Jonathan Livingstone Seagull – A book to know thyself

Book review: Jonathan Livingstone Seagull by Richard Bach

Why book reviews?

I have written many book reviews so far and every time I finish writing, there is a level of satisfaction which arises because of feeling that there will be someone who haven’t read that book and hence will be benefited. I am not a social person who has dedicated whole life for uplifting others. I tried to get myself enroll for some NGO thing but I couldn’t continue with it. Hence, I came up with an idea to tweak the life of people (of my surrounding) to bring one change in their daily routine. I introspect a bit and realize that I can only give what I have. I have imbibed the reading habit and hence it can be the one thing I can share with the world.

What make this master piece a beautiful one?

This review pertains to a book which I have already read twice. The good thing is it is a very small yet beautiful piece that even a beginner (as a reader) want to smell its beauty (strange but apt) and pages. The thing of attraction of this book is the black and white picture of Seagull, a seabird, around which the whole story revolves. The pictures (by Russell Munson) are scattered in such a way that while you are reading & flipping the pages and a change of events occur in the life of protagonist, a real life of Seagull will be in front of eyes to enhance the imagination.

Anyone can immerse fully inside the pages…

The book is designed like a coffee table book. It will give the reader a sense of relaxation and act as the best medicine to take before going to sleep. We will easily absorb this medicine without noticing the immense changes it can bring into our life perspective.

What are the key touching points and lessons?

The book revolves around the protagonist Jonathan Livingstone Seagull (title of the book) who has a zeal to fly higher than any of his flock might have imagined. Because of this zeal, he is tagged as outcast by the flock. After numerous attempt, he finally took a big jump and reach ‘higher plan of existence’ where every Seagull carry the same zeal to learn like him. He learned to fly anywhere there. He feels happy and lead a satisfied life until when he started thinking of his old flock. He decided to return to Earth to teach the flying art to all and become successful in this endeavor.

The story is weave with multitude of emotions into the main frame of simple story. Some of the great lines are-

  • Describing the love for passion (touching speed by Jonathan) – “But the speed was power, and the speed was joy, and the speed was pure beauty.” This line shows the spirit of passion. If we aspire something deeply, it becomes a reason of joy for us. It can be anything. Reading a book before going to bed for me can be such thing.
  • Focusing on the life purpose – “How much more there is now to living! Instead of our drab slogging forth and back to the fishing boats, there’s a reason to life!” It shows that there is a bigger purpose for each one of us than just living our routine life. Going to office everyday fulfills the purpose of paying our bills but it can also be our identity. Our work defines us. Our work gives us a chance to understand ourselves a bit on daily basis by knowing our strengths and weakness while solving work problems. But it is not to be forget that we have a beautiful life outside the office. Our family and friends are waiting for us to plant the happiness tree in our social life. Providing comfort to friends and bringing smile on their face (even in the toughest hours) can be a purpose.
  • Importance of learning and freeing ourselves from minor materialistic shackles are described in the lines – “For a thousand years we have scrabbled after fish heads, but now we have a reason to live – to learn, to discover, to be free!” This life is meant to learn the world and about us. It also focuses on the element of uniqueness which we all are blessed with. I may be bad at hundred things but there will be one thing (or two) on which I will be very good at (I suppose positivity is my thing). This one thing will be more than enough to make myself happy and to spread the happiness in the world.
  • Describing the goal of life is to love and spread the kindness through – “you will be ready to begin to fly up and know the meaning of kindness and of love.”

Why anyone should read it?

The book appreciates the beauty of uniqueness. We all are trying our level best to live someone else’s life by imitating others and by getting jealous of else’s success. To be a part of a flock is a nuisance and the same was faced by Jonathan as depicted in the following lines-

“Why, Jon, why?” his mother asked. “Why is it so hard to be like the rest of the flock, Jon? Why can’t you leave low level flying to the pelicans, the albatross? Why don’t you eat? Son, you’re bone and feathers!” “I don’t mind being bone and feathers, mom. I just want to know what I can do in the air and what I can’t, that’s all. I just want to know.”

These lines say that we need to follow our own timelines, our own path and to understand ourselves. We are our own benchmark. We are here to make ourselves a (comparatively) better person every day.

It taught us to serve others by sharing the lessons learnt with others. This principle can be easily applied in our life. It may be by giving driving lessons to your friend, by helping your friends to swim, by dedicating some extra time at office to help colleague/friend, by listening to someone in problem (as often an assurance of ‘I am there for you’ is more than enough to motivate someone) or by cracking jokes to turn a sad face into happy face.

Lastly, read this book to unveil the Jonathan hidden among us as this book is dedicated “To the real Jonathan Seagull, who lives within us all.”

I give this book a rating of 9/10 and put it under “must read” category.


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