Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach - Book Review

Publisher's write-up:

'For most seagulls, life consists simply of eating and surviving. Flying is just a means of finding food. However, Jonathan Livingston Seagull is no ordinary bird. For him, flying is life itself. Against the conventions of seagull society, he seeks to find a higher purpose and become the best at doing what he loves.

This is a fable about the importance of making the most of our lives, even if our goals run contrary to the norms of our flock, tribe or neighbourhood. Through the metaphor of flight, Jonathan's story shows us that, if we follow our dreams, we too can soar.'

I started reading this book for two main reasons: one – I'm badly lagging behind in the Goodreads reading challenge and this book being just 87 pages (of which, half of them are pictures), could help my chances of completing the target; two – the author, Richard Bach, is an American. I haven't reviewed a book written by an American author in this blog, so far. I would have definitely liked the first to be a much bigger and a far more mature novel but it is good to start this with something as simple as Jonathan Livingston Seagull: a story.

I did mention two reasons, but I'd also heard about this novel several times, as a highly inspirational story and you start looking at your life from a different perspective after reading this novel. Over my four years experience, I've learnt to have my expectations low for something that is frequently praised by others since more often than not, such works of fiction have always disappointed me. But, this was rather different and I like the way it started, Jonathan Livingston, a seagull trying to break free from the chains of command of the seagull flock and follow his passion. Unlike the other seagulls for whom flight was a mere tool acquiring food, Jonathan wanted to excel in flying for that was his passion.

But for the start, the story was simply bad, on all the other aspects. When I arrived at this conclusion, I wondered, at the outset whether I was the only one who was unable to appreciate this work but I was glad when I realised after reading some reviews at goodreads that most people who've read this book shared my opinion. When this was tagged as 'motivational', I expected how Jonathan would fight against the norms of the flock and in turn excel in flying overcoming the societal constraints. Instead, the author just went on describing how Jonathan flew at '190 miles per hour' which in no way was interesting and wasn't anywhere close to being inspirational.

Besides that, I'm shocked to find this book stacked in the shelf 'Literature' in various bookstores and libraries whereas I'd say that this is nothing more than a standard fairy tale – the seagull is oppressed but two 'angels' take him to another world where all birds are like him, returns happily to earth and starts training like-minded seagulls. Moreover, I found it odd to give seagulls a surname – Livingston, Lynd, etcetera. I've nothing to say beyond this; a four paragraphs review is more than sufficient for a forty page novel.  

I didn't get any inspiration out of this story and I'm sure most people who read this book would feel the same. It is definitely one of the most overrated books I've read so far.

Rating – 2/10

Have a nice day,

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