Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar
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Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar

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4.26 of 5 stars 4.26  ·  rating details  ·  12,063 ratings  ·  2,080 reviews
Life can be hard: your lover cheats on you; you lose a family member; you can’t pay the bills—and it can be great: you’ve had the hottest sex of your life; you get that plum job; you muster the courage to write your novel. Sugar—the once-anonymous online columnist at The Rumpus, now revealed as Cheryl Strayed, author of the bestselling memoir Wild—is the person thousands t...more
Paperback, 353 pages
Published July 10th 2012 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2012)
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Moira Russell
I wound up having slightly mixed feelings about this book. Other reviewers have already pointed out that Strayed spends far more time telling her own stories than offering any advice; the columns lose some of their punch without the comments; and, when gathered all in one place so they're read one after the other after the other, rather than spaced out over weeks or months, they tend to pall (the endearments like "sweet pea" especially start to grate). There's no question that Strayed is a real...more
Jan Priddy
"There is no cure except to live the hell out of our lives, to take it apart, to put it back together, to dig it all up, and then fill the hole. To help ourselves and one another to the best of our abilities. To believe everything entirely, while also calling bullshit for what it is." - Cheryl Strayed as Dear Sugar on The Rumpus.

TINY BEAUTIFUL THINGS: ADVICE ON LOVE AND LIFE FROM DEAR SUGAR by Cheryl Strayed (2012) contains letters and advice first published in The Rumpus. About the time her fi...more
Rivka
This is not going to be the review I expected to write. First: in fall 2010, a friend told me about "Write Like a Motherfucker" as we walked across Central Park after a writing group. Then: another friend and I would email on Thursdays right after the columns would post ("are you crying right now?"). I never had an urge to know Sugar's name because I knew who Sugar was and what I didn't know I filled in with what I knew about myself. The magic of Cheryl's writing is in the "me too"-ness of it, h...more
Julie
Dear Sugar,

I didn’t want to read your book. I don’t read advice columns as a matter of principle. Needy people, foolish people frustrate me. To read an entire book of advice column Q&A seemed about as necessary as professional football, with the same end result for this reader as for those players: heads bashing into unmovable objects.

But my book club selected it. Duty calls.

A bunch of shit happened in the three days I took to read your book. Like, universe is speaking to me shit.

The Fir...more
Lightreads
Warning: this review contains a lot of sperm.

So, a while back I was thousands of miles from home, lying on the guest bed in an all-wood flat on the second story of converted stables, a quick skip from a church that’s about 400 years older than my home country. I had my feet propped up on the wall, and an Instead Cup full of sperm stuck up inside me. I was tripping on some pretty serious adrenaline. Half of it was left over hilarity from an hour before when the originator of the sperm . . . misse...more
Julia Reed
If I had my way, every person in America would read this book. You would get a copy when you were born, and your parents would read it to you after they'd finished with fairy tales and before tucking you in at night. You'd get another when you started elementary school, one at the beginning and end of middle school. You'd get one at age 13, 15, and 18. You'd take your copy on your first date and the person you'd chosen to first date with would bring their copy, and all first dates would be just...more
Diane
I picked up this beautiful collection of advice columns because I had loved Strayed's memoir, Wild. But there are two things I need to tell you: First, this isn't for everyone. If you like the tough-love speak of self-help books or the writings of Elizabeth Gilbert, you will probably like this book.

Second, this isn't the kind of book you can read straight through, even if you wanted to. I would read several pages and then hit a passage that was so meaningful to me that I would have to put the b...more
Kress
Holy wow of all things good, this book should be a must read for all writers, thinkers, and humans trying to do more than simply eek out their existence.

I am so not an advice/self-help book kind of girl. I'm barely a memoir kind of girl, though there are some notable exceptions. But this book is all and none of the above. It's a genre-bending masterpiece.

Sugar sees the buried questions and stories and fears and desires embedded in the advice-seekers' narratives and lifts them in all their sad...more
Emily
Dear Sugar,

I never knew I was writing you a letter. The entire time I read this collection, I thought I was experiencing other peoples' problems, traumas, hurt, sorrow, but also their joy, happiness, hope and optimism. It never occurred to me that my subconscious was collecting fragments of other peoples' letters and tying them into one angsty but optimistic letter of my own.

