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Islington Branch Book Club - Past Titles: "Bird by Bird" by Anne Lamott

Take a look through previous titles we've discussed at our Islington Branch Book Club

"Bird by Bird" by Anne Lamott

  1. **What does the metaphor "bird by bird" mean in the context of the book, and how does it relate to the process of writing and life in general?

  2. **Lamott emphasizes the importance of writing shitty first drafts. How has this perspective changed your approach to writing, and do you find it applicable to other aspects of life?

  3. **The author shares personal anecdotes and stories throughout the book. How does Lamott's storytelling style enhance the book's message and make it more relatable?

  4. **In the chapter on "Perfectionism," Lamott discusses the challenges of perfectionism in writing and life. How have you personally grappled with perfectionism, and what strategies resonate with you for overcoming it?

  5. **The concept of "shitty first drafts" and the need for persistence are recurring themes. How do these ideas apply beyond writing, and in what areas of your life can you adopt a similar mindset?

  6. **Anne Lamott touches on the role of empathy in writing and life. How can cultivating empathy enhance both our writing skills and our relationships with others?

  7. **The book addresses the importance of finding one's voice as a writer. How do you interpret this concept, and how have you worked towards finding your own voice in your creative endeavors?

  8. **Lamott discusses the role of community and feedback in the writing process. How has sharing your work with others influenced your writing, and what benefits do you see in collaborative creative processes?

  9. **The author explores the theme of faith and spirituality in writing. How does faith, whether in a religious or broader sense, play a role in the creative process for you?

  10. **In the chapter "Radio Station KFKD," Lamott talks about the inner critical voices. How do you deal with your own inner critic, and what strategies does the author suggest for quieting those negative voices?

Anne Lamott is an American author and writing instructor known for her insightful and humorous observations on life and writing. Here is a brief biography of Anne Lamott:

Early Life:

  • Anne Lamott was born on April 10, 1954, in San Francisco, California, USA.
  • She comes from a literary background; her father, Kenneth Lamott, was also a writer.


  • Lamott attended Drew School in San Francisco.
  • She later studied at Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland.

Writing Career:

  • Anne Lamott began her writing career as a nonfiction author, addressing topics such as alcoholism and single motherhood.
  • Her first book, "Hard Laughter," was published in 1980 and was a semi-autobiographical novel.
  • Lamott gained widespread recognition with her book "Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year," published in 1993. The book is a memoir about her experiences as a single mother.
  • She continued to explore the challenges of motherhood in her subsequent works, including "Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life" (1994), which remains one of her most popular and influential books.
  • Lamott has written both fiction and nonfiction, often blending personal anecdotes with insights on faith, love, and the human condition.
  • Some of her other notable works include "Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith" (1999) and "Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith" (2007).


  • Anne Lamott is a sought-after writing instructor and has taught at various writing conferences and workshops.
  • She has shared her wisdom and practical advice on the writing process with aspiring writers.

Themes in Her Work:

  • Lamott's writing often explores themes of faith, recovery, and the messy realities of life.
  • Her humorous and honest approach to storytelling has resonated with readers, making her a beloved figure in the literary world.

Personal Life:

  • Anne Lamott has been open about her struggles with alcoholism and her journey to recovery.
  • She is known for her candid and relatable portrayal of life's challenges and joys.


  • Anne Lamott's books have had a significant impact on both aspiring writers and readers seeking insight into the complexities of life.
  • "Bird by Bird" has become a classic in the field of writing advice and is widely recommended for its practical and compassionate guidance.

Anne Lamott continues to be an influential voice in literature, inspiring others with her unique blend of humor, wisdom, and vulnerability.


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Westwood, MA 02090
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