On Niequist’s Bittersweet

bittersweetMy friend’s sister bought a book. The book spoke to her heart and soul, and so she gave it to my friend who gave it to me. And today I read it, while waiting for many people to call and e-mail me back about an event I am hoping to run in a couple of weeks. I devoured the book, an ode to growth in the midst of loss.

Somehow the narrative style reminded me strikingly of Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz. It’s meant to be a spiritual guide, but it comes across more like a memoir to me. Shauna Niequist’s Bittersweet struck me with her love of food, travel, and writing, all mixed up with the profound loss that she has experienced in the midst of an otherwise joyful life.

Reading Bittersweet felt like reading entries out of my journal. I’m pretty sure that I have felt and expressed much of what Niequist writes, I just haven’t published it in a book for the world to read. Her vulnerability is striking, and the end of her introduction very aptly summarizes her entire narrative: “when life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow.”

It’s time to grow, especially in something that she describes in a chapter called “things i don’t do”

And this is what Denise told me: she said 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.

Those two sentences hit home. In a time of life where I’m trying to figure all of these things out, the list between what I want life to be about is long. I’m still searching for opportunities that will allow me to do as many of those things at once as possible, and I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m going to have to start cutting things out soon.

Regardless of where my journey takes me next, I highly recommend reading Bittersweet and Neiquist’s first book Cold Tangerines. However, this recommendation comes with a demographic. If you’re 1) female, 2) you have known the loss of a person, relationship, or dream, and 3) if you like feeling vulnerable. If not, you may not like this book, but if you fit those three categories, I think you’ll probably love it.

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