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Despite--or because of--her irreverence, faith is a natural subject for Anne Lamott. Since Operating Instructions and Bird by Bird, her fans have been waiting for her to write the book that explained how she came to the big-hearted, grateful, generous faith that she so often alluded to in her two earlier nonfiction books. The people in Anne Lamott's real life are like belo Despite--or because of--her irreverence, faith is a natural subject for Anne Lamott. Since Operating Instructions and Bird by Bird, her fans have been waiting for her to write the book that explained how she came to the big-hearted, grateful, generous faith that she so often alluded to in her two earlier nonfiction books. The people in Anne Lamott's real life are like beloved characters in a favorite series for her readers: Her friend Pammy; her son, Sam; and the many funny and wise folks who attend her church are all familiar. And Traveling Mercies is a welcome return to those lives, as well as an introduction to new companions Lamott treats with the same candor, insight, and tenderness. Lamott's faith isn't about easy answers, which is part of what endears her to believers as well as nonbelievers. Against all odds, she came to believe in God, and then, even more miraculously, in herself. As she puts it, "My coming to faith did not start with a leap but rather a series of staggers." At once tough, personal, affectionate, wise, and very funny, Traveling Mercies tells in exuberant detail how Anne Lamott learned to shine the light of faith on the darkest part of ordinary life, exposing surprising pockets of meaning and hope.


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Despite--or because of--her irreverence, faith is a natural subject for Anne Lamott. Since Operating Instructions and Bird by Bird, her fans have been waiting for her to write the book that explained how she came to the big-hearted, grateful, generous faith that she so often alluded to in her two earlier nonfiction books. The people in Anne Lamott's real life are like belo Despite--or because of--her irreverence, faith is a natural subject for Anne Lamott. Since Operating Instructions and Bird by Bird, her fans have been waiting for her to write the book that explained how she came to the big-hearted, grateful, generous faith that she so often alluded to in her two earlier nonfiction books. The people in Anne Lamott's real life are like beloved characters in a favorite series for her readers: Her friend Pammy; her son, Sam; and the many funny and wise folks who attend her church are all familiar. And Traveling Mercies is a welcome return to those lives, as well as an introduction to new companions Lamott treats with the same candor, insight, and tenderness. Lamott's faith isn't about easy answers, which is part of what endears her to believers as well as nonbelievers. Against all odds, she came to believe in God, and then, even more miraculously, in herself. As she puts it, "My coming to faith did not start with a leap but rather a series of staggers." At once tough, personal, affectionate, wise, and very funny, Traveling Mercies tells in exuberant detail how Anne Lamott learned to shine the light of faith on the darkest part of ordinary life, exposing surprising pockets of meaning and hope.

30 review for Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

  1. 4 out of 5

    Aileen

    I bought this book the day before I had a late-night conversation with life-time friends about religion, and heritage, rational thought vs "faith," and personal responsibility. I learned a lot from that conversation. Indeed, I think I keep learning from it. Perhaps reading this book prolonged those lessions. At the very least, it kept alive in my own mind the debate. Can a rational, free-thinking, independent person have religious faith? Is there any good in organized religion? Do we have an obl I bought this book the day before I had a late-night conversation with life-time friends about religion, and heritage, rational thought vs "faith," and personal responsibility. I learned a lot from that conversation. Indeed, I think I keep learning from it. Perhaps reading this book prolonged those lessions. At the very least, it kept alive in my own mind the debate. Can a rational, free-thinking, independent person have religious faith? Is there any good in organized religion? Do we have an obligation to preserve a heritage that our ancestors suffered to retain? Does this obligation extend to a duty to be a member of a group with which you have many ideological and/or political differences? I still don't know any answers. But I do like that Anne Lamott shows that there is a benefit in this heritage. I like to think that she also shows that it is possible to believe in the underlying principles without conceding to the myopic politics of many contemporary institutions. But I shall save this conclusion for presentation at the next installment of our original discussion.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    I do not at all understand the mystery of grace--only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us. Traveling Mercies is a collection of autobiographical essays by Anne Lamott in which she explores her life without God, her road to faith, and her continuing struggle to live a life worthy of the beliefs she holds. It is not the story of her life, there are uncovered gaps that we know are there, but it is the story of her soul, and that, I would argue, is more important I do not at all understand the mystery of grace--only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us. Traveling Mercies is a collection of autobiographical essays by Anne Lamott in which she explores her life without God, her road to faith, and her continuing struggle to live a life worthy of the beliefs she holds. It is not the story of her life, there are uncovered gaps that we know are there, but it is the story of her soul, and that, I would argue, is more important. With a little touch of Erma Bombeck, and an ability to look at the ugly and petty, along with the sublime of her life, she achieves a lot in terms of inspiring without resorting to even a moment of preaching. I love her descriptions of the people she has met along her journey: her best friend, Pammy, the elderly black church member, Mary Williams, who gives her bags of dimes to help her through her broke (and sometimes broken) days; her father, whose death devastated her life, and her son, Sam, who colors it. Some of her words seem written just for me. I lost my father and mother two months apart in 1994 and all these years later I feel the homesickness for them in ways I cannot convey to anyone: Twenty years ago. For twenty years I have ached to go back home, when there was nobody there to whom I could return. I believe she has tapped the code to grief, a kind of spector that comes and goes in your life, but never entirely dies away: All those years I fell for the great palace lie that grief should be gotten over as quickly as possible and as privately. But what I've discovered since is that the lifelong fear of grief keeps us in a barren, isolated place and that only grieving can heal grief; the passage of time will lessen the acuteness, but time alone, without the direct experience of grief, will not heal it." and, Sometimes grief looks like narcolepsy. But, lest you think this is a book about death or grief, I will share the following except, which will prove that this is just a book about insight, humanity, and grace. I can't imagine anything but music that could have brought about this alchemy. Maybe it's because music is about as physical as it gets; your essential rhythm is your heartbeat; your essential sound, the breath. We're walking temples of noise, and when you add tender hearts to this mix, it somehow lets us meet in places we couldn't get to any other way.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jocelynlt

