Recent Reads: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

What the book's about: Bird by Bird is a book about writing that encourages, challenges, and inspires writers. With Anne's typical wit & style, it offers strategies for writing as well as a reminder that in the end, writing is about more than being published. 

Why I read this book: This spring, I've been hard at work on a book for The Youth Cartel about what high school teens believe about Jesus. Since beginning this process, I've lost track of how many people have asked, "Have you read Bird by Bird"? Tired of saying "no", I finally read it.  

My favorite quotes from the book:

- "Perfection will ruin your writing, blocking inventiveness and playfulness and life force. Perfectionism means that you try desperately not to leave so much mess to clean up. But clutter and mess show us that life is being lived." 

- "Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor." 

- "Your job is to see people as they really are, and to do this, you have to know who you are in the most compassionate possible sense." 

- "You don't always have to chop with the sword of truth. You can point with it, too." 

- "Everything we need in order to tell our stories in a reasonable and exciting way already exists in each of us." 

- "You have to give the work before you all the best stuff you have, not saving up for later projects. If you give freely, there will always be more." 

- "Don't worry about appearing sentimental. Worry about being unavailable; worry about being absent or fraudulent. Risk being unliked. Tell the truth as you understand it. If you're a writer, you have a moral obligation to do this. And it is a revolutionary act - truth is always subversive." 

Thumbs up or thumbs down? Two thumbs way up.

Who I'd recommend this book for: Without a doubt, writers of all kinds will enjoy this book. However, I think this book has a broader audience than those who write. So much of what Anne says is applicable not just to writing, but to life in general. 

Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry

Jen serves as the Minister of Youth and Family at Atonement Lutheran Church in Barrington, Illinois. A veteran youth worker, Jen holds an MA in Youth Ministry Leadership from Huntington University. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus (The Youth Cartel), The Real Jesus (The Youth Cartel), Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders (Abingdon), and A Mission That Matters (Abingdon). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. Jen is also the Assistant Director of Arbor Research Group where she has led many national studies. When not doing ministry or research, she and her husband, Doug, and daughter, Hope, can be found traveling and enjoying life together.

More about Jen

Jen's Books

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A Mission That Matters: How To Do Short-Term Missions Without Long-Term Harm

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Unleashing the Hidden Potential of your Student Leaders

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The Real Jesus

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The Jesus Gap

What Teens Actually Believe About Jesus

Based on National Research

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