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Jonathan Livingston Seagull

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This is a story for people who follow their hearts and make their own rules...people who get special pleasure out of doing something well, even if only for themselves...people who know there's more to this living than meets the eye: they’ll be right there with Jonathan, flying higher and faster than ever they dreamed.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull is no ordinary bird. He believes it is every gull's right to fly, to reach the ultimate freedom of challenge and discovery, finding his greatest reward in teaching younger gulls the joy of flight and the power of dreams. The special 20th anniversary release of this spiritual classic!

112 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1970

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Russell Munson

4 books10 followers

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5 stars
84,724 (35%)
4 stars
71,842 (30%)
3 stars
53,804 (22%)
2 stars
19,956 (8%)
1 star
8,625 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 10,085 reviews
Profile Image for Jonathan.
130 reviews62 followers
May 21, 2008
Basically, you've got a seagull who just can't fit in with other seagulls. If this was written within the last decade, Jonathan would be coping with his outcast status by wearing a black trench coat and rolling 20-sided dice for fun. He would also achieve a loyal following of other socially awkward birds by totally kicking ass in Guitar Hero.

Sadly, this was written in the halcyon days of the 70's, so Jonathan goes on a soul searching quest and learns how to fly better than any other seagull. Gradually, other seagulls join him and become awesome too.

No, I'm not describing a children's picture book. I'm talking about a book that bookstores actually shelve in the "literature" section. I honestly think that there are more photographs of seagulls in this book than there are paragraphs. Anyway, some people call this book "inspirational", or "motivating." I'm guessing that these are the same people who consider accidentally getting two extra cheesesticks for free in their Papa John's order "a miraculous affirmation of a higher power."

The only reason I gave this book two stars instead of one is that I was named after it. Honestly, who wants to be named after a shitty book? Think of the entire pantheon of literature. I could have been named Atticus Finch, or Heathcliff Earnshaw, or Beowulf. Instead I get Jonathan Livingston. Thanks a lot, Mom and Dad. No, really, you guys just sit back and relax, I'll roll this next doobie for you.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56k followers
July 26, 2021
Jonathan Livingston Seagull - a story, Richard Bach

Jonathan Livingston Seagull, written by Richard Bach, and illustrated by Russell Munson is a fable in novella form about a seagull who is trying to learn about life and flight, and a homily about self-perfection.

It was first published in 1970. In 2014 the book was reissued as Jonathan Livingston Seagull: The Complete Edition, which added a 17-page fourth part to the story.

The book tells the story of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, a seagull who is bored with daily squabbles over food.

Seized by a passion for flight, he pushes himself, learning everything he can about flying, until finally his unwillingness to conform results in his expulsion.

An outcast, he continues to learn, becoming increasingly pleased with his abilities as he leads a peaceful and happy life.

One day, Jonathan met two gulls who took him to a "higher plane of existence" in which there was no heaven but a better world found through perfection of knowledge. There he meets another seagull who loves to fly. He discovers that his sheer tenacity and desire to learn make him "pretty well a one-in-a-million bird."

In this new place, Jonathan befriends the wisest gull, Chiang, who takes him beyond his previous learning, teaching him how to move instantaneously to anywhere else in the Universe.

The secret, Chiang says, is to "begin by knowing that you have already arrived." Not satisfied with his new life, Jonathan returns to Earth to find others like him, to bring them his learning and to spread his love for flight.

His mission is successful, gathering around him others who have been outlawed for not conforming. Ultimately, the very first of his students, Fletcher Lynd Seagull, becomes a teacher in his own right, and Jonathan leaves to teach other flocks.

Part One of the book finds young Jonathan Livingston frustrated with the meaningless materialism, conformity, and limitation of the seagull life. He is seized with a passion for flight of all kinds, and his soul soars as he experiments with exhilarating challenges of daring aerial feats.

