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Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace

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3.89  ·  Rating details ·  8,682 ratings  ·  1,267 reviews
The New York Times bestseller from the author of Help, Thanks, Wow, Hallelujah Anyway and Almost Everything, Lamott's long-awaited collection of new and selected essays on hope, joy, and grace

Anne Lamott writes about faith, family, and community in essays that are both wise and irreverent. It’s an approach that has become her trademark. Now in Small Victories, Lamott
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Hardcover, 286 pages
Published November 10th 2014 by Riverhead (first published November 1st 2014)
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Mycala I'll put it this way -- I was involved with someone who became a fundamentalist and for years after we parted ways, I was completely turned off to…moreI'll put it this way -- I was involved with someone who became a fundamentalist and for years after we parted ways, I was completely turned off to Christianity. I love Anne. She is hilarious and real. (less)

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Bill Kerwin
Feb 09, 2015 rated it really liked it

Somewhere in this volume of personal essays, Anne Lamott remarks that she has always wanted to write a book entitled People I Still Hate: a Christian Perspective. This comment embodies many of the virtues of Lamott's writing: witty, ironic, honest, self-deprecatory, and filled with the knowledge that grace flows from our encounters with people—each as fallible and infuriating as ourselves—and that we, through humility and forgiveness, must prepare ourselves to receive that grace.

The first two
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Taryn
Nov 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I'm not sure how exactly to classify Anne Lamott's nonfiction books--they're part memoir, part religious reflection, part pep talk. All I know is I love them and I'm always thrilled to find out she's publishing another one. I highly recommend any and all of them--and you definitely don't need to read them in any certain order.

Basically, Anne Lamott is the only Christian writer I can read even when I'm completely disillusioned with the church and the people in it. No matter how jaded I am, no
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Lane Willson
Dec 19, 2014 rated it liked it
Anne Lamott’s latest work, Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace, is beautifully written, combining honesty and vulnerability to create an inspiring strength. This is the DNA in all her writing.

However, Small Victories brings with it a truth about Ms. Lamott that I found so disappointing. Her perception of the world has in it’s lens a political litmus test that filters her entire life. It first becomes visible in her essay about dating, and grows stronger and more virulent as
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Rebecca
Jul 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
This collection has a mixture of new and classic (“Barn Raising” and “Ham of God”) essays. The thematic divisions don’t make all that much sense, but never mind. More so than in previous books, we get Lamott’s thoughts on aging and her changing family dynamic. As usual, there is a recurrent emphasis on both being kind to oneself and learning the art of forgiveness. Sometimes it seems like her every friend or relative has cancer, but this makes her sensitive to common human failings: “Bodies are ...more
Erica
Jan 19, 2017 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: People who are not me.
Recommended to Erica by: Overdrive
I’m not a Lamott fan (I know. I KNOW, ok?) but I’d also only ever read the articles my friends, mostly women, post on Facebook because they found those articles inspiring and uplifting. I never do. I’m always left with a bad taste in my mind after reading whatever it is she’s written. However, I’ve never given her an actual shot and when Overdrive told me I’d probably like this based on my listening habits, I figured may as well give her a try.

In this compendium, she starts most of her essays by
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Kelly Hager
Nov 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I am a huge fan of Anne Lamott. There are a ton of reasons for this, but they can generally be boiled down to this: she makes me want to be a better person (especially a kinder person) and she makes me feel like it's incredibly possible for that to happen.

She's very open about the fact that she's not always a kind person herself, but she continually strives to do better (and from where I sit, it seems like she's succeeded).

I'm loving her recent books, all slim volumes on faith (this is the
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Diane Barnes
Oct 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
I wasn't all that thrilled with Anne Lamott ' s last two books, it seemed like she had lost her edge, just not as funny and honest as usual, almost like she was holding something back. But this one has her trademark mixture of humor and despair, mixed with a hard but real honesty. This is a mixture of old and new essays, and yes, she still hates George W. Bush as much as ever. Yay, she's back!
Charlotte
Dec 12, 2014 rated it did not like it
Only made it through the preface and first essay. Do we eventually get tired of being so tirelessly inspired? Lamott is such a wonderful character, always so warm and flawed and funny and utterly lovable—certainly that hasn't changed. But neither has anything else changed, there's no sense of progression or challenge. There are totally quotable, marvelously written blurbs, but what holds it all together just reads like a lot of filler.
Karla
Jan 12, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction, 2015
This is a collection of essays by Lamott. Some were good, some were not. I happen to agree with most of Lamott's very liberal political views, but I have a problem with the disdain she seems to hold for those who do not.
I also didn't like the superficial criticism of her mother's weight, makeup and clothes (the horror of clothes bought at "Monkey Wards")
Annie
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
This was my first Anne Lamott book and I have to say that I hated almost every minute of reading this book. I really wanted to like this book because Anne is actually a very engaging writer (which is why I gave it 2 stars instead of one)

