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Breathing Lessons

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  21,866 ratings  ·  1,326 reviews
Maggie Moran's mission is to connect and unite people, whether they want to be united or not. Maggie is a meddler and as she and her husband, Ira, drive 90 miles to the funeral of an old friend, Ira contemplates his wasted life and the traffic, while Maggie hatches a plan to reunite her son Jesse with his long-estranged wife and baby. As Ira explains, "She thinks the peopl ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 338 pages
Published October 1st 1989 by Berkley (first published 1988)
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3.66  · 
Rating details
 ·  21,866 ratings  ·  1,326 reviews

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Glenn Sumi
I finished reading Anne Tyler’s Breathing Lessons a week ago, but I found myself thinking about it a lot, especially during the recent holidays.

Tyler’s specialty is family and marriage, and while sitting down to countless meals, chatting with parents, siblings, in-laws, nieces, nephews, extended relatives and seeing little grievances and grudges pop up and then be gently patted back down, hearing current events be analyzed in smart or odd or even offensive ways, seeing patterns (some good, some
Jan 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, 2018
Dnf @ 24%

I cannot get into this book. I don't understand how this won a Pulitzer...
This is the second novel by Anne Tyler that I read and I'm happy to say I enjoyed it much more than The Vinegar Girl.

Some quick thoughts:
- the main characters, Ira and Maggie Moran, were very relatable and recognisable. Maggie is a busybody, helpful, chatty, well-meaning, a bit scattered at times. She's constantly fretting over her kids and the grandchild she doesn't get to see anymore. She wants to help and fix people's relationships. Ira is the "level-headed" one, a bit taciturn, serious, almo
K.D. Absolutely
Aug 15, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: Pulitzer
Shelves: drama, pulitzer
Breathing Lessons is about a couple, Maggie and Ira, who has been married for 28 years. Their son, Jesse, a father of a toddler, is facing a divorce. Their teenage daughter, Daisy is about to enter college so their house is now an empty nest.

Life is a journey and, for a spouse like me, marriage is that part of the journey where you are somebody paddling the boat with you. My daughter is also heading to college a couple of months from now. Although she will be still be staying with us, I know tha
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Did they really give her the Pulitzer for this thing?! How utterly appalling! This may qualify as the stupidest book I have ever read. I did not like even one of the characters. Not one! They were annoying and weak and petty.
I really wanted to hurl Maggie from the highest bridge just to get her to SHUT UP!
Dumb dumb dumb dumb story. Shouldn't have bothered to finish it, but I did. So...more fool me.
Jun 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We can essentially classify Pulitzer Prize for Fiction winners into 3 categories: the epic ("Age of Innocence," "Gone with the Wind," "Grapes of Wrath," "Confederacy of Dunces," "Lonesome Dove," "Amazing Adventures with Kavalier and Clay," "Middlesex"), the deeply personal ("Rabbit Is Rich," "Rabbit at Rest," "American Pastoral, "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao," "Olive Kitteridge"), and the "personal epic" ("Beloved," "The Hours," "Interpreter of Maladies," "The Road," "A Visit from the Go ...more
I bought this book in college, right after it won the Pulitzer in 1989. I started it and thought. . . yeah, like I really want to read about an old married couple, fighting in their car. I not only did NOT continue to read it, I sold it at a used book store.

But, there it was again last month, mine for a quarter at an estate sale. I reminded myself that it HAD won a Pulitzer, and I was determined to read it this time.

I still struggled with the first 25 pages. And, even though I realized the "old
Dec 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Una divertida, conmovedora y, a veces, irritante historia sobre un matrimonio corriente en su vida corriente. Una historia que va surgiendo de los recuerdos y vivencias que marido y mujer tienen, no siempre coincidentes, a lo largo de un largo día; uno de esos matrimonios que sobreviven con una inquebrantable mala salud de hierro gracias y a pesar de Ira y, sobre todo, de Maggie, personaje central y magistral de una novela que Anne Tyler escribió en estado de gracia y que mereció el premio Pulit ...more
Sep 09, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
When reviewing books with others--whether in text-based or face to face discussions--I am always irritated when readers don't like a book because they "don't like" certain characters in the book. I want to remind them that a) these people are, umm, fictional and b) a diverse mix of characters drives a story, makes it interesting. The truly gifted author fashions characters with weaknesses and flaws as well as strengths and charming bits--the fun is in watching the interplay. When a reader doesn' ...more
Book Concierge
From the book jacket: Everyone knows a couple like the Morans. Maggie, with her scatterbrained ways and her just slightly irritating – but good-hearted – attempts to make everything right for everyone.... And Ira, infinitely patient, who is addicted to solitaire and who whistles out popular tunes, the only barometer of his moods. They’ve learned all there is to know about each other ... two ordinary lives in a comfortably routine marriage. But on the road to a friend’s funeral, they make some un ...more
May 20, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed The Accidental Tourist so much that I was surprised that I found this book by Anne Tyler so much less enjoyable. Breathing Lessons won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1989, which is a amazing honor. To tell you the truth, I can't really see that much merit in this book, although I will admit that Tyler's writing style is skillful. Nevertheless, this novel reminded me a little of Gustave Flaubert's philosophy when he began writing Madame Bovary. He said, "I want to write a book about ...more
Mar 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having read 'Breathing Lessons' by Anne Tyler, for which she won the Pulitzer Prize in 1989, I am once again reminded of her extraordinary insight into the inner workings of marriage and family. In this story, we are introduced to Ira and Maggie Moran, a couple married for 28 years who have two grown children.... Jesse, a son who appears to be drifting and stuck in unrealistic fantasies of rock stardom, with a failed marriage behind him and a young daughter with whom he has no relationship; and ...more

