Tiny Beautiful Things – Cheryl Strayed


“You don’t need a reason to leave. Wanting to leave is enough. Leaving doesn’t mean you’re incapable of real love or that you’ll never love anyone else again. It doesn’t mean you’re morally bankrupt or psychologically demented or a nymphomaniac. It means you wish to change the terms of one particular relationship. That’s all. Be brave enough to break your own heart.”

I bought Tiny Beautiful Things back in August as a form of therapy for the unbearable sadness and depression I was experiencing. The book is a collection of advice columns written to Cheryl Strayed (author of Wild), back when she was known as Dear Sugar in the Rumpus magazine. At the time, I read a few of the chapters, ones that felt relevant and applicable to my life – words that I needed to hear to help lift me out of that hole.

Now, for Bookstravaganza, I’ve started from the beginning and read through all of the chapters.  I felt the pain of events I haven’t even come close to experiencing – death of a parent, loss of a baby in a late-stage miscarriage, coming out, etc.  And even though these are not situations I’ve experienced, Cheryl finds a way to speak through to me anyway.  My name became “Sweetpea” for the few hours it took to finish this book, and by the end of it I was both sad from reading about all of that pain, and uplifted from Cheryl’s advice of how to conquer that pain.

Dear Sugar’s advice is so beautifully written that I couldn’t help but highlight some sentences throughout.  Because me talking about how you should read this book as a form of therapy probably isn’t enough to convince you, here are some of my favourite lines:

  • “The best thing you can possibly do with your life is to tackle the motherfucking shit out of it.”
  • “Forgiveness doesn’t sit there like a pretty boy in a bar. Forgiveness is the old fat guy you have to haul up a hill.”
  • “Let yourself be gutted. Let it open you. Start here.”
  • “The fuck is your life. Answer it.”
  • “The unifying theme is resilience and faith. The unifying theme is being a warrior and a motherfucker. It is not fragility. It’s strength. It’s nerve.”
  • “I hope when people ask what you’re going to do with your English degree and/or creative writing degree you’ll say: ‘Continue my bookish examination of the contradictions and complexities of human motivation and desire;’ or maybe just: ‘Carry it with me, as I do everything that matters.’ And then smile very serenely until they say, ‘Oh.”
  • “Write so blazingly good that you can’t be framed… Write like a motherfucker.”

Books read: 10

Side note: The past two Bookstravaganzas I tapped out at 10 books.  It’s only December 12th and I’m already at 10.  I’m not going to lie, I’m incredibly stoked about this.  I plan to inhale all of these words and stories as life fuel for getting through the gruelling month that is December.  My goal was only 15, but this seems small now.  I know I’m still 5 books behind Dorothy and if she maintains her pace I will likely not catch up, but I don’t intend on letting any of the rest of you beat me either!


2 responses to “Tiny Beautiful Things – Cheryl Strayed

  1. YOU ARE KILLING IT RIGHT NOW. Read all the books, Arielle!

    Also, how did we accidentally pick so many of the same books? This is in my stack soon.

    • Because we both have impeccable taste 🙂
      Also, I am stoked that you liked Us Conductors because I bought it as a Christmas gift buuuut maybe I’ll put off wrapping it so I can read it first!

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