Eventually, his lack of conformity to the limited seagull life leads him into conflict with his flock, and they turn their backs on him, casting him out of their society and exiling him. Not deterred by this, Jonathan continues his efforts to reach higher and higher flight goals, finding he is often successful but eventually he can fly no higher.

He is then met by two radiant, loving seagulls who explain to him that he has learned much, and that they are there now to teach him more.

Jonathan transcends into a society where all the gulls enjoy flying. He is only capable of this after practicing hard alone for a long time and the first learning process of linking the highly experienced teacher and the diligent student is raised into almost sacred levels.

They, regardless of the all immense difference, are sharing something of great importance that can bind them together: "You've got to understand that a seagull is an unlimited idea of freedom, an image of the Great Gull."

He realizes that you have to be true to yourself: "You have the freedom to be yourself, your true self, here and now, and nothing can stand in your way."

In the third part of the book are the last words of Jonathan's teacher: "Keep working on love." Through his teachings, Jonathan understands that the spirit cannot be really free without the ability to forgive, and that the way to progress leads—for him, at least—through becoming a teacher, not just through working hard as a student.

Jonathan returns to the Breakfast Flock to share his newly discovered ideals and the recent tremendous experience, ready for the difficult fight against the current rules of that society. The ability to forgive seems to be a mandatory "passing condition."

"Do you want to fly so much that you will forgive the Flock, and learn, and go back to them one day and work to help them know?"

Jonathan asks his first student, Fletcher Lynd Seagull, before getting into any further talks. The idea that the stronger can reach more by leaving the weaker friends behind seems totally rejected.

Hence, love, deserved respect, and forgiveness all seem to be equally important to the freedom from the pressure to obey the rules just because they are commonly accepted.

In 2013 Richard Bach took up a non-published fourth part of the book which he had written contemporaneously with the original. He edited and polished it and then sent the result to a publisher.

Bach reported that it was a near-death experience which had occurred in relation to a nearly fatal plane crash in August 2012, that had inspired him to finish the fourth part of his novella.

In February 2014, the 138-page Bach work Illusions II was published as a booklet by Kindle Direct Publishing. It also contains allusions to and insights regarding the same near-death experience.

In October 2014, Jonathan Livingston Seagull: The Complete Edition, was reissued and includes part four of the story.

عنوانهای چاپ شده در ایران: «پرنده ای به نام آذرب‍اد»؛ «جوناتان مرغ دریایی»، «جاناتان مرغ دریایی»؛ نویسنده: ریچارد باخ؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش ماه جولای سال 1991میلادی

عنوان: جاناتان مرغ دریایی؛ نویسنده ریچارد باخ؛ مترجم لادن جهانسوز؛ ویراستار محسن مدیری؛ تصویرگر و نقاش راسل مانسون؛ تهران، بهجت، سال1371؛ در 112ص؛ شابک 9646671020؛ چاپ دوم و سوم 1378؛ چهارم 1379؛ پنجم و ششم 1380؛ هفتم 1381؛ هشتم و نهم 1382؛ چاپ یازدهم 1385؛ سیزدهم 1387؛ چهاردهم 1388؛ هجدهم 1391؛ چاپ بیستم 1393؛

نخستین بار در سال 1354هجری خورشیدی، با عنوان: «پرنده ای به نام آذرب‍اد»؛ با ترجمه ی سرکار خانم «سودابه پرتوی»؛ در انتشارات «امیرکبیر» و در سال 1369هجری خورشیدی با عنوان «جوناتان مرغ دریایی»، و با ترجمه ی خانم «فرشته مولوی در کتابهای جیبی»، و با ترجمه جناب «هرمز ریاحی در کتابهای جیبی»؛ و با ترجمه خانم «لادن جهانسوز در نشرهای بهجت، کاروان»، و با ترجمه خانم «آذر حاجی‌نجفی در نشر هدایت الهی»، با ترجمه جناب «عباس زارعی در نشر آموت»، و با ترجمه خانم «پریسا شهرامیری در نشر کوله‌پشتی»، و با ترجمه آقای «مرتضی سعیدی در نشر آزرمیدخت»؛ و...؛ و البته ترجمه کامل این اثر با عنوان «جاناتان لیوینگستون، روایت یک مرغ دریایی، با ترجمه خانم غزاله رمضانی از سوی نشر وانیا در سال1392خورشیدی» منتشر شده است

