Monday, October 8, 2012

Friday Reads, Monday Edition: Bird By Bird

I spent the weekend tucked away in the mountains of Idaho at the SCBWI Utah/S. Idaho's Novel Revision Retreat (I'll attempt to blog about that later this week/month, but don't hold your breath--I spent a good chunk of the time doing dishes and driving people around), so this Friday Reads is coming to you a few days late.  And since writing was on my mind this weekend, I figured I'd share a non-fiction title our faculty member, Senior Editor Kendra Levin from Viking Children's Books mentioned as one that speaks to her.  It spoke to me when I read it for the first time years ago.  I hope it speaks to you, too.

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

For: Adults

Genre: Non-fiction, Writing,

Published: 1995

Description from Barnes and Noble: Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird is an inspiring and humorous look at the spirituality and sometimes dull reality of writing and the writing life. Lamott offers practical and honest suggestions on how to beat writer's block, find inspiration, or tackle a project that seems overwhelming, all of it wrapped in her warm and often hilarious viewpoint. With lessons in craft, art, and even life, having Bird by Bird on the shelf is like having a fellow writer and friend on hand for whenever you need motivation, inspiration, or even just a chuckle or two.

Why I Liked It: There are times when writers need  more than practical tips about craft.  This book left me inspired to keep pursuing the writing life.  Though the tips are amazing as well, it was the pep talk from Anne that gave me the courage and determination to keep going at a time when things in my own writing life looked bleak.

From the book: "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.'"

Priceless advice, and only one of the gems hidden in this book.  You'll have to take the info in this book bird by bird, I must say.  You might as well buy a copy now, because you'll keep coming back to it again and again.

Do you have any other books about writing that you like?  I have a list of favorites, of course, but I'd love to hear about yours.  Leave me a comment if you have a title to share.

And happy weekend weekday reading!


  1. One of those funny synchronicities... I read Bird by Bird years ago. Then read it again, only selected chapters, about three years ago.
    *Last Night* I picked it up again, to read certain chapters. It’s by my bedside now.
    Bird by Bird is both a writer's friend and inspiration. Some mistake it for a manual. I think it's closer to a pep-talk, and those can be read again, as needed.

    1. I've always said that great minds do think alike. ;) I think it's a pep-talk, too, and not a manual.

  2. I've heard a lot of really great things about this book!

    I just posted about my favorite craft book, too. :) It's SAVE THE CAT. I love it!

    1. I haven't read SAVE THE CAT yet! Now I'm going to have to pick it up and see what's inside the pages!

      Though I do like that our two craft books have animals in the title. ;)