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Living by the Word

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  344 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
In meditative and passionate prose, these provocative essays explore feminist, environmental, and political issues and shed new light on racial debates, including the controversy surrounding Walker’s bestseller, The Color Purple.
Paperback, 224 pages
Published October 23rd 1989 by Mariner Books (first published January 1st 1988)
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Nov 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I find difficulty rating some books – and writers – and Alice Walker is one of those writers I often find it difficult to "rate" using stars. Star ratings, I think, are misleading and somewhat misguided. People make judgments on the basis of star ratings, forgetting that reading is a largely personal activity; therefore, what moves me in a book may not move the next person.

I say all of this to say that I am a fan of Alice Walker [and/or her writing], in spite of the difficulty of her work. What
Feb 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved loved loved this book.

Of course there were a couple of essays that didn't do it for me, but the great thing about anthologies is you can skip something if you don't like it after a page or five.

"We grow, including the intellectual and the spiritual, without being deeply aware of it. In fact, some periods of our growth are so confusing that we don’t even recognize that growth is what is happening. We may feel hostile or angry or weepy and hysterical, or we may feel depressed. It would nev
Kathleen Fowler
Sep 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
As it happens, I have never read any of Walker’s fiction. This collection of essays is my introduction to her writing, and I have come away with a very high opinion of Walker and her art. She comes across as a thoughtful, level-headed and astute observer of society and human nature.

As a Black woman raised in the South in the mid-twentieth century, Walker has seen it all. She has personally experienced racism and sexism, and has ample reason to be bitter, resentful, distrustful, and cynical. And
A.H. Haar
May 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: by-women, essay, 2015
Alice Walker is a powerful writer, and it feels futile to "review" anything she has written, because her words stand alone. But its helpful to reflect on the words of others. So here we go.

Living by the Word is a collection of essays and journal entries spanning the years from 1973-1987. They focus primarily on the issues and intersections of race, class, gender, and environmental justice, and are steep heavily in Walkers personal spiritual beliefs. They are in turns inspiring and thought provok
Apr 02, 2016 rated it really liked it

"In fact, some periods of our growth are so confusing that we don't even recognize that growth is what is happening. We may feel hostile or angry or weepy and hysterical, or we may feel depressed. It would never occur to use, unless we stumbled upon a book or person who explained it to us, that we were in fact in the process of change, or actually becoming larger, spiritually, than we were before. " (From "Oppressed Hair Puts a Ceiling on the Brain," p 70).
"...'judness.' A time of spiritual ine
May 23, 2016 rated it liked it
So many of these essays I would give 5 stars for, but I skimmed some other shorter selections or journal entries, losing focus at times. Overall though, Walker writers about herself and others with an insight and heart that make this collection on feminism, race, and the environment sing. I hope to use some of these essays in my classroom as I often ask students to explore the power of language and media.
Nov 08, 2014 rated it liked it
This book is a collection of essays which also create a time line of the authors life. Walter's commitment to peace and equality for women and African Americans is obvious and her essays on various issues is a study of the times this book was written (the eighties). None of the essays really stood out for me but her descriptions and observations were interesting throughout. It brought back a lot of memories of the concerns of those days.
Dec 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing
i adore these essays. it is interesting to see the progression of things throughout the time when she wrote the essays. also just beautiful writing. about many different things. it helped me feel inspired at this point in my life. i guess i felt i could relate well to the point she was at in her life when she wrote most of it. fantastic.
Jul 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Cut off a star because of the horrible essay "Am I Blue?" because it was comparing eating animals to slavery and rape. You cannot just compare things to that!!!!!! I'm a vegan and I still think that Alice Walker's comparisons to eating animals to slavery was totally uncalled for and messed up. Other than that the book was really good and she's an amazing writer. Flew through this one :)
Dec 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015-shelf
The Color Purple novel and movie remain in my Top 10 - always. I was curious to read more by Alice Walker and found a strong connection to her essays, dreaming, hopes and fears. Beautifully written and generously shared insights.
Jun 15, 2007 rated it really liked it
These is a collection of different essays, many of them focused on race. It is interspersed with some of Walker's journal entries, which I really like. I could go years just reading journals of writers I adore.
Nov 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
A compact book of essays powerfully written. Each essay is a quick read and inspiring. A good book to evaluate your place in the world.
"Live by the word and keep walking."
My mother-in-law gave this one to me.
Marilyn Pagán-Banks
Aug 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Profoundly moved me!
Sep 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A rambling collection of reflective short pieces. Not her strongest work by far, but grounded and very moving and evocative all the same. I dont always "get" Alice, but I always feel her...
Nov 28, 2007 rated it liked it
Nov 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Great essays and journals entries. Black men criticized The Color Purple without reading it. What arrogance!!!

this collection of essays is utterly beautiful. i felt them deep in my bones and in my heart.
Jan 25, 2010 rated it liked it
Well written and an interesting perspective on the times 73-87. I don't get the mystical stuff.
Mar 10, 2012 rated it did not like it
Started this one, but couldn't get past the beginning. Collection of essays, but steeped in her spirituality. Liked her earlier works.Could relate to them better.
Romney Taylor
rated it it was amazing
Mar 23, 2009
Tim Helton
rated it it was amazing
Jan 12, 2016
Jul 22, 2007 rated it liked it
another book for a plane ride
Ishle Park
rated it it was amazing
Aug 01, 2012
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Aug 26, 2008
Ashley Bullock
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Dec 25, 2014
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Oct 20, 2016
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Oct 15, 2013
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Dec 12, 2012
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Alice Walker, one of the United States’ preeminent writers, is an award-winning author of novels, stories, essays, and poetry. In 1983, Walker became the first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for fiction with her novel The Color Purple, which also won the National Book Award. Her other books include The Third Life of Grange Copeland, Meridian, The Temple of My Familiar, and Possessi ...more
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“Some periods of our growth are so confusing that we don’t even recognize that growth is happening. We may feel hostile or angry or weepy and hysterical, or we may feel depressed. It would never occur to us, unless we stumbled on a book or a person who explained to us, that we were in fact in the process of change, of actually becoming larger, spiritually, than we were before. Whenever we grow, we tend to feel it, as a young seed must feel the weight and inertia of the earth as it seeks to break out of its shell on its way to becoming a plant. Often the feeling is anything but pleasant. But what is most unpleasant is the not knowing what is happening. Those long periods when something inside ourselves seems to be waiting, holding its breath, unsure about what the next step should be, eventually become the periods we wait for, for it is in those periods that we realize that we are being prepared for the next phase of our life and that, in all probability, a new level of the personality is about to be revealed.” 101 likes
“The longer I am a writer--so long now that my writing finger is periodically numb--the better I understand what writing is; what its function is; what it is supposed to do. I learn that the writer's pen is a microphone held up to the mouths of ancestors and even stones of long ago. That once given permission by the writer--a fool, and so why should one fear?--horses, dogs, rivers, and, yes, chickens can step forward and expound on their lives. The magic of this is not so much in the power of the microphone as in the ability of the nonhuman object or animal to BE and the human animal to PERCEIVE ITS BEING.” 8 likes
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