Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar

Motivation for reading:
I decided to read Cheryl Strayed’s book Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar after Rebecca Joines Schinsky included it on a list of books to read through your quarter life crisis over on Book Riot.

Rebecca wrote:
Strayed pushes us to know that we make ourselves, and it’s up to us to make ourselves whole. Someone in these pages will have the problem you have had or are having. Many someones will have it much worse. You will get perspective and reassurance and at least one that’s-exactly-what-I-needed-to-hear moment.
At 50, I’m not going through a quarter-life crisis, but a mid-life one and could certainly use a little perspective as I continue to make my way, so I decided to give the book a try.

What is Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar about?
Cheryl Strayed, the author of Dear Sugar an online advice column at The Rumpus, has put together a book of her best Dear Sugar columns along with a few that have never before been published.

My Thoughts:
Before reading this book, I was concerned an entire book of columns might be advice overload, so when I packed it for a recent vacation it was almost as an afterthought; perhaps I’d read a column or two. Once I began reading, I was so taken with Cheryl’s writing and her advice I couldn’t put the book down. I will warn you though Cheryl includes a story from her own life in every column instead of just giving advice. While I enjoyed this, some of you may not. 

Here is some of the advice I am taking to heart:
To the husband whose wife lost her mother:
Say Oh honey, I’m so sorry for your loss over and over again. (Page 98)
I’ve been in several situations where someone I know has lost a loved one and I’m never sure what I should say or do. Cheryl suggests being there and saying you are sorry over and over is what you need to do. It doesn’t make it okay, but it makes it better.

The guidance Cheryl gives the wife whose husband had an affair with a young woman the wife hired for the family business is perfect. Instead of forgiving the young woman Cheryl suggests she first accept the situation.
“Acceptance asks only that you embrace what is true.” (Pg. 113)
She recommends the wife neutralize her negative thoughts with a breath. Calm your mind. Breathe in deeply with intention, and then breathe out. Cheryl has breathed her way through many people she feels wronged by.

Then there is the Dear Sugar column I wrote about in my post Is It Possible to Change the Course of a Young Girl's Life. In this column, Cheryl writes about her experiences working as a youth advocate. Initially she tries to help the teens by getting the authorities to intervene. When no one comes to their aid and she’s told there is no money for kids over the age of 12, Cheryl changes her advice. She tells the girls to survive it. To endure it. This column gives me goose bumps every time I read it.

And lastly, the mental vision I have of the ‘rain” song Cheryl sings with the children in 'Ten Angry Boys' has stayed with me long after reading the book.

Bottom Line:
Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar isn’t what I would call a light vacation read. I had been feeling a bit down prior to my vacation and this book didn’t exactly bring me up. I spent a couple of days wallowing in my dysfunctional childhood, but the book did help me see things from a different point of view. I came away able to forgive someone from long ago and also to feel reassured I did the right thing in distancing someone else. All in all reading the book was good for me and I gained perspective. I can only imagine how much I'd have gotten out of it if I had read it during my quarter-life crisis.

Have your read this book?  If so what were your thoughts?

If you enjoyed this post you may also like:
New Perspectives
Life is Not About Perfection
Career Book Recommendations and Advice From FrauTech
How Not to Lose Your Cool When Your Manager Screams at You

Please Note I am an Amazon Affiliate.


  1. Hmmm I have lost my mother and I would not want someone to say over and over sorry for your lost just be there and keep me busy with other thoughts its the best for me but I know everyone is different. I will look into this book I am always looking for new reads.

  2. Kita,
    Interesting. Now that I think about it I don't think I would want someone to say they were sorry over and over either. That would seem as if people were feeling sorry for me. Like you I think I would like people to help me keep busy and just me there. Thanks for the comment.

  3. It must be a "wallowing in dysfunctional childhood" kind of month. I so get it. But thanks for the warning, I don't think I'll be picking up Sugar's book just yet, even though it honestly seemed like it would have great life advice.

  4. Sandra,
    I know what you mean. It has to be the right time to read an advice book. Have a great summer.

  5. Thanks for sharing your book review. I read Cheryl Strayed's Wild autobiography and loved it. She's really good and writing about personal insight.

  6. How interesting, I think this book is on my to-read list as well as Wild. I struggle with what to say to people that have lost a loved one. I'm sorry for your loss, seems to cover it no matter how many times you need to repeat it.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book.

  7. Catherine,
    I just finished Wild. I didn't enjoy it as much as Tiny Beautiful Things, but still a worthwhile read. My review is scheduled to post on Tuesday.

  8. Tanya,
    If you read either of these books be sure to let me know your thoughts.

    Yes, it is so hard. I had to use the I'm sorry for your loss again this week. Very hard.

  9. Hi. I'm new to your blog (came over after reading your awesome post over at Kim's Sophisticated Dorkiness). And I love this review. I had also seen the list on Book Riot about books for your quarter-life crisis. As someone who is just about entering that time in my life, I'm thinking that this book might just be something I need to get my hands on soon. The tidbits that you have shared here definitely speak to me quite a bit.

  10. Jennifer,
    If you read it please stop back in and share your thoughts.

  11. Thanks for sharing with #ThrowbackThursdaylinkup. I almost picked up this book on audiobook a couple days ago. I have heard great things about it.

  12. Tanya,
    I bet this would book would be great on audio.