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Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

by Anne Lamott

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8,568211692 (4.16)259
The author of five books, including the novels Hard Laughter, Rosie and Joe Jones, offers an "inspiring book about writing as a way of finding truth" (San Francisco Chronicle). "A reveille to get off our duffs and start writing now, while we still can".--Seattle Times. "Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he'd had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother's shoulder, and said, 'Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'"… (more)
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English (210)  Dutch (1)  All languages (211)
Showing 1-5 of 210 (next | show all)
A wonderful book of advice on life and writing. Lamott's words changed the way I view my writing growth as well as my personal struggles. Thank you for writing this book with such humility and good-humored faith, Lamott! ( )
  booksforbrunch | May 4, 2021 |
As good as, if not better than [book:On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft|10569]. I immediately purchased Lamott's second novel. ( )
  chrisvia | Apr 29, 2021 |
I have never wanted to be a writer and that has not changed. I read this book for an online book club and I am so glad I did! It was so much more than I expected. First it is laugh out loud funny, second it is filled with life lessons well beyond the writer's life. I read it on audio and the narrator's voice was inviting and soothing. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys reading and wants a little inspiration on how to accomplish hard tasks...bird by bird. ( )
  beebeereads | Apr 17, 2021 |
I read his book about twenty years ago as an inspiration, and as a guide to living well. The book is a guide for those people who want to have a kinder approach to themselves. Lamott addresses the voices we keep in our heads, telling us negative verbiage about our own short comings and mistakes in life. The book is truly appropriate in getting anyone back to, as Elton John would say,"still standing." Bird by Bird makes us each stronger, learning to believe in ourselves even if the outside world tends to let us down.

This year, I re-read the book as an author. It is f the most astute and thorough book about the craft of writing I have read. The questions it answers are related to the everyday commitment of writing, steadily attending to the craft of writing. The book is a must read for anyone, frustrated or not by rejection letters or self-criticism. I recommend it highly!

-Breton W Kaiser Taylor ( )
  Breton07 | Dec 29, 2020 |
Anne Lamott is delightful, resonating with with honesty, insight and humor. She is capital "W," Writer. It is her life's work and vocation. Her relationship with writing is complicated and messy, yet devoted - like a on again, off again love affair.

For me, someone who aspires to be a small "w" writer, it was both inspiring. Her main argument is this: that the process of writing itself makes the process worth it - it is a beautiful mix of introspection, pain, repulsion, and hopefully discovery and redemption, in its truest sense.

Few books have I laughed out loud at so much. Did I mention she's a delight? Highly recommended for Writers or aspiring writers and anyone else wanting to learn something about life. ( )
  nrt43 | Dec 29, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 210 (next | show all)
A gift to all of us mortals who write or ever wanted to write...sidesplittingly funny, patiently wise and alternately cranky and kind--a reveille to get off our duffs and start writing now, while we still can.
added by ArrowStead | editSeattle Times
 
Superb writing advice...hilarious, helpful and provocative.
added by ArrowStead | editNew York Times Book Review
 
A warm, generous, and hilarious guide through the writer's world and its treacherous swamps.
added by ArrowStead | editLos Angeles Times
 
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I grew up around a father and a mother who read every chance they got, who took us to the library every Thursday night to load up on books for the coming week.
Quotations
…getting all of one’s addictions under control is a little like putting an octopus to bed.
...perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor.
I understood immediately the thrill of seeing oneself in print. It provides some sort of primal verifications. You are; therefore you exist.
If you find that you start a number of stories or pieces that you don't even bother finishing, that you lose interest or faith in them along the way, it may be that there is nothing at their center about which you care passionately.
…if you are writing the clearest, truest words you can find and doing the best you can to understand and communicate, this will shine on paper like its own little lighthouse.”
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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The author of five books, including the novels Hard Laughter, Rosie and Joe Jones, offers an "inspiring book about writing as a way of finding truth" (San Francisco Chronicle). "A reveille to get off our duffs and start writing now, while we still can".--Seattle Times. "Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he'd had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother's shoulder, and said, 'Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'"

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I found this book in a library after my life fell apart one rainy day in California. I thought the writing was so clean and simple and straight forward and funny that I almost cried with happiness. Telling the truth is really hard, but writing the truth is almost impossible. After that day, I went back to college for a few decades...so glad I did.
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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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