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Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way

4.22 of 5 stars 4.22  ·  rating details  ·  2,976 ratings  ·  314 reviews
The idea of bittersweet is changing the way I live, unraveling and re-weaving the way I understand life. Bittersweet is the idea that in all things there is both something broken and something beautiful, that there is a moment of lightness on even the darkest of nights, a shadow of hope in every heartbreak, and that rejoicing is no less rich even when it contains a splinte ...more
Hardcover, 252 pages
Published July 28th 2010 by Zondervan (first published July 14th 2010)
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Becca Nelson I think you're asking the wrong question. Sometimes while reading books like this, I find myself thinking "Well, sure they were able to forgive that…moreI think you're asking the wrong question. Sometimes while reading books like this, I find myself thinking "Well, sure they were able to forgive that person or that situation, because they haven't been through [insert something here I'm bitter about]." But honestly, I don't think it works that way. I don't think it's a matter of how deep a betrayal was, or whether their life is worse than yours. I think forgiveness and reconciliation is a necessary human experience no matter how deep a betrayal or how bad you have it. (less)
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Community Reviews

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Barb Terpstra
I read Shauna's book "Cold Tangerines" a few years back and really enjoyed it. Her newest, "Bittersweet", did not disappoint--in fact, I really think I liked it better than "Cold Tangerines". Shauna's writing style is so fresh and honest, you feel like you are sitting and chatting with her on the couch. She talks about real life and real hurts and disappointments, but not in a "you should feel sorry for me" sort of way. She takes life struggles and gives them over to God, but that's not easy eit ...more
Gail
Coming off a dense book on writing, Shauna's latest collection of stories, "Bittersweet" was like curling up on the couch with a blanket and a big 'ol bowl of comfort food — the literary equivalent to mac-n-cheese.

There are some folks who may read her writing and shrug it off as too folksy or too preachy. I feel sorry for them. Because I think Shauna has a remarkable ability to write poetically about the everyday moments we all experience but never take time to think about, let alone cherish.

In
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Jenn
This book may as well be a shout out to all of Shauna's friends and family. Most of the pages are filled with cliches about food and cooking clubs and her son... blah blah blah. She talks about churches and the Christian community but very little about God and faith. True, there are brief moments of spiritualness if you can sift through the lines upon lines of her "dear diary" whining and attempt to mention every person she's ever met by name. I don't mean to be insensitive, this woman clearly h ...more
Tina
If it were any other time, any other season, I probably wouldn't have picked this up from the Kindle store. I wouldn't have looked at this twice, because I don't think it's for me, or I would be interested. When was the last time I read a non-fiction, self-help book like this? I can't remember. But I know for sure that if it were any other time early this year, or if it were any other season in my life, I wouldn't have decided to get Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist and read it immediately after ...more
Kate
I really wanted to enjoy this book as I had with her previous one - Cold Tangerines. But if I have to hear the word "season" one more time, or hear the rundown of exactly what they ate, or skim through an inane amount of adjectives just to get to the point, I'm going to scream. I felt that even though the author was mostly open and honest, it was more like being included in the popular girls conversation about how important everything about her life is but guess what, you only get the fabulous d ...more
Mandy J. J.
MY REVIEW:

"When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow." This is the focus of Bittersweet which is a collection of short essays. It's cover invites you to sit, read, and reflect on your life as Shauna shares from her life.

In full disclosure, I couldn't finish this book. For the most part I liked the essays I read, but it felt like I was reading blog post after blog post rather than reading a flowing book. Each chapter stands alone while still
...more
Amber French
In the prologue, Shauna explains her thoughts on the title for this book. “Bittersweet is the idea that in all things there is both something broken and something beautiful, that there is a sliver of lightness on even the darkest of nights, a shadow of hope in every heartbreak and that rejoicing is no less rich when it contains a splinter of sadness.” Reading through the book, you learn about moments where she experienced heartache and also pockets of “life is perfect” at just that moment. She t ...more
Jill
The good with the bad is something I always have been able to grasp. You can't appreciate a really good day unless you have a bad one from time to time. However, I never really have taken the time to deeply analyze and reflect on how my good and bad and interact, intersect and interplay to make for my own bittersweet existence. I so appreciate the thoughtful way that Niequist put her story out there on paper to provide inspiration to so many others.
Specifically, as someone who has been on the p
...more
Amy Kannel
Shauna Niequist really has a lovely way with words. I underlined passage after passage as she used fresh metaphors and captured familiar feelings/experiences just exactly so. I like the style of her books quite a bit--a collection of related but mostly stand-alone essays, easy to dip in and out of. And I enjoyed this one more than Cold Tangerines.
Amy
I liked her first book, Cold Tangerines, so much that I immediately requested this one. Another winner. Now I've ordered her third book. I don't usually want to read that much of one author at a time, but this is good stuff:)
Sarah Joy
Every now and again I come across someone's blog or book or an article that makes me wish I lived in their town and have the privilege of being their friend. Shauna Niequist is now one of them.