همان داستان «منطق الطیر» روانشاد «عطار نیشاپوری» است که «سی مرغ»، در پایان جستجوی خویش به «سیمرغ» میرسند، داستان اینبار دستمایه ی «ریچارد باخ» شده است؛ «سیمرغ عطار» در این کتاب شعرگونه، همان بهشت است، که «جاناتان» میپرسد: «آیا مکانی به نام بهشت وجود دارد؟» در پاسخ میشنود از «مرغ فرزانه»، که (خیر «جاناتان»، چنین مکانی وجود ندارد، بهشت یک مکان، یا یک زمان نیست، بهشت یعنی کامل شدن)؛ بخش چهارم کتاب را که در سال 2014میلادی به متن کتاب افزوده شده، هنوز نخوانده ام.؛

چکیده: «جاناتان لیوینگستون» یک مرغ دریایی است، که اندیشه های دیگرگونه، از مرغان هم‌فوجِ خویش دارد، و برخلاف آنها که پرواز را وسیله‌ ای برای پیدا کردن غذا، و ادامه‌ ی زندگی می‌دانند، «جاناتان» پرواز را، وسیله‌ ای برای هدفی بزرگتر و والاتر، و رسیدن به کمال می‌داند؛ «جاناتان» می‌خواهد پرواز را حرفه‌ ای یاد بگیرد، برای همین به تمرین دلمشغول است؛ رفتارهای گوناگون «جاناتان» حتی موجب نگرانی پدر و مادرش شده، و در پایان او از فوج خود تبعید می‌شود؛ طرد شدن «جاناتان»، ماجراهایی را رقم میزند، که برای خوانشگر، کشش و هیجان ایجاد می‌کند؛ «جاناتان» مرغی‌ است، که بارها شکست می‌خورد، خسته می‌شود، طرد می‌شود، اما قدمی از مسیر رو به هدف خویش، به پشت سر برنمی‌دارد

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 19/05/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 03/05/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. (احمد) شربیانی
Profile Image for Federico DN.
310 reviews553 followers
February 3, 2023
An immeasurable love for flight, and a passion that knows, literally, no bounds.

In this story we lean the story of "Jonathan Livingston Seagull", an odd little sea bird. Unlike most of his kind, Jonathan Livingston does not seek food or shelter; Jonathan loves flying, Jonathan lives flying. And as most novices do, he starts with what every beginner is bound to do, fail. And fail spectacularly! But practice makes the master, and Jonathan Livingston is on a life quest to reach the impossible, and something unimaginably greater than just master.

An inspiring little novella about bettering yourself, following your passion, and pursuing your dreams, without limits. A truly remarkable read. Highly recommendable.

[1970] [112p] [Classics] [Highly Recommendable]

Un inmensurable amor por el vuelo, y una pasión que, literalmente, no conoce límites.

En esta novela conocemos la historia de "Juan Salvador Gaviota", una rara y pequeña ave marina. A diferencia de otros de su especie, Juan Salvador no busca comida o refugio; Juan ama volar, Juan vive volar. Y como casi todos los novatos hacen, empieza con lo que todo princincipiante está destinado a hacer, fallar. Y fallar espectacularmente! Pero la práctica hace al maestro, y Juan Salvador está en una misión de vida para alcanzar lo imposible, y algo inimaginablemente más lejos que ser sólo maestro.

Una inspiradora pequeña novella sobre mejorarse uno mismo, seguir tu pasión, y perseguir tus sueños, sin conocer límites. Una lectura realmente destacable. Altamente recomendable.

