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Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope, and Repair

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“Lamott’s …most insightful book yet, Stitches offers plenty of her characteristic witty wisdom…this slim, readable volume [is] a lens on life, widening and narrowing, encouraging each reader to reflect on what it is, after all, that really matters.”—People

What do we do when life lurches out of balance? How can we reconnect to one other and to what’s sustaining, when evil and catastrophe seem inescapable?

These questions lie at the heart of Stitches, Lamott’s profound follow-up to her New York Times–bestselling Help, Thanks, Wow. In this book Lamott explores how we find meaning and peace in these loud and frantic times; where we start again after personal and public devastation; how we recapture wholeness after loss; and how we locate our true identities in this frazzled age. We begin, Lamott says, by collecting the ripped shreds of our emotional and spiritual fabric and sewing them back together, one stitch at a time.

It’s in these stitches that the quilt of life begins, and embedded in them are strength, warmth, humor, and humanity.

112 pages, Hardcover

First published October 29, 2013

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About the author

Anne Lamott

101 books8,721 followers
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 as her left-of-center politics and her unconventional Christian faith. She is a graduate of Drew College Preparatory School in San Francisco, California. Her father, Kenneth Lamott, was also a writer and was the basis of her first novel Hard Laughter.

Lamott's life is documented in Freida Lee Mock's 1999 documentary Bird by Bird: A Film Portrait of Writer Anne Lamott.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,128 reviews
Profile Image for Terry Lucas.
79 reviews9 followers
October 2, 2013
When I read an Anne Lamott book, I always want to call someone and read it aloud. The writing in this book paints pictures and grabs your heart and shakes it.
Profile Image for Fergus, Quondam Happy Face.
970 reviews17.6k followers
March 30, 2023
If you look at Anne’s wonderful story at the 24% point of the book, you may be happy to know that this story goes on in the book…

“The girl (sitting next to the young cancer patient Mason, after the horrendous Sandy Hook shootings) asked me (Anne)... ‘Why does he talk so funny?’

“Mason didn’t seem to notice. He said, ‘I am a miracle.’

“Then he raised his arms and fists like Muscleman.”

God bless little Mason.

And yes, Anne’s a wonderful, pithy writer, with an enormous amount of insight into our human dilemma. But, like me, and probably like Mason, she didn’t want to be born - to hear her own personal memories.

But it got better for her.

Growing up, her favourite book was Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein. It shows - she GROKS people! She lives by intuitions.

The whole book’s every bit as good. Finding faith later on, the sun came out from behind the clouds of her existentially wintery day.

But, like Anne, I didn’t overmuch want to be born myself...

A likely breach birth (my mom’s labour was long, brutal and intense) I was born with an attitude. I just wanted to go back to the womb. My earliest vivid memory goes WAY Back to my circumcision: remembering it, I musta detested that cold bright hospital room.

So there I was in my memories - alone and afraid, for months afterward.

But that all changed later, when Mom and I compared existential notes and she told me she, too, felt alone and anxious. I became the friend of her deepest remembrances for the next twenty years, until I was myself hospitalized.

I remember a violent thunderstorm when I was three. Alone together in the house, Mom said in a conspiratorial tone to me, "let's go hide in the closet!" So we did. And oh, what a strong bond is forged when your parent shows an IDENTICAL VULNERABILITY to yours!

And I had a childhood version of coming of age then too. My mom began to unload her deepest and darkest secrets on me when I was three, until I panicked and stopped my ears. Agenbite of Inwit...

Well, Anne “got religion” as I did, around 13. It has saved me - and most likely Anne - from a lifetime of angst. But her days, as I say, can’t be all sunlight. Nor are mine, or anyone else's in this turbulent world.

But if that's what you are like, this book may be for you.

But be careful -

For Anne - like my Mom did with me - can GROK the Deepest You in yourself:

If you’re Vulnerable, and IF you're ready for it...

For THAT's the real you.
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,736 reviews14.1k followers
November 17, 2013
Many of us who grew up on the fifties and sixties will find it easy to relate to this book. Told to get over things quickly and that what happens in the family, stays in the family we grew up repressing many of our feelings. Anne, was an emotional child who felt things intensely and was told that she was over emotional. A view she had a hard time living with but one that lead her to books and fostered her love of them.

