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Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  46,551 ratings  ·  2,584 reviews
Despite--or because of--her irreverence, faith is a natural subject for Anne Lamott. Since Operating Instructions and Bird by Bird, her fans have been waiting for her to write the book that explained how she came to the big-hearted, grateful, generous faith that she so often alluded to in her two earlier nonfiction books. The people in Anne Lamott's real life are like belo ...more
Paperback, 275 pages
Published February 15th 2000 by Anchor (first published January 19th 1999)
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Carol yes, I would categorize it as autobiographical and spiritual.

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 ·  46,551 ratings  ·  2,584 reviews

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Sep 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I bought this book the day before I had a late-night conversation with life-time friends about religion, and heritage, rational thought vs "faith," and personal responsibility. I learned a lot from that conversation. Indeed, I think I keep learning from it. Perhaps reading this book prolonged those lessions. At the very least, it kept alive in my own mind the debate. Can a rational, free-thinking, independent person have religious faith? Is there any good in organized religion? Do we have an obl ...more
I do not at all understand the mystery of grace--only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.

Traveling Mercies is a collection of autobiographical essays by Anne Lamott in which she explores her life without God, her road to faith, and her continuing struggle to live a life worthy of the beliefs she holds. It is not the story of her life, there are uncovered gaps that we know are there, but it is the story of her soul, and that, I would argue, is more important
Feb 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I flat-out love this book. It's probably my favourite book ever, certainly my favourite book on faith and spirituality. Annie Lamott earned her place as my very favourite Author and person-I-want-to-be-like-when-I-grow-up with this book. It's a "spiritual memoir" of sorts, written by a funny, idealistic, liberal, reformed imperfect prophetess alcoholic. This book has perhaps the best description of God I've ever read - God as cat at the door. We are all glad Annie invited him in.

Anne Lamott has
Jul 27, 2007 rated it liked it
I'm having a hard time identifying why I didn't really enjoy this book. Many of the stories and the related "morals" resonated with me and the author presents them in a very palatable form which is surprising to me given the strong christian current running throughout the book. But yet, I did not look forward to picking this up and found myself reading it just to get it over with. ...more
Feb 15, 2009 rated it did not like it
Anne Lamott writes sharp, funny, clever prose -- another of her books, _Bird by Bird_, really does give wonderful advice on writing and is how I was initially introduced to her. This book is a number of essays on a variety of issues -- getting older, handicapped people, what you can learn when you hurt yourself on a ski slope. She can be quite smart and very cute. But although she has a "love everyone" approach and is all about forgiving and laughing through life's brokenness and hurt... it all ...more
Aug 26, 2007 rated it it was ok
I have some mixed feelings about this book. I don't really know how to express them clearly, so just let me know if you want a more detailed explanation!

Reading Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz gave me some clarity as to why I didn't like Traveling Mercies. On the back of Blue Like Jazz, a commentary compares Miller and Lamott, but I completely disagree with that comparison. Before becoming Christians, both had very strong adversions to Christianity and yet both decided to give their lifes to Chr
Apr 03, 2007 rated it it was amazing
A great writer, whether you like the terrain or not.

I have not read any of her other books, but I am a big fan of this one. It is humourous and dear, ripe with blasphemy and deep spirituality all at once, which is just how i like it.

Anne Lamott writes about life and christianity with very real and human eyes. She is blunt but tender in her thoughts, highly educated and yet unafraid to show sentimentality. She is a bundle of extremes that work together beautifully with all their flaws and jumbled
Feb 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
This came highly recommended by a Goodreads friend, and I've found it just as good as he said. At first I was a little put off--the author grew up on San Francisco Bay, the daughter of comfortable liberal parents, and one would suspect that she'd only have the blues 'cause she ain't got nothin' to have the blues about. But one would be wrong. She is a very sensitive, funny, and open-hearted writer, not ashamed to admit her inadequacies. She spent most of her time from high-school to early thirti ...more
May 21, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, theology
I honestly don't know how to rate this book. Technically it's excellent. Anne Lammot is an exquisite writer, truly. I'm sure better modern writers exist, but I can't think of any off the top of my head. Certainly none writing about religion and I'm pretty well-read on Christian theism.

