For Small Creatures Such as We: Rituals for Finding Meaning in Our Unlikely World (Paperback)
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"A charming book, ringing with the joy of existence." --Richard Dawkins
The perfect gift for a loved one or for yourself, For Small Creatures Such as We is part memoir, part guidebook, and part social history, a luminous celebration of Earth's marvels that require no faith in order to be believed.
Sasha Sagan was raised by secular parents, the astronomer Carl Sagan and the writer and producer Ann Druyan. They taught her that the natural world and vast cosmos are full of profound beauty, and that science reveals truths more wondrous than any myth or fable.
When Sagan herself became a mother, she began her own hunt for the natural phenomena behind our most treasured occasions--from births to deaths, holidays to weddings, anniversaries, and more--growing these roots into a new set of rituals for her young daughter that honor the joy and significance of each experience without relying on a religious framework.
As Sagan shares these rituals, For Small Creatures Such as We becomes a moving tribute to a father, a newborn daughter, a marriage, and the natural world--a celebration of life itself, and the power of our families and beliefs to bring us together.
About the Author
Sasha Sagan holds a degree in dramatic literature from NYU. She has worked as a television producer, filmmaker, editor, and speaker in New York, Boston, and London, and her writing has appeared in The New York Magazine, O., the Oprah Magazine, Literary Hub, Mashable.com, The Violet Book, and elsewhere. For Small Creatures Such as We is her first book.
“How often have you asked yourself: What is the meaning of life? Sasha Sagan finds its meaning everywhere—with her family, around the world, and especially among the stars of the cosmos. Read her work; you’ll have a deeper appreciation for your every step, every bite, and every breath.”
— Bill Nye, author of Everything All At Once
“This lyrical exploration of how we can find beauty in the natural world comes from the daughter of Carl Sagan, so it's no wonder Sasha's reverence for the cosmos shines through on every page . . . A wonderful gift for your favorite reader.”
"A look at life, the cosmos, and finding magic in our daily lives.”
—New York Post
“Wonderful . . . An elixir for people facing personal crises in a secular world.”
—Andrew Rader, Wall Street Journal
“This gorgeous collection of essays . . . will dazzle and comfort you no matter what your relationship to meaning-making in this vast, lonely universe is—but especially for readers who are longing for ritual in the absence of religion, Sagan’s book is a holy-feeling balm.”
—BookPage (Best Books of 2019)
“From birthdays to funerals to the changing of the seasons to lunar cycles, [Sagan] thoughtfully explores how to blend science and spirituality. An eye-opening book for those who might question traditional religious celebrations but feel connected to the community, rituals, and comforts they provide, this is a refreshing, intelligent examination of faith, religion, and the many wonders of science worthy of celebration.”
—Booklist (starred review)
“In Sagan’s astonishingly beautiful and wiser-beyond-one’s-years debut, her lineage bursts forth on each page like a literary and scientific big bang. . . A wondrous journey exploring how rituals and celebration connect to life’s greater meaning.”
"Welcoming and tender. . . Charming and appealing, this thoughtful work serves as an uplifting, life-honoring celebration of human existence.”
“Sagan expertly weaves science and nature into the fabric of humanness and ritual in this book. . . . Whether you are looking for a guide to finding new traditions, or you are simply looking to be re-inspired by the world around you, this book is sure to be a good fit.”
“She’s Carl Sagan’s daughter, and it shows. . . . Her style seems to inherit something from that grand master of scientific prose poetry. While never for a moment departing from secular physicalism, she makes a lyrical case for ritual, marking out the rhythms of life from birth to death. A charming book, ringing with the joy of existence.”
— Richard Dawkins, author of An Appetite for Wonder and The Greatest Show on Earth
“Offers ethereal wisdom and worldly guidance . . . Sagan's debut, a lushly written amalgam of memoir and manual, traces her life as the daughter of Carl and writer/producer Ann Druyan and how she came to appreciate the wonder in the everyday. . . Profound, elegantly written ruminations on the exquisite splendors of life enjoyed through a secular lens.”
“Blends science and spirituality . . . drawing from a variety of anthropological, historical, and religious works, Sagan’s chapters are devoted to the essential characteristics of being human: rituals and celebrations relating to birth and death, people and relationships. . . A potentially transformative read for anyone looking to embrace [Sagan’s] invocation to lead a more connected life.”
"Sasha Sagan has written a lovely book about the sense of wonder and the beauty of rituals--even for the non-religious. It's an answer to my secular prayers."
—A. J. Jacobs, author of Thanks A Thousand
“A lovely, inspiring memoir exploring the intersection of science, wonder, and spirituality in a secular home. . . . Like her parents, Sasha has the passion, brilliance, and ability to spark curiosity, skepticism, and hope, through the written word. Open mind required. No faith necessary.”
“Sagan has written a book for turbulent times. It’s for believers, those of us who are nonbelievers, and for those in-between. . . A life without connections for us humans would ring rather hollow. Sagan’s book gives both import to, and lessons for, connecting. Because of her excellent global examples, the world feels a bit smaller, a better place to be.”
“[A] smart, meaningful, and charming book. For those of us who have thought deeply (or want to think deeply) about what it means to make meaning in the world unbound by religious tradition, Sagan's wisdom is much needed. This book makes space for a new category of morality.”
—Books Are Magic
“Reading Sasha’s book is a reminder to appreciate magnificence of our lives and simply the fact that we exist.”
“This brief, beautiful book is the vulnerable story of Sagan's experience as a daughter and granddaughter, a wife and mother; but it also offers a tangible and practical way for people to tell our own family and community stories more meaningfully. . . .Sasha represents one of the best possible scenarios for the future of humanism: a wise and passionate young woman thinking with love and creativity about how we can design secular lives of beauty and justice, together.”
—Greg Epstein, author of Good Without God
"Sagan has written the book I've always needed to make sense of this world. She makes that spiritual muscle so deeply hidden in my guts feel perfectly at home in the universe. She is that wise friend, in-cahoots with the muse of perspective, that changes your life as she describes the world she sees. I want everyone to read this book. But first, stare at the starry night sky. And when your chest expands with wonder and humility, sit down and read."
—Jedidiah Jenkins, author of To Shake the Sleeping Self
“Birth, anniversaries, fasting, atonement: She approaches these subjects with wonderment and a generous window into her extraordinary family history . . . For Small Creatures Such As We is a marvel. It dazzles and comforts while making us consider our own place in the vast universe.”
“A warm, elegant hymn to finding the spiritual in the secular and the romance in everyday ritual. Sasha Sagan writes beautifully on the power of deep-rooted historical traditions, and the pleasure of inventing our own.”
— Greg Jenner, author of A Million Years in a Day
“Explains and celebrates the human experience as we see it on Earth.”
“Sagan encourages us, as grown-up children of this world, to create for ourselves and each other previously unimagined life-honoring and life-enhancing celebrations and rites of passage more attuned to our own deepest truths and heart's desires. And on this path she introduces us to and vividly portrays five generations of her extraordinary family. . . . A lucent, lovingly written, and joyous book."
—Jonathan Cott, author of There’s A Mystery There