I've been reading her latest book, Bittersweet and in it I've discovered treasure upon treasure which makes me want to tear out entire pages, fold them up and keep them in my purse for a quick recap whenever I find time. Bittersweet really is like a collection of blog posts or essays and at the end of each
...more
Sarah
I'm counting this one as read because I paid for it and I skimmed most of it after struggling through the first few essays.

I enjoyed Cold Tangerines more than I expected and as a result, have always thought I really enjoyed Shauna Niequist's writing. I don't know if I can say that anymore, and it's possible Cold Tangerines was, for me, the book that hit me in the right place at the right time. I still think her chapter on family vacations was lovely in that book.

This book never connected with me
...more
Shirley
"I learned about waves when I was little, swimming in Lake Michigan in navy blue water under a clear sky, and the most important thing I learned was this: if you try to stand and face the wave, it will smash you to bits, but if you trust the water and let it carry you, there’s nothing sweeter. . . . If you dig in and fight the change, you’re facing, it will indeed smash you to bits. It will hold you under, drag you across the rough sand, scare and confuse you." (Page 15)

A talented writer will c
...more
Pathway Midland
Bittersweet is a good reminder that life isn't always sweet, and Shauna helps her readers understand how to deal with the bitter circumstances that life throws us. It teaches us both how to cope and how to grow during these times. While I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has encountered a hardship in life, especially a miscarriage or marriage issues, this book has a message for everyone. I believe that it especially targets women, however the message is universally relevant. Shauna ...more
Jackie Sill
I hate to mark it as "it was ok" but, the next higher choice is "liked it" and I feel a little dishonest to say I liked it. I found myself with the interest that I would have reading a stranger's blog. This book reads as if it were a culmination of blogs. I am a blogger and I love writing as a form of self expression and to sort things out. But, I cannot imagine that anyone who does not know me--or for that matter most who do know me--would be that interested in reading my blogs.
The transitions
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Lisa Adams
Loved how this book captures the bittersweet of life ... I read it just after we lost our foster baby and during a sweet summer of a lot of fun family memories. Experiencing the joy and sadness of life together can feel so contradictory, and I love how Shauna unpacks and gives meaning to that experience.
Videoclimber(AKA)MTsLilSis
Reading "Bittersweet" felt like reading my own journal, or having a conversation with a close friend. I laughed and cried while reading this book. This was very relevant to what is going on in my life right now. Sometimes we do need reminders to not feel sorry for ourselves, this book was my reminder. I highly recommend "blueberries" it reminded me so much of my own grandma, and made me miss her so much that it made me tear up. The prologue is wonderful!!! an awesome introduction to the book. Al ...more
Melody
There were some chapters I appreciated and resonated with, including Alameda, Say Something, and Evergreens, however I felt the same frustration I did when I read her first book, Cold Tangerines. One of the final chapters in this book is about Telling Your Story and I wish she would have elaborated more on the circumstances around her leaving her job and now her husband as well in the telling of her story. I don't want the nitty gritty details, but I feel like her allusions / references to their ...more
Cindy
Once again the honesty of Shauna Neiquist drew me in. It is refreshing to have an author open up and share the difficulties in life that we all go through in a true and sincere way. We all know that God is there for us, but we don't all admit to feel so very alone and yes at time angry with Him for the life's journey we are on. Thank you Shauna for being so real. Highly recommended to anyone
Corinne
Truth: there is going to be good and there is going to be hard. No matter what. No one can get away with avoiding that juxtaposition. The idea of life being bittersweet is at the heart of this book of essays. Shauna takes snippets and experiences from her life and uses them as a springboard to encourage her readers to look for ways to bring their lives in harmony with both God's will and the specific things that will bring them true happiness.