    I flat-out love this book. It's probably my favourite book ever, certainly my favourite book on faith and spirituality. Annie Lamott earned her place as my very favourite Author and person-I-want-to-be-like-when-I-grow-up with this book. It's a "spiritual memoir" of sorts, written by a funny, idealistic, liberal, reformed imperfect prophetess alcoholic. This book has perhaps the best description of God I've ever read - God as cat at the door. We are all glad Annie invited him in. Anne Lamott has I flat-out love this book. It's probably my favourite book ever, certainly my favourite book on faith and spirituality. Annie Lamott earned her place as my very favourite Author and person-I-want-to-be-like-when-I-grow-up with this book. It's a "spiritual memoir" of sorts, written by a funny, idealistic, liberal, reformed imperfect prophetess alcoholic. This book has perhaps the best description of God I've ever read - God as cat at the door. We are all glad Annie invited him in. Anne Lamott has had a colourful life, to be sure, but when a series of painful experiences and a lifetime of personal struggles with weight, relationships and career seem to take over, Anne becomes bulemic, alcoholic, and at times, suicidal. This book follows her, in a warm, humble, comfortable and very funny way, from her lowest moments to her discovery of her church, the birth of her son, finding God and letting go of the big stuff. Annie reminds us that the hard stuff is the true stuff, but that it can be told with life-giving humor and grace.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    I'm having a hard time identifying why I didn't really enjoy this book. Many of the stories and the related "morals" resonated with me and the author presents them in a very palatable form which is surprising to me given the strong christian current running throughout the book. But yet, I did not look forward to picking this up and found myself reading it just to get it over with. I'm having a hard time identifying why I didn't really enjoy this book. Many of the stories and the related "morals" resonated with me and the author presents them in a very palatable form which is surprising to me given the strong christian current running throughout the book. But yet, I did not look forward to picking this up and found myself reading it just to get it over with.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    Anne Lamott writes sharp, funny, clever prose -- another of her books, _Bird by Bird_, really does give wonderful advice on writing and is how I was initially introduced to her. This book is a number of essays on a variety of issues -- getting older, handicapped people, what you can learn when you hurt yourself on a ski slope. She can be quite smart and very cute. But although she has a "love everyone" approach and is all about forgiving and laughing through life's brokenness and hurt... it all Anne Lamott writes sharp, funny, clever prose -- another of her books, _Bird by Bird_, really does give wonderful advice on writing and is how I was initially introduced to her. This book is a number of essays on a variety of issues -- getting older, handicapped people, what you can learn when you hurt yourself on a ski slope. She can be quite smart and very cute. But although she has a "love everyone" approach and is all about forgiving and laughing through life's brokenness and hurt... it all gets a little thin and stale. She is, after all, in good health, with family, living in the wealthiest nation in the world. Her problems are generally problems of the soul -- and God knows, those are the hardest of all to face. But does she really face them? In writing about abortion, her hatred against those who oppose it is bleak and glaring. And I could barely read the chapter where she helps euthanize a friend. Which is when I stopped reading. Confusion and seeking are a part of life (especially in cultures wealthy enough to have leisure for certain kinds of existential angst). I would also agree that there's a certain tender beauty in the ubiquitous inelegance of humanity. But I'm afraid this book is just an echoing of Sixties psychology -- a gushily warm philosophy (or, in some cases, really a religion) of Self that in practice is totally depressing. In so far as she escapes that philosophy, her book is beautiful; in so far as she clings to it, the book is extremely disturbing. So it gave me a perhaps useful insight into a politics and morality much different than mine and helped high-light what areas of confluence there can be. (It might be worth a read for priests and seminarians who want to understand the mind of the Sixties generation which is still very much with us.) But, in the end, I am enough spoiled by the Academic approach to chuck aside a book with a tinge of disgust that vilified any politics or morality besides its own while failing to be conscious (or honest) about its own inner contradictions and problems.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jeannine

