Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life – I would recommend Bird by Bird to anyone who writes, has written, aspires to write, or who doesn’t even have any particular plans to write anything but loves to read. This is a book, first and foremost, for readers. Especially readers who like to laugh. And like to be told stories. And like being reminded of how mysterious and funny and enormous life is. Each chapter is about some aspect of writing, which I think could be just as illuminating for those who who want a glimpse of what goes into the making of their favorite books as for those who write. And since, for Anne Lamott, writing and reading the world are also about living, the book lays out a life philosophy along the way. Wonder is big for her, and she wants writers to help us see things anew. “When this happens,” she says (as though she’s in the room talking to you), “everything feels more spacious. Try walking around with a child who’s going, ‘Wow, wow! Look at that dirty dog! Look at that burned-down house! Look at that red sky!’ And the child points and you look, and you see, and you start going, ‘Wow! Look at that huge crazy hedge! Look at that teeny little baby! Look at the scary dark cloud!’” Wow! Look at Anne Lamott! She’s a wonder-infuser.
Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith – Similar to Lamott’s book about writing, this book is about more than its ostensible subject (“faith” in this case). As in Bird by Bird, she’s writing about life—her own life, as this is memoir, but she manages to convey much about Life with a capital “L,” life as we all recognize it, at the same time. Lamott writes about what have been her particular challenges, from struggles with alcohol and drug abuse, and failed relationships; to the agonies of being a mother, a daughter, a friend; to the searing pain of losing two of her most beloved people. Each chapter is an essay that could stand on its own, and each of them illustrates that life, for Lamott, is about love, awe, and gratitude. That, as well as her abundant and often self-deprecating humor, is what makes her such good and comforting company. The San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle pays her this tribute: “Anne Lamott is walking proof that a person can be both reverent and irreverent in the same lifetime. Sometimes even in the same breath.”
Though we aren’t currently open and don’t have access to e-book copies of these titles, here are a couple of local bookstores where you can obtain physical copies: