Sunday, September 11, 2011

A wonderful little book, reviewed

I've been away all weekend, but before I do any kind of recap I want to write about the book I just finished in the car. I love it. It's my new favorite, and not just because it's the latest thing I've read and everything is always my new favorite. Okay, maybe.

But I liked it and maybe somebody else might too.

Or maybe you're just indulging me talking about things I like all the time, in which case we're still cool.


Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

Bird by Bird?  What a weird name.  That kind of kept me from reading this for a while. Really.  I know that's not any kind of reason.  But I can say this book surpassed its strange name.  Why does that name sound like some kind of strange children's chant?  Moving on...

This is a book about writing, but it's not a textbook or a manual.  It's a book about writing that's told in little vignettes from the author's life.  It's good writing about writing.  It's good writing about life.  I feel like the fact that's it is about writing will make most people not want to read it, but I think it's full of interesting little bits of humor that would be enjoyable for anybody.  And really, it's about being yourself and finding your own thing whether it be art of writing or music or dance or whatever and learning to navigate the tightrope that is needing to express yourself while hovering over fear, doubt, criticism and potential failure.

This was a reassuring book.  It's written for people who (I think) have never given thought to the actual process much beyond getting published.  One thing I think has strengthened me as a writer has been blogging--little assignments for myself every day--and work toward just improving my writing for the sake of improving it.  Lamott recommends something similar.  I don't have a goal about publishing, but I was happy to see that she focuses on other ways that writing can be a good thing--whether it's for the writer or the one who the writer writes for.  I liked that she talked about writing being a gift that you can give to others.  That is definitely how I see it.

On a practical note, there are a lot of things I can take away from this book.  There's lots of concrete advice that I'm sure I could write down and use in my daily efforts at writing words that make sense and make me and/or others feel good.

I totally enjoyed this book.  It did not feel like work to read it--it was the most delicious kind of reading that feels like sitting down to a cup of coffee with a friend.  I am definitely adding Lamott's Traveling Mercies to my Wish List.

My recommendation: A great read for writers or anyone who wants to create.  This is a good one.

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