A review of Richard Bach’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull
This is a story for people who follow their hearts and make their own rules…people who get special pleasure out of doing something well, even if only for themselves…people who know there’s more to this living than meets the eye: they’ll be right there with Jonathan, flying higher and faster than ever they dreamed.
Jonathan Livingston Seagull is no ordinary bird. He believes it is every gull’s right to fly, to reach the ultimate freedom of challenge and discovery, finding his greatest reward in teaching younger gulls the joy of flight and the power of dreams.
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This was a really great philosophical allegory about the unabashed desire to learn, understanding and unapologetically being oneself, appreciating and loving others despite the ways they might wrong you, and teaching others to do likewise. I really enjoyed it, short as it was, and the photographs helped set the tone well (except that one time when the double-page photo spread broke up a sentence…but it was only that one time).
It’s a great book for people frustrated with the restrictions of society, those who are ostracised because of their desire to know/experience/see/feel more, and those who want a little extra encouragement/reminder to explore their true selves despite push back from others. It’s not necessarily mind-blowing (though it could be if read at the right time). It’s more a simple reminder and should be approached that way.
You can also really tell that the author is a US Air Force pilot and he has clearly felt a lot of the frustrations (with society and pushing one’s own limits) as Jonathan Livingston Seagull as well as the desire to share with others what he’s learned. I actually read this book aloud to my boyfriend (who is a flight enthusiast) one day when we were walking in the woods and it’s become one of his favourite books. (I like to believe my enthusiastic narration and emotive characters has something to do with that too.)
I would recommend it to fans of The Little Prince, but I think most people would benefit from or be able to appreciate it.
Potential spoiler?? :
I have described it to friends as “the last thing I really enjoyed was about a seagull who wanted to fly for fun instead of just to find food and by the end he had psychic flight powers to bend spacetime.”
genre: fiction, novella, philosophy
publisher: Harper Element
source: gifted to my boyfriend from my dad :’)
date read: 29 May 2016
recommend for: philosophical fiction fans, fans of The Little Prince
pros: lots of social commentary in a relatively simple and short story
cons: some people might not get on with this style?