    I have some mixed feelings about this book. I don't really know how to express them clearly, so just let me know if you want a more detailed explanation! Reading Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz gave me some clarity as to why I didn't like Traveling Mercies. On the back of Blue Like Jazz, a commentary compares Miller and Lamott, but I completely disagree with that comparison. Before becoming Christians, both had very strong adversions to Christianity and yet both decided to give their lifes to Chr I have some mixed feelings about this book. I don't really know how to express them clearly, so just let me know if you want a more detailed explanation! Reading Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz gave me some clarity as to why I didn't like Traveling Mercies. On the back of Blue Like Jazz, a commentary compares Miller and Lamott, but I completely disagree with that comparison. Before becoming Christians, both had very strong adversions to Christianity and yet both decided to give their lifes to Christ as adults. I feel like the similarity stops there. While Miller's writing style is very accessible, I feel like Lamott is very unorganized, jumping quite randomly from one story to another. But even more important is that while Miller holds true to the Bible (after evaluating whether or not Christianity is something he believes), Lamott seems to pick and choose whatever she wants to about what God's word says. I really appreciated how Miller addressed tough questions and issues in Blue Like Jazz- especially how to be friends, accept, and tolerate his non-believer friends while at the same time holding true to God's word. Lamott doesn't ever seem to address some of those absolutes in God's word and instead appears to ignore what the Bible says. I wish she had given more insight of how she actually integrates how God and His word into her daily life and relationships.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    A great writer, whether you like the terrain or not. I have not read any of her other books, but I am a big fan of this one. It is humourous and dear, ripe with blasphemy and deep spirituality all at once, which is just how i like it. Anne Lamott writes about life and christianity with very real and human eyes. She is blunt but tender in her thoughts, highly educated and yet unafraid to show sentimentality. She is a bundle of extremes that work together beautifully with all their flaws and jumbled A great writer, whether you like the terrain or not. I have not read any of her other books, but I am a big fan of this one. It is humourous and dear, ripe with blasphemy and deep spirituality all at once, which is just how i like it. Anne Lamott writes about life and christianity with very real and human eyes. She is blunt but tender in her thoughts, highly educated and yet unafraid to show sentimentality. She is a bundle of extremes that work together beautifully with all their flaws and jumbled opposites. She embraces the grey shades of complexity that invariably lie between the black and white of popular culture and christianity. I am not the type to read a lot of self-help or religious material, but this book stands apart from such a sordid lot of those types and offers great insight and great storytelling. I would highly recommend this book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    This came highly recommended by a Goodreads friend, and I've found it just as good as he said. At first I was a little put off--the author grew up on San Francisco Bay, the daughter of comfortable liberal parents, and one would suspect that she'd only have the blues 'cause she ain't got nothin' to have the blues about. But one would be wrong. She is a very sensitive, funny, and open-hearted writer, not ashamed to admit her inadequacies. She spent most of her time from high-school to early thirti This came highly recommended by a Goodreads friend, and I've found it just as good as he said. At first I was a little put off--the author grew up on San Francisco Bay, the daughter of comfortable liberal parents, and one would suspect that she'd only have the blues 'cause she ain't got nothin' to have the blues about. But one would be wrong. She is a very sensitive, funny, and open-hearted writer, not ashamed to admit her inadequacies. She spent most of her time from high-school to early thirties drunk. A friend of mine called her a "narcissistic alcoholic." Which I suppose is true, but she is also a gifted and talented writer. She uses the same technique repeatedly, though so well that it doesn't get cloying--to describe a situation in terms that make you laugh, and make you identify and sympathize with her; and then she reveals her own fault, thus making you look hard at yourself to the extent that you had sympathized. In one essay she describes her enemy--the perfect mom of the perfect kid at her son's first-grade class, the mother who always drove carpools, always baked cookies, always was cheerful and relaxed, had perfect skin, perfect hair, perfect butt. Lamott loathed her and looked for reasons to be irritated; doing exactly what all of us do in that position, thinking thoughts that "would make Jesus want to drink gin straight out of the cat dish." But finally she had an epiphany and realized that she had turned herself into a little J. Edgar Hoover, threatened by commies that existed only in his diseased imagination. Horrible thought for a liberal. But funny, and memorable, especially at times when you find yourself doing it again. I look forward to reading one of her novels.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Susan B.

    Anne Lamott is a person who has lived a lot of life and managed to come through the other side. Thanks to her good sense (and good sense of humor) this book is not so much a victim-y detailing of her descent and recovery, as much as it is a compelling story of how she began to catch glimpses of grace in everyday living. To this end, she offers a series of short vignettes on various topics including hair, beauty, illness, kids, family relationships, politics, music, drugs, eating, sex, etc. All a Anne Lamott is a person who has lived a lot of life and managed to come through the other side. Thanks to her good sense (and good sense of humor) this book is not so much a victim-y detailing of her descent and recovery, as much as it is a compelling story of how she began to catch glimpses of grace in everyday living. To this end, she offers a series of short vignettes on various topics including hair, beauty, illness, kids, family relationships, politics, music, drugs, eating, sex, etc. All are informed by her trademark self-depricating humor. This is a good book to read when you feel like you'd like to see the world differently from the way it usually presents. I bought a copy of it about 7 years ago shortly after a dear Aunt of mine died, but never quite got around to reading it until last week. I had been thinking my Aunt quite a bit in the last week or so, missing her more intensely than I normally do in the normal course of life. One day I was waiting for the red line train at Belmont, heading south towards downtown. As is pretty common these days, it was slow and running on the wrong side of the track due to construction on the line. When it finally came, I boarded hastily looking for an empty seat and as I sat down I looked up to find a woman who looked remarkably like my Aunt. Same age, hair-do, style of scarf, lipstick type. Then she started to talk to me, just as my Aunt would have talked to a total stranger, about what she was doing that day, where she was going, her kids, her earlier life, crocheting caps for cancer patients and so forth. It could have been my Aunt. Really. Even though I knew better, it felt like it WAS my Aunt, so much so that I felt a real pang of loss, again, and had to choke down a few tears as I climbed up the subway stairs and hurried down the street to my appointment. I thought about it all week. At the end of the week I learned that in the christian church All Saints Day is supposed to signify a time when the boundary between this world and the next, the material and the spiritual is said to be very thin. I don't think I ever heard that in all the years I spent in Catholic Church as a kid. It's a good spin. I wonder if it holds in the subway too. Anyway, I lit a candle on Sunday in memory of my Aunt, feeling more at peace about her than I had for quite some time.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Elise

