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on February 1, 2017
The last five years or so, maybe, I’ve made it a point to begin the year with a book by Anne Lamott, maybe it’s become like reading holiday stories around the holidays, something to hopefully remind me, us, of what is important other than the list of people to buy gifts for. Anne Lamott’s words remind me of what is important beyond all the hoopla of the daily ins and outs of living, traffic jams or last minute runs to the grocery store or even walking the dog. Dogs in my case. This year, more than maybe more than others, I really wanted to find a way to make sense of some things that really boggle my mind.

As I read through this, not unusual lately, politics were on my mind a lot – if you’ve read Anne Lamott’s books or even other reviews of almost any of her books, you’ll find at least one review, it seems, where someone complains about her political leanings. More to the point, her dislike of George W. Bush. So through much of this I was thinking both about how reviews for this must include some comments to the effect of how someone wishes she’d stop talking about GWB and all I kept thinking was how I figured Anne Lamott must be in a tizzy over the latest office holder.

So, yes, she does mention politics, ecology, the things you’d expect from her, how she tries, and sometimes fails, to incorporate her faith in her everyday life, her son. The rebellious teenage years that wear one down. It’s been ten years since she wrote Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith, she’s older, she talks about the toll of age on her body, the toll of being a parent, the indignation of getting a ticket for her dog being off-leash. Some are just rants, like she’s called you in a moment where she feels momentarily as though her world is coming apart, but needs to get this off her chest to feel so she can examine why she feels this way.

I seem to hang on to my hates because they help take my mind off the cracked reflection in the mirror.

It’s that willingness to be so raw and real but still charming in her awful behavior that keeps me reading her books every year. To share these stories, these feelings with the world, to transform that into something on the page that is sometimes amusing, but always true and honest and beautiful.

I am really looking forward to her soon-to-be-published Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy which is scheduled to be published in a few months.
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on March 13, 2015
A truly witty disclosure of the author's journey through life with all its ups and downs. She is not afraid to let us see the reality of who she is with a sometimes wry humor about her experiences throughout her life. In the end, one sees that she and all of us go through life making mistakes, some greater than others, while surviving and learning and going on to become someone with grace and love for herself and her fellow travelers in this world. She shows us that being human is nothing to be ashamed of, rather we can celebrate that humanity by appreciating and accepting it in those we meet in our own journey. We are all flawed yet we can rise above our mistakes and help each other to be what we are ultimately meant to be -loving, caring, and the one we have been brought into this life to be.
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on October 5, 2013
This "self-help" ish book is just charming and lovely. I have read some of her novels and I like her style of writing there, but her creative non-fiction books are the best. I've kept this one on my shelf and returned to it time and again, just like Bird by Bird. I recommended her to anyone in my book clubs too.
I struggle with my faith (raised Christian, but been in long term relationships with people of other religions) and I find that this book reaffirms my feelings on faith vs. a church family. Annie Lamott gives me hope.
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I love Anne Lamott, she was my favorite discovery of 2014. That said, I read five of her books and this was my least favorite. Some of the stories get repeated. It's okay, because she's awesome, but this felt a bit preachy to me and I felt a bit uncomfortable at times. I lover her wit and sincerity however, and would love to chat with her.

Bird by Bird is my favorite of hers by far.
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on May 27, 2008
no question, i'm an annie lamott fan. more specifically, i'm a fan of anne lamott's non-fiction. i've tried her fiction, and continue to find it ok, but not brilliant. but her non-fiction: ooh.

traveling mercies, lamott's first autobiographical book about faith, remains in my top 5 books of all time (not that i actually maintain such a list; but if i did, it would be). and operating instructions, lamott's autobiographical reflections on her pregnancy and the first couple years of her son's life, should be suggested reading for all humans, and required reading for all parents (especially expectant parents). lamott's last non-fiction, plan b, was a bit of a let-down. i really wanted to love it. so i found myself loving parts.

but, other than a horribly repetitive titling and cover treatment (and, really, that's more of a publisher's gaffe than a reason to wag my finger at anne lamott), grace (eventually) brings us back nearly to traveling mercies (notice i say "nearly"). yes, some have complained that this book is another collection of mostly already-published essays. i say: i don't care. they're great; they hold together; and i hadn't read them elsewhere anyhow.

