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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

4.25 of 5 stars 4.25  ·  rating details  ·  16,092 ratings  ·  2,470 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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Donna Book was great. It is honest, insightful, heartfelt, funny with sound and practical advice. I think all of the advice is perfect.

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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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
I gave a million stars to "Wild" but I don't like this book at all. Here's the pattern: someone asks for help in solving a life problem. "Sugar" responds by describing a vaguely similar situation from her own past (often much worse, as if to say, "You think THAT'S a problem, ya pansy?"). Then she calls the questioner "sweet pea" and "darling" about a hundred times and ends on a note of pithy inspiration. She makes Ann Lamott sound like Charles Bukowski.
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'm going to hang onto it, 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
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
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
This was memoir writing. Not much of an advice column. Her responses seemed more like a platform for her to work through her own issues or showcase the processes by which she achieved some realization or enlightenment in her own life. The letters and her stories could sometimes be entertaining and her insights weren't always painfully obvious, but this book didn't do much more than annoy me.

I found the whole "Sugar" persona irritating. The excessive "sweet pea" and "honeybuns" endearments felt v...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.
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.
Not Dear Abby, this collection of advice columns is wise and powerful and shattering. The editor of The Rumpus website, which published the columns, calls it “radical empathy.” The number of times I dissolved into sobs makes it a very bad book to read in public, but I want to go out and buy a bouquet of copies and give them away. It’s so apt that Strayed references Rilke a few times here, including his famous quote “You must change your life.” She could have altered it to “You must change your o...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...
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail Torch Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York The Best American Essays 2013 Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Creative Nonfiction: Work from 1970 to the Present

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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.” 267 likes
“I'll never know, and neither will you, of the life you don't choose. We'll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn't carry us. There's nothing to do but salute it from the shore.” 221 likes
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