In the early 2000s, Meghan Daum did something totally unprecedented.…
One of the best things about reading Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar was the memories it brought back.
You know how you sometimes have memories that come screeching out of the ether? Those memories of a long ago time that you had so completely forgotten that the memory feels all shiny and new in your brain? That’s what reading this book did for me. It reminded me of being a young kid and reading my mom’s collection of Dear Abby or Ann Landers advice columns. Until I tucked myself into Tiny Beautiful Things, I had no recollection of reading those books. It was one of those incidents that I had erased from my head. The memory is delightful and makes me remember a time in my life when my reading was unfettered and voracious and wildly unpredictable.
However, all my warm squishy feelings towards Strayed’s collection aren’t completely due to my narcissistic nostalgia. No, a lot of the squishy tenderness has to do with Strayed’s bravery, openness, kindness, and writing so fabulous I can only describe it by stealing Christa’s phrase, “it’s like she has access to better words than everyone else.”
Now, the weird thing about going into this advice book is that I didn’t have any expectations. I really didn’t expect to actually attain helpful advice that was applicable to my life. But you know what? I was wrong and learned more than a few lessons while reading Tiny Beautiful Things, I bet you would too.
Perhaps what I enjoyed the most about these Dear Sugar columns is that often Strayed empathized and sympathized with the advice-seekers using situations from her own life. And because there’s so much Strayed in here, it was hard not to read this book as a follow-up to her fabulous memoir Wild. It was nice to see what happened to her after she got of the PCT.