Reviews

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott

jessgaroutte's review against another edition

Go to review page

5.0

I absolutely devoured this book. I read this book to tick off a reading prompt for Pop Sugars 2020 reading challenge, and ended up falling head over heels for it. I do this thing where I prefer to read a book without knowing anything about it. I googled my prompt, this book showed up and I read it. That was my big research, and you know what, 8 times out of 10 it turns out pretty well, but this time I feel like I hit a home run. Not only did I get a couple good belly laughs out of this author's hilarious sense of humor, but it inspired me, at least for the moment, to start back up on my great American novel. I don't know how anyone can sit there and read this book and give it anything less than 5 stars, especially if they knew what they were getting themselves into. My guess is that they were upset that the author did not believe that getting published was the cure to what woes them.

loper100's review against another edition

Go to review page

5.0

An essential volume for anyone who wants to be a writer. It provides important insights and hilarious commentary on every part of the writers life.

nrossi23's review against another edition

Go to review page

5.0

beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. anne lamott perfectly and hilariously works through the every single conceivable triumph and trial any writer can go through, seemingly. you can tell she’s a teacher from the way she so perfectly walks through the steps of both one’s journey through life and through writing. you can also tell that she’s a student from her humble and present enthusiasm all throughout the book. a must-read for artists of any kind, in my opinion.

amandagstevens's review against another edition

Go to review page

3.0

Yikes, I'm a writer outlier on this one. I hadn't read Lamott before, so I was unprepared for her voice. The hyperbolic sarcasm and witty meanness aren't a perspective I can relate to or enjoy, but for those writers with a different sense of humor than my own, I'm sure this is an encouraging classic.

bookfairy99's review against another edition

Go to review page

5.0

Fantastic insights and advice on the writing life. Lamott has a breezy voice, filled with humor and a healthy dose of sarcasm. She doesn't sugarcoat the tougher aspects of embarking upon a writing career, and she makes it clear from the beginning that the goal of publication is not the fabulous end-all-and-be-all so many people make it out to be. Writing is its own reward even when it's painful, frustrating and just damned hard. Lamott never lets us forget that. (A)

morgan_leigh_meredith's review against another edition

Go to review page

5.0

Most perfect book ever written.

panda_incognito's review against another edition

Go to review page

2.0

This book covers extremely basic writing advice with a side of vulgarity and constant foul language. When I was near the end of the book, I considered lowering my rating to one star, since Lamott makes THE SAME JOKE about male sexual anatomy THREE TIMES in as many pages, but this is a two-star book for me overall.

Lamott shares some great advice for beginning writers, but almost nothing that she said was new to me. Occasionally, she had just the right turn of phrase to express something familiar in an immediate, relatable, and funny way, but a lot of the time, she was just mouthing off about her quirky life and the quirky people in it, telling long-winded personal stories to illustrate very basic concepts like "write with passion" and "write regularly."

This is a self-indulgent memoir more often than not, and even though I can see why it would be useful and encouraging to a beginning writer, I got very tired of Lamott's vulgarity, her repeated mocking of people of committed faith, her constant portrayal of alcohol abuse as a cute, relatable trait, and her unending references to how jealous she is of other writers. Her declarations about disliking people who are successful grated on me, because even though it is important to be honest about our faults, Lamott was celebrating hers.

The first few times that she mentioned her jealousy and insecurity, I thought, "Oh, good, she's being vulnerable and honest, showing people that even published writers struggle in these ways." However, after she had said for the umpteenth time that she just HATES people who find their writing easy, and of course no one can STAND people who make a lot of money with their work, I was like, "Oh, I see. She thinks that jealousy is a charming vice to feed, pet, and show off at parties."

I was also extremely unimpressed with several of her stories about dealing with personal critique, rejection in the publishing world, and bad reviews. Her response to all of these things was to temporarily or permanently hate the people involved, even if they were her friends, drink, and wallow in misery. Again, she's being honest, but she keeps repeating all of this as if it is inevitable, insurmountable, and charming.

The only thing I learned from this book was how much I don't like Anne Lamott, wouldn't want to hang out with her, and wouldn't want to be friends with someone like her. I enjoyed some of her more moving and meaningful personal stories, and she occasionally expresses advice in creative ways, but this book is mostly just a celebration of how quirky, irresponsible, jealous, alcoholic, and did I mention QUIRKY?? she is.

However, my distaste for this book is ultimately a personality and belief system experience. Plenty of people will like this and find this helpful, and I wouldn't discourage someone from reading it if the things I described above wouldn't bother them. However, I still wouldn't recommend this, and I won't ever read it again.

steph_geneie's review

Go to review page

hopeful informative medium-paced

3.75

minimalist_coach's review against another edition

Go to review page

4.0

Although I’m not trying to write a book I got a lot out of this book. Most of us have to write in some form and her insights can help with a variety of writing projects. I listened to the book and found it moved quickly and felt friendly.

aivhe's review against another edition

Go to review page

5.0

“Perfectionism means that you try desperately not to leave so much mess to clean up. But clutter and mess show us that life is being lived.”

A practical approach on writing. It taught me to appreciate the process more than anything else. Short Assignments, Shitty First Drafts, Polaroids, Broccoli, Jealousy, Index Cards, Letters. I made a lot of notes from this book that I will probably look into from time to time as I write new pieces. It’s a good reminder on why we write in the first place. How it do us good (only if you’re telling the truth and with compassion) and how we can pass it on to others as a gift.