31 Days of Great Nonfiction: Bittersweet

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

While reading Bittersweet I was torn between racing through the pages, as it was just so good, and trying to force myself to slow down and savor it.

There are some sections where it was all I could do to not highlight ever paragraph. The chapter on what we ate and why it matters read like a summary of her next book Bread & Wine, and it was fun seeing the seeds for the future book in this one. The chapter on the importance of friendship and prioritizing spending time with good friends was especially fantastic, and it seemed so appropriate that I read it while on a retreat with my book club friends!

I’m categorizing it as a memoir, because it is, sort of – the chapters are short vignettes telling pieces of her story, using her stories to illustrate the concept. It’s so hard to categorize it though, because it’s a book about growth, and parenting, and writing, and identity, and faith, and change, and grace, and really, just go read this book.

A warning though: if you can make it through the entire book without at least tearing up, you’re stronger than I am. The chapters “What Might Have Been” and “Crying in the Bathroom” both had me sobbing. You will probably want to keep that possibility in mind as you decide when and where to read this one.

Publisher’s Description:
In her follow-up book to Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday LifeCold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life by Shauna Niequist, author Shauna Niequist shifts her gaze to the challenges and blessings of change in Bittersweet. Drawing from her own experiences in a recent season of pain and chaos, she explores the bits of wisdom and growth we earn the hard way, through change, loss, and transition, and offers her own reflections on what brought her hope along the way.

31 Days of Great NonfictionIf you’ve read my blog any length of time, you’ve likely heard me gush over Niequist’s newest book, Bread & Wine. If you’ve missed it so far, please go and read it. It’s very like BittersweetBittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way by Shauna Niequist, with the reflective essays, but the food connections are stronger, and the included recipes (at least the ones I’ve tried) are fabulous. I haven’t read her first book Cold TangerinesCold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life by Shauna Niequist, mostly because I’m trying to hold off so I don’t read all three of her books in one year and then have to impatiently wait for something else from her.

To see all the books featured in 31 Days of Great Nonfiction, go to the series page.

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  1. Well, I was going to ask if I should read Cold Tangerines before Bittersweet, and then I saw your last paragraph. I totally loved Bread & Wine… looking forward to reading the other two. Hope they’re just as good!

    • Nope, can’t really advise you there. If I was starting over with it, I’d read them in publication order, but instead I’m going reverse publication order. Which would drive me slightly crazy if I let myself dwell on it, so I won’t. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

  2. Sheila! You are killing me with all of these books that are going to make me cry! ๐Ÿ™‚ I am going to need a pick me up book after I get through all of your recommendations.

    • Well at least one of the books still to come made me laugh quite a bit, so maybe that will help? Although you’re going to hate me with at least one more of the recommendations.

      Does it help when it’s a good cry? Because Bittersweet is more of a good cry kind of read, and leaves you feeling encouraged instead of morose and needing a pick-me-up book. Or at least it did for me.

      • I look forward to the book that made you laugh. I guess I normally don’t read books that make me want to cry; however, I have enjoyed several of the books that made me want to cry that I read recently.

        • I wouldn’t normally say that I read books that make me want to cry, so I’m surprising myself with some of these. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. I loved Bread and Wine but was just so-so on Cold Tangerines. Sounds like I should give Bittersweet a try! I really love the essay format — great for a little reading here and there, which is all I really have time for these days!

    • Yes, that format is so great when you’re reading in smaller segments. I’ve become a huge fan of that format too since having kids. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. I loved Bread and Wine and quickly ordered Bittersweet. It’s staring at me in my pile.


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