Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday LifeCold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life
Shauna Niequist
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Some view the Christian life as a regimen or method, but Niequist sees it as a daring dream, a feast, or a masterpiece! Written by a young woman who believes in God and the power of language, this collection of stories offers refreshing glimpses of hope, redemption, and celebration mingled with everyday heartache, boredom, and shattered glass. 224 pages, hardcover from Zondervan.
     
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 Cold Tangerines Discussion Questions by Shauna Niequist


 

Part One

1. “On Waiting” invites us to enter into today, decisively and passionately. What are some things in your life that might be causing you to wait, instead of making the choices you dream about or believe in? What might be a way forward, even if it’s just a small step?

2. Several chapters in this section center around some of the surprising ways relationships are built and the equally surprising effect those connections have on the author’s life. What are some relationships in your life—in your family and friendships or with a mentor or someone you mentor—that have surprised you in the way that they’ve affected you? In what ways did those relationships affect you or change your life?

3. “Island,” “French Class,” and “These Are the Days” involve the lessons and growth travel yields in our lives. What are some travel experiences—from across town to across the world—in your own life that have taught you something or allowed for a significant moment in your life? In what ways did they change you?

4. “Carrying My Own Weight,” “Old House,” and “Visions and Secrets” are about the expectations we have for ourselves. What are some beliefs about who you ought to be—whether from within or from the world you live in—that you’ve had to dismantle or release? In what moments did you connect with the author’s journey to do those things in her own life?


 

Part Two

1. “Red Tree” and “Pennies” are about seeing the most important things, the things that can easily be overlooked. When you look back in your life, are there things you may have missed along the way? What are some of the things that are important to see in your life right now, and in the lives of the people around you, that you might be in danger of missing?

2. This section is largely about loss. Were there moments when you connected with your own experiences of loss as you read? How have you responded to those losses? What moments or experiences came to your mind as you read about various losses the author experienced?

3. The author’s life changed dramatically, in several directions and on several levels, as a result of her leaving her job. Have you had an experience that had a similarly far-reaching effect on your life? How did it change you?

4. Family relationships are central to several chapters in this section—the connections between husband and wife, mother and son, grandfather and grandchild. What family relationships have affected your life the most profoundly? What events or moments do you think of as you reflect on that relationship?


 

Part Three

1. The author writes in “Hide and Seek” that every life tells a story. What is the story your life is telling today? What do you want it to say in the future?

2. In “Confession,” the author writes about the games we play to feel better as we compare ourselves to the people around us. When you feel jealous, what do you do with those feelings? What games do you play? Have you ever shared a secret similar to the one the author tells her friends Annette and Sarah? How did you feel in those moments?

3. “Blessings and Curses” is about those things in our lives that hurt us and confuse us and then, as time and God do their work, teach us and give us good things. What things in your life seemed like deep losses as you experienced them, but have revealed themselves to be gifts? Is there anything in your life right now that is painful or difficult that might, in your future, become a blessing? If you choose to regard it as a potential blessing, how does that reframe the way you experience the present?

4. In many ways, this section is about personal growth, about learning and re-learning to live well. The author writes about prayer, confession, confronting poverty, forgiving, and about the things she finds within herself along the way that need to change and grow. Did you find yourself connecting with her realizations? In what ways do you find yourself needing to change and grow in this season of your life? What choices can you make that can bring about that change?


 

Part Four

1. In “The Track Star,” Evan’s story is one that gives the author hope on a day that seems hopeless. What are the stories from your life, your friends, or your neighborhood that give you hope when things seem hopeless?

2. “Basement” is about shame and about the things that we’re afraid someone will find out about us. What part of your home would you be terrified if someone saw? Deeper than that, what parts of your life would you prefer that no one saw? Have you had an experience like the author had with her friend Lori, where someone saw the things you’re ashamed of and loved you anyway? How did that change your relationship?

3. The author writes about her connection to a song in “Needle and Thread.” What piece of art—a song, a painting, a movie, etc.—has affected you in that same way? What would you say to the creator of that piece of art?

4. In the final chapter, the author invites us to rise up and live with all the beauty and force and intention that we were made to live with. What does that look like for you? The author wrote about garlicky olives and dancing all night and reading good books. What are those things in your life? What are the tastes and experiences and sounds and smells of life at its best, to you?


 
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