Friday, October 3, 2014

Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist

One of my favorite books of the year has been Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist (reviewed here) so I was happy to nab one of her previous books, Bittersweet, when it went on sale for Kindle.

 Bittersweet is the practice of believing that we really do need both the bitter and the sweet, and that a life of nothing but sweetness rots both your teeth and your soul. Bitter is what makes us strong, what forces us to push through. . . . Sweet is nice enough, but bittersweet is beautiful, nuanced, full of depth and complexity. Bittersweet is courageous, gutsy, earthy. (p. 11)

Niequist writes of her struggles after job loss, miscarriage, moves and other challenges with a quirkiness and vulnerability that are appealing. I totally "get" her confession about standing in front of the refrigerator and inhaling cold pizza before a writing deadline. I, too, am a nervous wreck before beginning any major project.

She emphasizes the longings we all have and the grace that heals our brokenness. She mercilessly exposes the reasons why we try to "fix" our husbands ("we want the other person to grow because it suits our own needs better") and why we are always running on empty ("because of my insistence that I can do all, my lust for life crosses over into a cycle of frantic activity, without soul or connection.")

She addresses the soul-crushing load of always trying to meet other people's expectations. She does this in a funny way in the chapter on motherhood, but in a more serious way in her essay on priorities. "Deciding what I want [to be] isn't that hard. But deciding what I'm willing to give up for those things is like yoga for my superego, stretching and pushing and ultimately healing that nasty little person inside of me who exists only for what people think." (p. 57)

More favorite quotes: A full life is not the same as a full calendar. (p. 169)

We are where we are. The world is as beautiful and broken as it ever was, and if you're like me, it takes some tricks to get back to centered, whole, deep-breathing, faith-filled places. (p. 132)

And this funny one: Weddings are almost like birth experiences: something entirely new and sacred coming to life right in your midst. Of all the things I get to do, officiating weddings for people I love is my absolute favorite, because it's like. . . being a midwife, but with no blood or screaming. (p. 138)

This book didn't touch me as profoundly as B & W, but it is insightful, witty, and keeps it real. Worth a look.


Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

I saw her other book--the one about food, the name of which escapes me here in the comment box--at Sam's last night. I think I might ask for it for Christmas. I've seen nothing but praise for it.

bookwormans said...

Nice review! Just wanted to let you know that I tagged you in a Jane Austen themed tag. Feel free to participate (or not). Thank you for all of your recent comments on my blog!