>I warned you it was coming, and it’s finally here!

I have been fortunate enough to be able to review Shauna Niequist’s new book, Bittersweet, and share it with all you lovely readers.

This collection is an ode to all things bittersweet, to life at the edges, a love letter to what change can do in us. This is what I’ve come to believe about change: it’s good, in the way that childbirth is good, and heartbreak is good, and failure is good. By that I mean that it’s incredibly painful, exponentially more so if you fight it, and also that it has the potential to open you up, to open life up, to deliver you right into the palm of God’s hand, which is where you wanted to be all along, except that you were too busy pushing and pulling your life into exactly what you thought it should be.
[prologue: bittersweet]

I have been pondering what to write for my review for quite some time, and I haven’t really known where to start. This is mostly because with each chapter I read, I feel like getting up out of my chair and saying, “AMEN!”, and then frantically sitting back down to type out an excerpt to email a friend. …which I have actually done already on a few occasions.

This book is one of the most honest things I’ve ever read – things I’ve always wanted to say but never known how to. And not about life’s major headlining issues, but the underlying currents that drive us along.  Each chapter is just a few pages long, but each one has a pretty powerful punch to it.

Maybe it’s because I feel as though I’m in the same life stage as Shauna, with both my physical and emotional world swirling with change and unsteadiness, but I find myself wanting to re-read certain chapters to soak them in better, studying them like I would a piece of art. Shauna’s writing reminds me of why I love modern art – she uses basic words or movements that everyone can understand to create something something beautiful that reaches down and touches your very soul. Certain chapters don’t necessarily apply to my life right now, but others have touched me in a significant way.

For a while in my early twenties I felt like I woke up a different person every day, and was constantly confused about which one, if any, was the real me. I feel more and more like myself with each passing year, for better and for worse, and you’ll find that, too.

And this is what Denise told me: she said it’s not hard to decide what you want your life to be about. What’s hard, she said, is figuring out what you’re willing to give up in order to do the things you really care about.
[things I don’t do]

After reading the chapter titled Love Song for Fall, I actually sent an email to my best friend saying that I wish I could somehow print out that entire chapter and frame it on my wall.

We create because we were made to create, having been made in the image of God, whose first role was Creator. He was and is a million different things, but in the beginning, He was a creator. That means something for us, I think. We were made to be the things that He is: forgivers, redeemers, second chance-givers, truth-tellers, hope-bringers. And we were certainly, absolutely, made to be creators.
[love song for fall]

I could gush for a while about this book, but let me sum it up with this:

This book is designed for busy women. It has short chapters, each of which are thought-provoking and brutally honest and incredibly applicable to life. And yet, this book somehow manages not to be a devotional, or a self-help book. It’s like opening the window into Shauna’s mind and just listening to it work its way through the day.

…me being in December is like an alcoholic being in a bar: temptations abound.

Oh…and if you love food as much as I do, you’re going to definitely love all the descriptions she uses in this book, not to mention the chapter titled, What We Ate, and Why It Matters.

I think preparing food and feeding people brings nourishment not only to our bodies but to our spirits. Feeding people is a way of loving them, in the same way that feeding ourselves is a way of honoring our own createdness and fragility.
[what we ate & why it matters]

Add this to all your Christmas lists my sweet friends…it’s an excellent book. (or buy it, right now, right here!)

You can also check out more of Shauna’s awesomeness at her website: www.shaunaniequist.com

Shauna Niequist is the author of Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life.  Her second book, Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way, will release this summer.  She lives outside Chicago with her husband Aaron and their son Henry.  She studied English and French literature at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, and worked at Willow Creek for five years and at Mars Hill in Grand Rapids for three years.  Shauna loves to travel, eat, read and host dinner parties.

Now for those of you who made it all the way through, there’s more! Because Shauna is incredible, she is allowing me to give one of YOU a free, signed copy of this wonderful book!

All you need to do is leave a comment after this post. I’m going to leave the window of opportunity open till Saturday at midnight, and then after that point, I’ll use random.org to choose which winner, who I’ll announce on Sunday.

Because I’m a mean, snarky woman, I’m not going to let you just say, “pick me!” in order to be eligible. No, my friends, you have to do a little work. All I want is to hear a short little description of your favorite Christmas memory. It can be about an event, a tradition, a food, or even a decoration. That’s all, I promise!

Now go comment, and make sure you share this opportunity to score Shauna’s new book with all your friends!