I feel somehow disappointed in myself for not loving
...more
Hope
"Bittersweet is the practice of believing that we really do need both the bitter and the sweet, and that a life of nothing but sweetness rots both your teeth and your soul. Bitter is what makes us strong, what forces us to push through. . . . Sweet is nice enough, but bittersweet is beautiful, nuanced, full of depth and complexity. Bittersweet is courageous, gutsy, earthy." (p. 11)

Niequist writes of her struggles after job loss, miscarriage, moves and other challenges with a quirkiness and vulne
...more
Jalynn Patterson
About the Book:

The idea of bittersweet is changing the way I live, unraveling and re-weaving the way I understand life. Bittersweet is the idea that in all things there is both something broken and something beautiful, that there is a moment of lightness on even the darkest of nights, a shadow of hope in every heartbreak, and that rejoicing is no less rich even when it contains a splinter of sadness. 'It's the practice of believing that we really do need both the bitter and the sweet, and that a
...more
Annalee
I couldn't have read this book at a more perfect time. I opened it in a season of many changes in motherhood and life and it spoke volumes to the stage of life I am in. I felt like the author had climbed into my own brain countless times as I read each short chapter. It can be read cover to cover in one sitting or bits and pieces. Either way the impact will be the same. Full of good reminders and life lessons in a non-preachy way, in short I loved it.
Kristi Vitale
With each creative chapter speaking honestly about the beauty of life and its many lessons we endure, this book shares delicately and gracefully the words of wisdom of Shauna Niequist. I really loved this book. I found her perspective on life experiences relatable and her desires and vitality very uplifting, all of it hitting very close to home. BITTERSWEET gives a great big bear hug.
Abby
I just can't give this more than two stars. Yes, she had some insights that challenged me, and yes, she was MUCH more real this time around than the first book. But...she never gives enough detail. Everything is always in a sweeping stroke rather than an exact encounter. So not Anne Lamott. Though no one else ever could be.
Terri
I came across Shauna Niequist via her blog which then made me google her which made me check out her books which made me buy this one. I love the title.

Shauna Niequist has a way with words. She is able to say what you wish you could say because you've felt that way too but didn't know how to express it exactly. Bittersweet is her eureka moment when she finally understood that to have a sweet life- just a sweet life- would lead to tooth decay (metaphorically). She realized that god puts the bitte
...more
Kristen
I loved two things about this book. The first is the analogy about how fighting the bitter parts of life is like fighting the waves of the ocean. Fighting into it beats you up. Wears you out. Instead you turn around, exercising faith and trust, and relax and ride the waves of life.

My second favorite is this quote: "I've been around this block a thousand times. I'm ravenous, and life looks to me so sparkly and beautiful, waiting to be devoured like a perfect apple. So I say yes, yes to everything
...more
Katie
In Bittersweet, Shauna Niequist follows up on her previous book, Cold Tangerines, with a slightly different tone. I found the books to be very similar to one another, in a good way. Both contain thematic essays written in Niequist's signature style. Both books are meant to be savored one essay at a time and not in bigger gulps. But while Cool Tangerines was full of life and exuberance and happiness, Bittersweet has a deeper and somewhat darker feel. Bittersweet examines how to walk through momen ...more
Tina N
At any age this book is very insightful, but I think the 20-30 age group would benefit greatly. It is about learning and growing through God's grace. Understandably, this will happen through our entire lives, but I feel that between the younger years is when it is most beneficial. The author tells about her life in short stories, which I love. My life seems to have paralled some of her own experiences and I always knew it was God that led me to where I am today and where I am going. Very enjoyab ...more
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Shauna Niequist is the author of Cold Tangerines, Bittersweet, and Bread & Wine. Shauna grew up in Barrington, Illinois, and then studied English and French Literature at Westmont College in Santa Barbara. She is married to Aaron Niequist, who is a pianist and songwriter. Aaron is a worship leader at Willow Creek Community Church and is recording a project called A New Liturgy. Aaron & Sha ...more
More about Shauna Niequist...
Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table, with Recipes Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life Crave: A Christian Longing for Food and Community (Her.meneutics eBooks Book 2) Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, as You Are Speak: How Your Story Can Change the World

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“It's not hard to decide what you want your life to be about. What's hard, she said, is figuring out what you're willing to give up in order to do the things you really care about.” 408 likes
“Everybody has a home team: It’s the people you call when you get a flat tire or when something terrible happens. It’s the people who, near or far, know everything that’s wrong with you and love you anyways. These are the ones who tell you their secrets, who get themselves a glass of water without asking when they’re at your house. These are the people who cry when you cry. These are your people, your middle-of-the-night, no-matter-what people.” 287 likes
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