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Cheryl Strayed

Author of the #1 New York Times-bestselling memoir Wild and "Dear Sugar" columnist

  • About Cheryl Strayed

    Cheryl Strayed is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling memoir Wild. At age 22, Strayed found herself shattered by two major life events: her mother’s sudden death from cancer and the end of her young marriage. After hitting rock bottom, Strayed decided to confront her emotional pain by trekking over 1,000 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail.

    Wild tells the amateur hiker’s tale, peppered with the colorful characters she encounters along the way, as she struggles to find inner peace and stability. Cheryl’s story inspired Oprah Winfrey to revive her tremendously popular book club, with Wild as its inaugural selection for the launch of Oprah’s Book Club 2.0. The story also inspired producer and actress Reese Witherspoon to bring Wild to the big screen in 2014.

    Cheryl Strayed’s personal struggles and story of survival motivate and inspire crowds. She is a dynamic speaker, and her moving rhetoric resonates with audiences of all sizes.

    Strayed is also the author of The New York Times bestseller Tiny Beautiful Things, a collection of her widely popular Dear Sugar columns for, and the critically acclaimed novel Torch, a finalist for the Great Lakes Book Award. Her writing has appeared in The Best American EssaysThe New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post Magazine, Vogue, Allure, The Missouri Review, Creative Nonfiction, The Sun and elsewhere. Her books have been translated into 26 languages around the world.

    Cheryl Strayed holds an MFA in fiction writing from Syracuse University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota. She is a founding member of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, and serves on its board of directors.

    Discover how you can spark inspiration within your organization. Visit Cheryl Strayed’s Company Reads page to learn more.

    Contact us to learn more about booking Cheryl Strayed for your next event. 

  • Speaking Topics

    How to Live a Brave (Enough) Life: Stories from Dear Sugar

    For more than a decade Cheryl Strayed has written the popular “Dear Sugar” advice column, which has been collected in her bestselling book, Tiny Beautiful Things. In this galvanizing talk, Strayed shares the foundational advice she returns to again and again in her work as Sugar. She tells stories about the importance of trusting your clarity and cultivating courage; about the rewards of practicing compassion and risking vulnerability; about how to live large, love hard, and be brave enough to break your own heart.

    A Wild Life

    In her memoir Wild Cheryl Strayed wrote about the sometimes harrowing, other times hilarious experiences she had on her solo wilderness trek on the Pacific Crest Trail. In this moving talk, Strayed shares humorous stories about the challenges of her hike, as well as the heartbreaking losses that led her to the trail. Though the subject of this talk is personal, Cheryl delivers a powerfully universal and uplifting message about how we find the strength to bear the unbearable, the courage to step outside the comfort zone, and tenacity to keep walking even when it hurts.

    Building Empathy

    In this talk, Strayed shares everything she knows about how to build empathy in our lives and foster it in our relationships and communities. With humor and candor, she shares stories about how contemplating other people’s problems in her work as Sugar—as well as grappling with her own—has expanded her understanding of the transformative power of empathy. This is an inspiring talk threaded with advice about how to practice self-empathy and empathy for others and insight about how it leads us to happier, richer, more expansive lives.

    The Story You Have To Tell

    In more than two decades of teaching her popular writing workshops, Cheryl Strayed has shared her love of writing with thousands of students. In this talk, Cheryl shares the lessons learned from her own path to becoming a writer and discusses the power and pleasure of writing the stories we have to tell—whether it be for creative expression, catharsis, or communication. This presentation can be tailored to writers, non-writers, or both and can be delivered as either a lecture about the art, craft, challenges, and joys of writing or as a workshop that invites attendees to respond to a guided writing prompt or two and perhaps share their writing with other attendees. This is a highly customizable option for any group interested in exploring creativity and/or self-reflection through writing.

    A Conversation with Cheryl Strayed

    All the above topics (as well as many others) make for great onstage or online conversations between Cheryl and a moderator of your choice. This is a wonderfully dynamic option that allows for either a wide range of subjects to be addressed or a deeper dive into topics of particular interest.

  • Video

  • Praise for Cheryl Strayed


    Cheryl was a wonderful presenter. She was warm and engaging and her message was powerful and relevant. The audience loved her!

    Momentous Institute

    Cheryl was fantastic. Her message was so heartfelt about our collective human existence. She connected with all ages and I would highly recommend her to anyone looking to bring a speaker. We just couldn’t speak more highly of the experience she shared with us.

