Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life

Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life

by Shauna Niequist


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Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life by Shauna Niequist

Cold Tangerines—now available in softcover— is a collection of stories that celebrate the extraordinary moments hidden in your everyday life. It is about God, and about life, and about the thousands of daily ways in which an awareness of God changes and infuses everything. It is about spiritual life, and about all the things that are called nonspiritual life that might be spiritual after all. It is the snapshots of a young woman making peace with herself and trying to craft a life that captures the energy and exuberance we all long for in the midst of the fear and regret and envy we all carry with us. It is both a voice of challenge and song of comfort, calling you upward to the best possible life, and giving you room to breathe, to rest, to break down, and break through. Cold Tangerines offers bright and varied glimpses of hope and redemption, in and among the heartbreak and boredom and broken glass.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780310329305
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication date: 08/26/2010
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 85,369
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Shauna Niequist is the author of Cold Tangerines, Bittersweet, Bread & Wine and Savor. She is married to Aaron, and they have two wild and silly and darling boys, Henry and Mac. They live outside Chicago, where Aaron leads The Practice and is recording a project called A New Liturgy. Shauna also writes for the Storyline Blog, and for IF:Table, she is a member of the Relevant podcast, and a guest teacher at her church. Shauna’s three great loves are her family, dinner parties, and books, and she believes that vulnerable storytelling, hard laughter, and cold pizza for breakfast can cure almost anything.

Read an Excerpt

Cold Tangerines

Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life
By Shauna Niequist


Copyright © 2007 Shauna Niequist
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-310-27360-8

Chapter One

on waiting

I have always, essentially, been waiting. Waiting to become something else, waiting to be that person I always thought I was on the verge of becoming, waiting for that life I thought I would have. In my head, I was always one step away. In high school, I was biding my time until I could become the college version of myself, the one my mind could see so clearly. In college, the post-college "adult" person was always looming in front of me, smarter, stronger, more organized. Then the married person, then the person I'd become when we have kids. For twenty years, literally, I have waited to become the thin version of myself, because that's when life will really begin.

And through all that waiting, here I am. My life is passing, day by day, and I am waiting for it to start. I am waiting for that time, that person, that event when my life will finally begin.

I love movies about "The Big Moment"-the game or the performance or the wedding day or the record deal, the stories that split time with that key event, and everything is reframed, before it and after it, because it has changed everything. I have always wantedthis movie-worthy event, something that will change everything and grab me out of this waiting game into the whirlwind in front of me. I cry and cry at these movies, because I am still waiting for my own big moment. I had visions of life as an adventure, a thing to be celebrated and experienced, but all I was doing was going to work and coming home, and that wasn't what it looked like in the movies.

John Lennon once said, "Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans." For me, life is what was happening while I was busy waiting for my big moment. I was ready for it and believed that the rest of my life would fade into the background, and that my big moment would carry me through life like a lifeboat.

The Big Moment, unfortunately, is an urban myth. Some people have them, in a sense, when they win the Heisman or become the next American Idol. But even that football player or that singer is living a life made up of more than that one moment. Life is a collection of a million, billion moments, tiny little moments and choices, like a handful of luminous, glowing pearls. And strung together, built upon one another, lined up through the days and the years, they make a life, a person. It takes so much time, and so much work, and those beads and moments are so small, and so much less fabulous and dramatic than the movies.

But this is what I'm finding, in glimpses and flashes: this is it. This is it, in the best possible way. That thing I'm waiting for, that adventure, that movie-score-worthy experience unfolding gracefully. This is it. Normal, daily life ticking by on our streets and sidewalks, in our houses and apartments, in our beds and at our dinner tables, in our dreams and prayers and fights and secrets-this pedestrian life is the most precious thing any of us will ever experience.

I believe that this way of living, this focus on the present, the daily, the tangible, this intense concentration not on the news headlines but on the flowers growing in your own garden, the children growing in your own home, this way of living has the potential to open up the heavens, to yield a glittering handful of diamonds where a second ago there was coal. This way of living and noticing and building and crafting can crack through the movie sets and soundtracks that keep us waiting for our own life stories to begin, and set us free to observe the lives we have been creating all along without even realizing it.

I don't want to wait anymore. I choose to believe that there is nothing more sacred or profound than this day. I choose to believe that there may be a thousand big moments embedded in this day, waiting to be discovered like tiny shards of gold. The big moments are the daily, tiny moments of courage and forgiveness and hope that we grab on to and extend to one another. That's the drama of life, swirling all around us, and generally I don't even see it, because I'm too busy waiting to become whatever it is I think I am about to become. The big moments are in every hour, every conversation, every meal, every meeting.

The Heisman Trophy winner knows this. He knows that his big moment was not when they gave him the trophy. It was the thousand times he went to practice instead of going back to bed. It was the miles run on rainy days, the healthy meals when a burger sounded like heaven. That big moment represented and rested on a foundation of moments that had come before it.

I believe that if we cultivate a true attention, a deep ability to see what has been there all along, we will find worlds within us and between us, dreams and stories and memories spilling over. The nuances and shades and secrets and intimations of love and friendship and marriage and parenting are action-packed and multicolored, if you know where to look.