    I honestly don't know how to rate this book. Technically it's excellent. Anne Lammot is an exquisite writer, truly. I'm sure better modern writers exist, but I can't think of any off the top of my head. Certainly none writing about religion and I'm pretty well-read on Christian theism. And I really liked her, although, judging by her reaction to every single conservative Christian mentioned in the book I doubt she'd have had any time for someone like me. I liked that she has dreds and has all ki I honestly don't know how to rate this book. Technically it's excellent. Anne Lammot is an exquisite writer, truly. I'm sure better modern writers exist, but I can't think of any off the top of my head. Certainly none writing about religion and I'm pretty well-read on Christian theism. And I really liked her, although, judging by her reaction to every single conservative Christian mentioned in the book I doubt she'd have had any time for someone like me. I liked that she has dreds and has all kinds of funky friends. I love her alternative-ish lifestyle and I totally envy her freedom. I had a somewhat similar upbringing, although less on the drugs-with-my-parents aspect and more on the intellectual-demands-of-liberal-parents side. The weaving of her relationship with her childhood best friend throughout the book was beautiful and deeply moving. It was, by all bookish measures, a very good book. However, the book about broke my heart in the reading. This is a woman who clearly and deeply needs salvation, and I mean that in the immediate sense- she's so deep into herself that she can't even see out of it. She knows she's way narcissistic, mentions it several times, but can't drag herself out by the sheer force of her own will which is the only way she knows of to do it. Going by this book, which was all about her- every detail was about her, every character about some aspect of herself, every event about her reaction, even the prayer she offers up when her small son was facing cancer was for herself not for the boy- she's never even considered turning to God and submitting herself to him for relief. That's the gospel- Jesus has promised to take our burdens on himself and give us rest. He's offering to reconcile us with himself- as he actually is, not as we in our sin and misery want him to be. The point is that really, truly, we don't know what's best for ourselves but that Almighty God does and he loves us enough to tell us. She seems to get bits and pieces of that truth but she's still utterly crushed under the weight of her own self-importance. For perspective, if you liked this book, try Kathleen Norris' Cloister Walk, or even Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz. Both are spiritual memoirs in the same genre as Traveling Mercies, but without the heavy personality emphasis. Both are written by liberal Christians who genuinely and deeply love God and love their brothers and sisters unconditionally. They both reach beyond themselves in their writings in a way that Anne Lammot just can't.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kurt

    The title is a fair summary of the contents of this book. It really is just a collection of thoughts by Anne Lamott, largely on faith. I was expecting it to deal more with a specifically Christian faith, but Lamott really doesn't do that. In an alternate reality, if she had found Buddha instead of Jesus in her time of need, and if she had a strong community that didn't happen to be a church, there are really only three or four pages in this book that would need to be changed to fit her circumsta The title is a fair summary of the contents of this book. It really is just a collection of thoughts by Anne Lamott, largely on faith. I was expecting it to deal more with a specifically Christian faith, but Lamott really doesn't do that. In an alternate reality, if she had found Buddha instead of Jesus in her time of need, and if she had a strong community that didn't happen to be a church, there are really only three or four pages in this book that would need to be changed to fit her circumstances. Lamott references a couple of verses from the Bible about forgiveness, and (in my favorite story, probably because it hasn't been so long since I helped scatter my mother's ashes) she connects the idea of Ash Wednesday to the way a person's ashes stick to your hands and you can't ever really let them go. She admits that her son is trying to irritate her by claiming to believe in "all the gods" instead of just Jesus. But in general, this is religion lite: an occasionally moving (deeply moving - when she succeeds, Lamott really succeeds), often funny, usually frustrating collection of thoughts from someone who seems to like God but doesn't seem to know any more about him than that (to the point of referring to God's gender with "his or her" and making statements like, "If there's a heaven, I imagine it will be like snorkeling."). Lamott herself can be quite irritating - she is open about her quirks, her struggles, her neediness (she describes one boyfriend as being unable to deal with her tears and fears, and I found myself sympathizing with him). Also, her only interactions with God are when she wants something - praying for herself but also for others, always wanting God to change something, never wondering who he is, reading about what he's done, that kind of thing. It's a well-meaning people-centeredness, but that doesn't make Lamott's spiritual outlook one I would want someone else to adopt. I was relatively entertained while reading, but I can't imagine a situation in which I would hand a copy of this book to someone I liked and say, "You should read this, because in some area of your life, I would like you to be more like this author." This is a pretty popular book among young Christians these days, so I recommend it for the purpose of being in the loop, but that's about it. I think someone on a spiritual journey, if he or she desires a book in this style, would be better served by hitting Donald Miller.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I first read Anne Lamott’s autobiographical essays on faith in about 2005, when I was in my early twenties and a recovering fundamentalist and Republican. She’s a Northern Californian ex-alcoholic, a single mother, a white lady with dreadlocks. Her liberal, hippie approach to Christianity was a bit much for me back then. I especially remember her raging against George W. Bush and the war in Iraq. But even if I couldn’t fully get behind all of her views, her picture of a fumbling faith that doesn I first read Anne Lamott’s autobiographical essays on faith in about 2005, when I was in my early twenties and a recovering fundamentalist and Republican. She’s a Northern Californian ex-alcoholic, a single mother, a white lady with dreadlocks. Her liberal, hippie approach to Christianity was a bit much for me back then. I especially remember her raging against George W. Bush and the war in Iraq. But even if I couldn’t fully get behind all of her views, her picture of a fumbling faith that doesn’t claim to know much for certain appealed to me. Jesus is for her the herald of a radical path of love and grace. Lamott describes herself stumbling towards kindness and forgiveness while uttering the three simplest and truest prayers she knows, “Help, thanks, wow.” I only own three of her eight spiritual books, though I’ve read them all, so I recently read them one right after the other – the best kind of soul food binge in a stressful time. This is her first and best collection. Many of these pieces first appeared in Salon web magazine. There is a lot of bereavement and other dark stuff here, yet an overall lightness of spirit prevails. Lamott’s father died of melanoma that metastasized to his brain (her work has meant a lot to my sister because her husband, too, died of brain cancer) and her best friend Pammy died of breast cancer – both far too young. A college dropout, alcoholic and drug addict, Lamott didn’t walk into a church and get clean until she was in her early thirties. Newly sober and with the support of the community, she was able to face unexpected motherhood and raise Sam in the church, clinging to fragments of family and nurturing seeds of faith. The essays sometimes zero in on moments of crisis or decision, but more often on everyday angst, such as coming to terms with a middle-aged body. “Thirst” and “Hunger” are a gorgeous pair about getting sober and addressing disordered eating. “Ashes,” set on one Ash Wednesday, sees her trying to get her young son interested in the liturgical significance and remembering scattering Pammy’s ashes. “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” and “Barn Raising” are two classics about surviving a turbulent flight and supporting a local family whose child has cystic fibrosis. Each essay is perfectly constructed: bringing together multiple incidents and themes in a lucid way, full of meaning but never over-egging the emotion. Like A Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas, this was even better the second time around – I can see that the memoir-in-essays is now among my most admired forms. Some favorite lines: “The main reason [that she makes Sam go to church] is that I want to give him what I found in the world[: …] a path and a little light to see by. Most of the people I know who have what I want—which is to say, purpose, heart, balance, gratitude, joy—are people with a deep sense of spirituality.” “You really do have to eat, anything at all you can bear. So we had smoothies, with bananas, which I believe to be the only known cure for existential dread.” “most of the time, all you have is the moment, and the imperfect love of people.” “even though I am a feminist and even though I am religious, I secretly believe, in some mean little rat part of my brain, that I am my skin, my hair, and worst of all, those triangles of fat that pooch at the top of my thighs. In other words, that I am my packaging.” Originally published on my blog, Bookish Beck.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jenifer

