Tiny Beautiful Things - Is This The Self-Help Book We Really Need In 2014?

14/08/2014 16:44 | Updated 20 May 2015

Some of the most successful books of the past couple of years have fallen into the self-help division of literature. Tell us how to make our lives better, and we'll read about it. Some of us may even do what the authors advise.

The breakthrough self-help book of 2013 was, of course, Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. The Facebook COO's manual on how to have a brilliant, glass ceiling-breaking career sold 1.5million copies in the UK and was so highly rated, Lean In women's circles - dedicated to talking purely about the book - have sprung up across London.

Tiny Beautiful Things

Release a self-help manual capturing the zeitgeist - in Sandberg's case, the rise in popularity of Fourth Wave feminism - and hey presto! You've got something that's more than a bestseller and brand - it's a culture in itself, something people literally become part of and own.

However, it seems we're looking for a different kind of contentment in 2014 as this year's Lean In - if reaction in America is anything to go by - is Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice On Life & Love From Dear Sugar.

Although released in 2013, the book has officially achieved "cult status" this summer (New York Magazine said so) due to the fact it has resonated so much with women, they don't just buy it for themselves, they buy it for their friends. And their mothers. And their colleagues.

It's not just women, either. One guy has bought so many copies, its author Cheryl Strayed now sends him chocolate with each delivery to say thanks.

Twelve months after hitting the shelves, it's now a common conversation-starter. Imagine how people talked about Eat, Pray, Love a few years ago and you're almost there.

The book is a collection of articles and essays by Oprah Winfrey-endorsed Strayed off the back of her much-loved advice column for culture blog The Rumpus. It's straight-talking but compassionate. Real, without being vicious.

Just found out you've been cheated on? Strayed will make you feel better. Sick of not being able to pay the bills? Look on the bright side, says Strayed. Just a bit sick of how rubbish life can be? Strayed gets it.

She advises you to "be brave enough to break your own heart," and writes "the best thing you can possibly do with your life is to tackle the motherf*cking shit out of it."

As with Lean In, women's groups focusing just on Tiny Beautiful Things have sprung up across America - but could a book on life and love have the same impact in the UK?

A widespread move to buying into self-improvement when it comes to career is one thing - that's professional development, after all. But love?

It's not inconceivable the book could be just as successful here. We're searching for contentment that's not just rooted in career success - the fact the online dating industry is now worth £170million in Britain alone is testament to that.

Meanwhile, 13 divorces happen every hour across England and Wales, according to the Office of National Statistics. Depressingly - and no matter how un-British it may feel - a little bit of help on how to deal with love and life outside of the office may be exactly what we need.

As Westlife sang, "everybody's searching for that someone". Maybe, just maybe, Strayed will be the person who helps us find them.



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