It’s been quite a while since I’ve had a new book review to post, but I’m thrilled to share today’s review of Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. Let’s not talk about HOW BEHIND I am on my 50 books for the year–this will be book 37, so I’m about six books behind. Anyways, let’s focus on the positives–I have finished a book, and an awesome one, at that!
I’ve heard a lot about this classic book on writing by Anne Lamott, but I’ve never gotten around to reading it until now. Many months ago Audible was running a special on audiobooks, and this was one that I downloaded and promptly forgot about. How glad I am that I began listening to it this month–so glad, in fact, that I went right out and bought a hard copy so I could make notes and keep it on my desk.
Lamott’s book feels like a mix between a coffee date with an old friend and a master class with a great writer. Listening to it in the car and while I got ready for work only helped increase this feeling. The problem was I often listened to it in places where I couldn’t stop and write down all of the amazing insight Lamott has to offer!
What I enjoyed most about this book is how Lamott takes the classic chapters you’d find in any “how-to” book on writing and makes them witty, personal, irreverent, and often hilarious. Open up any creative writing textbook and you’ll find chapters on plot, character, dialogue, and theme. Open Lamott’s book and you’ll find a personal explanation of her own deeply-held beliefs about those elements of writing, and her own insight on how to make those elements work for you.
If you are a writer or if the art of writing interests you, don’t miss this classic. I know this will join Flannery O’Connor’s Mystery and Manners as one of my all-time favorite writing guides.
To end the post, I’ll just share this perfect passage from the end of Bird by Bird:
Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again. It’s like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can’t stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship.