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coffee and a book: “bittersweet”

November 3, 2010

There is not much I love better than sitting at a coffee shop and whiling away the hours with a good book. Welcome to another edition of an occasional series on here called “Coffee and a Book,” where I tell you about a book I’m reading right now and you have a chance to share what you’re reading (and loving…or not.)

Right now, I’m reading…

Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist

I just finished this gem not too long again and absolutely fell in love. Having read Shauna’s last book, Cold Tangerines, I knew what to expect: honest, genuine words, broken up into bite-sized essays that toss you this way and that, challenging you, softening you, reaching out and grabbing hold of the deepest set desires and instincts we have. Somehow, you put down her books, feeling much less alone in the world.

Bittersweet delves into the intersection of the bitter and the sweet in life; the joy and the pain; and how one feeds into the other seamlessly. Through an intense and often heartbreaking chronicling of her own bitter season in the past several years, Shauna argues that we cannot truly know life without knowing what it is to be broken and, in turn, redeemed.

She also writes with a great affection for food and the role it plays in our lives — which, of course, tickled me to no end. She writes:

“Food is one of the ways we acknowledge our humanity, our appetites, our need for nourishment. And so it may seem trivial or peripheral to some people, but to me, when I’m telling a story, the part about what we ate really does matter.”

She writes beautifully of grace and honestly about doubt and the vulnerable condition of being human, especially as a mother. But hers is a fierce and strong vulnerability — the kind that can only come from being split apart and having the courage to get put back together again.

An excellent read, I encourage you (especially if you are a twenty or thirty-something woman) to pick up a copy. And possibly also a box of tissues and some dark chocolate truffles.

Visit Shauna’s website here.

So what are you reading right now?

6 Comments leave one →
  1. November 3, 2010 7:27 pm

    Oh my goodness, are we ever on the same page! Did you see I just posted my review of Bittersweet on Monday? Love it!

  2. SJR permalink
    November 4, 2010 10:05 am

    Why is being a woman a fragile condition? Sometimes I think men are more fragile; they’re just conditioned not to show feeling. And are “woman” and “human” different things? Doesn’t woman imply human (I hope)? Just wondering 😉

  3. Scout permalink
    November 4, 2010 1:10 pm

    I was wonder the same exact thing as well, in my experience so far with men it seems that they are more fragile than women, they simply don’t celebrate it like women tend to. And actually Sandra makes another really valid point wondering why things are categorized into male and female when we are all just humans, and we all feel the same things but process them differently.
    Also I think I am having trouble understanding “strong fragility”.

    But no matter what any of it means, why haven’t you called me yet boo? I kinda miss your voice.

  4. Scout permalink
    November 4, 2010 1:10 pm


  5. Caroline permalink*
    November 4, 2010 5:11 pm

    @ SJR and Scout!

    Perhaps “vulnerability” would have been a better choice than “fragility.” A large part of the memoir talks about her dealing with two miscarriages, both which were shattering to her, and having to fight to keep her marriage alive and healthy. That’s where I get her strong sense of vulnerability from — in order to come out on the other side of something like that still having a sensitive and open heart, I feel it is necessary to maintain a certain sense of vulnerability and, yes, fragility, instead of becoming tough and brittle. When a person is broken, in any way, it offers him/her an opportunity to grow, to become stronger, etc.

    Does this make sense?
    Leave it to you two to keep me on my toes.

    And to respond to the other part of your comments, of course I think men can be equally fragile/vulnerable/broken/hurt, etc. I only mentioned women because this is a book written by a woman, aimed mostly at women, talking about things like miscarriage which can be best understood by women.

    And of COURSE man/woman are both equally human — it’s not always necessary to differentiate. Still, there is a certain identity to being a woman and a certain identity to being a man. This doesn’t have to squeeze into a stereotype of any kind, but as you said, we process things different. This book deals primarily with how the author understands what it is to be a woman, a wife, a mother, a daughter, but above all, a human who seeks to be a part of the story God is telling in her life.


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