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  • Published: 7 April 2022
  • ISBN: 9780241980491
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 352


How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole

A powerful quest to understand how love, loss and sorrow make us whole, by the author of the megaselling phenomenon QUIET

In this inspiring masterpiece, bestselling author Susan Cain shows the power of the "bittersweet" -- the outlook that values the experiences of loss and pain, which can lead to growth and beauty. Understanding bittersweetness can change the way we work, the way we create and the way we love.

Each chapter helps us navigate an issue that define our lives, from love to death and from authenticity to creativity. Using examples ranging from music and cinema to parenting and business, as well as her own life and the latest academic research, she shows how understanding bittersweetness will allow us, in a flawed world, to accept the loss of past identities; to fully embrace the loves we have; and to weather life's transitions.

Bittersweet reveals that vulnerability and even melancholy can be strengths, and that embracing our inevitable losses makes us more human and more whole. This is a book for those who have felt a piercing joy at the beauty of the world; who react intensely to art and nature; and in a culture that celebrates toughness, who yearn for a wiser and more meaningful world. For bittersweetness is the hidden source of our love stories, moonshots and masterpieces.

  • Published: 7 April 2022
  • ISBN: 9780241980491
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 352

About the author

Susan Cain

Susan Cain is a writer who specializes in psychological non-fiction. She has a blog on psychology today.com, and her New York Times article on the evolutionary benefits of shyness was the most emailed article in the paper when published. She previously worked in corporate law for seven years, representing clients such as J. P. Morgan and General Electric, and then became a negotiations consultant with clients including Merrill Lynch and Shearman & Sterling. Susan Cain graduated with honors from Princeton University and Harvard Law School. She lives on the Hudson River, New York, with her husband and two sons.


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Praise for Bittersweet

A decade ago, I found myself inside Quiet. With Bittersweet, Susan Cain has described and validated my existence once again! Bittersweet reaffirmed that my constant, achy awareness of life's brutiful is a way of life shared across the ages with artists, healers and anyone who pays deep attention. I'll place Bittersweet in the hands of all my feely, achy, beautiful friends

Glennon Doyle, author of #1 NYT bestseller Untamed

Susan Cain's Bittersweet grabs you by the heart and doesn't let go. I've thought about the depth and beauty in Susan's research and storytelling every day since I finished the book. I will always be grateful for how much Quiet and Bittersweet have helped me understand myself and how I engage with the world

Brené Brown, author of the NYT bestseller Atlas of the Heart

This is the rare book that doesn't just open your eyes - it touches your heart and sings to your soul. Susan Cain gave a voice to introverts, and now she masterfully paints our heaviest emotions in a light that's long overdue. Bittersweet is the perfect cure for toxic positivity and a sparkling ode to the beauty of the human condition

Adam Grant, #1 NYT bestselling author of Think Again

Susan Cain does it again! As the author of the worldwide phenomenon Quiet she changed how the world sees introverts. Now she has written a book that will change how the world sees sorrow and longing. This book is an absolute triumph: it's for anyone who has ever really lived, loved, or lost

Greg McKeown, author of NYT bestsellers Effortless and Essentialism

An amazing and profound book about some of the most important feelings in human life - ones that our culture averts its gaze from, but now, thanks to Susan Cain, we can think about, and experience, with extraordinary clarity. Every single person should read it

Johann Hari, bestselling author of Stolen Focus

Nourishing and wise, Bittersweet fills a gap in our culture that many of us have felt keenly: the need for sadness, poignancy and yearning as part of the full spectrum of human emotion. Just like Quiet, I felt like an aspect of myself was honoured in these pages

Katherine May, author of Wintering

An eye-opening take on the underestimated virtues of melancholy . . . 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

Publishers Weekly

With a mix of research and memoir, Cain uncovers the value of sorrow as an essential component of creativity, empathy and wonder. Artistic, brooding types everywhere will feel seen by Cain's thoughtful analysis, and appreciated for their superpower of transforming pain into art and connection


In a profound new book set to be as influential as Quiet, Cain - who is obsessed with Leonard Cohen's music - argues that recognising the value of the "bittersweet" - that is, learning to weather times of pain and loss - is powerful and vital

The Bookseller

Susan Cain finds what is undervalued, quiet, and precious. In Bittersweet she takes you to a room in your own heart full of treasures that you had forgotten about. This is a book to read, feel, and savour

Jonathan Haidt, Professor of Ethical Leadership at NYU and author of The Righteous Mind

Bittersweet is astonishing -- one of the most gracefully written, palpably human books I've read in years. Its powerful case will reshape how you think about yourself and those you love. Its sheer beauty will linger in your heart long after you turn the final page

Daniel H Pink, #1 NYT bestselling author of WHEN, DRIVE and A WHOLE NEW MIND

By the author of the 2012 phenom Quiet, this timely and timeless exploration of the "melancholic direction" of how "the tragedy of life is linked inescapably with its splendor" is both an antidote for our uncertain times and a toolbox for using angst and yearning as a means of transforming pain into "creativity, transcendence, and love"

Oprah Daily: The 50 Most Anticipated Books of 2022

In Bittersweet, Susan Cain speaks to our souls, to our inner longing for connection and meaning. Her writing is a poignant and profound reminder that it is shadow that gives depth to our vision and transience that makes joy so sweet. Bittersweet is a homecoming for all of us who weep when our deepest sense of wonder is stirred

Kathryn Mannix, author of Listen and With the End in Mind

Bittersweet feels like a natural follow up to Cain's 2012 blockbuster Quiet and deserves just as many readers . . . a timely and welcome read for so many

Business Insider, 10 best books of April

The stories are very moving . . . The bittersweet state can make us more compassionate and more artistic, [Cain] argues eloquently, and perhaps that's worth the price of the pain

Laura Hackett, The Sunday Times

Cain weaves together a huge range of references from neuroscience, music, religion, history and business management with ease . . . her voice is sincere and clear as she tries to understand the value of the bittersweet . . . I was moved [and] fascinated . . . The world is beautiful and awful and this book helps us to accept that this has always been the case

Marianne Power, The Times

Beautifully written . . . she's so clever and so wonderful

Chris Evans

I have found myself loving her book, underlining whole paragraphs, reading bits out to my friends . . . Cain manages to be both pragmatic as well as poetic in her book and takes the reader on a journey to help you figure out what truly makes a life worth living

Suzy Walker, Metro.co.uk

There are some beautifully crafted - and well-researched - passages on creativity, sorrow and longing, mortality and grief, and personal redemption . . . This is an intriguing book that takes a profoundly compassionate tilt at connections within the human condition

Ian McFarlane, Canberra Times

I can't get Quiet out of my head. It is an important book - so persuasive and timely and heartfelt it should inevitably effect change in schools and offices

Jon Ronson on 'Quiet'

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