This is a sort of how to feel book, or an it is okay to feel book. Some of us are able to quickly present a stiff upper lip when we are knocked down but some of us just can't. This book tells us it is okay to grieve, a person or a past, things that happen in the world that are terrible, things we feel but cannot change. A book of beautiful lines, written with a vulnerability as she shares her emotions with her readers. I could have quoted so many of these phrases, but this is a short enough book and everyone should experience this first hand. A perfect and beautiful book to have read on a rainy and windy Sunday.
488 reviews56 followers
October 20, 2014
Sorry, just couldn't do it. I've heard great things about Anne Lamott, but by page 4 I was gritting my teeth.

I think the thing that killed it for me is the sense that the tragedies of the world are happening to her. Katrina, 9/11: happening to her. Tragedies that her children endure: happening to her.

And then I hit this sentence on Page 5: "But what if your perfect child becomes sick, obese, an addict or a homeless adult?" I think my mother thinks my fatness is something that happens to her. And I was done.
Profile Image for David.
659 reviews315 followers
August 4, 2017
I'm a sucker for Lamott's philosophical musings gently tinged by her Christian faith. She's not shy about it, but is gracious in her acceptance of whatever you the reader might subscribe to. Here she's musing on loss. She offers up no easy answers, no grand epiphanies, just a hand on the shoulder and a nod of recognition. Sometimes you just need a silent witness, not empty platitudes about God's plan. She quotes self-proclaimed Hind-Jew Ram Dass who said ultimately we're all just walking each other home. I love that. It feels like the guiding tenet of the book - just a quiet partner to walk you home. Another quick read but one worth lingering over.
Profile Image for Erika.
106 reviews8 followers
November 29, 2013
Anne Lamott would be my dear friend in another life. Or, maybe she is... Even if we have yet to formally meet.
She writes about the pain of losing friends; hyperventilating over children (over imagined fears); teaching children via coffee filters and wishing someone had told her that life is hard. Who wouldn't want to take a long walk with her? The next best thing is this: reading her books to remind you that you are not the only crazy person who thinks about deep questions and doesn't know whether to laugh or cry. And, listen, Annie will always remind you that "life can be wild, hard and sweet, but it can also be wild, hard and cruel"; however, she will also give you faith and hope that even though "it's a terrible system", the good news is "then there is new life". Wildflowers blooming; bulbs growing in the cold, rocky dirt; light shining in the darkness. My favorite line in this book comes after talking about being people who are always taking care of others. She says, "Now I take my turn, as a radical act." Well said, Anne.
Profile Image for Reid.
895 reviews60 followers
November 24, 2013
Another book of wit and wisdom from an author for whom this has become a cottage industry. What Anne Lamott does is, in my experience, quite unique: she bares her soul and invites you to heal along with her. Lamott is a damaged person and does not shy away from revealing just how damaged she is. But her assumption (correct as far as I can see) is that we are all broken, too, and that nothing is more healing than sharing that with one another.

Of course, if one comes to pick nits, they are easy to find. Anne is no philosopher, so her persepctive on life and the solution to its many problems could easily be picked apart by any devotee of, say, Kierkegaard. She is no psychologist, so anyone with any sophistication in the study of the human psyche might roll their eyes. But she is not appealing to the intellect here, she is hooking into the heartfelt experience of loss and joy, giving you the gift of one woman's life to hold up against your own and warm you both. And what a gift it is.
Profile Image for Maria Roxana.
541 reviews
August 15, 2018
”Uneori simțim că de-abia ne târâm printr-un tunel strâmt, julindu-ne coatele. Dar în final ieșim de cealaltă parte, epuizați și transformați.

Maica Tereza a spus că niciunul dintre noi nu poate întreprinde lucruri mărețe, dar că putem face lucruri mici cu o iubire măreață.

Și noi suntem umbră și lumină. Se presupune că nu ar trebui să știm, sau să fim toate aceste fațete diferite ale umanității, unele strălucitoare, altele întunecate. Am fost crescuți astfel încât să fim luminoși și scânteietori, dar există sens în acceptarea părții noastre înnegurate, umbrite, precum și în sfidare.

Oamenii care îi învață pe alții să citească ori să caute cărți într-o bibliotecă, profesorii care nu renunță la elevii delăsători sau la cei cu probleme mai serioase vor obține cele mai bune locuri în Ceruri.

