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Brave Enough Hardcover – Unabridged, October 27, 2015
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“Gorgeous, a little 135-page gem. The one book every woman must read this year. The stop-whatever-you’re-doing-and-read-this-now book, in which every turn of phrase is tattoo-worthy, every tidbit of wisdom too good not to share with every single one of your girlfriends. It’s the kind of book that makes your highlighters run out of ink, and your Post-Its run out of stick. In the 100-plus quotes, thoughts, words of wisdom, and tidbits of beauty that Strayed has compiled, you will recognize yourself over and over again, in the best and worst and most essential ways . . . It will encourage you, breath by breath, unpaid bill by unpaid bill, bucket list goal by bucket list goal, all the way to the you whom you want to be—however long it might take. . . . Strayed can take readers from the church to the saloon in literally three words or less. She invites you to quietly marvel at the universe with her, and then promptly demands that you go out and participate in it, followed by a swift kick to the rear. She keeps it real, none of her words are wasted, and they are always the right ones. [This book] acts like a personal guru for joy, acceptance and forgiveness, productivity, endurance and transformation . . . Truly amazing; it’s as though the words literally leapt off the pages of Brave Enough and generated a little cyclone of positive energy in my living room . . . Brilliant, purse-sized perfection.” —E. CE Miller, Bustle
“Captivating. Personal authenticity, gender politics, leaning into the light: whether writing a book or speaking one-to-one, Strayed seems, above all, unapologetically herself . . . The power of her words is palpable—and far-reaching.” —Abby Haglage, The Daily Beast
“An elegantly bound collection of Strayed sayings, ranging from a few words to entire paragraphs . . . Strayed earned cult status with her anonymous advice column, ‘Dear Sugar,’ on The Rumpus. She has become the unlikely queen of a different bookstore aisle than she expected, a guru whose message is anything but simple or glib. Rather, she tends towards emphasizing how deeply flawed we human beings are, and how we have to keep trying to be better anyway, even as life throws slings, arrows, and tremendous grief our way.” —Sarah Seltzer, Flavorwire
“A short, taut, Swiss Army knife [book] of quotations, one that applies to deciding whether to have a third doughnut or an extramarital affair, make a mean-spirited joke—or get up from the desk before a book review is finished. Cheryl Strayed is a tough-love truth-teller. In the introduction she writes that a good quote can provide in a sentence or two ‘a clear eyed perspective, or a swift kick in the pants.’ Hers do both. Brave Enough amount[s] to a galvanizing call to be bigger, bolder, more generous. We already know what to do, Strayed believes; we just need to heed that inner voice . . . ‘I believe in the power of words to help us reset our intentions, clarify our thoughts, and create a counternarrative to the voice of doubt in our heads—the one that says, You can’t, you won’t, you shouldn’t have,’ she writes. [This book] helps you create that counternarrative. [It shouts,] ‘Yes!” —Jennifer Reese, The Washington Post
About the Author
CHERYL STRAYED is the author of the #1 New York Times best seller Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, which was the first selection for Oprah's Book Club 2.0 and became an Oscar-nominated film starring Reese Witherspoon; Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar, a national best seller now the basis of the WBUR podcast Dear Sugar Radio, co-hosted with Steve Almond; and Torch, her debut novel. Her books have been translated into forty languages, and her essays and other writings have appeared in numerous publications.
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Brave Enough is basically a prettily-packaged collection of quotes taken from Strayed's books, essays, and talks formatted in big text and centered on the page. (See attached picture.) There is no dust jacket, so the cover feels like canvas, but the vibrant green with gold letters is beautiful. There is also an orange ribbon bookmark.
There isn't a dud quote in here. I believe the book accomplishes what Strayed says she wanted it to accomplish in the introduction. She says, "I think of quotes as mini-instruction manuals for the soul. It's my appreciation of their very usefulness that compelled me to put together this book. Not because I believe in my own sagacity, but because I believe in the power of words to help us reset our intentions, clarify our thoughts, and create a counternarrative to the voice of doubt many of us have murmuring in our heads--the one that says You can't, you won't, you shouldn't have. Quotes, at their core, almost always shout Yes!"
If you enjoyed reading Strayed's other books, you will definitely like the quotes gathered here. And even if you haven't read a thing she's written, this might be a good introduction to her style. Ultimately, this is a very nice book that will look good on a coffee table or will make a thoughtful small gift for the holidays.
Near the end of the Introduction she writes "At my book signings it's become a common request that I inscribe copies of Tiny Beautiful Things with variations on my 'Write like a motherf~r quote.' Engineer like a motherf~r, I've written. Mother like a motherf~r. Teach like a motherf~r. Doctor like a motherf~r. And my favorite of all: Do everything like a motherf~r."
The last words of the Introduction are "I hope this book serves that purpose for you. Read it like a motherf~r."
I liked "Wild," I loved "Tiny Beautiful Things," and I think Strayed is one of the wisest people on the planet after hearing about twenty episodes of Dear Sugar.
So I must be missing something about her use of the term motherf~r. To me it's obscene, another coarsening of our culture. Worst of all for a writer, she's not effectively conveying meaning with it. This reader has no idea what "Read it like a motherf~r" means.
It can't be Strayed, it must be me. But I sure wish she'd outgrow this childish infatuation with potty mouth. I'd also ask her to apologize for having inflicted it on us.
About the book itself: I looked at a few pages at random, and none of them were profound or enjoyable. Probably a reflection of the sour taste I got from the book's introduction.
It occurs to me that most readers of the book and therefore this review will be females. Is this what the feminist movement of the 1960s -- which I generally support -- gave us? The right to be as profane as an inner-city pimp?
For whatever it's worth, I spent 36 years on active duty in the US Army, and it wasn't in the Chaplain Corps. Very little shocks me. But Strayed disappoints me. She's smart enough to know better.
The hardcover is a neon-bright green with a woven-like texture, and is small enough to carry in a medium to large sized purse. The inside cover is perfectly bare, and smooth, for scribbling on with a sharpie. I find the book to be interesting, yet I am disappointed that each page only has one quote, regardless of length. If a quote is 4 words in length, she bloats the text to fit the page. The fonts are a different size and style on nearly every page. This can be fun and cute, but is probably not what one wants when seeking inspirational content with real depth, or rational advice.
This book reminds me of a last minute college paper: lots of flare to overpower the lackluster content. The quotes are claimed to be 100% original, and because she's not exactly the most elegant poet, or a philosopher, they tend come off as abrasive, juvenile, and meme-like. Ironically, many of the quotes have vulgar use of words in them, deeming it inappropriate for certain ages or lifestyles.
Overall, Brave Enough is an okay, campy book to gift, but I wouldn't lose any sleep over not getting the chance to read it. I plan on gifting my copy away, because it doesn't belong tenderly parked on the bookshelf along side my literary pieces. If I want to read random, shallow and sometimes offensive quotes (which I sometimes do!), I have Google and the world -wide interwebs, for free, at my fingertips. I am not reviewing the author, as I have not read any of her other work. This review is solely on the book itself.