10 thoughts on “>Bittersweet

  1. >This looks like a really interesting book… things I've thought a lot about. Thanks for sharing, Megan.There are too many little things I love about Christmas to pick one, honestly. But I think maybe the overarching thing that I love about the season is that it is DIFFERENT! I love the fact that we put so much time and effort into making it special – decorating, shopping, cooking, singing. We take the time to remember, celebrate and enjoy the things that we ought to celebrate continually (if only there was time!). Christ, friends, music, food, trees. Beauty in many shapes and forms.I think God knows that His feeble people need these times. That's why he instituted feasts and times of remembering and celebration for Israel.

  2. >I have a lot of these, many of which I've already used to pollute your comments section. So I'll use a new one. When I was maybe… 8 or 9? My favorite Aunt and cousins came to our house for Christmas and we all got bundled up one night, got in the car and went to drive through one of those parks that put up a ton of light displays. We all piled in the car (most likely a very glamorous minivan), belted out Christmas carols and made each other laugh until it hurt and stared in awe out the windows at the giant displays of snowmen and reindeer. I remember it being magical. Time spent with the people I loved the very most in the world.

  3. >Christmas caroling with the "Canfield side!" Drums and kazoos and clarinets and shaker eggs and a guitar! 12 people crammed in a van, bundled in coats and scarves and mittens. Sitting in each others' laps and in the floorboards, and practicing harmonies on the road. Piling out and singing, "Joy to the World," followed by "Silent Night," followed by "We Wish You a Merry Christmas." Such a precious memory. đŸ™‚

  4. >Going to my grandparnts on Chistmas eve to celebrate and then lying down on the backseat on the way home, just trying to catch a glimpse of Santa in the sky! Years later, when I was pregnant and far from my famly, awakening to a hand made cherry wood cradle in my livig room!

  5. >I have great memories of decorating our tree together as a family and of driving around and looking at Christmas lights. But one of my favorite traditions our family started about 5 years ago was going shopping at Fresh Market (a fun, upscale grocery store). We'd all get to pick out Christmas treats (candy, specialty cheesecake, coffee, etc.) while enjoying the decorations (yes, they decorate beautifully for Christmas) and music.

  6. >Thanks for the review. Sounds like a lovely book. đŸ™‚ Favorite Christmas memories include getting a fresh Christmas tree every year – always in excess of 10 feet tall, waiting with rapt anticipation at the top of the stairs with my siblings in our favorite Christmas PJs for my parents to let us come down on Christmas morning, eating a traditional Christmas breakfast (a feast including cinnamon rolls made in the shape of a wreath and a HUGE citrus fruit salad), and then spending the day enjoying family, friends, food of all sorts, and a roaring fire.

  7. >My family was wonderful through the holidays, but the memory that sticks out most was just two years ago. It was when my grandfather (Papa) was dying of gioblastoma(brain tumors). We were lucky enough to have him at the house Christmas Day. He was laying in the back TINY sun room in a hospital bed, while the rest of the family (all 17 of us) opened all of the presents in the living room. He was crying because he could hear the excitement in his grandchildrens voices and the laughter of his kids. We all saved the presents that him and his wife gave us and the presents we gave him and all squished ourselves into the sun room. Some of the kids were sitting in the bed with him, as we all opened the gifts from Nana and Papa, then we watched as Nana and Papa opened their present from all of us. Typing this brings tears to my eyes, but it was a family memory and it was wonderful, because it was the last time our whole family was together before he passed away.

  8. >I think my favorite Christmas memory was just a moment, really. It was the first year my daughter was old enough to participate. One night, in preparation, her daddy bundled her all up in oversized jackets and scarves (although she referred to them as "scerfs") and headed out to the back yard to cut down a small pine tree. When they came inside, still rosy cheeked and bundled, I snapped their picture and the spoils of the hunt. It was a scrappy little thing, but in Lauren's eyes – it was the biggest and most beautiful tree ever. I treasure that memory – the wonder in her eyes, the love in his. And they were my family.

  9. >My favorite Christmas memory is the year we were in Paris for Christmas. We walked down the Champs-Elysees, all lit up and beautiful. It was snowing and in that moment everything seemed perfect and complete.

  10. >My favorite Christmas tradition/memory is doing Kris Kringle. There are 6 kids in my family and we each got a name of another family member. About every day we would secretly go into the room of our Kris Kringle and leave a note, make the bed, or leave candy! It was a fun way to show love!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s