    I liked Lamott's tenderness in the face of real-life situations. I liked her love of community and her reverence for friendship. I liked her admissions of growth and progress while also recognizing her own human error and frailty. She reminded me to be more forgiving and to look for grace in the everyday. I am a better person for having read this. A couple of things I really liked; p82. "I called all my smartest friends. All the ones who believe in God told me to pray, so I did. Here are the two I liked Lamott's tenderness in the face of real-life situations. I liked her love of community and her reverence for friendship. I liked her admissions of growth and progress while also recognizing her own human error and frailty. She reminded me to be more forgiving and to look for grace in the everyday. I am a better person for having read this. A couple of things I really liked; p82. "I called all my smartest friends. All the ones who believe in God told me to pray, so I did. Here are the two best prayers I know: 'Help me, help me, help me.' and 'Thank you, thank you, thank you.'" p163. "I believe that when all is said and done, all you can do is to show up for someone in crisis, which seems so inadequate. But then when you do, it can radically change everything. Your there-ness, your stepping into a scared (person's) line of vision, can be life giving, because often everyone else is in hiding. So you come to keep them company when it feels like the whole world is falling apart, and your being there says that just for this moment, this one tiny piece of the world is OK, or is at least better."

  14. 4 out of 5

    Stephen M

    All I should say, is that this book wasn't for me. Perhaps if I was twenty-five years older and a women who frequently goes to church, then I would really be taken away with this one. I understand her appeal as a writer, but it didn't get me. I'm not anti-religion by any means, I'm open to spirituality; that is probably why I read this book. However, I don't think at this point in my life it means much to me. But who knows? Life changes. All I should say, is that this book wasn't for me. Perhaps if I was twenty-five years older and a women who frequently goes to church, then I would really be taken away with this one. I understand her appeal as a writer, but it didn't get me. I'm not anti-religion by any means, I'm open to spirituality; that is probably why I read this book. However, I don't think at this point in my life it means much to me. But who knows? Life changes.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Yaaresse

