Sugar in one place and includes never-before-published columns and a new introduction by Steve Almond. Rich with humor, insight, compassion—and absolute honesty—this book is a balm for everything life throws our way.

So many great reviews (and enjoying Strayed’s Wild last year myself) prompted me to add this to my listening queue. I liked how Strayed tackled a wide variety of issues, from dysfunctional divorces to “does he like me?” queries, from deaths of children via drunk drivers to high school love triangles, and pretty much everything in between—it was a good balance between soft and hard.

As many other reviews I read mentioned, Strayed more often than not regales her readers with stories of her own life, making this much more of a memoir than a self-help book. It’s better that way, in my opinion, because Strayed’s advice usually boils down to “just do it,” in so many words. To her credit, she does admit she is not exactly qualified to dole out traditional advice, but says she offers more of a “alternative perspective” to her letter writers.

Because her replies are long and meandering, you lose yourself in her straight-forward yet warm and elegant prose, and more than once I completely forgot she was answering a letter. Her writing is sharp, lovely, rich, and stays with you—not afraid to get down there with the ugliness of life and work through it. I love the honesty and compassion in her responses, which was enhanced greatly in the audiobook version, read by Sugar herself.

Listened to audiobook from May 26 to 31, 2014.

6 thoughts on “tiny beautiful things

  1. I’ve read this maybe four or five times now, but you just made me want to listen to the audio version, too!

    • I can heartily recommend both! I’m not sure which would be better first, some of the experiences Strayed talks about are in both books. I guess actually maybe Tiny Beautiful Things might be better to read first before Wild, because the anecdotes Strayed shares in Tiny are expanded and put into context in Wild. Enjoy!

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