I have a beautiful life. Friends, family who love me, I'm smitten in my relationship, and I have sunshine in my life every...more
Elizabeth A
First thing to know going in, is that this is not your mama's advice column of old. Second thing to know is that it works better if you look at each letter/response as a short story, and treat it that way. Read. Linger. Marinate. Pet the cat. Take a nap with said cat. Go for a walk. Read another letter. Repeat.

I read this book over a couple of months, dipping in and out, tapas style, and I honestly believe that the book loses its power if read in one sitting. Yes, some letter/response combinatio...more
Melissa
Have you ever sought advice from a girlfriend, only to have her go on for two hours about her own life and her problems, and you leave going, "Did that just happen? Maybe SHE'S the one who needs to seek advice."

That's how I felt reading this. Good God, this woman likes to talk about herself. The "Dear Sugar" column is not advice. It's memoir writing. She gives some cute little quippy note about how she's totally unqualified to give advice, and I don't disagree with that. Because in all these an...more
KJ Grow
Oh geez, I'm only on the second letter and it was all I could do to keep myself from being a weepy mess on the subway this morning. Dear Sugar, how did your heart get so big? I love Steve Almond's characterization of her columns as works of "radical empathy". Already dazzled, looking forward to more.

Update upon finishing:
Five thousand stars. I love this book so much. SO much. I want to give it to every person I know so that we can have bigger hearts, live better lives and see each other and our...more
Kathy Penny
I like Strayed. She's someone I would like to go out and have dinner and a drink with.

In most cases, I like her advice. I just find it takes her a LONG, long time to get to it sometimes. She weaves a lot of her personal experience and stories in, which is great, but I did, on a few occasions, forget what the original question was.
I think Strayed's best work probably isn't advice columns, but I do look forward to more from her.
jeremy
despite this not normally being my proverbial cup of tea, cheryl strayed's tiny beautiful things was profound, moving, and frequently devastating. i'm quite fond of books that elicit strong emotion, but i cannot recall a work that evoked more tears and heartache than this one did so effortlessly. whereas great literature can easily compel me to forgo even the most basic responsibilities and obligations in the hopes of reading just one more chapter, so seldom does that happen with non-fiction. i...more
Teresa
I read advice columns in the newspaper, even one on sewing -- and I don't sew. I think it's part of the compulsive reader I've been since I was a kid, even reading my mom's Emily Post and Dr. Spock-type books when I was a preteen.

Strayed reminds me a bit of the columnist Carolyn Hax whose advice is also lengthy and thoughtful. Strayed, however, adds her own story to every bit of advice, in such a way that is pertinent and empathetic. I teared up when reading her stories of being a 'youth advocat...more
Monika
One of the rarest moments in life is that impulse, upon finishing a book, to immediately start at the beginning and read it all over again. I did that with Life After God. I did that with Sun Also Rises. I did that with Life of Pi. And I'm now forcing myself to put down this book long enough to loan it to a friend and share the love rather than keep it all to myself.

Cheryl Strayed is one of the most effed up people I've encountered, and that makes her one of the most stable, wise, nurturing, bal...more
Elissa Washuta
I didn't really have expectations for this book, because I haven't read much of Dear Sugar--I'm not much for reading at length via computer screen. I did really like WILD, but this is a different sort of thing, I knew. I listened to the audiobook version, which is read by Strayed herself, always a good thing for authors to do, I find. I found this book to be incredibly compelling, full of sound advice that always mattered to me even when it wasn't directed to me. Sugar is a fantastic adviser bec...more
Kevin
This book is so much more than a collection of advice columns. This is a wallop of timeless beauty, grace, and no-BS life stories. The people who write in to Sugar/Cheryl ask for help with love, life, death, money, and various other struggles and we (her voyeuristic readers) simply sit back and watch the advice (usually wrapped in some personal, wonderful, intense anecdote) utterly destroy our stoic will not to cry. Favorites include: Like An Iron Bell, How You Get Unstuck, The Baby Bird, Thwack...more
Jody Heifner
Eagerly awaiting this book. I have a collection of Dear Sugar columns that I have printed off The Rumpus website--- my favorite words of advice, support and love Sugar has given to ALL of us.
Lexi Wright
Undoubtedly the best thing I've read in the past five years. Why?

