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


This is probably one of the top 5 most well received books on writing and I feel kind of harsh giving it 3 stars. So I think I'll start off with the cons so I can finish on the pros.

One of the things that immediately jumps out at me is that Lamott has a tendency to be a bit arrogant. All throughout the book it felt like she was saying that her way was the one true way to write. Many ideas such as index cards and her religious devotion were simply not ideas I could get behind. The book is often described as hilarious but other than a good chuckle when, near the start of the book, Lamott finds out her father writes porn, I rarely found myself smiling.

Some of this I suppose COULD be down to the fact that the book was published in 1994 and that there were simply some out-dated references that just flew over my head. For example I've never heard of the 'joke' about the woman mauled by a gorilla...

Lamott also mentions that on the release day of her book, she basically did nothing but drink and wait for her phone to ring. I don't know many authors that literally just laze around on release day. Although, this is certainly a case that social media simply wasn't a thing for Lamott and authors back then were probably not expected to do any sort of marketing.

That being said, there IS a LOT of good writing advice in the book. It wouldn't be so popular if there wasn't. And despite what I said about Lamotts one way of writing, she does implore the reader to not just try writing like (Insert any famous author here) and instead try to find their own voice. Lamotts outlook on writing and the alcoholic/binge eating depression she went through while writing may have been dark, but it's an honest breath of fresh air.

Like this entire review, the end of the book starts to feel drawn out and rambly, and I'll admit I was just skimming the final 5-10 pages, but that shouldn't take away from the fact that overall this book is filled with good writing/life advice.