However, I was constantly annoyed by the author throughout this entire book. Some may call it "self-depreciating humor" but it came off more like "I'm a mean and judgmental person!"-- and I just didn't find that funny.

Anne prides herself in being a different
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Julie
Oct 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
This collection of essays is more fleshed out than her previous two. I love Lamott's casual style and self-deprecating manner. She makes grace and spirituality approachable. I particularly like the essays on her troubled relationship with her mother. Not often do you read about keeping your mother's ashes in the closet on the same shelf as your dog's ashes! There are many sad and tragic things in life, but Lamott captures them with humor and heart.
Ron
Dec 26, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: cancer-bookshelf
This is maybe unfair, but Lamott annoyed me with this book. Her last one, on prayer, had me laughing and crying with relief. But this one left me kind of cold. I found her personal accounts too much like the sensational revelation of memoir and hard to identify with. I wearied of her frequent references to her dysfunctional family (her portrayal of her mother is uncomfortably harsh) and her recovery from alcoholism.

The Christianity she practices (and moralizes from) seems not very deeply
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Wendy
Nov 25, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
I was so looking forward to reading something new from Anne Lamott, and so disappointed to discover very little new in this book. Most of it I had already read in previous books and magazine articles. I was taken completely by surprise, which I shouldn't have been. It clearly says at the bottom of the dust cover, "New and Selected Pieces." I guess I should have paid better attention.
Melora
Sep 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
I think this is my favorite Lamott yet. Short pieces from over a long stretch of time (and sometimes the backing and forthing through time Does get a little confusing -- her son, Sam, is grown and a father, then back to being a preschooler, etc. -- but the confusion is minor). I really love her emphasis on forgiveness, grace, love, and acceptance. This would have been a five star book for me if it weren't for her incessant griping about the Bush presidencies. I didn't like the Bushes either, and ...more
Alina Borger
Mar 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
When a book starts by telling you that the worst thing you can do when you’re feeling self-satisfied, depressed, or anxious is to go for a walk with a dying friend… you know you’re reading Anne Lamott.

And when even the STORY of a walk with a dying friend has the power to drag you out of your own self-satisfied, but depressed and anxious existential crisis-of-the-moment…you know you’re glad you’re reading Anne Lamott.

I’ll keep on being glad till I’m finished reading the book, I’m sure.
Lisa
Nov 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I love Lamott and always will. She writes fiction and non-fiction, but I especially enjoy her nonfiction which is often about spirituality, life's struggles and finding grace amidst the chaos that is life. It's also about finding yourself amidst life's busyness, forgiveness, being imperfect, and love for family, of one's own choosing and by blood.
Rebecca
Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2016: Read a collection of essays. There was a lot to take in here. I really like Anne Lamott's life views, and in this book, the essay "Forgiveness" is one I need to re-read. But, oh my, does everyone she knows have cancer? I know this was nonfiction, so I'm trying to frame it as "this will be my life, too, as I get older." She reads the audiobook herself, and at first (my ears accustomed to professional actors) her almost-monotone delivery bothered me. But I got ...more
MaryAnn
Feb 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
one of my favorite quotes:
"...Saint Augustine said that you have to start your relationship with God all over from the beginning, every day. Yesterday's faith does not wait for you like a dog with your slippers and the morning paper in its mouth. You seek it, and in seeking it, you find it."
Great reminder for each new day.
John
Mar 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
I have a older friend who forwards me emails weekly with inspirational (to him, at least) stories and reflections that often end with a comparison between America's soldiers and Jesus. I cringe as I read them, sometimes actually reading between the fingers held across my eyes.

Conservatives don't hold a monopoly on uncomfortably mixing Christianity with politics. Anne Lamott is an incredibly gifted writer. She has a wonderful ability to tell a story, inviting you in with a jarring transparency
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Hanje Richards
Dec 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, essays, nonfiction
This is my favorite book so far in the Essay Reading Project. I have been a fan of Anne Lamott for some time, and appreciate the fact that she has published a new book of essays to read just when I was becoming discouraged by the essays I have read so far this year.

Anne Lamott is also the only person who writes about god in a way that doesn't make my teeth hurt.

Does Anne Lamott understand the world in a way that no one else does? Maybe.

Does Anne Lamott have a more palatable view of god and his
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R.C.
Oct 28, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: wisdom
Note: If you are a fan who has read all Lamott's previous books, you might want to skip this one simply because about half of it is material from the other "thoughts on faith" books.

It is all good material, quintessential Lamott, written with sympathy and honesty and love. (I do warn that it is a bit depressing, as so much of the "victories" described were about her friends and family's diseases and deaths.) But it really was a mishmash of things, presented out of chronological order, so
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Kathryn
Sep 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
First sentence: The worst possible thing you can do when you're down in the dumps, tweaking, vaporous with victimized self-righteousness, or bored, is to take a walk with dying friends. They will ruin everything for you.

Favorite quote: My pastor, Veronica, says that peace is joy at rest, and joy is peace on its feet, and I felt both that weekend.

This is my first Anne Lamott book and it was pure joy to read. Her take on the daily living of our lives is so well written, that I found myself
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Jo
Feb 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, essays
Brilliant! You know how poetry and sometimes humor can cut so close to the bone? Reveal shades of life that are so exquisitely captured that you might gasp or laugh out loud or pause to savor an intensity of sweetness or presence that only the very best writing can conjure? This. I'm an instant Anne Lamott fan.
Janice
Mar 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I love Anne Lamott... She is so real! I enjoyed reading this book thru twice and I definitely want to live life spotting these improbable moments! Life is hard and we are all in this together. So let's help each other find the grace and be always asking and looking with new eyes!!
Rick
Jan 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reading Ms. LaMott is like sitting down with a very wise, yet unpretentious, friend. This book is life-affirming, speaks to kindness and compassion, and directs us toward human connectedness without ever being preachy.
Betsy
Feb 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
It was not 100% new material; otherwise I probably would have given it the fifth star. It is honest, wise, heartrending, and at times laugh out loud funny. She is always good company for the journey.
Candy
Dec 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Spending time with Anne Lamott is like kicking back with a close friend. She's painfully honest enough to bring tears to your eyes and funny enough to make you laugh out loud.
Kricket
Jul 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was pretty sure I hadn't read this book before, and yet every essay seems so familiar? Two possibilities:

1) I read it and forgot to log it, although I own a copy and it seems awfully pristine. Still, I am often a forgetful dingaling.
2) These essays were all published elsewhere (magazines? salon? facespace?) and I read them before?

Not that I really mind, because I tend to read Lamott's work over and over and over again. I'm just confused!

Update: I figured it out. Many of the essays in this
...more
Christine
Dec 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
This is the first of Anne Lamott's work that I've read. In this day and age where the state of our country and the world seems to be in constant turmoil, I've noticed myself looking more and more for things to brighten my day, whether a book, a smile, or a few minutes to be grateful for what I have.

While I don't consider myself religious, I grew up in the Christian Baptist church, so I'm familiar with the messaging. I found Anne's take on being a religious person refreshing, something that in my
...more
Jane
Jul 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, spiritual, essays
I think that I think this book is outstanding because it was exactly what I needed at this particular moment. I've read all of Anne Lamott's books, except two novels. I love her memoirs. They are so cynical, generous, dark, hopeful, argumentative, engaging, "shit-this" and "thank you, world. This one demonstrates Lamott's unique voice and perspective beautifully. She is self-effacing, filled with complaints, and shining with love...like a real person, like each of us. I've been snapping at my ...more
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6,587 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 ...more
“it speaks of such integrity to refuse to pretend that you’re doing well just to help other people deal with the fact that sometimes we face an impossible loss.” 17 likes
“Addicts and alcoholics will tell you that their recovery began when they woke up in pitiful and degraded enough shape to take Step Zero, which is: “This shit has got to stop.” 11 likes
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