AN OPRAH BOOK CLUB PICK
THE #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER -- FROM THE AUTHOR OF THE INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER QUIET: THE POWER OF INTROVERTS IN A WORLD THAT CAN'T STOP TALKING
"Amazing and profound . . . every single person should read it" Johann Hari
"Moving and eloquent" Sunday Times
Whether you long for the partner who broke up with you, or the one you dream of meeting; whether you hunger for the happy childhood you'll never have, or for the divine; whether you yearn for a lost person, an unborn child, the fountain of youth, or unconditional love: These are all manifestations of the same great ache...
In this inspiring and genre-bending work, Susan Cain - author of the international bestseller Quiet - shows us the power of a "bittersweet" outlook: the overlooked tendency to states of longing and poignancy, and a piercing joy at the beauty of the world.
Embracing the bittersweet means understanding that light and dark, birth and death - bitter and sweet - are forever paired, and that by recognising this we can find the true path to creativity and connection.
Bringing to light the ideas of artists, writers and thinkers from all over the world, and her own quest for answers over the course of a lifetime, Susan Cain fundamentally shifts our understanding of life by teaching us how to turn sorrow into an enriching superpower.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
With her huge self-development hit Quiet, Susan Cain offered persuasive and engrossing arguments for tapping into the creative power of introversion in a world that salutes extroverts. Arriving a decade later, Bittersweet delivers an equally thoughtful meditation on the benefits of embracing sadness at a time when we’re implored to focus on positivity—often toxically so, she argues. Exploring science, philosophy and psychology with a clear-headed and engaging style, Cain reveals the paths to fulfilment and creativity that can be opened up by confronting and harnessing our darker emotions. It begins with a quiz, designed to help you understand how inclined you are towards melancholy, but most affecting are the pages where the author details her own personal traumas and how she’s come to absorb them.
Business consultant Cain (Quiet) returns with an eye-opening take on the underestimated virtues of melancholy. She suggests that bittersweetness "a tendency to states of longing, poignancy, and sorrow; an acute awareness of passing time; and a curiously piercing joy at the beauty of the world" affords the opportunity to channel "pain into creativity, transcendence, and love," as exemplified by musicians and other artists. Cain handily traverses fields as diverse as neuroscience, popular music, religion, and business management to find instances of the transformation of pain and longing into fulfillment: the music of Leonard Cohen, for example, is "a transcendence delivery system," and in Michigan, a hospital billing department's culture of caring for distressed or bereaved employees resulted in collecting bills faster. Though Cain's panoramic scope covers some familiar ground (U.S. culture's "tyranny of positivity" has been critiqued before), this ambitious work impresses in its dexterous integration of disparate thought traditions into a cohesive, moving, and insightful whole. Like a more intuitive Malcolm Gladwell, Cain delivers a deeply felt study of the profound uses of sorrow and melancholy, a perfect manual for coping with tough times.