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Publisher's Summary

An essential volume for generations of writers young and old, Bird by Bird is a modern classic. This 25th anniversary edition will continue to spark creative minds for years to come.  

For a quarter century, more than a million readers and listeners - scribes and scribblers of all ages and abilities - have been inspired by Anne Lamott’s hilarious, bighearted, homespun advice. Advice that begins with the simple words of wisdom passed down from Anne’s father - also a writer - in the iconic passage that gives the book its title: 

“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.’”

©2019 Anne Lamott (P)2019 Random House Audio

What the critics say

"Superb writing advice...hilarious, helpful and provocative." (New York Times Book Review)

"A warm, generous and hilarious guide through the writer's world and its  treacherous swamps." (Los Angeles  Times

"A gift to all of  us mortals who write or ever wanted to write...sidesplittingly funny, patiently wise, and alternately cranky and kind - a reveille to get off our duffs and start writing now, while we still can." (Seattle Times)

What listeners say about Bird by Bird

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Excellent and inspiring

An inspiring and excellent book! The stories are vivid and the advice great for writers! Would absolutely would recommend to anyone.

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  • Yani Chen
  • 2020-03-10

Rhythm of Writing

There is something about her writing. Weeks after finishing this title, all I can remember is the rhythm of words. “Still, I believe in lists and I believe in taking notes, and I believe in index cards for doing both. … I actually have one writer friend—whom I think I will probably be getting rid of soon—who said to me recently that if you don’t remember it when you get home, it probably wasn’t that important. And I felt eight years old again, with something important to say that had suddenly hopped down one of the rabbit holes in my mind, while an adult nearby was saying priggishly, ‘Well! It must not have been very important then.’” Like this small excerpt, funny, sensitive, and most encouraging.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2021-03-10

Want to know what writing is like?

A book by a writer for writers about writing.. Can not go past this definition.

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  • Robert Jason
  • 2020-06-17

Essenital for every writer

"Bird By Bird" isn't about the craft of writing as much as it as about what it means (and what it takes) to be a writer. Lamott doesn't walk you through adverbs, structure, language, or any other essentials writers must have in their toolboxes. If you want someone to sit down, and talk to you about the technicals of writing for six-plus hours, this is not the book for you. And, that is why I LOVED it.

Instead, Lamott shares truths about the shared experience of writing and being a writer. Throughout, she seeks to reassure the wary would-be writer that what they're feeling, thinking, and/or experiencing is 100% normal. Lamott talks candidly about her own career, personal life, and inspirations (and let downs) that it's easy to relate to her experiences. She's accessible and sympathetic to her fellow writers. And, Lamott never talks down to her listeners/readers.

This book will give some amazing insights into how to write, but it will not teach you how to do it. Instead, it offers something more unique and far more valuable in my opinion; and that is the discovery of what it really means to label yourself a "writer".

A must-read.

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  • Monica
  • 2020-06-01

A Must-Read for Writers

Super fun to listen to and laugh at yourself while laughing with/at the author about the struggles of being and trying to be a writer. Valuable insights and reminders of what you’re trying to do, why you’re doing it and how to keep doing it. I loved it!

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2020-01-22

Must read for new writers.

Intelligent, practical, quirky and at times dark and funny. if you are starting to write its entertaing as well.

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  • Tom & Rachel Ridge
  • 2021-03-31

Wonderful narrator

I’ve read the book Bird by Bird a few times already, but wanted to listen to the audio version as I embark on a new writing project. Susan Bennett’s narration was just perfect: great pacing and expression that made listening a delight. Anne Lamott’s book is a treasure and Bennett’s voice really brought it to life. Rachel Ridge

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2021-03-15

I couldn't finish

Writer assumes listener will have the same feelings as she does by making much of the narrative in second person. It is exhausting to listen to all these neurotic insecurities she assumes everyone has, and I couldn't relate to the "you will sit down and this and that will go threw your head." Had she told the story as her own, I would have been able to find the relatable bits and pieces and take an interest in contrasting view point. Unfortunately, I couldn't finish the book.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2021-02-26

for aspiring writers

I enjoyed listening to this book!
It made me think deeply about what truly matters when it comes to the translation of thoughts on to paper.

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  • S.T.
  • 2021-02-24

Witty, valuable and excellent narration

Witty, valuable and the best narration I've come across as of yet. Well done.

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  • Chandler Simms
  • 2021-02-06

Great insights!

The author is very honest and made me feel much less insecure with myself by revealing their own self doubts

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  • Thomas D. Reader
  • 2020-01-15

This book will upend your life.

I am an avid reader of storytelling books. By writers, critics, publishers, or people who tricked me into believing they happened to find something about writing without participating in it. Some people do. Probably.

This book is the brightest most sensitive and intelligent book I have ever read on the subject. It makes you feel understood and lifts your spirit without lying to you or making you believe there is any easy way. It gives wonderful practical advice, even though it isn’t its primary purpose or quality.

Ann Lamott deepened my understanding of writing and what it’s like being a writer. I read this book three times and the rendition by Susan Bennett is absolutely excellent.