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 Rumpus, now revealed as Cheryl Strayed, author of the best-selling memoir Wild—is the person thousands turn to for advice. Tiny Beautiful Things gathers 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.
©2012 Cheryl Strayed (P)2012 Random House
"A realistic and poignant compilation of the intricacies of relationships." (Kirkus Reviews)
"These pieces are nothing short of dynamite, the kind of remarkable, revelatory storytelling that makes young people want to become writers in the first place. Over here at the Salon offices, we're reading the columns with boxes of tissue and raised fists of solidarity, shaking our heads with awe and amusement." (Sarah Hepola, Salon)
"Charming, idiosyncratic, luminous, profane.... [Sugar] is remaking a genre that has existed, in more or less the same form, since well before Nathanael West’s Miss Lonelyhearts first put a face on the figure in 1933.... Her version of tough love ranges from hip-older-sister-loving to governess-stern. Sugar shines out amid the sea of fakeness." (The New Republic)
Always leary, am I, when non-clinicians start openly penning generalized advice (beyond dealing with biscuits that won't rise or resistant scuff marks) to people with problems that could be potentially serious or life-threatening--we don't need to look very far to see the inherent problems with such an approach. But after listening, I report that Miss Sugar is wise enough to always advise some medicine with her spoonful of sugar, and for the most part, in her essay-esque responses, directs her sweet peas toward professional counsel/support if needed. Miss Sugar is indeed wise, as well as compassionate and poetic. (*Strayed does have life-experience, obvious in her book Wild.)
This is an interesting mix -- author/advice columnist, novel/inspirational stories -- but just plugging it in and listening doesn't do it justice. In large doses the stream of advice-hidden-in-a-story becomes repetitive and more about the writer and creative writing than the problem. And with so many prose-filled personal stories, you begin to feel like this columnist not only yearns for the life of a novelist (funny thing), but also lived a life manufactured specifically for recalling and expending advice, which sometimes translates as too convenient, and unbelievable. [Imagine the hint-rich Heloise advising you.."I know mahogany can be problematic, and I'm sorry you have to deal with that hard and unfair fact, I also once owned a stubborn credenza... with a flowing perfect arc, move your cloud-like, lemon-scented cloth with the graceful grain of the wood on your credenza, becoming one with the oiled glistening panel of life recorded in those mahogany rings..." you get it.] But, Miss Sugar seems to pull up, just when you think she is going to drown the question in the reflective pool of her own life, and return to advising.
On the positive side, is the positive! Strayed is a good writer, and she uses those skills to be both entertaining and inspirational. Often in this book you will pick up some sparkling gems of wisdom. I was impressed with her good-karma emphasis on not only being a better person, but hoping for better for those around you, getting the whole team across the finish line. This would be a great book to pick up every day and read a passage, also a nice gift. Strayed does a good job narrating; I liked her voice work better here than on Wild. She still has that rock-hard edginess and no problem with dropping the F, or kicking pity-partiers off their asses--be prepared for some hard hitting--but nothing below the belt. Worthwhile listen; suggested enjoying in bits rather than one long session. (Another great pick up from this book...The Rumpus! A nice on-line magazine I intend on checking out more often, including the Miss Sugar column.)
I believe my headline says it all, but let's see if I can add more praise. I just adored this book. The book is a series of letters and responses to and from an advice columnist called Dear Sugar (Cheryl Strayed). This is no Dear Abby/ Ann Landers/ Ask Amy type experience. This book is not strident/ pedantic as are some advice- givers. This is like advice from a wise and fabulously credentialed therapist/ best friend/ mom/ teacher.
I listen to a lot of audiobooks and most are not that memorable, although perfectly enjoyable. This one will stick with you AND make you a better person. There will be something there for you, I promise.
Love non fiction, history, treasure hunts, lost causes, steps back I. Time
Each letter was answered in a direct, straight forward way, based on the author's personal experiences and insight. What a wise woman!
none that I have ever read.
Her ability to make each answer convey love and hope along with support and courage.
Yes, when she shared her personal experiences with her father and her journey to wholeness.
Get this book for yourself. It is thought provoking, comforting, upsetting, and beautiful.
Cheryl Strayed is truly a beautiful thing. I can't wait to read more from her.
I already have. It's sound advice on love and life from a woman who is not only emotionally intelligent but a terrific writer. Listening to this book made me feel safe and understood and not alone.
The writer of the Dear Sugar column Cheryl Strayed of course. I love how she opens up and uses her own life experience to empathically connect with her readers. It's a beautiful thing.
I'm glad she narrated. Having her do so was a good match for the authenticity of her writing.
Boundaries. The importance of boundaries, and that "f-----ed up people will try to tell you otherwise but boundaries have nothing to do with whether you love someone or not. They are not judgments, punishments or betrayals. They are a purely peaceable thing: the basic principals you identify for yourself that define the behaviors that you will tolerate from others. Boundaries teach people how to treat you and they teach you how to respect yourself."
Excellent excellent excellent. Absolutely worth every penny.
I know that you say you are not religious, but most of what you write spins a different story. You write beautifully about God's providence, about loving our neighbors and ourselves, about grace and responsibility are equally important. Blessed are the poor in spirit you say. Over and over again, you say, "Sweetpea, your faith has made you well", knowing that it will. In fact, the Gospel According to Sugar sounds a lot like the Gospel According to Jesus, as far as I can tell. Here is my life, you say, given for you. And you give thanks for it, and then you give away in tiny beautiful pieces for us to share.
As a long-time reader of the column, I loved hearing it spoken out loud, as I have heard it in my head while reading it. I loved the flow of each Q&A section and how as the book goes on, a cohesiveness comes through of the similarity of our human needs and desires.
The stories from Cheryl Strayed's life that she inserts in her responses that sometimes feel like they are completely out of left field, but eventually come full circle with clear intent. This is probably her best trait as an advice columnist that she can bring herself and her own experiences into the fold without overshadowing the original question or the asker's dilemma.
I did not particularly care for Steve Almond's performance, although I liked the intro itself. His delivery was drab and had a slightly cloying tone which did nothing for me. Strayed's performance is really quite good and the evenness of her tone produces a zen-like effect which allows one to become engrossed in each word. However, I wish she would have occasionally produced some variation in delivery depending on the dynamic of the question and the sentiment behind the answer. It got a bit "samey".
You are human and you need to be loved, just like everyone else does.
I've always felt that no one can sing Bob Dylan like Bob Dylan and the same hold true for Cheryl Strayed: no one could have read this book in a more moving, true way. Nor could anyone else have written such an intimate, painful, heartwrenching, searing, funny, wise, drop dead, spot-on, series of advice columns as this. Listen and weep; listen and leap.
Absolutely, this was a life changing book. I would recommend it to anyone who has faced challenges or struggles in their life. It is a guide for overcoming adversity - not just by sticking your head down and working through it - but by providing an emotional guide for processing the difficult parts of life, empowering us to transform our challeneges into character and strength, creativity and culture. It is a inspiring "self-help" type of book for those of us who would usually be more likely to read literary criticism or classics than anything that is typically thought of as self-help.
Cheryl's performance gets better as you go along - at first her pacing was uneven with some unnecessary pauses but she fixes this quickly. It is really powerful to listen to an author telling her own story (especially for a memoir-type book... her story really is HER STORY).
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