^^ My favorite “Dear Sugar” quote. ^^
I made the rash decision of packing six books for an eleven day trip to Asia. Old habits die hard? Because this army of books would deter luggage thieves? There is no good explanation and the irony of the situation is that I spent most of my Korea nights cuddled up with Joe’s comic books anyways.
But in between the madness of traveling, I did manage to finish two incredible novels, each of which took my life, shook it around like one does a snow globe, and handed it back with a little more intention and insight.
“Tiny Beautiful Things” and “What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding” separately reinforced the idea that there is no right way to live life. So before you brush them off as “not your type of book,” give them a shot. It’s my deep belief they each hold something for everyone, but only if you’re willing to listen.
“Tiny Beautiful Things” is a collection of the advice columns written by Sugar (later revealed to be Cheryl Strayed) — an “anonymous” advice columnist for the Rumpus who gained national acclaim for her honest, beautifully written replies. These columns were penned long before “Wild” and “Torch,” each ripe with Strayed’s raw emotion, compassion, and honesty unlike I’ve ever felt from many other writers. The letters ask Sugar her thoughts on splintered families, addiction, identity, writing, love, loss, friendship, abuse, and in each, Sugar’s words provide both comfort and inspiration to move forward. Strayed uses her past demons — heartbreak, drug addiction, abortion, adultery, divorce, being orphaned at 20 — to comfort and relate to her readers in a way that does not take away but rather reinforces their stories.
As a reader, each letter gave me a new tool to add into my life toolbox on how to handle situations with bravery and openness. And her writing, oh my God. It makes me never want to write again because I have no idea how anyone can even put word’s together with such magic.
A great gift and a perfect companion novel to usher you into a new phase of your life (or usher you out of an old one), “Tiny Beautiful Things” is just that, a tiny book of sheer beauty.
Two pages in and “What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding” will make you want to book a plane ticket anywhere in order to meet your next great love. Kristin Newman is a long-time television writer based in Los Angeles who writes about her years of lengthy travel adventures and the cast of friends whose marriages, divorces, and children weave in and out of her own single adventures. I’ve been meaning to read this book for months, but saw it in the bookstore downstairs from work a week before my trip and decided it was a sign. I then devoured it up until the wheels hit the tarmac in Taiwan.
Newman’s prose gave some of the best travel advice I could have heard pre-trip. From drinking vodka at 20-years-old in Russia to living in South America in her 30s, Newman shows the life changing power of travel. It made me realize that traveling alone is important and seeing the world doesn’t need to depend on a romantic partner, but instead a good travel plan and a cat sitter.
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