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Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair Hardcover – October 29, 2013

4.4 out of 5 stars 414 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In her latest whirling, fuming, blunt, wise, and funny book of homilies, following the best-selling Help, Thanks, Wow (2012), Lamott combines exasperation and sorrow over perpetual and universal suffering with a stubborn belief in the possibility of meaning, solace, and mending. She asks how we can even begin to seek coherence when children are massacred in their schools and polar bears are “floating out to sea on scraps of ice.” All we can do is what needs to be done. We clean up oil spills, rebuild after catastrophes, care for the sick, serve food, and wash floors. Lamott connects the epic to the ordinary and observes, “We live stitch by stitch, when we’re lucky.” As she tells charmingly self-mocking yet laser-sharp stories from her patchwork life of spiritual inquiry—one about a blouse she inherited from a friend who died too young, another about a creatively repaired curtain—sewing and darning become metaphors for accepting life’s cycles of joy and loss, and for taking care of each other and the world. Lamott’s larky yet shrewd needle-and-thread spirituality is realistic and renewing. --Donna Seaman


Praise for Stitches

“Lamott’s pithiest, most insightful book yet, Stitches offers plenty of her characteristic witty wisdom…this slim, readable volume [is] a lens on life, widening and narrowing, encouraging each reader to reflect on what it is, after all, that really matters.”

“Laced with stories, full of faith…a hopeful [book].”
Minneapolis Star Tribune

“The wickedly witty and very funny Lamott…makes you laugh at the same time she makes you think. This collection of moments, memories and spiritual insights is one of her best.”
Denver Post

“Like a warming, hearty sip of soup after a day out in the cold or a candid letter from a friend.”
New York Daily News

“[Stitches] brings the beloved author's trademark compassion, wisdom and tart wit to the question of how to deal with suffering and loss, both public and personal.”
Tampa Bay Times

“Whirling, fuming, blunt, wise, and funny…Lamott’s larky yet shrewd needle-and-thread spirituality is realistic and renewing.”

“Vintage Lamott: funny, brilliantly self-deprecating, and insightful.”
Publishers Weekly

“Anne’s thoughts on human loss and brokenness are served with slices of quirky humor, wisdom and spiritual insight that pulls readers in and won’t let them go.”

Praise for Help, Thanks, Wow

“Charmingly irreverent.”
More magazine

“Filled with Lamott’s unique brand of humor, wisdom, and profound spiritual insight . . . She has a gift for putting into words what it means to accept and ultimately embrace the beauty, mystery, and pain that is life.”
San Antonio Express-News

“Prayer is a topic that can quickly turn treacly, but the reader needn’t fear that in Lamott’s irreverent hands.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Practical and poetic advice on prayer.”
The Oregonian 

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Books; First Edition edition (October 29, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594632588
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594632587
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (414 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,623 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Anne Lamott is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Grace (Eventually), Plan B, Traveling Mercies, and Operating Instructions, as well as seven novels, including Rosie and Crooked Little Heart. She is a past recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair" is the perfect follow-up to Anne Lamott's wonderful "Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers."

In "Stitches," Lamott explores how we can piece our lives back together and keep going when life hands us--both as individuals and society--difficult or tragic circumstances. "You have to keep taking the next necessary stitch, and the next one, and the next. Without stitches, you just have rags. And we are not rags," Lamott writes."We live stitch by stitch, when we're lucky. If you fixate on the whole shebang, you miss the stitching."

As is her trademark, Lamott's outlook on life ("Beauty is a miracle of things going together imperfectly") and her sense of humor ("I love ritual and repetition. Without them I would be a balloon with a slow leak) are incredibly refreshing in "Stitches." Her familiar themes of hope, faith, grace, and spirituality run throughout the book, and I love that.

"Help, Thanks, Wow" helped get me through a difficult time in my life (my son's addiction). As "Stitches" arrives, I am going through another challenge involving the loss of my job and a possible career change. I think maybe Anne Lamott knows when I need a new book to help guide me through life. I am so happy "Stitches" has come when it has. This quote in particular resonated with me: "This is who I want to be in the world. This is who I think we are supposed to be, people who help call forth human beings from deep inside hopelessness."

