24 Jan 2013

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

If you are a human, you should probably read this book.

Once upon a time, some writer-types started a website called The Rumpus. Steve Almond wrote the advice column, Dear Sugar, but handed over the duties to some new blood. That new blood was Cheryl Strayed – you might remember the name, maybe Oprah introduced you last year – and she wrote an advice column like none you’ve ever read before. She wrote the advice column that all other advice columns wish they were, and in turn, her readers came to Sugar with the kinds of problems that are so tricky, so painful, so innately human. How to move on from the death of a loved one, how to decide to stay with your spouse, whether or not to cut of a destructive parent or sibling, how to survive this human condition. Problems we all have but assume there are no answers for, especially answers to be found in an online advice column.

But there are answers to these questions, as most of you probably know, found in music, film, poetry, religion, literature. Strayed’s Sugar takes the last option, weaving advice throughout personal stories with carefully chosen words, either tender or firm, but always artful, never patronizing, and the result is something truly special. It’s a manual on how to survive this human existence, one poor soul’s troubles at at time.

I want to buy a copy for everyone I love who has ever suffered, and bookmark special chapters for them. Everyone. Man, woman, parent, sibling, friend, acquaintance, coworker… Heck, I would like to buy myself a copy and bookmark special chapters for Future Jessica, in case she needs them.

I hope you don’t read this as an oversell – this is not a flashy book, a stay-up-all-night, change your life kind of book. If you are a person who finds life mostly enjoyable, you might not care for it. For the rest of us: required reading for treating the human condition.


  1. allison wrote:

    I just read “Wild” (not because of Oprah) and loved it. I loved the story and Strayed’s writing style and her sense of adventure and her sense of self. I had never read “Dear Sugar” but remember the hype around “Who writes this?!” before she unveiled herself (and that hype might be why I never read it…I can be stubborn and contrary). But now I want to read anything she’s ever written.

    Posted on 1.24.13 · Reply to comment
    • jessica wrote:

      You liked an Oprah book. You can admit it. 🙂

      If I had to compare Wild to Tiny Beautiful Things, I would say that each letter in TBT is like all of Wild condensed into a few pages. Not a lot of room to contemplate (obviously) but intense like whoa.

      Posted on 1.24.13 · Reply to comment
  2. sara wrote:

    We must have been channelling-I have been reading this too.

    Posted on 1.25.13 · Reply to comment

Leave a Comment