Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott is a writing guide for budding novelists.
Just as readers can be diverse in their choice of fiction genre, I find text guides also have different styles and readers preferences are individual.
I rarely read memoirs. I have zero curiosity about the dramas and problems of real people's lives, unless it's a friend, in which case I'd rather not read about it in a book. I like fiction. Stories. Fun. With guides, I like clear instructions, examples, and exercises. Bird by Bird is not a clear instruction manual.
For me it read less 'to-do' and more depressing memoir with vague suggestions of advice hidden amongst passages weighted heavily with flashes of parties, alcohol, and personal disdain. Not that the advice wasn't spot on. You can use index cards to capture ideas (just as easily as a notebook, iPhone, or the back of your hand), and yes, your first drafts can be crap. Research does help strengthen a character. My problem was the ambiguous nature of the advice. Exercise is good for your health, so is eating fresh fruit and vegetables, but I'd expect more explicit instructions in a diet manual. Sadly, I also found the author's attitude to life a little narcissistic and felt uncomfortable about her priority of recording events in order to write about them later, especially when it referred to a dying friend.
Now, I said I rarely read memoir and don't usually enjoy these narrative-style writing guides. However, I did quite enjoy The Happy Hooker, so there's always exceptions. I also appreciate Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg (I have the audible version and listen to it often). Goldberg does a better job of combining memoir narrative with hard writing advice in a way that is entertaining and informative.
There you go, my review. A negative this time, but hey, it might be your favourite book? And I know my next review will be positive, because the chosen book is Save the Cat! This review is written as part of the Progressive Book Club blog hop, all the members have reviewed Bird by Bird, so pop about and see what they thought. I dare say most would have enjoyed it more than me.