Toți profesorii cu har știu că în interiorul unei persoane izolate sau furioase există un suflet, ascuns în adâncul adâncurilor, capabil de o viață deplină-o ființă omenească trăgând nădejdea într-o poveste mai bună, având aliați și știind să citească.
Pentru mine, a preda este o chemare sfântă, mai ales când vine vorba despre elevii care au mai puține șanse de a reuși. Nu este numai darul de a fi în stare să nu abandonezi pe nimeni, ci și capacitatea de a-ți da seama de unde să începi.”
Profile Image for Shari.
597 reviews10 followers
November 17, 2013
This reads less like a book and more like the transcript of a talk (one could easily read this entire thing over a cup or two of coffee) and having heard Anne Lamott speak, I appreciated it in that sense. Her writing always seems to find its way into my life at the right time. I’m not sure I’ll pick this up when I want to dip into her writing (that’s what Traveling Mercies is for), but it still contains the essence of what I love about her.
Profile Image for JanB .
1,144 reviews2,511 followers
December 16, 2014
2.5, rounding up to 3

A slim inspirational book with Anne's trademark wit and wisdom but once again, the meanderings and flight of ideas made it a less than satisfying read. This is the second book by Lamott that has been a disappointment, although in all fairness, Traveling Mercies is a hard act to follow.

Profile Image for debbicat *made of stardust*.
732 reviews108 followers
November 3, 2018
I think Anne and I would be good friends. I can kinda see us being kindred spirits. I loved this short book and enjoyed taking a few walks to it. I am now reading Traveling Mercies and it is becoming a favorite. More of a review to follow. I highly recommend it.
Profile Image for Kelly Hager.
3,101 reviews130 followers
September 28, 2013
It's not surprising that this is a brilliant book. I haven't read anywhere near all of her books yet (I think this is my second nonfiction of hers and I've read one of her novels) but I've been incredibly impressed by everything I have read.

I do wish this book had been longer and that things had been explored a little more. However, anything by Anne Lamott is something to be celebrated and this book is absolutely no exception.

The thing I loved most about this book is the fact that it doesn't resort to platitudes. Horrible things happen and they are hard to deal with and they make us sad and angry and no matter how many times you say, "It's part of God's plan," that never gets easier to hear or will make the listener feel all that much better.

But eventually (sometimes almost immediately but generally it takes a while) good things come from the horribleness. Or sometimes in spite of the horribleness. Either way, good things do come.

Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Tracy.
269 reviews17 followers
August 30, 2016
I love Anne Lamott and read all of her non-fiction as soon as it comes out. I was slightly disappointed in this one (although a "not so great" book by Anne Lamott is still much better than most books out there) - I felt like it was kind of all over the place. I love the stories that she tells, and there weren't enough of them in this book. I would definitely recommend her earlier works to someone who hasn't read her before, but perhaps not this one; die-hard fans will still like and appreciate it though.
Profile Image for Cornmaven.
1,615 reviews
November 16, 2013
I love Anne Lamott. I eagerly awaited this one. I was sad that it was so thin. I was sad that it seemed disjointed, not that life itself is nothing if not disjointed. I didn't understand the shirt story, how it fit into the whole thing. At least it didn't fit for me.

There are some good truths in it, good quotes. Except for the one by Augustine - good quote, but I think he was a big misogynist so I think I would have picked a different guy to use. :-)
Profile Image for Fab2k.
409 reviews
May 8, 2016
I liked this short little collection. Typical Lamott, with colorful metaphors of what grief is like, what fear is like, how community works, how nature plays a part in healing. A very helpful and encouraging read. I'll pick this one up again.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
1,059 reviews27 followers
December 11, 2013
Impulse by at Northshire with Julie during the visit to Lyle. Granted, I read it in bits over a few weeks, but right from the start it felt perfunctory and repetitive. Ironically enough, I wondered if Lamott was stitching together (ouch) bits from her other books and essays to create a patchwork quilt (again) of a book. I was, frankly, disappointed. It is a far cry from "Help, Thanks, Wow,"--equally short but moving and reflective--or "Traveling Mercies." I'll reread it soon, and maybe see the error of my ways, but right now, it's a weak "okay."
Profile Image for Gary Anderson.
Author 0 books84 followers
December 17, 2013
I'm a long-time admirer of Anne Lamott's writing and outlook. While Stitches features her appealing trademarks, it also seems shallower and less insightful than her other recent books in this genre. It pretty much boils down to "Sometimes life is hard. You can get through it though." I can never dislike an Anne Lamott book because I respect her reflective capacity so much, but I like this one a little less.
Profile Image for Diane Barnes.
1,256 reviews451 followers
October 27, 2013
This is a typical Anne Lamott book, giving us an incredible look at the human spirit and what it is capable of.
Profile Image for Dr. Tobias Christian Fischer.
648 reviews33 followers
June 3, 2021
The book questions our existence and searches for the purpose in our life. There might be none but the book describes good alternatives. #blinkist
Profile Image for Catherine.
354 reviews
March 22, 2017
I liked, but didn't love, this book. The problem was partly mine - I picked it up and read a little, put it down and left it for days at a time, and that's never the best way to absorb what a book can offer. But the central metaphor of the text didn't work for me - I struggled with the idea of patching and stitching and had to reread those paragraphs more than once to grasp the underlying idea. I didn't walk away with a clear sense of "this book is about _____." Instead, I have a vague sense of it being a pleasant book that cleared my head and gave me some respite from thinking about our present political situation.

