Happy December book lovers. Can you believe this our fifth month reading together? This month’s book is an oldie but one I had still not read, despite my love for Cheryl Strayed. She fits the persona of Sugar entirely; that warm-hearted but no-nonsense aunt who in her signature hard-hitting way, delivers truths you need to hear to make your life bigger, braver and more beautiful. Many people found this book and her writing style rough and crude, but I was not one of them. I found her writing extraordinary, the points of swearing accentuating already well-written passages, rather than detracting from them. I devoured the book in only a few days. Anyway, enough about what I thought — I’d love to hear what you thought.
Here are the discussion questions for Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on love and life from someone who’s been there.
1. What was your experience reading Tiny Beautiful Things? How many stars would you give it out of 5?
2. How did Sugar’s voice and general messages make you feel?
3. What was your favourite Dear Sugar letter and why?
4. Why do you think it was titled “Tiny Beautiful Things”? Do you like this title or do you feel it should have been called something different?
5. Were there any bits of advice you disagreed with? What were they and why do you feel differently? Take ten minutes to write a different response, pretending it is your advice the letter writers are seeking.
6. What did you acknowledge about your own life while reading the book?
7. What question would you ask Sugar if you were given the chance? Have a go at writing it down, and then writing a response as though it is Sugar writing to you. Did this exercise give you any insight?
8. There is a line from the book: “Acceptance is a small, quiet room.” Discuss.
9. Did the book change your perspective on anything?
10. Which parts of the book touched you, made you cry?
11. On p.159, the author recounts something her friend once told her: “I could allow myself to be influenced by three men who screwed me against my will or I could allow myself to be influenced by van Gough. I choose van Gough.” How did it make you feel to read that? What are the main, overriding things that influence your life and decisions? How could you quieten those voices and choose others?
12. What were your favourite quotes or passages?
13. What did you think of Sugar’s anecdotal experiences while answering the questions? Did you find her life’s stories added to or subtracted from the advice she was giving her readers?
14. There is a line from the book, “I’ve written often about how we have to reach hard in the direction of the lives we want, even if it’s difficult to do so.” In what ways are you holding back from reaching hard? What do you want in or from your life that you are not doing because it’s too hard, or scary, or painful? What could be a first step in that direction for you?
15. On p.311, Sugar describes her experience of healing, that’s it’s a mishmash of feelings that are often contradictory — sad and grateful, accepting yet still appalled. She says, “We want to believe healing is purer and more perfect, like a baby on its birthday.” Do you find this to be true for you? How did you feel to read that healing feels like this for someone else? How would you describe healing?
16. What do you feel is the great message of the book — the takeaway you got from it?
17. Do you have anything further to add, or debrief about, or comment on?
Book club friends, our discussion night will be on Friday 28th December at 8pm AEST on Instagram (theredtent on Instagram if you are new here). Enjoy delving into the questions and exploring your answers. If you’ve read along with our book club books each month and yet never answered the discussion questions, I do encourage you to do so. Even if you’d rather not share them with us (I get that), it is a great experience in unearthing your own thoughts, and in doing so, arriving at insights you might not have been aware of before. Of course, the more the merrier, so if you are free on the 28th, pour a glass of wine, slip into some favourite jammies and join us for an hour together. It’s always a lovely night.
In addition, if you are new here and would like to join our book club and view our upcoming reading schedule, please click here. We read one book each month together, approximately 10 pages a day (totally doable!), and then meet on Instagram on the last Friday of each month to discuss the book. I can’t tell you how many people have said this book club has been the initiative for them to reprioritise their time (mainly by cutting out scrolling and television) and to dedicate more pockets of it to themselves, self-care, and more conscious decisions about how they are spending their days. This, of course, delights me to hear.
Happy reading friends!