    This is the fourth Lamott book I’ve read. I think perhaps it is one too many. With each book I’ve read, I’ve appreciated her technical skill more, but her personality less. If these were fiction, I could ignore that; however, the problem with memoirs—which is mostly what these books are—is that personality is a big part of the source material. You really can’t filter it out of the end product. What came across as “charming” to me in the first Lamott book I read and as quirky “human” is the secon This is the fourth Lamott book I’ve read. I think perhaps it is one too many. With each book I’ve read, I’ve appreciated her technical skill more, but her personality less. If these were fiction, I could ignore that; however, the problem with memoirs—which is mostly what these books are—is that personality is a big part of the source material. You really can’t filter it out of the end product. What came across as “charming” to me in the first Lamott book I read and as quirky “human” is the second book started to become irritating with the third book, which was Small Victories. It probably didn’t help that much of the material in Small Victories was originally from this book, Traveling Mercies. With this fourth exposure to Lamott’s recycling of material, I still appreciate her writing skill, but now I find the content—and because it is autobiographical, the author—just plain annoying. Lamott is candid about the details of her addiction to alcohol and drugs, which she mentions in nearly every story she tells. Part of what I find off-putting in this book is that she writes about her addictions with a tone of someone reminiscing something they enjoyed, romanticizing her nightly drunken binges, her Nike shoe box full of pills gotten from her many hookups with married men, and her bulimic habits. She’s practically humble-bragging about what a mess she was. About her religious conversion and experiences, she seems less interested. The descriptions of the people and music are skillfully drawn, but they don’t smack of that nostalgia that she oozes when she describes dancing around the room by herself while blitzed out of her mind or her drunk-stumbling to the c-store for another cheap beer. At one point, Lamott writes about asking a neighbor who is dying of cancer to come get her kid and take him to school for her because she (Lamot) had a headache. She claims, “I hate being the kind of person who tries to get someone with stage-four metastatic lung cancer to feel sorry for her just because she has a headache.” Frankly, I didn’t believe her. I think she doesn’t hate it at all. From the stories she tells, it wasn’t a one-time behavior. If you truly “hate being the kind of person who...,” then you stop doing the thing that makes you that kind of person. That's the kind of needy, manipulative crap that some (not all) former addicts cultivate as an art form; they maintain a facade of “I can’t help myself for being a mess” that serves as a way for them to get the attention they crave. Often high drama and angst become the addiction that takes the place of the pills, the booze, the sex, the laxatives, the gambling…name your poison. Every little thing that happens to them has never been as big or upsetting or personally insulting as anything that has ever happened to anyone else. Everything has to be about their problem, their discomfort, their needs. Those people are exhausting. Even when they’re doing something that benefits someone else on the surface, it tends to become “Hey, look at me! Being helpful over here!” It just comes off as bizarre and narcissistic. By the end of the book, I'd had enough of all that and found this was just someone I didn't want to spend any more time with at all. I’m pretty sure if I had read this book first, I would never have read another of her books, and I’m pretty sure I won’t be reading any others.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    if I were in the position of Saint Peter, I don't know if Anne Lamott would make it through the Pearly Gates. But I'm not, so I absolutely loved this book that tickled my funny bone and stabbed my heart. The account of her conversion was powerful and hilarious: "Fuck it. I quit. All right, Jesus, You can come in." After being at Mount Level, her descriptions of Saint Andrew resonate deeply with me. I adored her descriptions of her friends as unrelentingly beautiful. Indeed, her capacity for incr if I were in the position of Saint Peter, I don't know if Anne Lamott would make it through the Pearly Gates. But I'm not, so I absolutely loved this book that tickled my funny bone and stabbed my heart. The account of her conversion was powerful and hilarious: "Fuck it. I quit. All right, Jesus, You can come in." After being at Mount Level, her descriptions of Saint Andrew resonate deeply with me. I adored her descriptions of her friends as unrelentingly beautiful. Indeed, her capacity for incredible, deep, bonding friendship impressed me as much as anything else in the book. Her chapter on Forgiveness--particularly forgiving the neighborhood supermom--struck a chord with me and my collection of judgmentalisms that mask insecurities. And oh, how I loved the Aunties. May I adore the Aunties, be as proud of them. As Anne Lamott might say, "Thank you, Thank you, Thank you" for this book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Saleh MoonWalker

    Onvan : Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith - Nevisande : Anne Lamott - ISBN : 385496095 - ISBN13 : 9780385496094 - Dar 275 Safhe - Saal e Chap : 1999

  18. 5 out of 5

    Yelda Basar Moers

    I absolutely loved this book. I felt that Anne Lamott had invited me into her home for a cup of tea and while she wrapped me around a quilt that she had knit herself, shared her thoughts and stories on spirituality, life, her son, and herself. It's a warm account of her life, her faith, her friends and everything that matters to her. She did a brilliant job capturing the magic that makes her spiritual and how it is infused in her everyday life. The writing is superb, top-notch, and her book is e I absolutely loved this book. I felt that Anne Lamott had invited me into her home for a cup of tea and while she wrapped me around a quilt that she had knit herself, shared her thoughts and stories on spirituality, life, her son, and herself. It's a warm account of her life, her faith, her friends and everything that matters to her. She did a brilliant job capturing the magic that makes her spiritual and how it is infused in her everyday life. The writing is superb, top-notch, and her book is elegantly structured with essays beautifully tied together like the quilt I had mentioned before. Once in a while, one gets quite saddened that a book is about to end, that a voice is about to close, and that is how I felt when I read the last page. I’ve been reading many spiritual memoirs lately, and this is one of the best thus far.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Camie

    After reading the first 1/3 of this memoir by Anne Lamott, I found myself wondering how she was still alive. Basically she was an alcoholic, drug addicted, bulemic, teenager who was raised "by a village" since her parents were "otherwise engaged." ( it was after all the 1960's. ) Later on with many of the same problems she also becomes a single mother with very little means. This book takes us on the often precarious journey through her troubled past and with humor and not a small amount of irre After reading the first 1/3 of this memoir by Anne Lamott, I found myself wondering how she was still alive. Basically she was an alcoholic, drug addicted, bulemic, teenager who was raised "by a village" since her parents were "otherwise engaged." ( it was after all the 1960's. ) Later on with many of the same problems she also becomes a single mother with very little means. This book takes us on the often precarious journey through her troubled past and with humor and not a small amount of irreverence, shows us how she comes to walk a path of quirky , but to her life affirming, and possibly life saving faith. 4 stars * playlist to follow on separate thread

