March 16, 2018

Looking Back - Bird by Bird

Looking Back... In an effort to transfer my book journal entries over to this blog, I'm going to attempt to post (in chronological order) an entry every Friday. I may or may not add extra commentary to what I jotted down in these journals.

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
1995 Anchor (first published January 1st 1994)
Finished in August 1997
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

"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.'"

With this basic instruction always in mind, Anne Lamott returns to offer us a new gift: a step-by-step guide on how to write and on how to manage the writer's life. From "Getting Started,' with "Short Assignments," through "Shitty First Drafts," "Character," "Plot," "Dialogue." all the way from "False Starts" to "How Do You Know When You're Done?" Lamott encourages, instructs, and inspires. She discusses "Writers Block," "Writing Groups," and "Publication." Bracingly honest, she is also one of the funniest people alive.

If you have ever wondered what it takes to be a writer, what it means to be a writer, what the contents of your school lunches said about what your parents were really like, this book is for you. From faith, love, and grace to pain, jealousy, and fear, Lamott insists that you keep your eyes open, and then shows you how to survive. And always, from the life of the artist she turns to the art of life.

My Original Notes (1997):

A very funny book! "Some instructions on writing life." I enjoyed it for the most part, especially when she talked about how to write about your family and history. I'm not interested in writing a novel for publication, however, Bird by Bird is still very enjoyable. Laugh out loud funny. Rod also read it and kept laughing. Makes me want to sit at my computer and write about my life.

My Current Thoughts:

This is one that I'd like to read again. I've read a few others of Lamott's and she can be a bit crass, but I like her messages. I'll have to remember this one when I'm in need of a good laugh.


  1. I've heard a lot about this book and would like to read it one day.

  2. I think the only Lamott book I've read is Traveling Mercies. Pretty sure it was with that afternoon book group at the library. Since she mostly writes non-fiction, she doesn't cross my path that often.

    1. Kay, I've read Traveling Mercies, too. Some of her essays are good and others leave me cold.

  3. It's been a while since I read this one. I got to hear Anne Lamott several years ago and she was a hoot.

    1. Iliana, I'll bet that was fun to hear Lamott in person! She can be a little offensive in her books, but I bet she's a great speaker.


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