#CBR7 Review #139: Tiny, Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

While on vacation at my in-laws’ house, I read Wild and completely freaked out over how amazing it was. In the comments section, not one, not two, but THREE awesome people immediately recommended her advice column (“Dear Sugar”) and the book of compilation columns, Tiny Beautiful Things. So, being eager for more things Cheryl Strayed and in love with her writing, I promptly borrowed my library’s ebook. And then proceeded to read it greedily, tears pouring down my face half the time.

Let’s start with the obvious. Sugar is my kind of people, and I want to hug her in my heart and have coffee with her and talk about books and life and things that matter and don’t matter. Her advice is based on real-life scenarios and cuts through a lot of nonsense and self-doubt to get at what the person is trying to say or not saying. She is gentle and tough at once, and she is personal. She often relates the advice to something that happened in her life, but it makes you trust and believe her, because she does not sugarcoat what happened to her nor what could happen to the person writing to her.

My favorite column, though, has got to be “The Future Has an Ancient Heart.” As an English major to my very core, I’m a sucker for hearing the stories of other English types and the kinds of advice they give. And Sugar does not disappoint. One of the best things that touched me to the core was the end, where she suggested the responses one can give when asked why he or she got a degree in English. I have been asked this question so many times. So it was a delight to hear the response, “Carry it with me, as I do everything that matters.” Yes, this. I believe in being gainfully employed (as I am now, even if the wages for adjuncting are abysmal) and being able to pay one’s bills, but I am also glad that I chose a degree that I could carry with me, as I do the things that matter.

If you like hard-hitting advice columns with a gentle soul inside, then please read this book. It delighted and devastated me in one fell breath. I am going to carry this book with me, as I do with all books that matter.

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