And I really liked her, although, judging by her reaction to every single conservative Christian mentioned in the book I doubt she'd have had any time for someone like me. I liked that she has dreds and has all ki
Susan B.
Oct 22, 2007 rated it really liked it
Anne Lamott is a person who has lived a lot of life and managed to come through the other side. Thanks to her good sense (and good sense of humor) this book is not so much a victim-y detailing of her descent and recovery, as much as it is a compelling story of how she began to catch glimpses of grace in everyday living. To this end, she offers a series of short vignettes on various topics including hair, beauty, illness, kids, family relationships, politics, music, drugs, eating, sex, etc. All a ...more
I first read Anne Lamott’s autobiographical essays on faith in about 2005, when I was in my early twenties and a recovering fundamentalist and Republican. She’s a Northern Californian ex-alcoholic, a single mother, a white lady with dreadlocks. Her liberal, hippie approach to Christianity was a bit much for me back then. I especially remember her raging against George W. Bush and the war in Iraq. But even if I couldn’t fully get behind all of her views, her picture of a fumbling faith that doesn ...more
Mar 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
I liked Lamott's tenderness in the face of real-life situations. I liked her love of community and her reverence for friendship. I liked her admissions of growth and progress while also recognizing her own human error and frailty. She reminded me to be more forgiving and to look for grace in the everyday. I am a better person for having read this.

A couple of things I really liked;

p82. "I called all my smartest friends. All the ones who believe in God told me to pray, so I did. Here are the two
Oct 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
After reading the first 1/3 of this memoir by Anne Lamott, I found myself wondering how she was still alive. Basically she was an alcoholic, drug addicted, bulemic, teenager who was raised "by a village" since her parents were "otherwise engaged." ( it was after all the 1960's. ) Later on with many of the same problems she also becomes a single mother with very little means. This book takes us on the often precarious journey through her troubled past and with humor and not a small amount of irre ...more
Stephen M
Jul 10, 2011 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Stephen M by: A friend's mother
All I should say, is that this book wasn't for me.
Perhaps if I was twenty-five years older and a women who frequently goes to church, then I would really be taken away with this one. I understand her appeal as a writer, but it didn't get me.
I'm not anti-religion by any means, I'm open to spirituality; that is probably why I read this book. However, I don't think at this point in my life it means much to me. But who knows? Life changes.
This is the fourth Lamott book I’ve read. I think perhaps it is one too many.

With each book I’ve read, I’ve appreciated her technical skill more, but her personality less. If these were fiction, I could ignore that; however, the problem with memoirs—which is mostly what these books are—is that personality is a big part of the source material. You really can’t filter it out of the end product.

What came across as “charming” to me in the first Lamott book I read and as quirky “human” is the secon
Jun 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing
if I were in the position of Saint Peter, I don't know if Anne Lamott would make it through the Pearly Gates. But I'm not, so I absolutely loved this book that tickled my funny bone and stabbed my heart. The account of her conversion was powerful and hilarious: "Fuck it. I quit. All right, Jesus, You can come in." After being at Mount Level, her descriptions of Saint Andrew resonate deeply with me. I adored her descriptions of her friends as unrelentingly beautiful. Indeed, her capacity for incr ...more
Saleh MoonWalker
Onvan : Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith - Nevisande : Anne Lamott - ISBN : 385496095 - ISBN13 : 9780385496094 - Dar 275 Safhe - Saal e Chap : 1999
Jul 11, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: biography-memoir
I usually enjoy Anne Lamott's writing, but I wasn't crazy about Traveling Mercies. It's a memoir of Lamott's religious faith, which is predominantly Christian but with a little Buddhist philosophy and the occasional slogan from a motivational poster thrown in when it suits her. It's subtitled "Some Thoughts on Faith," yet I get the sense that she hasn't thought deeply about any of this; at times it seems almost deliberately naive. It reads a little like one of those ersatz inspirational blogs th ...more
Yelda Basar Moers
Nov 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book. I felt that Anne Lamott had invited me into her home for a cup of tea and while she wrapped me around a quilt that she had knit herself, shared her thoughts and stories on spirituality, life, her son, and herself. It's a warm account of her life, her faith, her friends and everything that matters to her. She did a brilliant job capturing the magic that makes her spiritual and how it is infused in her everyday life. The writing is superb, top-notch, and her book is e ...more
Kenny Kidd
Jun 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
Anne LaMott if you’re reading this I live in San Antonio, Texas over the summer and I go to Gordon College in the fall and spring so if you’re ever in the area I would love a hug plz 🥺 I’ll run errands for you or something, if you’d like!