Today is your big moment. Moments, really. The life you've been waiting for is happening all around you. The scene unfolding right outside your window is worth more than the most beautiful painting, and the crackers and peanut butter that you're having for lunch on the coffee table are as profound, in their own way, as the Last Supper. This is it. This is life in all its glory, swirling and unfolding around us, disguised as pedantic, pedestrian non-events. But pull off the mask and you will find your life, waiting to be made, chosen, woven, crafted.

Your life, right now, today, is exploding with energy and power and detail and dimension, better than the best movie you have ever seen. You and your family and your friends and your house and your dinner table and your garage have all the makings of a life of epic proportions, a story for the ages. Because they all are. Every life is.

You have stories worth telling, memories worth remembering, dreams worth working toward, a body worth feeding, a soul worth tending, and beyond that, the God of the universe dwells within you, the true culmination of super and natural.

You are more than dust and bones.

You are spirit and power and image of God.

And you have been given Today.


Excerpted from Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist Copyright © 2007 by Shauna Niequist. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


I on waiting....................15
becoming family....................25
old house....................37
french class....................53
carrying my own weight....................59
these are the days....................67
visions and secrets....................75
II baby making....................81
the red tree....................87
eggs and baskets....................97
brothers, sisters, and barbecues....................103
lent and television....................109
a funeral and a wedding....................113
mothers and sons....................117
the cat's pajamas....................121
III hide and seek....................133
broken bottles....................139
prayer and yoga....................145
good causes....................161
the hook....................165
how sweet it is....................169
blessings and curses....................175
IV mother prayers....................183
the track star....................189
carrying my own weight redux....................197
writing in pencil....................203
happy thanksgiving....................209
soup from bones....................215
needle and thread....................225

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Niequist, a 30-year-old mother and first-time author, wants readers to look around their ordinary lives and celebrate all their manifold, quotidian blessings. To that end, she offers 40 short essays, each an exploration of something mundane and wonderful: getting pregnant, throwing parties, collecting champagne flutes. She recalls a breakup that deepened her relationship with God, and explains why moving into a fixer-upper helped her learn that God loves us as we are. A lovely, honest and wistful tone characterizes the title piece, an ode to living a life of gratitude and joy. Essays on a friend's health scare, the power of art and experiencing Christmas with a newborn are especially powerful. Yet Niequist's relentlessly first-person reflections would have been leavened by more fully developing some of the other characters, the relatives and friends who pop up. Sometimes her prose is annoyingly abstract (“if we cultivate a true attention, a deep ability to see what has been there all along, we will find worlds within and between us”), and there are clichéd observations. Still, with a bit of seasoning (and more vigorous editing), Niequist could be a writer to watch. (Oct.) -- Publisher’s Weekly

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Cold Tangerines 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so wonderful. It's so warm, and so comfortable and so relatable to real life, it is really a must-read. It's an instant picker-upper, and a lifeline to the funny corners of our lives that we can't articulate. I am waiting eagerly for her follow-up book, Bittersweet.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is so refreshing! I'm a writer myself, and from my point of view the couple of negative comments made in the description didn't strike me as true. I didn't think it necessary for those 'characters' to be more developed, and I didn't find it to be too abstract. That particular sentence commented on had quite a bit of meaning for me as I related it to God and His kingdom. But even if you're not Christian, I believe you'll find you can still very much relate to this book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is refreshing and encouraging! It makes me want to make the most of everything...knowing that even the little things CAN and DO make such a difference in our lives. I bought 6! Spreading the JOY!
songbirdsue More than 1 year ago
This is a very inspirational feast of stories. They are humorous as well as heartfelt. She knows how to tell stories that you want to read and can learn from and apply to your own life. Definitely recommend to everyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My name is Caroline and I 12. I go to an all girls camp in Brevard,NC. That camp name is Camp Illahee, maening heavenly world in cheeroki. Illahee truly lives up to its name. But ti get to the point every night my councelor Kaki would read to us from this book. It was inspiring to hear the wonderful things in this book. I miss Illahee a lot and dont know how i survive 357 days without it but this wonderful upbeat book reminds me what life reall is about: HOPE. I hope that you buy and enjoy this book just as i did with Kaki. ~Caroline
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed Shauna Niequist's openness and transparency in this book. She allows you into the ordinary, difficult and extraordinary moments of her life and uses them to point out how God has shaped and changed her. It is a good and easy read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is by far one of the best books I've ever read. I'm now a Shauna super fan after reading this, and virturally stock her via her social media sites ;) This book changed me. It challenged me to be more like the woman God created me to be. I couldn't get enough of it. Shauna has a raw writing style that pulls you in. It's rare for me to find a christian woman author that captivates me as much as Shauna has. Although the book was wrote in essay form, it read like a novel and didn't feel jumpy at all. You must read this book! 
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I did enjoy this book, but I felt as if the writing was a bit exaggerated in her emotions. I was also disappointed that the nook edition did not have the study questions at the end of the book like the print edition.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
this book was a very good book and meant so much to me!
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