Wednesday 11 February 2015

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

I first heard Strayed speak about her Dear Sugar column at the Sydney Writer's Festival two years ago, so when her book of Tiny Beautiful Things turned up at work before Christmas I was instantly curious.

But it has been a slow read.

I find that I can only read a couple of letters and responses at a time. The dramas and emotions and complications of other people's lives often overwhelms me.

Other times, I'm the one already feeling overwhelmed by complications and the emotions in my own life, so I read a couple of her columns & I somehow feel soothed and understood.
Even if the problems under discussion have nothing to do with me, there will be one phrase, or maybe one of Strayed's comforting hard truths, that hits home & heals.

Strayed is like an old, trusted friend. A survivor - tough but loving.
She's there for you, but she's not going to blow smoke up your butt! She throws your words back at you, she makes you face what you already know & then she tells you it's time to get moving. She adds validity & perspective to most of her advice columns with stories about her own life. She also tells you it's okay to feel the way you do, but not to wallow.

Her wisdom resides in honesty, openness & loving kindness. Some of her words are hard to hear. Some of her personal stories are even harder to hear. They can shock and confront. But she also touches your soul with her generous humanity & integrity.

Strayed's credo's of acceptance, responsibility, truthfulness and ethical living are all good and worthy things to be reminded of regularly.
She also reminds us that it is the small, tiny things that can make a difference and that beauty can be found in the most unlikely of places & situations.

Tiny Beautiful Things is a book to be dipped into and out of as your situation requires, whenever you feel alone and need to be connected to the human race again, for inspiration or comfort.


  1. It does make you feel less alone, doesn't it? It's a great book and I like owning a copy so I can read some of it when I need a dose of tough love or just to remember that other people are going through tough things too.

    It's interesting to me that the Australian cover looks more feminine than the American one. I'm always fascinated by cover design and what the publishers are trying to convey through them.

    1. I had to google the U.S. cover to compare! I see it's very orange. Which is very similar to our orange penguin classics, maybe too close, hence part of the reason for a different style? I have noticed that australian books usually go for lighter shades & rarely use a block of one colour.

  2. Strayed's writing style makes me feel like I am just reading off from a friend's notes and journals. It definitely makes sense what you mean by dipping in and out as your situation requires. Some books are just like that.

  3. Anonymous12/2/15

    I think I like your cover better than the American version. I listened to the audiobook and I enjoyed Cheryl's smoky voice reading the letters. I found some of the situations repetitive, but liked her tough love, "I'm not perfect, but this is how I see it" answers.

  4. I love what you said about making people face what they already know. I absolutely think that's true of her columns. She just spelled it out for them and said, "I know this is true because that's what you said!" I think so often we know the answer, we just don't want to act on it.

    I also think this comment is perfectly spot on...
    "Even if the problems under discussion have nothing to do with me, there will be one phrase, or maybe one of Strayed's comforting hard truths, that hits home & heals."


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