Bittersweet Review | No Commitment Blogger Book Club #5

Happy first Monday of June — book club time! It’s also confession time: I actually read this book in March. Oops! I was really dragging in Happier at Home and needed something new. I also wrote this post in March too, since the thoughts were fresh. Man, it is so nice to have a post scheduled months prior! You bloggers know what I’m talking about. For non-bloggers, think of it like a crock-pot meal waiting for you at the end of your workday. Kind of sucked putting it together in the morning, but so worth it when you walk into your house smelling like barbecue.

On to the book review…

no commitment book club

Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist

What was the book about?
Bittersweet is a book showing the little bit of bitterness and sweetness in every season of your life. Life and death. Crucifixion and resurrection. Shauna Niequist shares snippets of her life during a seemingly dark period for her family and the sweetness and bitterness she walked through.

Did you enjoy the book? Why? Why not?
This book grew on me. It was hard for me to get into at first — it seemed choppy and all over the place, almost as if each chapter were a blog post and could live on its own without the chapter before. She would talk about people as if I knew them, which made me wonder whether this was a sequel from her first book (which, in case you’re also wondering, it is not).

But after a few chapters, I got used to her style and started to enjoy it. Halfway through the book, I really liked it. By the end of the book, I loved it. I didn’t want the book to end. I imagined the two of us sitting on a back porch sipping coffee listening to her share her stories and wisdom.

She shared in an honest and raw and funny and inspiring way. Literally every page had a quote I wanted to underline or advice I wanted to apply to my life. But not in a stuffy, self-help kind of way, but in a this-is-a-girl-I-would-be-friends-with kind of way.

I also fell in love with her writing. What I thought was initially labeled as fragmented and choppy, turned into full-on admiration and jealousy. I would read a sentence and then think — Yes, exactly. How come I’ve never been able to articulate that emotion or feeling or experience in that way before? 

Her experiences during a dark period resonated with me. I found myself recalling those times and think of the sweetness and the ways I grew during those seasons. I also loved the way she glorified very good things in life: community (her “home team” chapter was so good!), food (also why I bought her new book Bread and Wine), and faith.

She ended her book with a great challenge: Tell your story. The last quote listed below basically sums up her challenge, and it has really made an impact on the way I view my life, and my story to tell.

Would you recommend this book?
Yes, I would. She talks from a Christian perspective, but it is absolutely not limited to Christian readers. Anyone, (well any woman), would most likely relate to each of her experiences. I loved it so much I subscribed to her blog, picked up her first book and bought her third one, just released (for the record, Bread and Wine is my favorite of the three).

What’s your favorite quote from the book?
This was hard. I think every chapter had a line or two that could have been favorite quotes, but here are the ones I particularly loved:

“Good friends are like breakfast. You think you’re too busy to eat breakfast, but then you find yourself exhausted and cranky halfway through the day, and discover that your attempt to save time totally backfired.”

On friendships: “The closer you get, the closer you get.”

“Sometimes we have to leave home in order to find out what we left there, and why it matters so much.”

“Grace isn’t about having a second chance; grace is having so many chances that you could use them through all eternity and never end up empty.”

“Walk closely with people you love and with other people who believe that God is very good and life is a grand adventure. Don’t spend time with people who make you feel like you are less than you are. Don’t get stuck in the past and don’t try to fast forward into a future you haven’t yet earned.”

“When you compare yourself to another person, you always lose, and at the same time they other person always loses, too. Each of us has been created by the hands of a holy God, and our stories and the twists and turns of our lives, the things that are hard for us, and the things that come naturally, we are unique to us as our own fingerprints…. One way to ensure a miserable life is to constantly measure your own life by the lives of the people around you.”

“(A) full life is not the same as a full calendar.”

“Everyone I know gets their heart broken sometime, by something. The question is not, will my life be easy or will my heart break? But rather, when my heart breaks, will I choose to grow?”

“The big story really is actually being told through our little stories, and by sharing our lives, not just our sermons, we’re telling God’s story in as reverent and divine ways as it has ever been told. God’s story was told in Hebrew and Greek, and I believe that it’s also being told in whispers and paintings and blogs and around dinner tables all over the world…. And let’s stop acting as if religious professionals are the only ones who have a right and a responsibility to tell God’s story. If you are a person of faith, it is your responsibility to tell God’s story, in every way you can, every form, every medium, and every moment. Tell the stories of love and redemption and forgiveness every time you experience them. Tell the stories of reconciliation and surprise and new life everywhere you find them.”

Amen! Such good stuff.

Would I recommend this book?
Yes, yes, yes. For those who may be turned off by a little religion, I promise there’s very little religion in the book, and stories and practices anyone can appreciate.

Have you read the book? What did you like, or didn’t like about it?
If you wrote a blog post about it, please link here:

June’s Book: This month we are reading the Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale. I’ll be reviewing this Monday July 1st! Other reviews:

January: Bossypants
February: What Alice Forgot
March: Happier at Home
April: MWF Seeking BFF

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  • I felt the exact same way about Shauna’s writing style–wasn’t sure I got it at first, but a few chapters in and I was hooked! You’re going to love the other two books

  • I loved the book as well. There was definitely a lot of good quotes and her story resonated with me as well. I will be picking up her other books.