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

My friend Amy is a librarian so she gifts me books.

For my birthday she said,

"You know those books that you feel were written just for you?"

And she handed me a gift.

I said, "yes," because I was an avid reader when I was young and that seems like something I must have felt before because why else did I read and read and read? (Other than having no TV growing up, which also was a contributing factor.) But I didn't really know what she meant.

But I get it now.

Cheryl Strayed is an incredible writer. She writes about things I don't understand at all, her life has nothing in common with mine. And yet.

And yet.

When I read what she writes I know she wrote it exactly for me.

Tiny beautiful things

advice on love and life from dear sugar 

by cheryl strayed

This is the first book of hers that I read, it was pulled together from an advice column she used to write. It is not like any other advice column I've ever read. She calls us honeybun and sweet pea [names I generally despise being called, if you watch Killing Eve, "I am not a pumpkin"] while telling us all sorts of fun things, like, "you can be a strong independent, 'normal,' feminist-minded woman and still want crazy shit in bed... so let's talk about how you can do that, my submissive little plum."  

She makes big things seem small, and small things seem big. She pulls stories that have no bearing on the issue at hand and brings us to a universal experience so far out of the realm of my experience. Every time I read it I get something different from it because I'm different. I've read it from start to finish 3 or 4 times, but I've read pieces of it over and over and over again.

Right now the one that made me slam the book shut says

Please forgive your parents. Not for them. For you.
— Cheryl Strayed, "On your island"

We all have someone we should probably forgive, not for them, for ourselves. Doesn't mean I want to though. But it is important that I read that right now. I have some forgiving to do for myself.


Go! Go! Go! You need it one more time darling? GO.

There will be boodoggles and discomboulated days, freaked-out nights and metaphorical flat tires.
But it will be soul-smashingly beautiful. It will open up your life.
— Cheryl Strayed, Go! Go! Go!

ahhhh shit, read that, now I'm a mess. But those were them. Those feelings. The ones that caused me to get on the airplane when I was 18, leaving my small hometown, flying across the country to a big city where I had never been before, waving goodbye to my mom and sister and forgetting to look back one last time to see if they were ok because I was finally free to figure shit out on my own and find people who were just like me, finally. finally. That let me sit in my window looking out at the road thinking, so, this is what happiness feels like. I finally found it. 

Turns out I made most of my best friends in high school, they're still the most important people in my life.
Not the point.
I needed to escape to the soul-smashingly beautiful world of living on my own in a city of my choosing

She writes wildly and throws around the word magic and beauty and she entitled the piece she wrote about planning weddings "A Shimmering Slice of Your Mysterious Destiny" which is just way too over the top and nonsensical for something as silly as a wedding [I can say that as I am wedding planner and have a scrapbook of wedding inspiration collected over 10 years, painstakingly cut out and pasted into a book, so I love that's how she described a wedding.] But at the same time, she also just breaks shit down so simply, and validates all of it - from the grind of student loans, to the death of a parent, to feeling left out when your friend gets a new boyfriend, to all the the struggle of being a feminist who can't figure out what to eat while stilling feeling like a babe in a jumpsuit without ever letting us off the hook for being good people and loving fiercely and fully and forgiving and all those other hard work things. 

Feminism’s one true failure [is] we claimed the agency, we granted ourselves the authority, we gathered the accolades, but we never stopped worrying about how our asses looked in our jeans.
— Cheryl Strayed, "Tiny Revolutions"

I think of all of them this one haunts me the most:

I'm asking this question as it applies to everything every day. 


The fuck was mine.
And the fuck is yours too, WTF. That question does not apply “to everything every day.” If it does, you’re wasting your life. If it does, you’re a lazy coward, and you’re not a lazy coward.
Ask better questions, sweet pea. The fuck is your life. Answer it.
— Cheryl Strayed, "The Baby Bird"

I've bought this book about 5 times, and usually try to keep two on hand, because once lent it tends to be out of rotation for quite a while, being passed from hand-to-hand, between the souls who feel that there is a lesson inside for someone else, and I don't always get it back. There's a lot of lessons packed into the pages.

the fuck is, indeed, your life.

and this book helps me keep trying to answer it. 


I recommend purchasing this book from Pulp Fiction (don't be put off by their website, it's legit) They're a local Vancouver shop + I purchased 99% of my books from them. They sell new + used books and the new books they sell at a discount
I special order books in on the regs + they come in super fast.

But if you're out of town:

Tiny Beautiful Things, Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed

Eva McMillanComment