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Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way Hardcover – July 28, 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 339 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Niequist (Cold Tangerines) returns with an often humorous and always contemplative series of personal essays on bittersweet experiences, illustrating through her own life that "rejoicing is no less rich even when it contains a splinter of sadness." Spiritually, the book bravely sets out to decipher the paradoxically co-dependent nature of happiness and grief. But Niequist's title should not be seen as simply a convenient theological metaphor; i t is also a literary device. Impressively, many of Niequist's perfectly concocted chapters weave in culinary themes, evoking the sensory, physical experience of the bittersweet along with the spiritual sense of it. When writing of deep friendship and the loss that sometimes accompanies it, her narrative often revolves around a dinner table, a cooking club, or a farmer's market. Niequist's ability to describe the sensation of eating a peppery arugula salad punctuated with sweet blueberries is just as evocative as her ability to express the intricacies of love, loss, hope, and doubt. Readers of all faiths will find this book courageous, sincere, poetic, and profound. There's nothing bitter in this sweet treat of a spiritual memoir.

From Booklist

This very personal book offers a modest, gentle, and, yes, bittersweet reflection on life and life-changing moments. In a collection of interweaving essays, Niequist provides “an ode to all things bittersweet, to life at the edges, a love letter to what change can do in us.” To Niequist, change is a good thing even if “incredibly painful.“ In a short period of time, she became pregnant, lost a job she loved, had a baby, and wrote a book. She didn’t lose her faith as much as lost track of it. These short pieces capture moments when her world seemed to be spiraling out of control. Stunned by the loss of her beloved grandmother, she discovers that the best way to honor her life is to live in simplicity and kindness. Bittersweet is full of such small but important lessons of daily living, about how to live life again “after the brokenness.” Niequist firmly believes that it is the stories of ordinary people that can make a difference in people’s lives. “There is nothing small or inconsequential about our stories,” she concludes. “There is, in fact, nothing bigger.” --June Sawyers
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (July 28, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310328160
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310328162
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.9 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (339 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #130,845 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I know a book is great when I start underlining multiple quotes in each chapter. I know a book is becoming a favorite when I start to write out those underlined quotes and put them around my house and office as reminders to myself...and then send them to friends who I feel can relate to those words too. I have done all three with Bittersweet.

Shauna Niequist has a way of putting into words the way I feel but can't always express. I appreciate her transparency and ability to write about the things we all struggle with, but are sometimes scared to say out loud. She gets that life is too precious to just float through. And with that refreshing perspective, sometimes it means celebrating really great moments and sometimes it means acknowledging really tough ones and helping each other through them. The best part about this book: she finds the beauty & hope in the tough moments of her life and she helps readers look for that same hope & beauty in their own stories.

Whether you're experiencing a really sweet season of life, a really bitter one, or somewhere in between like me, this book has something for you. It will make you think, leave you feeling encouraged, and give you that added dose of bravery & encouragement we all need when life gets tough. I highly recommend this book!
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Format: Hardcover
Recently, I received an advanced review copy of Shauna Niequist's soon-to-be released memoir/blog style book from Zondervan - Bittersweet. I loved both the topic (thoughts on change, grace, and learning the hard way) and the cover photo with its crumbly chocolate cookie.

Shauna's writing makes you feel like you have joined an inner circle of really cool 20-something girlfriends, the type of friends who are at different stages of single, married, and mom-life, yet still squeeze in time for blogging, freestyle impromptu Italian dinners, and long talks over chai tea. Her book is equal part reflection, honesty, advice, and food. She made me hungry, not just for the bounty of farmer's markets, but also for those types of friends who can linger over coffee and bare their souls with one another.

Perhaps my favorite chapter was her writing on friendship. As I finished it, I sighed, wiped away a stray tear, and made another resolution to call all of the dear women who have drifted out of my daily life (you know who you are). She writes:

"Share your life with the people you love, even if it means saving up for a ticket and going without a few things for a while to make it work. There are enough long lonely days of the same old thing, and if you let enough years pass and if you let the routine steamroll your life, you'll wake up one day, isolated and weary, and wonder what happened to all those old friends. You'll wonder why all you share is Christmas cards, and why life feels lonely and bone-dry. We were made to live connected and close . . .

So walk across the street, or drive across town, or fly across the country, but don't let really intimate loving friendships become the last item on your long to-do list. Good friendships are like breakfast.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
At the risk of hurting Shauna Niequist's very delicate feelings (see page 206), please, please believe the thoughtfully written one and two star reviews. This was our book club selection and that is the only thing that is keeping me plowing through this passionately written, but unbelievably tedious book. As others have stated, I can't decide if the author is wanting me to be jealous of her fabulously deep, wonderfully engaging friends and all of the incredible meals that they have shared, or pity her for the years and years of heart break to which she makes vague references. She is making, I think, a genuine effort to be transparent and to appreciate the good and the bad in her life, but it's just not that interesting. There are some references to prayer and to God, but mostly the answers to life's questions come from friends or her own reflections. The drama of it all is way, way too much. I'm writing this review in order to avoid having to read, yet again, how much Shauna suffers in order to write for us, followed by a description of the drama of changing one's hair color, "Last year I was trying to solve the big question of who I am in the universe, and in a tender, split-open moment, I thought, Maybe as a brunette, I'll feel at home in this unforgiving world." Bottom line - If you don't really, really enjoy reading random people's blogs about the daily stuff that happens in their lives, or if you are looking for Jesus or Biblical wisdom, this is not the book for you.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A friend recommended that I read this book after having a miscarriage because she said it helps people learn to cope and see how the hard times come full circle and can lead to good times. In the first chapter I kept hoping that it was just an intro chapter and the ones to follow would be more insightful but I was wrong. After a few chapters in I realized I should have saved my money.

The book is the authors telling of her trials. Period, that's it. She goes into great detail about her memories and feelings about those trials but it never really comes to a close at the end of each story (chapter). Perhaps it does at the end of the book but for me I really like for stories to each have their own beginning, middle and end.

Everyone has their own way of coping and for me this just wasn't something that helped. Everyone also has their own reading style so maybe this book will resonate with many hearts and just not mine. I just wanted to put out there that the authors style is that of using short essays as chapters and they don't flow together as I feel a book should.
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