CC Book Club: Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

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I’ll admit that my November CC Book Club pick was a bit unconventional. While written by an extremely well-known author (who hasn’t heard of ‘Wild’?) ‘Tiny Beautiful Things’ has been a bit of a quieter book. It’s another non-fiction, but unlike ‘Wild’, it features columns from Strayed’s famed stint as Dear Sugar for The Rumpus. Dear Sugar was an advice column, but definitely not your run-of-the-mill, Agony Aunt kind of thing; Strayed conveyed genuine empathy and compassion for each of the individuals she replied to and easily shared deep, personal stories to help her readers. ‘Tiny Beautiful Things’ is a collection of the best entries from this column and provides great advice for everything from your love life to landing a dream job.

Although I sadly had to plow through this one (November was a busy, busy month!), I’m considering purchasing a hard copy to compliment my Kindle edition because I know this is a book I will want to go back to. It’s chock-full of beautiful, inspiring quotes about everything. And though some are eloquent, others are straight to the point and tell it like you need to hear it. The best of example IMO: “The best thing you can possibly do with your life is to tackle the motherfucking shit out of it.” Well said, Cheryl! I assure you that I will be highlighting the shit out of this one and turning to it in hard times to come.

It’s a bit difficult to run a book club with this pick as it’s not very conducive to Q&A. We could discuss our opinions on Cheryl’s advice, but I think that’s actually a bit of an insult to the book. Sometimes what Cheryl wrote wasn’t the take home; I found it to often be how her message made me feel and what other things I thought about as a result. For example, in one column where a woman in her mid-30s is struggling with the decision whether or not to have a baby without a man, Cheryl advises, “They will bring you to the furthest edge of your personality and abso-fucking-lutely to your knees. They will also give you everything back. Not just all they take, but many of the things you lost before they came along as well.” How perfect is that? As a girl in her twenties, rather far off from having children, it made me think about some of my friends and my boyfriend and how that perfectly put into words my feelings about them. Or when asked what Cheryl would tell her 20-something self, this is the final paragraph:

“One Christmas at the very beginning of your twenties when your mother gives you a warm coat that she saved for months to buy, don’t look at her skeptically after she tells you she thought the coat was perfect for you. Don’t hold it up and say it’s longer than you like your coats to be and too puffy and possibly even too warm. Your mother will be dead by spring. That coat will be the last gift she gave you. You will regret the small thing you didn’t say for the rest of your life.

Say thank you.”

Just ponder on that fellow CC-ers. I hope you joined us in this month’s book club and if you didn’t, you read through ‘Tiny Beautiful Things.’

And now for our December pick: ‘Me Before You’ by Jojo Moyes! See you in a month!

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