This novel is a day in the life Maggie and Ira Moran, who have been married for 28 years. They start the day by attending a friend’s funeral and end it by dealing with the consequences of Maggie’s unstoppable impulse to involve herself in other peoples’ lives. Although the action of the novel is contained within that one day, the narrative explores the relationship between Maggie and Ira as they reflect upon their lives and their marriage.

Tyler is immensely skilled at creating memorable charact
Nov 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this one a while back but wanted to make sure I added it to my list to round out the other Tyler books I have read recently. This book is a perfect example of Tyler's gift for characterizing everyday, ordinary people as flawed yet endearing in their quirkiness. Yes, Maggie can be awfully irritating in her botched attempts to fix things in the lives of her loved ones, yet you can't help but love her for her sincerity and goodness of heart. Her relationship with her long-time husband Ira is ...more
Sep 10, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, kindle
An enjoyable enough story but honestly not my favorite of Anne Tyler's. Sometimes it's funny to me how the most popular or award-winning books from an author or the ones that end of resonating with me the least. Though to be fair most of this story is about a 28-year long marriage and a meddlesome older woman, and I just didn't really click with her as a character or care for her all that much. Generally, though, I do love Tyler's characters and despite her stories often being plotless, she is a ...more
(3.5) Tyler won the Pulitzer Prize for this one. I’d rate it third out of the seven of her novels I’ve read so far, after Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant and The Accidental Tourist. (In general I seem to like her 1980s work the best.) The main action takes place all on one day, as Maggie Moran and her husband Ira travel from Baltimore up to Pennsylvania to attend the funeral of her childhood friend’s husband and pay a visit to their son’s ex-wife and their granddaughter.

Of course, circadian na
Shay Caroline
Jun 17, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stinkers
I needed something to read until the book I *really* want to read arrived in the mail, so I grabbed this old Anne Tyler off the shelf. I used to read Tyler a lot; I loved "The Accidental Tourist", liked "Saint Maybe" and "A Patchwork Planet", found "Celestial Navigation" almost unbearably sad, and had read eight of her novels all told.

Perhaps my tastes have changed, or I simply reached my limit. Maybe what I found endearing twenty-five years ago just annoys me now. In any event, "Breathing Less
Jul 25, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Why did I even bother with this one? Perhaps because I thought the cover looked nice and dreamy. Birds - check. Infinity sign - check. A couple taking a roadtrip that allows them to view each other in a new light - check. All of it misleading. Remind me to not go for covers (which I think I will regardless).

I think I am not really the demographic this book is intended for, but boy was this a tough read. Somewhere around the middle, I actually skimmed through a couple-forty pages and still the pl
Oct 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Điều kỳ diệu trong những cuốn tiểu thuyết của Anne Tyler có lẽ đó là sự bình thường, một sự bình thường quá đỗi thân thuộc mà bà biết cách biến những nhân vật của mình chân thật, gần gũi trong một câu chuyện giản dị, ấm áp, không quá nhiều biến cố nhưng vẫn rất đặc biệt theo cách của riêng bà.
Bà đặc biệt xoáy sâu vào mối quan hệ trong những gia đình bình thường, bà hiểu được những tình cảm và rối rắm ẩn bên trong sự êm đềm. Không chọn những chủ đề đao to búa lớn nhưng cách viết của bà vẫn có sức
My first Anne Tyler and so absolutely blank about her style.

Well, I am totally loving her characterization and plot layout. You learn about the characters as the day progresses, and nothing seems to be like what you first thought it to be. There is a humor that pervades the story the same way certain thoughts or emotions tickle up tears. This is reality written the best way ever, very realistic and relatable.