"Writing is hard for every last one of us ... Coal mining is harder. Do you think miners stand around all day talking about how hard it is to mine for coal? They do not. They simply dig." (p60)

On consoling people who've lost someone or something huge: "The kindest, most loving thing you can do for [someone who's lost one they love] is to bear witness to [it never being OK that she is gone], to muster the strength, courage, and humi...more
Jeff
Wow.
I have to confess that I didn't have very high expectations for a book subtitled, "Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar." And when I read Steve Almond's introduction to "Tiny Beautiful Things," I just assumed he was being overly/ironically effulgent when writing a sentence such as: "With each of her pieces -- I hesitate to use the word 'columns,' which seem to cheapen what she does -- she performs the same miraculous act: she absorbs our stories."
But as "Dear Sugar," author Cheryl Straye...more
Lynne Spreen
(UPDATED) I loved this book. I think I'll keep it always, because it's so empowering. It starts out with an incredibly eloquent intro by Steve Almond, the original Sugar (I wrote about that at the end of this review), followed by a couple of letters that will rip your heart out. After that it evens out. Most of the book is interesting, dramatic, funny, informative, schadenfreude-delightful, and empowering, and empowering is the reason I'm keeping it. The best example of this is the letter (story...more
Corinne
Sometimes, when an author is all the rage, I'll read a book by said author and not enjoy it. This happens often. Sometimes, trying to understand the hype, I'll try another book by the author. That's my story when it comes to Cheryl Strayed. At least I can say I have an informed opinion when I say that I whole-heartedly disagree with the hype?

First, if Strayed's advice column under her alias of Sugar is helping people, that's great. Really, it is. That's important.

But, I wouldn't turn to this wo...more
Margie
Apr 18, 2013 Margie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Margie by: BlabberMouse via Nancy
I never read Dear Sugar on The Rumpus. I read Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail and enjoyed it, and had heard that the Dear Sugar book was good, but was pretty much completely unprepared for this book.

I'm having a hard time writing this review, because there are so many things I want to say. So, a few random thoughts:

I cried twice. At one point I had to literally put the book down and walk away from it. And stay away for a couple of days. My response was that visceral.

It's not...more
Laura Leaney
Heartbreaking, and full of ravishing wisdom, this is the kind of book that reminds you to buck up and be what you are.......a human being. Cheryl Strayed has a heart the size of the sun. I'm not particularly a fan of advice columns; all the "advice" seems rather generic to me - go see a therapist, don't let your in-laws call the shots, et cetera - but Strayed's "Dear Sugar" letters are truly "tiny beautiful things." My heart pounded all the way through the book.
Kevin Fanning
Not really reading it end to end per se, I just kind of keep it by my bed and use it as an I Ching, turning to a random page when I need some kind of message from the universe. I'd never read any of the original columns, so this is all new to me, and it's hard to even imagine these words having the same impact when you're scrolling past them on an ad filled page. Cheryl answers readers questions with stories from her own life, and they are all really good stories.
Farah
I loved this book. I never read any Dear Sugar columns online before, but now I want to read them all. The advice is tender and gut wrenching all at the same time.
Amanda
Great writing. Not always advice I would give but that isn't really the point. She writes like a motherfucker.
Peebee
So I'm supposed to read Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail soon, and recognized the author's name. I really wasn't sure about getting advice from someone called "Sugar," and wasn't familiar with this column. But this popped up in my library's e-book list, and I decided to check it out. This may be one of the most important decisions I made.

I'm pretty loyal to Carolyn Hax in the advice-giving department: sometimes you just find someone who has a similar approach and mindset, and...more
Mark Johnson
I have to confess that I am constitutionally incapable of restraining myself from reading advice columns whenever I encounter them (which, given the ever-diminishing presence of print journalism in my life, has not been often of late). I am unable to avoid reading the damn things the same way that I am unable to stop myself from glancing over at the wreckage when I finally reach the scene of the accident that has caused me to spend the last hour of my life stuck in a hellish traffic jam. I alway...more
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Cheryl Strayed’s memoir, Wild, will be published by Knopf in March 2012. It will also be published in Brazil, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Italy. Her novel, Torch (Houghton Mifflin, 2006) was a finalist for the Great Lakes Book Award and was selected by The Oregonian as one of the top ten books of the year by writers from the Pacific Northwest. Strayed’s writing has appeared i...more
More about Cheryl Strayed...
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“Most things will be okay eventually, but not everything will be. Sometimes you'll put up a good fight and lose. Sometimes you'll hold on really hard and realize there is no choice but to let go. Acceptance is a small, quiet room.” 184 likes
“Don't surrender all your joy for an idea you used to have about yourself that isn't true anymore.” 177 likes
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