    Sun Valley Museum of Art

    Our attendees were blown away by Cheryl! She exceeded our expectations. She is a beautiful authentic woman, a total pro. There was a moment during the keynote where most of the room cried, perhaps ordinary for her … incredibly special for us. My inbox is full with messages from community leaders and participants thanking us for bringing some kind of wellness and spirituality to our small town. The whole purpose of the festival isn’t for people to do yoga. Rather, it is to help people live life as best as possible. Cheryl made a difference.

    Mammoth Yoga Festival

    The event was a wonderful success! First off, and most importantly, Cheryl was, basically, perfect!  Her talk was deeply authentic and beautifully interwoven with insight, honesty, humor and the kind of advice you want when you’re stuck (in whatever is going on for you, not just grief).  It had the right tone for our audience, who were so very thrilled to be seeing her.  Up on the stage, I could just feel their energy and excitement. She did an excellent job of interweaving her stories with our work with just the right balance. She lit up our evening with her talent, warmth and wisdom.  In sharing her stories she changed our world; what a gift for all of us!

    Brattleboro Area Hospice

    Cheryl made our first annual Write Your Story event phenomenal.  Her message was personal, inspirational and she tied the mission of our organization and the theme of the event into her talk effortlessly.  She graciously answered questions and her responses were filled with honesty, care and concern. We couldn’t be more thrilled with how the event went and are excited for the future.


    Cheryl was amazing this morning. Our team was beyond moved by her words and Cheryl was lovely to stay and sign every single book.


    “It was a terrific event. The students and faculty were thrilled with Cheryl’s presence–her wit, candor, and natural aplomb. The president, provost, and the greater university and Laramie communities were entertained, enlightened, and impressed. She’s first class. I’m sure people here, and around Wyoming and Colorado will be remembering her visit fondly for a long time.

    University of Wyoming

    Everyone LOVED Cheryl – she is so down to earth, honest, and kind. Everyone loved her story and her wisdom from her very personal experiences – she does a lot of teaching without making you feel like you are being taught. Any organization or conference would be so lucky to have Cheryl. I also really enjoyed working with both of you – most of my agent/speakers bureau experiences have been pretty good, but I have had some not so great experiences, too. Both of you were so kind and quick to reply with information – Cheryl is in good hands.

    Zen Parenting Conference

    The event went great! Cheryl was VERY well received by the audience, even got a standing ovation. She was all our client hoped for, and more! Truly a pleasure to work with and very kind, generous and thoughtful to our client and all guests she interacted with.

    Team Soapbox

    The engagement with Cheryl was really wonderful, a success on all counts and from all perspectives.

    Moss Arts Center, Virginia Tech

    Our evening with Cheryl Strayed was transcendent. We had people that had driven over a hundred miles to be there. Many from the audience came up to me afterwards filled with gratitude for her words and for her presence. She inspired us all, and it is an evening none are soon to forget. The generosity, beauty, and humanity found in Cheryl Strayed’s prose were echoed in every interaction she had—whether speaking to hundreds or chatting with one. A beautiful night!

    Utah State University

    Gracious, down-to-earth, hilarious, and inspiring: Cheryl Strayed is a DREAM keynote speaker. Her themes connect with any audience, and her personality makes her seem like everybody’s best friend. You’ll have a hard time finding a better conference speaker.

    Confab Events

    Cheryl was incredibly well received and was exactly what we’d hoped and more. All were engaged and I loved the way she made the Q&A feel such a key part of the program – it really connected with the audience.

    CoreNet Global Northern California Chapter

    Cheryl charmed all of us: the adventure-seekers, the Library lovers, and the ‘Dear Sugar’ devotees alike. We had guests from all over Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey make the trek to see Cheryl. We can’t say it enough, but she truly set the bar for an exquisite Novel Tea; this is going to be difficult to top!

    Darien Library

    Cheryl is one of the most personable people I’ve come across, and this was echoed by everyone I spoke with who attended both events.  She was able to adapt her discussion to be relevant, and to reach each person in the audience on some level.  She is funny, witty, and charming. I cannot say enough about her as a person, and as a keynote speaker.

    Dave delaChevrotiere, IIDA NC Leaders Breakfast Chairperson

    Cheryl was amazing! Her remarks were absolutely perfect for the audience. She beautifully tied in her life, work, journey and discoveries with our mission and endorsed the value of our work in front of 1,000 of our civic leaders. You truly could have heard a pin drop when she finished – quickly followed by roaring applause and a standing ovation! We feel so fortunate that she shared her time with us. It was an amazingly successful event.

    Legacy Parks Foundation

    Our guests absolutely loved Cheryl’s speech. You could hear a pin drop in the tent, she had total control of people’s attention. In the 10 years that I have been doing this, I have never seen such rapture. She was funny, emotional, an amazing storyteller and really conveyed a sense of authenticity. I also really appreciated how thoughtful she was about the inclusion of Jumpstart’s work in her speech, she even referenced some of the comments made by our emcee that night, Jumpstart’s President & CEO Naila Bolus. This also made an impression on our guests because several of them commented on how her speech was well aligned with our mission.