I hope I can be that person. Thank you again, Anne Lamott. Your books are my owner's manuals for life.
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Format: Hardcover
It's hard for me to be completely honest about this latest work because I am so fond of Lamott's previous work and I don't want to be disrespectful to her oeuvre. So let's start with the positive. This is a short book and an easy read loaded with Lamott's characteristic engaging anecdotes and quirky perceptions of herself and situations. And for sure, she offers useable wisdom on looking at life after tragedy. (And now I tentatively wade into the critical) But assuming she gained this wisdom from life experience I worry it came at the cost of her previous verve. The author of Stitches is a very subdued Anne Lamott. Very little of the ranting, eccentric, neurotic Lamott of past books is evident in this work and I miss it. I have always enjoyed the jagged messiness of the author because it reminds me that Christians don't have to be sunny, optimistic, and reserved. But Stitches seems to be written by an author who is tired, calm, and looks back on her life as a neatly concluded movie. If nothing else, the coarseness of Lamott's brutally honest self-reflection and unabashed suspicion of God's performance has been polished away in Stitches.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I urge you to read this wonderful book, filled with Anne Lamott's wisdom and advice on "collecting the ripped shreds of our emotional and spiritual fabric" and how to "sew them back together, one stitch at a time." While there are indeed descriptions of sewing and quilting woven throughout the book, there is also so much more. She even shares her perspective on the horror of the Newtown shootings.

Lamott doesn't gloss over hard truths. She acknowledges that life can sometimes be so painful that it seems unbearable. It can be incredibly difficult to search for even a tiny shred of meaning in the midst of emotional and physical chaos. I admire such honesty, the kind that pulls no punches but also sheds light on ways to survive even the hardest times, finding ways back to joy.

I also savored the details about how she - and some of those she knew- struggled to hold the "fabric" of their lives together amid great challenges. Sometimes comfort comes from special possessions. Lamott clings to the shirt of a beloved friend who died, even as it becomes worn and threadbare, afraid that losing the shirt will threaten her memories of their friendship. A friend helps her find an unorthodox way to salvage cherished curtains torn by her dog, leading to new insights about the beauty of imperfection, both in the patched curtains and in life.

I was deeply moved by her description of a couple, married for forty years, being torn apart "like a strip of old cloth" in the wake of the husband's faltering mind. Lamott doesn't shy away from the pain of such moments but also shares moments of hope, comfort, and humor. Her previous book focused primarily on prayer, faith, and gratitude. This time around she has written one which is "intended to be useful on the bad days." For me, it is that and more, with a depth and power that has me convinced I'll be revisiting this one for years to come.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you like an approach to spirituality that is big-hearted, nonjudgmental, fun, joyous, smart, active, non-priggish and inclusive, welcome to Anne Lamott's books. You may wish she were your Sunday School teacher. I once thought that it's hard to get smart, spiritual and funny in a combination. Lamott serves it up.

This slim handbook of 98 pages on meaning, hope and repair is a follow-up to Lamott's previous book HELP, THANKS, WOW: The Three Essential Prayers. This book opens with the concept that "life holds beauty, magic and anguish". It tells you what you can do during the anguish. When our life is on track - having love, family, work - it's easier to cope with the anguish Lamott tells us.

But what do we do when our lives are off track, and we stumble upon evil, sadness, illness or death? What do you do on the really bad days during an extended rough time? Lamott sketches out some simple and deep concepts that have worked for her and those she has known. One concept inspired the title of this book and that's to keep stitching, take those next small steps which keep you going. They may be daily rituals like a walk around the neighborhood or a meal with a friend who listens well.

Some of Lamott's writing in this book which jumped off the pages for me - you will enjoy finding your own inspiration:

* "Oh, honey, buckle up, it gets worse."

* "We live stitch by stitch, when we're lucky."

* "My brothers and I were not encouraged to search for God, the obvious source of solace, but we three kids were led to the world of books, which to us was just as good. We found in books the divine plop, the joy of settling down deeply into something, worlds and realities greater than our own troubled minds.
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