(This book and her heart are just lovely)
Jun 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

These are the last three sentences of the book, "Traveling Mercies" by Anne Lemott. And they sum up this collection of stories beautifully. This is a book about faith and a book about gratitude. It is intelligent, thought provoking, funny and highly readable. Anne Lemott, Annie--as it appears her friends call her--lets us into her world and shares a very personal and poignant path of a unique and awkward girl taking off her "glasses of puberty" and coming of age
May 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
No matter how much I enjoy a book, I'm generally fine with returning it to the library. I'm sad to do so with this one (I'll have to buy it eventually). I've loved Anne Lamott ever since reading 'Bird by Bird,' but this one is--if possible--even more personal and wonderful. I felt hungry for more on every page. The typical wit and what Newsweek calls "ruthless honesty" is definitely in place here; this is not an author who shades her meaning or writes coyly. There are no riddles or abstruse meta ...more
Apr 16, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: reviewed
I thought Traveling Mercies sounded like an interesting book from the title, and was recommended by a fellow overseas co-worker as a good one to read as a world traveler. However, I was disappointed. Maybe my perception would have improved had I mustered up the endurance to stick it out and read the whole book. Traveling Mercies chronicles author Anne Lamott's journey to faith through a diversity of religious & not-so-religious experiences. Since I stopped reading partway, I never reached the po ...more
Oct 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book is officially on my all-time favorites list. Anne Lamott shares her hilariously funny and at times deeply moving perspective on God and her relationship with Him in a way that makes me want to immediately drop what I'm doing and take my daughter to church. I think that everyone can identify with at least one of her struggles, which range from alcoholism to the shape of her thighs.

Her imperfections, to me, make her that much more lovable. I was completely absorbed in her internal strug
Oct 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
If you can handle some spirtituality in the form of a black church, Ram Dass quotes, and dreadlocks, then you will thoroughly enjoy this creatively written memoir of a 40-something, single mother, who's been through it all. It includes valuable and often comic insight on alcoholism, relationships with men, food and ourself, as well as motherhood and finding grace in impossible situations. Including a cast of interesting characters, Lamott presents a story to which any woman can not only relate b ...more
Jul 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book got super bipolar reviews, so I was nervous until the moment I opened it for the first time, and the barista at a very hipster coffee shop brought me my coffee, looked at it, and said "5 stars, for sure." She was right. I read it in 3 days, in giant leather chairs with strong coffee and during thunderstorms, on my couch with tea, and it was therapy. Not everything the author says lines up for me theologically, but still, the whole experience was like a balm for the soul. ...more
Oct 23, 2012 rated it liked it
I felt a mix of things for this book. The thing that stands out most in my memory, though, having read a couple books since finishing this one, is that she kept referring to God as "She". It's not that I stand firmly by a belief in God as a man with a giant white beard, but I felt almost that the author was trying to be casually shocking, like she's been liberated and enlightened. ...more
Kelley Kimble
Jul 10, 2021 rated it liked it
What would it look like if an alcoholic, drug using young woman became a Christian? Anne Lamont gives one version of this story. She’s a single mom, struggles with fear, anxiety and forgiveness and generally lives a continuing messy, authentic faithful life. This book would be most helpful to a young person struggling with the idea of trying to lead a faithful, authentic life. There’s definitely no requirement for “good” behavior or perfection to be faithful. I enjoyed the book but wish I had re ...more
Aug 18, 2020 rated it liked it
For Kaska-boom!: I like how conversational Anne Lamott's writing is, and how she brings you right along with her as she searches for and discovers herself. She is alternately funny, heartbreaking, inspiring, and someone I might be able to be a friend to. In this book, she taught me two things: 1. I cannot write because I have not endured enough struggle in my life. Not that my life has been easy or I've had everything handed to me, but compared to hers my life has been a piece of angel food cake ...more
Jun 12, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christian-books
Really enjoyed these real life stories - so authentic and honest and shows how unfair life can be and how fallible we all are. Several really memorable quotes and gems hidden amongst it all as well. Will definitely read more by this author.
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Anne Lamott is an author of several novels and works of non-fiction. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, her non-fiction works are largely autobiographical, with strong doses of self-deprecating humor and covering such subjects as alcoholism, single motherhood, and Christianity. She appeals to her fans because of her sense of humor, her deeply felt insights, and her outspoken views on topics such ...more

Articles featuring this book

Anne Lamott, the beloved writer of memoirs including Bird by Bird and Traveling Mercies, once said, “You own everything that happened to you....
65 likes · 22 comments
“Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.” 698 likes
“It's funny: I always imagined when I was a kid that adults had some kind of inner toolbox full of shiny tools: the saw of discernment, the hammer of wisdom, the sandpaper of patience. But then when I grew up I found that life handed you these rusty bent old tools - friendships, prayer, conscience, honesty - and said 'do the best you can with these, they will have to do'. And mostly, against all odds, they do.” 412 likes
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