    Cheryl’s event was a huge, huge success. It was truly amazing. She was gracious, funny, inspiring, and generous with the students at the school visit and with her fans that evening. It was one of the best nights we’ve hosted in a long, long time. Truly a special evening

    Seattle Arts and Lectures

    Cheryl was one of the best speakers I have ever seen at Stanford or anywhere else, and this was something I heard again and again from faculty, deans, and students for many days. What struck people the most, especially students, was the combination of smarts and genuine, disarming warmth. What struck me most was how she elevated the whole room, and as corny as this might sound, it felt by the end of the evening that we had all received a blessing, in that old sense of an authorization and empowerment.

    Stanford University

    Cheryl’s presentation was extremely well-received, and quite a number of attendees lined up at the audience microphones for the Q&A period. In addition to questions about Wild, many thanked her for coming and commented on her other books as well. Several made reference to Tiny Beautiful Things and her Dear Sugar columns, and asked when the columns might return. One audience member even commented how Cheryl’s book had helped her cope with the loss of her own mother. Cheryl was very gracious to all who approached her, and accommodated all who wanted books signed, both during our reception and on stage afterward. We would definitely recommend her to any other organization seeking a similar presentation.

    Assistance League of Salem

    What an absolute delight it was hosting Cheryl at our college. She couldn’t have been classier – she made the students feel completely at ease even though they were meeting their ‘idol.’ She was warm, compassionate, articulate and really listened to them. And of course the public interview and book signing was a huge success. Cheryl stayed until the very last person in the line got his book signed and even gave everyone a hug before she got back in her car.

    Los Medanos College

    Our event with Cheryl Strayed was beyond words—AMAZING! She was incredibly kind, genuine, authentic, and caring. We are so very grateful that she was willing to share her personal journey with our community of learners. She touched so many lives today—beyond what she will probably understand. What she shared was such a gift. I couldn’t be more happy with hosting her on campus.

    Rasmussen College

    The event could not have been better. It was everything I’d hoped for and more, and apparently, the audience thought so too. All of the evaluations gave the event the rating of ‘excellent’. The house was completely full. Cheryl had the audience absolutely captivated. You could have heard a pin drop. She was disarmingly honest, funny, personable, enlightening, charming, and amazingly gracious. I would recommend her as a speaker in a heartbeat.

    Oregon City Public Library

    The event was beyond successful. The retreat participants were practically floating on air as they loaded onto the buses on Sunday to go home. Much of the success of the retreat can be directly attributed to Cheryl, who gave her all during her stay. Her keynote lecture was very well thought out and inspiring. The next day many people reported to me that it had far exceeded their already high expectations.

    Wild Mountain Memoir Retreat

    Praise for Brave Enough

    A short, taut, Swiss Army knife [book] of quotations, one that applies to deciding whether to have a third doughnut or an extramarital affair, make a mean-spirited joke—or get up from the desk before a book review is finished. Cheryl Strayed is a tough-love truth-teller. In the introduction she writes that a good quote can provide in a sentence or two ‘a clear eyed perspective, or a swift kick in the pants.’ Hers do both. Brave Enough amount[s] to a galvanizing call to be bigger, bolder, more generous. We already know what to do, Strayed believes; we just need to heed that inner voice . . . ‘I believe in the power of words to help us reset our intentions, clarify our thoughts, and create a counternarrative to the voice of doubt in our heads—the one that says, You can’t, you won’t, you shouldn’t have,’ she writes. [This book] helps you create that counternarrative. [It shouts,] ‘Yes!

    The Washington Post

    An elegantly bound collection of Strayed sayings, ranging from a few words to entire paragraphs . . . Strayed earned cult status with her anonymous advice column, ‘Dear Sugar,’ on The Rumpus. She has become the unlikely queen of a different bookstore aisle than she expected, a guru whose message is anything but simple or glib. Rather, she tends towards emphasizing how deeply flawed we human beings are, and how we have to keep trying to be better anyway, even as life throws slings, arrows, and tremendous grief our way.


    Captivating. Personal authenticity, gender politics, leaning into the light: whether writing a book or speaking one-to-one, Strayed seems above all unapologetically herself . . . The power of her words is palpable—and far-reaching

    The Daily Beast

    Gorgeous, a little 135-page gem. The one book every woman must read this year. The stop-whatever-you’re-doing-and-read-this-now book, in which every turn of phrase is tattoo-worthy, every tidbit of wisdom too good not to share with every single one of your girlfriends. It’s the kind of book that makes your highlighters run out of ink, and your Post-Its run out of stick. In the 100-plus quotes, thoughts, words of wisdom, and tidbits of beauty that Strayed has compiled, you will recognize yourself over and over again, in the best and worst and most essential ways .