  20. 4 out of 5

    Michele

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. These are the last three sentences of the book, "Traveling Mercies" by Anne Lemott. And they sum up this collection of stories beautifully. This is a book about faith and a book about gratitude. It is intelligent, thought provoking, funny and highly readable. Anne Lemott, Annie--as it appears her friends call her--lets us into her world and shares a very personal and poignant path of a unique and awkward girl taking off her "glasses of puberty" and coming of age Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. These are the last three sentences of the book, "Traveling Mercies" by Anne Lemott. And they sum up this collection of stories beautifully. This is a book about faith and a book about gratitude. It is intelligent, thought provoking, funny and highly readable. Anne Lemott, Annie--as it appears her friends call her--lets us into her world and shares a very personal and poignant path of a unique and awkward girl taking off her "glasses of puberty" and coming of age. She lays everything bare, from her feelings about her bushy hair and alien eyes, her drug and alcohol additions, to her love for her father and dealing not only with his death, but also with the death of her best friend. We enter the world of a single mother, a struggling and ultimately successful writer, and all her feelings of self-doubt. She seems to have a third eye when it comes to seeing those around her, and through her observations and writing, we too can appreciate people and situations to a greater degree. Writes Lamott of a sick woman from her church in a story named Ashes: "It must have been too annoying for everyone to be trying to manipulate her into being a better sport than she was capable of being. I always thought that was heroic of her, that it spoke of such integrity to refuse to pretend that you're doing well just to help other people deal with the fact that sometimes we face an impossible loss." The underlying theme throughout each brutally honest passage is the message of her faith in God and how she came to discover this faith. She LEARNS to pray and uses prayer to get her over the large and the small humps. One can't help but come to love this child of God, and everyone in her life.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ruth

    No matter how much I enjoy a book, I'm generally fine with returning it to the library. I'm sad to do so with this one (I'll have to buy it eventually). I've loved Anne Lamott ever since reading 'Bird by Bird,' but this one is--if possible--even more personal and wonderful. I felt hungry for more on every page. The typical wit and what Newsweek calls "ruthless honesty" is definitely in place here; this is not an author who shades her meaning or writes coyly. There are no riddles or abstruse meta No matter how much I enjoy a book, I'm generally fine with returning it to the library. I'm sad to do so with this one (I'll have to buy it eventually). I've loved Anne Lamott ever since reading 'Bird by Bird,' but this one is--if possible--even more personal and wonderful. I felt hungry for more on every page. The typical wit and what Newsweek calls "ruthless honesty" is definitely in place here; this is not an author who shades her meaning or writes coyly. There are no riddles or abstruse metaphors, just a lot of emotionally raw revelations about her own life. Interestingly, the stark honesty doesn't come across as over-sharing; none of that embarrassing TMI we read and occasionally share on social networks. Here, it's just compelling and truthful and funny and sad and oh-so-worthwhile. One minute you read "courage is fear that has said its prayers" and you revel in the beauty and simplicity and truth of that one short aphorism, then the next minute you're laughing aloud at her confessions of going to Mexico on vacation and "start(ing) off in heavy Butt Mind on the plane," and then seeing several nubile teenagers, whom she describes as "mostly youthful and bouncy and physically stunning, if you happen to find tan lean youth attractive." Ha! How she comes to some level of peace with her "middle-aged-mother-butt" persona is hilarious, sweet and--again--honest. You are sure you would like this woman in person, given how real she is. Another huge winner! I worship at Anne Lamott's shrine, even if she would be embarrassed by such an act.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mikejencostanzo

    I thought Traveling Mercies sounded like an interesting book from the title, and was recommended by a fellow overseas co-worker as a good one to read as a world traveler. However, I was disappointed. Maybe my perception would have improved had I mustered up the endurance to stick it out and read the whole book. Traveling Mercies chronicles author Anne Lamott's journey to faith through a diversity of religious & not-so-religious experiences. Since I stopped reading partway, I never reached the po I thought Traveling Mercies sounded like an interesting book from the title, and was recommended by a fellow overseas co-worker as a good one to read as a world traveler. However, I was disappointed. Maybe my perception would have improved had I mustered up the endurance to stick it out and read the whole book. Traveling Mercies chronicles author Anne Lamott's journey to faith through a diversity of religious & not-so-religious experiences. Since I stopped reading partway, I never reached the point where she came to her true enlightenment (was it true Christianity? I may never know -- Any insight from a reader who's finished the book?) My disappointment in the book stemmed from the weird twist the author gave to her "testimony." Lamott's story of her journey to faith quickly developed a sense of nostalgia. However, it wasn't a nostalgia for the "good old days of childhood," or "the innocence of pre-spiritual-angst." It was the way she spoke of her adult addictions -- alcohol, extra-marital affair, drugs. She wrote about them as if they were fond memories treasured -- warm experiences that contributed in a positive, meaningful way towards bringing her life to a point of rich, well-rounded fulfillment by the end of her journey. I found it difficult to nestle up and get comfortable with her addictions despite her cozy, endearing descriptions of them. So this one's back on the shelf, unfinished at this point. --Jen

