Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach: Book Review

This would be the last book in Nandhini's Book Review Blog for 2014. Quite an inspirational book to end the year with a positive note!

I am talking to you about a book that was first published in 1970, around 45 years ago. There is a stunning significance for mentioning about this old book on this blog, at the close of this year. 

Initially, the author had written four parts within the story. However, at the time of sending the manuscript to the publisher, he withheld the last part considering it unimportant for that time. In 2014, having re-discovered the fourth part from an old box of manuscripts (also a consequence of a nearly fatal plane crash in 2012), author Bach sent to the publishers the 45-year old treasure and thus 2014 found the age old book reissued as Jonathan Livingston Seagull: The Complete Edition that includes a 17-page part four of the story.

 Jonathan Livingston Seagull is a short novella which is centered around the life of a seagull (bird) named Jonathan Livingston.

Part I to Part III
Seagulls are known to live in huge flocks of thousands with the sole goal to search for food for which all that requires of the seagulls is to fly low over the waters. Strangely, to fly high would mean to violate the dignity and tradition of the Gull family. However, Jonathan Livingston Seagull was eager to see what happens if he tries to fly high with great speed. Against the warnings of his parents, he practices all alone the art of flying and eventually masters it. This leads him to be outcasted from his flock and moved to a far-off cliff.

Not worried about his destiny, Jonathan continues practicing flying high. He is soon carried to a new dimension by two bright Seagulls where he meets like-minded Gulls and learns wise ways of flying. He then decides to come back to his old flock and help other Gulls who might be trying to break free the Gull-family rules like he once did. Fletcher Lynd Seagull becomes his first student and thereafter a group of Gulls join them. At the end, Jonathan appoints Fletcher as the next instructor and moves on to his next mission elsewhere.

The Deeper Meaning

Through the life of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, author Bach reminds all of us of the dreams and potential that lies hidden beneath our ordinary chores of our everyday lives. Soaring out and high from the social confinements that are prevalent all around us is important to see our inner goals manifest, just as in Jonathan Seagull's life. 

A Book for Harder Times

This book could help you during those times when the winds of destiny blow against you. It can give you the courage to feel alright to be out-of-sync with your flock fellows. Your dream is unique and it deserves whatever it takes to see them come real even if it would mean to break the rigid traditions that no longer bring harmony to your existence. 

Photographs by  Russell Munson

The book might not be incomplete without these pictures but definitely the impressive Seagull shots brings Jonathan flying just in front of us.


I read the old version of this book titled Jonathan Livingston Seagull. I wasn't aware of the new edition while purchasing. Readers who plan to buy this book can prefer the recent, updated version titled Jonathan Livingston Seagull: The Complete Edition

Title: Jonathan Livingston Seagull
Author:  Richard Bach
Publisher: Harper Collins Publisher
Pages: 88

Author Connect

Buy Online (The old version)
Buy Online (The new version)

Book Blurb
About the Author
Source: http://www.jonathanlivingstonseagull.com/the-author/

Richard Bach

I was a kid who was terrified by high places, yet loved what I could see from my roof, from the water tower, if I weren’t so scared.

My older brother built models of airplanes. The answer! I could pretend being a pilot of the models, a little tiny me in the cockpit, at the safe altitudes of our bedroom. I loved airplanes.

Later I forgot about being frightened (since there were no tall buildings where I lived) and at 18 I quit college to take flying lessons and told the Navy I wanted to be a Navy pilot. Took the test, failed it, twice. Crossed the street and told the Air Force I wanted to be an Air Force pilot. Took the test, passed it. My subconscious knew that landing on an aircraft carrier is really difficult, but landing on a two mile runway, I could do that.

It didn’t mention that I might not like being an officer or doing every officer-like duty except flying airplanes.

How to be someone who loved airplanes, but not an officer: how does one live? I found, after I failed the airline personality test, that one could fly civilian airplanes and write about flying! Took years, a few jobs (golf ball picker, deliverer of phone books, residential letter carrier, marine draftsman, writer for airline pilot handbooks, writer for aviation magazines, aircraft mechanic’s assistant, flight instructor, hopping passenger rides from pastures, a barnstormer with my biplane) but it worked! I’ve been flying and writing ever since.

The one who told me never to quit was Jonathan Livingston Seagull. After the eighteenth rejection, he said it once more, "Try again."

I'm still learning. The crash that sent me near death…what a blessing of high education it's been, through the day when Puff, my light seaplane and I were each of us rebuilt and we flew together again. Lots of adventures, lots of fictions, one fact we live.

The one reality in all our lives, I think, it's called Love. The fictions, the dramas we act, teach us quietly the power of Love.

My writing has changed, since I discovered that flying tells us about living, too. A gradual shift, over my life, from learning flying machines to the magic of flight, from the miracles of coincidence to the screenplay parts we play.

Teachers come to meet me as they come to you too, I'll bet. Sometimes beautiful women, other times wise men, sometimes fact, sometimes fiction, sometimes animals with the highest code of living. These are the friends who follow me from life to death and back again. They teach me of love, in all its many faces. I learn. I fail. Yet they stay with me always, they never quit. They hand me new challenges to learn.

I'm glad, through it all, to find this one place where our family from around the world, can meet again at last, and say hello. 

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