why do i love lamott's writing so much? well, i can't deny the fact that she makes me laugh out loud. and they're not those "slowly creep up on you laughs" that move from smile to tiny "huh" sound to low chuckle to pleasant and appropriate laugh. no: my occasional laughter while reading anne lamott is more the out-of-the-blue cackle, one that surprises me as much as it would anyone within painful earshot.

reason two for loving anne lamott's non-fiction: she is unevenly insightful. what i mean is, there are moments when i'm reading, and i have to stop and breathe for a moment, and think about the profundity of what i've just read. and then there are lots of moments in-between those moments that aren't so insightful. but here's the thing -- the uneven-ness of the insighfulness somehow works. it's almost as if it creates a reading culture where the insights catch me off guard that much more. i'm always hopeful of stumbling onto them, but never quite expecting them when they appear.

reason three for loving anne lamott's non-fiction: there are books -- maybe 1 in 30 books i read, where the very act of reading is joy. the choice of words, the structure of sentences, the odd metaphor, they leave me smiling or astonished. christopher moore writes this way. anne lamott writes this way.
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on December 3, 2015
I love Anne Lamott. Simple, funny, deeply spiritual writing for a world where sound-bites have become the norm. It's unique and original thinking of the sort that gives the burnt-out formerly religious food for thought, and no excuses for knee-jerk reactions.
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VINE VOICEon December 26, 2009
My first impression was Anne Lamott's easygoing, easily understandable yet wonderfully and thankfully unannoying writing style, but what on earth is it about book covers with iconic (without a doubt) white (or thereabouts) clapboard church buildings plunked down and settled in amidst verdant Midwestern or New English (doubtless) shade trees? Is there any other possibility?

At first I thought this is kind of coolly about real life, but next I thought, "I think I'm just as clever, brave, honest, mellow (no, not that one yet), wise and perceptive as Ann(i)e Lamott, and I'd love to be published between covers rather than just on a blog screen, too." A week ago, when I read half the book (picking and choosing the next chapter according to how intriguing the title seemed), I kept thinking, "we all are not all that f***ed up, are we? She so seems to be into total depravity! It will take the world 1,000 years to recover from GWB? I thought this book was about grace!" But the further I got, the more I knew she was writing about me, and with such credibility: not only is it an actual printed hard-copy (because after all, so is the National Enquirer), but it's a bound book by a non-sensational author. That rocks!

A person cannot be fully human without the interwoven fabric of connectiveness, belongingness, participation, recognition and acknowledgement. Because it's real and alive, it can be torn, tattered, ripped apart, rewoven, mended and appended to other pieces (remnants) of cloth. Call it "being networked!" In the first paragraph of Wailing Wall the author writes, (page 25) "You say that we don't have to live alone with out worries and losses, that all the people in their tide pool will be there for them. You say that it totally sucks, and that grace abounds." That sounds a whole lot like a whole lot of my own writing, teaching and preaching, but where is the community with that promise for me?

"Near the Lagoon, 2004" (in the "Forgiveness" section of the book) is about the writer's return to the scene of her earlier life after a long time away. From page 141: "I almost immediately got a Twilight Zone feeling. First, I was going back to the place from which I had fled, and that is usually a signal to me that something mythical is in the works. And second, instantly a hobgoblin of a man appeared in our path...He asked...'Do you know where you are going?'" And in Ski Patrol, on pages 18-19, toward the book's beginning, Annie Lamott asserts "...God always hears our cries, and helps, and it's always a surprise to see what form God will take on earth..." Amen, amen!

Despite the immense varieties of human experiences, my best guess is most people have had or eventually will have similar experiences to Annie Lamott's and even experiences not dissimilar to mine. Take a trip through this book and remember some of the stories; I predict they'll do well by you and for you!
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on June 7, 2016
Love this book. Love all her books. Love Anne Lamott. Read them over and over. Inspire and comfort and make you laugh out loud and glad to be a human with other humans who are trying to be loving and caring.
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on April 17, 2018
Anne's books are always delightful.
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on May 2, 2018
I love her books.
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