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    This book is officially on my all-time favorites list. Anne Lamott shares her hilariously funny and at times deeply moving perspective on God and her relationship with Him in a way that makes me want to immediately drop what I'm doing and take my daughter to church. I think that everyone can identify with at least one of her struggles, which range from alcoholism to the shape of her thighs. Her imperfections, to me, make her that much more lovable. I was completely absorbed in her internal strug This book is officially on my all-time favorites list. Anne Lamott shares her hilariously funny and at times deeply moving perspective on God and her relationship with Him in a way that makes me want to immediately drop what I'm doing and take my daughter to church. I think that everyone can identify with at least one of her struggles, which range from alcoholism to the shape of her thighs. Her imperfections, to me, make her that much more lovable. I was completely absorbed in her internal struggles with alcohol and drugs and self-acceptance, among other things. Also she has a way of describing her not-so-great choices and she's-only-human qualities that made me stop what I was reading to laugh out loud. Flat out awesome. I know I'll be re-reading it at least once a year.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Gillian

    If you can handle some spirtituality in the form of a black church, Ram Dass quotes, and dreadlocks, then you will thoroughly enjoy this creatively written memoir of a 40-something, single mother, who's been through it all. It includes valuable and often comic insight on alcoholism, relationships with men, food and ourself, as well as motherhood and finding grace in impossible situations. Including a cast of interesting characters, Lamott presents a story to which any woman can not only relate b If you can handle some spirtituality in the form of a black church, Ram Dass quotes, and dreadlocks, then you will thoroughly enjoy this creatively written memoir of a 40-something, single mother, who's been through it all. It includes valuable and often comic insight on alcoholism, relationships with men, food and ourself, as well as motherhood and finding grace in impossible situations. Including a cast of interesting characters, Lamott presents a story to which any woman can not only relate but really benefit from the perspectives she gains on her quirky adventures.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kelcie

    This book got super bipolar reviews, so I was nervous until the moment I opened it for the first time, and the barista at a very hipster coffee shop brought me my coffee, looked at it, and said "5 stars, for sure." She was right. I read it in 3 days, in giant leather chairs with strong coffee and during thunderstorms, on my couch with tea, and it was therapy. Not everything the author says lines up for me theologically, but still, the whole experience was like a balm for the soul. This book got super bipolar reviews, so I was nervous until the moment I opened it for the first time, and the barista at a very hipster coffee shop brought me my coffee, looked at it, and said "5 stars, for sure." She was right. I read it in 3 days, in giant leather chairs with strong coffee and during thunderstorms, on my couch with tea, and it was therapy. Not everything the author says lines up for me theologically, but still, the whole experience was like a balm for the soul.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    I felt a mix of things for this book. The thing that stands out most in my memory, though, having read a couple books since finishing this one, is that she kept referring to God as "She". It's not that I stand firmly by a belief in God as a man with a giant white beard, but I felt almost that the author was trying to be casually shocking, like she's been liberated and enlightened. I felt a mix of things for this book. The thing that stands out most in my memory, though, having read a couple books since finishing this one, is that she kept referring to God as "She". It's not that I stand firmly by a belief in God as a man with a giant white beard, but I felt almost that the author was trying to be casually shocking, like she's been liberated and enlightened.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I'm only writing this because the book's description makes Lamott sound so boringly inspirational, whereas she's a hilarious hot mess and the best spokesperson for faith I can think of. My two greatest takeaways are: give away your magazines to strangers because they really like that, and you don't have to wait to become an old crone to enjoy being one. I'm only writing this because the book's description makes Lamott sound so boringly inspirational, whereas she's a hilarious hot mess and the best spokesperson for faith I can think of. My two greatest takeaways are: give away your magazines to strangers because they really like that, and you don't have to wait to become an old crone to enjoy being one.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Cathy

    For Kaska-boom!: I like how conversational Anne Lamott's writing is, and how she brings you right along with her as she searches for and discovers herself. She is alternately funny, heartbreaking, inspiring, and someone I might be able to be a friend to. In this book, she taught me two things: 1. I cannot write because I have not endured enough struggle in my life. Not that my life has been easy or I've had everything handed to me, but compared to hers my life has been a piece of angel food cake For Kaska-boom!: I like how conversational Anne Lamott's writing is, and how she brings you right along with her as she searches for and discovers herself. She is alternately funny, heartbreaking, inspiring, and someone I might be able to be a friend to. In this book, she taught me two things: 1. I cannot write because I have not endured enough struggle in my life. Not that my life has been easy or I've had everything handed to me, but compared to hers my life has been a piece of angel food cake with strawberries and lots of whipped cream. 2. I need to listen more and just be here. In part, she gave me this quote: I realized that "God isn't there to take away our suffering or our pain but to fill it with his or her presence..." Ummmmm..... I think my daughter has tried to tell me this very thing in hundreds of ways, usually when she is frustrated by my feeble attempts to fix whatever is wrong when all she really wanted from me was my presence. I just always felt like it was my job as a mom to make things better when they were going wrong. How stupid I see that is now. And what a relief that I no longer have the pressure of having to fix everything anymore! Thanks to Anne!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Yes! My first Anne Lamott and it did not disappoint. If you enjoyed Wild or Orange is the New Black, you will like this even better. She is such a better writer than the average memoir/book of essays.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Amy Ballard

    “This is the most profound spiritual truth I know: that even when we’re most sure that love can’t conquer all, it seems to anyway.” (p. 264) This is a reread, and there will be many more rereads of it.

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