When it comes to personality types, the Psychologies office is made up of a diverse bunch: from extrovert to introvert, true believer to careful sceptic, Oprah fan to Daily Show cynic. We like to think it brings balance to the magazine – we know our readers are a diverse bunch, too.
I fall more towards the introverted, difficult-to-please end of this spectrum, so it was with some suspicion that I viewed the stripy cover of Tiny Beautiful Things (Atlantic, £8.99) by Cheryl Strayed when our (extroverted, enthusiastic) editor Suzy Greaves thrust it into my hands, promising I’d be weeping after a few pages. An entire book of agony aunt advice? Chapter titles like ‘Whatever mysterious starlight has guided you this far’? I knew of Strayed’s bestselling Wild, and attended a 400-strong event with her at The School of Life last year. I was moved by her story, impressed by her bravery, and not a little inspired by her wisdom.
But I read a lot of books, and very few have made me cry – fewer still are what I’d dare call ‘life-changing’. That’s why we decided I was the perfect person to recommend this book to you. It’s been out a while, and we know many of our readers are Strayed fans who will have gulped it down already. (And they’ll be delighted to hear that Strayed’s first novel, Torch, has just been published in paperback here.)
The rest of you, like me, may have been put off by the potential for saccharine that a book like this suggests. Please don’t be. Suzy was right. I cried from page four. Strayed’s words have stuck to my heart and won’t let go. Her advice is courageous, wise and honest, and it’ll inspire you in the direction of those virtues too.
It may even be, though I hesitate to say it... life-changing.