The book was beautifully written (save that stitching metaphor which, again, is more about me than the author), and filled with compassion. I'd recommend it for a lazy weekend afternoon, something that could be read in one sitting.
Profile Image for Sarah.
223 reviews89 followers
December 12, 2017
I don't know what took me so long to get around to reading one of Anne Lamott's books. Every reader, feeler, believer, homesteader, and Instagrammer seems to include her on their list of favorite authors. Actually, now that I mention it, I guess that's what took me so long.

I see now why so many love her writing. Anne is self-deprecating, but also confident without apology. She is honest about her flawed nature, but also confident in her strength when she needs it most. She has a quiet yet powerful ability to notice the big picture in the little things. And that's really what life is all about isn't it? Finding beauty in the little things?
Profile Image for Bob Henry.
83 reviews14 followers
November 5, 2013
I really enjoyed Anne's last book, "Help, Thanks, Wow" but this book, "Stitches" has such a beautiful, vulnerable and real way of engaging the reader's heart. In about 100 pages, Anne leaves you wanting more, but wrestling with the reality of life. She has weaved the hope, the challenge to see, and a heartfelt reality throughout. It was just what I needed to read - a balance of "gravity and grace."
Profile Image for Karen Ashmore.
496 reviews8 followers
November 17, 2013
After reading almost all of Lamott's books over the years, I almost feel that I know what examples from her life she is going to use to illustrate her point. But I am always awed anew at her command of language and how she can turn a seemingly innocuous incident into a strangely delightful metaphor that would have never occurred to me. In Stitches, she addresses this with ways to respond to grief and handle life's challenges. It truly is a handbook of meaning, hope and repair.
Profile Image for Becky Roper.
639 reviews
November 30, 2013
Anne Lamott writes as one who knows some difficult life situations (drugs, alcohol, etc) and has enough of a dry sense of humor to keep this little (short) book from being maudlin. It has a lot of quotes, and borrows from more than one philosophy to give you some things to consider on the subject. I did like the metaphor of stitches and the idea that life is doing a lot of patching. Favorite quote: We are all just walking each other home.
Profile Image for Cheri.
1,743 reviews2,267 followers
January 17, 2014
Anne Lamott's outlook on life is funny, charming, uplifting, insightful, thought provoking and .... is a little bit like talking to the friend you have that isn't judgmental at all, and isn't too serious to have fun with - but they can talk about serious matters, and listen to your thoughts even when you haven't said a word.

"Stitches", like last year's "Help, Thanks, Wow" was a fast read, and a great way to start out the year.
Profile Image for Elisa.
10 reviews
September 16, 2014
This was my first Anne Lamott & I truly loved it. Refreshingly frank & honest. I felt like much of it really rings true. My mother died 6 months ago & this book was sent to me by one of her best friends. A great read for someone healing from life's hard blows.
Profile Image for Niya.
Author 3 books3 followers
January 18, 2014
An easy heartfelt book. She deepens and amplifies any subject. I always want to have tea with her after reading anything she has written.
Profile Image for Kari Yergin.
586 reviews13 followers
March 17, 2014
It's pretty easy to think you know the meaning of life when your children are small, if they come with all their parts and you get to live in that amazing cocoon of oneness and baby smells. But what if your perfect child becomes sick, obese, an addict, or a homeless adult? What if you wake up at 60 and realize you forgot to wake up, and you never became the person you were born to be, and now your hair is falling out?

You're thinking about this for the first time when maybe it's a little late, Your life is two-thirds over, or you're still relatively young, but your girl went from being two years old to being eleven in what felt like 18 months, and then in what felt like eight weeks to fifteen, where she has been now, sharply dressed as a bitter young stripper, for as long as you can fricking remember. p.5

Ram Dass, who described himself as a Hin-Jew, said that ultimately we're all just walking each other home. I love that. I try to live by it. p.6

…answers that will hold, for now and even over time. They are observations that in troubled times help me find my way once again to what TSEliot called "the still point of the turning world."

