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Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on love and life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed

7 Sep

I get a weekly email from a website called brainpickings.org. I don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to the site, but every Sunday an email with the best articles of the week arrives in my inbox. I like to sip coffee on my Sunday mornings and peruse it. The woman who curates it is always fascinated by learning, creating, the universe, science, literature, life. It’s a weekly email I’d recommend to anyone.

I’ve taken a lot of her book recommendations, and this one is by far and away my favorite that I’ve read. “Dear Sugar” was an advice column on the website “The Rumpus.” But it isn’t your average advice column. Mainly because instead of giving advice in some cheesy, overdone way, she usually tells a story from her life that relates, how it changed her, what she learned, what her advicee should take away.

So many times when reading this book, she took my breath away at the simplicity of her logic. One early advice letter basically just asked her “What the fuck?” over and over again. To which she wrote a very eloquent letter about the abuse she experienced as a child and how she spent her adulthood asking that very same question to herself on repeat. She concludes the letter.

“Ask better questions, sweet pea. The fuck is your life. Answer it.”

I devoured this book. I’ve lately taken to writing in my books: starring favorite passages, underlining fun turns of phrases, adding my thoughts in the margin. In college, they called this “active reading.” Thanks Bachelor’s Degree! But I didn’t write in this book at all. Why? Because I couldn’t put it down. I didn’t want to take the time to find a pen. I wanted to get to the next page. This book is pure beauty.

The book concludes with one of my favorite letters. A 22-year-old fan asks Sugar what she would go back in time and tell the 20-something Sugar about life. My favorite quote:

“The useless days will add up to something. The shitty waitressing jobs. The hours writing in your journal. The long meandering walks. The hours reading poetry and story collections and novels and dead people’s diaries and wondering about sex and God and whether or not you should shave your arms or not. These things are your becoming.”

It’s eerie when you read something, and it’s like the writer’s all of a sudden looking out at you from between the lines and seeing a part of you and not just seeing a part of you, but telling you what that part is, what it could be, what you should let it become.

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One Response to “Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on love and life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Book Roundup « Chrissy's Blog - January 15, 2013

    […] written about Cheryl Strayed before. She is one of the most honest, intuitive writers I’ve encountered in a long time. […]

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