It sort of came to me at a right time to evaluate self, relationships and parenting. A
Jennifer (aka EM)
This is a wonderful, quiet but powerful book, with very rich characterization and an interesting structure. It uses a condensed "day-in-the-life" timeline divided into three parts. The first part is the drive to the funeral that Maggie and Ira attend told from Maggie's POV; the second part the drive home told from Ira's; the third part the coming together of themes and events that occur along the way.

I esp. enjoyed how Tyler explores the approach-avoid/love-hate terrain of relationships, where p
Apr 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pulitzer in 1989. Bittersweet story of a family, a marriage, a woman's life, both humorous and tragic in its dreams unrealized. I needed breathing lessons when I was done. I wasn't sure whether to smile or cry. Tyler offers a glimpse of the poignant emotional depths of ordinary living. Maggie Moran is the pivotal character. One who doesn't see her husband or her children with the clearest lens. She sees them as she wants them to be, not as they really are. She is also one who tries to fix things ...more
. A novel. This book won Pulitzer Prize in 1988. Generally Pulitzer Prize winner’s books highlight some aspect of American Life. This book takes place in one day in Philadelphia area as a husband and wife travel by car to and from funeral of a friend. Various stops along the way and back highlight the dysfunction. The book consists of the conversations and actions of this husband and wife as they drive and the people they mix in with. They have a snotty high school senior daughter, and a divorce ...more
Vivien Fung
Apr 18, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Look, maybe my rating is too harsh. Maybe when I'm 50-something, with kids, and am too well-meaning to face actual facts and listen to what people are actually saying before coming to conclusions and jumping to action, and am too intrusively optimistic to tell things truthfully (choosing instead to dress facts up in order to needle people into doing what I think they need to do), and am too indignant to ever admit liability or fault for anything, I will enjoy this book.

Until then, 1.5/5 (no half
Елена Суббота
Вторая половина книги как-то труднее далась. Очень грустно читать о неблагодарных детях и неизбежном распаде семьи, о невозможности повернуть свою жизнь обратно, чтобы сделать нечто Важное. Боже, а может мне страшно было читать эту книгу, потому что я узнала в её героях себя и своих близких?
Jun 12, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
My favorite theme running through this book was the idea of "human wastefulness." It's not talking about physical wastefulness, but the idea that people waste so much time on things that don't matter. “For the past several months now, Ira had been noticing the human race’s wastefulness. People were squandering their lives, it seemed to him. They were splurging their energies on petty jealousies or vain ambitions or long-standing, bitter grudges. It was a theme that emerged wherever he turned, as ...more
Beth Lind
Sep 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pulitzers
Anne Tyler is one of my favorite authors and this book sums up why. She can take the most ordinary of people on a slightly ordinary day and make it feel like an epic world. The main character, Maggie, is meddling, controlling, and a fudger of the truth — and I loved her. She was completely unable to see reality and move on. Her hope for things remaining the same or for going back to what used to be was sort of hard because haven’t we all been there, yearning for what will never be again.
Il romanzo di Anne Tyler, premio Pulitzer nel 1989, descrive la vita coniugale di Maggie e Ira Moran. La storia si snoda nell'arco di una giornata, ma è costellata di digressioni e flash back che educono il lettore sulla vita dei coniugi Moran e sui loro figli.
Si respira tanta tristezza in questo romanzo, Maggie, la protagonista, lotta con protervia affinché le cose cambino perché crede nei buoni sentimenti, mentre Ira, il marito neghittoso e disincantato, si esprime attraverso i testi delle ca
Kelly ...
May 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pulitzer
I loved this book. It felt deeply personal and almost intrusive. It felt as though I was the fly on the wall, listening to private conversations and spying on Maggie and Ira. I have not read any books by Tyler before now, and I am so glad to have finally gotten to this one. The writing is languid and intimate. The story is a slow-burn, and the characterization is complex and profound. We only see one day in their lives, but it seems to tell us everything about their marriage. I know Maggie. I kn ...more
I haven’t written a review for this book because I’m not exactly sure whether I liked this or not - is that even possible? I read it as part of my Pulitzer Prize challenge.

On the one hand I think it was kind of a drag, and went on and on, and other the other hand i think - genius!!
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Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1941 and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. She graduated at nineteen from Duke University and went on to do graduate work in Russian studies at Columbia University. She has published 20 novels, her debut novel being If Morning Ever Comes in (1964). Her eleventh novel, Breathing Lessons , was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. She is a member ...more
“I mean you're given all these lessons for the unimportant things--piano-playing, typing. You're given years and years of lessons in how to balance equations, which Lord knows you will never have to do in normal life. But how about parenthood? Or marriage, either, come to think of it. Before you can drive a car you need a state-approved course of instruction, but driving a car is nothing, nothing, compared to living day in and day out with a husband and raising up a new human being.” 23 likes
“Smells could bring a person back clearer than pictures even could.” 10 likes
More quotes…