Maybe we can all agree that meaning is always going to have to do with love,, and furthermore, that children should not get cancer, or be shot, and that our old must be cared for. Is there really any disagreement on those points? p.7

In the aftermath of loss, we do what we've always done, although we are changed, maybe more afraid. We do what we can, as well as we can. …told a story of a sparrow lying on the street with its legs straight up in the air, sweating a little under its feathery arms. A warhorse walks up to the bird and asks, "What on earth are you doing?" The sparrow replies, "I heard the sky was falling and I wanted to help." The horse laughs a big, loud, sneering horse laugh, and says, "Do you really think you're going to hold back the sky, with those scrawny little legs?" And the sparrow says, "One does what one can."

So what can I do? Not much. Mother Teresa said that none of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love. This reminder has saved me many times. p.14

(teaching kids) I always end up telling the kids the same things:that they are loved and chosen, that the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it: and to keep trusting God no matter what things look like and no matter how long an upswing takes. p.15

I talked in a general way about what good people can do in the face of great sorrow. We help some time pass for those suffering . We sit with them in their hopeless pain and feel terrible with them, without trying to fix them with platitudes; doing this with them is just about the most gracious gift we have to offer. We give up what we THINK we should be doing, or think WE need to get done, to keep them company. p.17 We help them to bear being in time and space during unbearable times and spaces.

A great truth, attributed to Emily Dickinson, is that "hope inspires the good to reveal itself." This is almost all I ever need to remember. Gravity and sadness yank us down, and hope gives us a nudge to help one another get back up or to sit with the fallen on the ground, in the abyss, in solidarity. p,19

When you love something like reading--or drawing or music or nature--it surrounds you with a sense of connection to something great. If you are lucky enough to know this, then your search for meaning involves whatever that Something is. It's an alchemical blend of affinity and focus that takes us to a place within that feels as close as we ever get to "home." It's like pulling into our own train station after a long trip-- joy, relief, a pleasant exhaustion. p.22

The American way is to not need help, but to help.One of the hardest lessons I had to learn was that I was going to need a LOT of help, and for a long time. What saved me was that I found gentle, loyal, and hilarious companions, which is at the heart of meaning: maybe we don't find a lot of answers to life's tougher questions, but if we find a few true friends, that's even better.They help you see who you truly are, which is not always the loveliest possible version of yourself, but then comes the greatest miracle of all-- they still love you. They keep you company as perhaps you become less of a whiny baby, if you accept their help. 34

We forget so much. All those memories of great meals, travel, landscapes, conversations, insights, theatre, and scenes in distant cities, moments you swore you'd remember forever, so many washed away like Etch-a-Sketch drawings. 45

God could do anything God wanted, heal and create through weather or visions or the ever popular tongues of fire, but instead chooses us to be the way, to help, to share, to draw close. To me, this is a terrible idea. No offense.61

…visions that could fill them for a fleeting second-- which is what our lives are made of. 64

Helen's heart was broken, of course, when her husband died.It was, as Zora Neale Hurston wrote, "the meanest moment of eternity." Yet somehow or other, time passed after his death. Helen's heart had softened, and she had grown strong. She will always be lonely here without her husband, but she loves much of her life again. That's proof enough for me that love is sovereign, that most of the time, love bats last. 65

Sometimes love does not look like what you had in mind, 66

No matter how great we looked, everything would pass away, especially the stuff we loved the most and could not live without. 74

They (sober mentors) taught me that being of service, an ally to the lonely and suffering, a big-girl helper to underdogs, was my best shot at happiness. They taught me that most of my good ideas were not helpful, and that all of my ideas after 10 pm were especially unhelpful. They taught me to pay attention , but not so much attention to my tiny princess mind. 75

I have always given everyone in the world lots of help… but they taught me it was OK to ask for help, even a lot of help. This was stunning. And it turned out that there was always someone around who could help me with almost everything that came up, and that some people seem to have been assigned to me, as I had been assigned to other people. 75

Here's the true secret of life: We mostly do everything over and over. … I love ritual and repetition. Without them, I would be a balloon with a slow leak.

Beauty is a miracle of things going together imperfectly.

You have to keep taking the next necessary stitch, and the next one, and the next.. Without stitches, you just have rags. And we are not rags. 83
Profile Image for Virginia.
951 reviews112 followers
March 27, 2022
Short and sweet, not very deep, more affirmation than spiritual enlightment. At least in this one Jesus gets a mention. The author includes several stories and comments that appeared in Help, Thanks, Wow. A good choice for anyone who's a fan of Anne Lamott.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,128 reviews

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