    Praise for Wild

    Strayed’s relationship with her environment is humble and respectful, not exploitative. The landscape she travails is not a prop for her self-actualization, but a real, physical world that bewilders her, a world in which she learns she can survive bewilderment. . . . Strayed bears the torn feet and bruised back of a true pilgrim. Hers is high-voltage prose that challenges any preconceived notions about what it means to be a woman alone, and what it means to journey. . . . Wild will gather you up with its tenderness. It will flay you with its honesty.

    Los Angeles Review of Books

    A deeply honest memoir about mother and daughter, solitude and courage, and regaining footing one step at a time.


    Brilliant. . . . Cheryl Strayed emerges from her grief-stricken journey as a practitioner of a rare and vital vocation. She has become an intrepid cartographer of the human heart.

    Houston Chronicle

    Strayed writes a crisp scene; her sentences hum with energy. She can describe a trail-parched yearning for Snapple like no writer I know. . . . It becomes impossible not to root for her.

    The Plain Dieter

    A fearless story, told in honest prose that is wildly lyrical as often as it is dirtily physical.

    Minneapolis Star Tribune

    Strayed . . . catalogs her epic hike . . . with a raw emotional power that makes the book difficult to put down. . . . In walking, and finally, years later, in writing, Strayed finds her way again. And her path is as dazzlingly beautiful as it is tragic.

    Los Angeles Times

    Strayed’s journey was at least as transcendent as it was turbulent. She faced down hunger, thirst, injury, fatigue, boredom, loss, bad weather, and wild animals. Yet she also reached new levels of joy, accomplishment, courage, peace, and found extraordinary companionship.

    The Christian Science Monitor

    Brave seems like the right word to sum up this woman and her book. . . . Strayed’s journey is exceptional.

    San Francisco Chronicle

    Vivid, touching and ultimately inspiring account of a life unraveling and of the journey that put it back together.

    The Wall Street Journal

    Incisive and telling. . . . [Strayed] has the ineffable gift every writer longs for of saying exactly what she means in lines that are both succinct and poetic . . . an inborn talent for articulating angst and the gratefulness that comes when we overcome it.

    The Washington Post

    Devastating and glorious. . . . By laying bare a great unspoken truth of adulthood—that many things in life don’t turn out the way you want them to, and that you can and must live through them anyway—Wild feels real in many ways that many books about ‘finding oneself’ . . . do not.


    Pretty much obliterated me. I was reduced, during the book’s final third, to puddle-eyed cretinism. . . . As loose and sexy and dark as an early Lucinda Williams song. It’s got a punk spirit and makes an earthy and American sound. . . . The cumulative welling up I experienced during Wild was partly a response to that too infrequent sight: that of a writer finding her voice, and sustaining it, right in front of your eyes.

    Dwight Garner, The New York Times

    Strayed’s language is so vivid, sharp and compelling that you feel the heat of the desert, the frigid ice of the High Sierra, and the breathtaking power of one remarkable woman finding her way—and herself—one brave step at a time.

    People (starred review)

    An addictive, gorgeous book that not only entertains, but leaves us the better for having read it. . . . Strayed is a formidable talent.

    The Boston Globe

    Spectacular. Wild is at once a breathtaking adventure tale and a profound meditation on the nature of grief and survival...Strayed’s load is both literal and metaphorical—so heavy that she staggers beneath its weight. Often when narratives are structured in parallel arcs, the two stories compete and one dominates. But in Wild, the two tales Strayed tells, of her difficult past and challenging present, are delivered in perfect balance. Rather, it started out as an experience that was lived, digested and deeply understood.

    The New York Times Book Review

    A rich, riveting true story...Reading her matter-of-fact take on love and grief and the soul-saving quality of a Snapple lemonade, you can understand why Strayed has earned a cult following as the author of Dear Sugar, a popular advice column on its vivid descriptions of beautiful but unforgiving terrain, Wild is a cinematic story...Our verdict: A.

    Entertainment Weekly

    One of the most original, heartbreaking and beautiful American memoirs in years...The unlikely journey is awe-inspiring, but it’s one of the least remarkable things about the book. Strayed, who was recently revealed as the anonymous author of the Dear Sugar advice column of the literary website The Rumpus, writes with stunningly authentic emotional resonance—Wild is brutal and touching in equal measures, but there’s nothing forced about it. She chronicles sorrow and loss with unflinching honesty, but without artifice or self-pity.

    NPR Books
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