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

Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard WayTakeaway: Life that is all good, is not life.  Real life is bittersweet.

About two years ago I received a promotional copy of Bittersweet and Cold Tangerines from Catalyst.  I kept them for a while, but eventually gave them away unread.

Last month I picked up the audiobook of Bittersweet on a whim.  My earlier estimate that it was primarily written with women in mind was not completely off.  There is a lot of discussion about having babies, miscarriage, friendship among women, cooking meals, being a mom and mentor.

But this is not a book just for women.  I have read many books intended just for women and this one speaks about being a woman because Shauna Niequist is a woman.

Bittersweet is one of those collections of essays/memoirs/thoughts on life books that is beautifully written.  She knows how to put words together to evoke the images and feelings she wants.  I am not a push over and I rarely tear up at movies and even less at books.  But there were a couple of times that I was very close.

Niequist speaks of about both the pain and the joy of life in a way that you want to live that life, with both the pain and the joy because that is what life is about.  Her calls for deep friendships, even ones where you must be vulnerable and real and open to pain were touching.  The many descriptions of friends sitting around a table enjoying one another’s company made me want to invite friends over that day so that I would not miss out.

Topically this is a wide ranging book.  Everything from the nature of creativity, to the role of mothers, to vocation, the nature of the church, disappointment, marriage, parenting, loss, grief, joy, stress, and more are included.

But really it is about life.  And I am glad that there are authors that want to write about real life.  Not just storybook Christianity, where everyone has problems but it all comes out fine in the end.  Because in real life some people desperately want babies and can’t get pregnant and others do not want babies and get pregnant.  Real life if messy, ironic and still full of grace.

I do think that women will probably enjoy this more than most men.  But mostly because most men lack the emotional maturity to deal with some the real problems of life in the way that most women have to deal with them. (As a male I observe that most women are emotionally more aware and emotionally more grounded than most men.  But that is an over generalization.)

I have put Cold Tangerines on my wish list and look forward to reading more by Ms Niequist.

Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist Purchase Links: Hardcover, Kindle Edition, Audiobook


Cold Tangerines is also an excellent book. I think it is one of my most highlighted kindle books. I find that whenever life gets tough or confusing I keep coming back to Shauna’s books because her writing makes me feel less alone and more hopeful. She is so good at being honest about the realities of life while still being hopeful. I sometimes find myself quoting some of her lines to people to describe how I’m feeling about life.

Her third book, “Bread and Wine” is coming out either late 2012 or early 2013. I’m very eager to read it.

Great review. She’s one of my favorite contemporary writers for all the reasons you mentioned.

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