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Motherhood Unstressed

Nov 22, 2021

In this episode of Motherhood Unstressed I am speaking with author and filmmaker Sasha Sagan about her new book "FOR SMALL CREATURES SUCH AS WE" which was inspired by her viral essay for The Cut, “Lessons of Immortality and Mortality From My Father, Carl Sagan”. Sagan is the daughter of late astronomer/author Carl Sagan and writer/producer Ann Druyan.

Some of the topics we discuss:

  • How becoming a mother prompted Sagan to tap into her secular upbringing in the hopes of finding a non-religious worldview to pass on to her child
  • The power of secular rituals to process and understand the passage of time
  • What it was like growing up as the daughter of Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan
  • Nurturing a childlike sense of wonder as an adult for greater perspective and happiness 


"Those questions, our place in the universe, reckoning with our own mortality, those deep philosophical questions about existence, there's just nothing that's more interesting to talk about, to wrestle with"

"So much of the book is a love letter to my parents... they both were comfortable with asking a question to which we do not know the answer and looking for evidence" 

"Everything we consider traditional is new on the scale of human I think there's a way to carve out the parts that are meaningful to us without feeling so beholden that we're in a position to go through the motions about things we don't really connect to" 


Get the Book: "For Small Creatures Such As We"

IG: @sashasagan





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About the Author:

Sasha Sagan has worked as a TV producer, filmmaker (she co-wrote and produced a film with best friend Kirsten Dunst, which was screened at Tribeca and closed Cannes in 2010), editor, writer, and speaker in New York, Boston, and London. Her essays and interviews on death, history, and ritual through a secular lens have appeared in New York Magazine, O Magazine, Lit Hub, Mashable, The Violet Book, and elsewhere. She regularly speaks on ways science can inform our celebrations and how we mark the passage of time.

FOR SMALL CREATURES SUCH AS WE is 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.


“Read her work; you’ll have a deeper appreciation for your every step, every bite, and every breath.”

Bill Nye, The Science Guy

“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. It's part memoir, part history, part reflection, and all a wonderful gift for your favorite reader.”

Good Housekeeping

“Wonderful. . . An elixir for people facing personal crises in a secular world.”

Wall Street Journal

“A look at life, the cosmos, and finding magic in our daily lives.”

New York Post

“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.”

—Boing Boing

“[Sagan's] view is wide in scope and she draws connections between many fields of science, history, and pop culture. She's not afraid to speculate about the future, including the future of humanity. Her poetic, engaging prose will resonate with many readers, as will her refreshingly breeze and open-minded approach. While some writers today dwell on threats to humanity as if an apocalypse is already upon us and all our children will live horrible lives, Sagan suggests that, regardless of what's to come, we should make the most of the little moments we have on our little corner of the pale blue dot.”

Undark Magazine

“A gorgeous collection of essays. . . Birth, anniversaries, fasting, atonement: She approaches these subjects with wonderment and a generous window into her extraordinary family history. . . Sagan writes with stunning clarity and absolute joy. . . For Small Creatures Such As We is a marvel. It dazzles and comforts while making us consider our own place in the vast universe.”


“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. . . [Sagan writes] 'We can be sure that our ancestors, all of our ancestors, contemplated Earth's place in the universe with awe.' For Small Creatures Such As We very much deserves to be read in the same way. . . A wondrous journey exploring how rituals and celebration connect to life's greater meaning.”

Shelf Awareness for Readers

 “Welcoming and tender. . . Charming and appealing, this thoughtful work serves as an uplifting, life-honoring celebration of human existence.”

Publishers Weekly