[1970] [112p] [Clásicos] [Altamente Recomendable]
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.7k followers
June 17, 2020
You know, sometimes you should just leave fond childhood memories alone.


But I have a hard time resisting any kind of challenge, at least if it relates to reading, so when Karly criticized my 3-star rating of this book (see the thread to this review for her very funny and halfhearted trolling efforts), I felt compelled to go dig out my old copy of Jonathan Livingston Seagull - and it did take some digging - to see if I could justify my rating.

Unfortunately, I couldn't.


This flimsy and fluffy little book was a massive bestseller in 1972 and 1973. It's a VERY unsubtle parable about a seagull who decides that the mundane life of squawking and fighting for food is not for him. He wants to learn how to really fly.


The other seagulls are not impressed with his stunts and aerial acrobatics.


But Jonathan Seagull is brave enough to defy the Flock and continue his search for perfection.

It's all very inspiring and affirming and I can see why a lot of people still love it. There's actually a JLS website where people share their "seagull stories" of how they learned to overcome their doubts and fears and truly live, and they all tell each other how great they are. Fly free, beautiful white birds! And that's all fine, as long as you're not hurting innocent people, or neglecting those who need you, in your search to Find Yourself.

But this book, as a piece of literature, has problems on so many levels: The heavy-handed symbolism. The simplistic worldview (spend all your time learning how to fly perfectly and all other problems will magically take care of themselves!).

And the book tries to be all things to all people. Overcoming obstacles and achieving through your own determination and effort? Yup. Reincarnation? Got it. Christian symbolism? Covered. New Age mysticism? Don't get me started.

2 stars, because even if it's on the simplistic and cheesy side, I still find a little inspiration and humor in the pages of this novella.

Initial post: Karly tells me I'm way off base with my 3 stars here, which is based on my teenage reading of this book many, many moons ago. So I'm going to re-read this book (assuming I can find the dusty old copy that is hiding somewhere in my basement) and either agree with her or defend my position.

It is on! *cracks knuckles*
Profile Image for Benjamin.
186 reviews13 followers
August 21, 2008
Don't read this. Go look at a seagull and think about life on your own if you must. What you come up with will be better than this.
Profile Image for Fabian.
940 reviews1,545 followers
October 22, 2020
This one belongs to the prestigious & almost elusive group of "Huge Imposters That Became Famous by People Who Suddenly Decided to Read a Novel." The book with its cute aura of a birdshape on its cover, was a mega-hit for no other reason than everyone read it. Basically, its a huge ripoff of the Judeo-Christian messiah story, with little birds that never fully become characters, grounded (ha ha) or are even particularly memorable. Is it bad to just want a mean hunter come along & shoot them all down? Is this bad?

I just cannot fathom the language of this; the super-precise scientific descriptions of speed, and worse, why are the birds so Anglo-Saxonly named? It is baffling as to why it even got published in the first place. Clue number one that this was gonna suck: it's subtitle, "A Story." Not, you know, a novel. Like a sketch. The photographer probably took longer taking the pictures of the grainy sky than this writer did concocting such wannabe New Agey mierda.

Reminds me so much of "The Celestine Prophecy" in it's lameness level, I could just scream.

This reads like some reject for some lesser-read college Literary Anthology... But shitier.
Profile Image for Janet.
74 reviews65 followers
March 8, 2008
"Most gulls don't bother to learn more than the simplest facts of flight--how to get from shore to food and back again," writes author Richard Bach in this allegory about a unique bird named Jonathan Livingston Seagull. "For most gulls it is not flying that matters, but eating. For this gull, though, it was not eating that mattered, but flight."

Flight is indeed the metaphor that makes the story soar. Ultimately this is a fable about the importance of seeking a higher purpose in life, even if your flock, tribe, or neighborhood finds your ambition threatening. (At one point our beloved gull is even banished from his flock.) By not compromising his higher vision, Jonathan gets the ultimate payoff: transcendence. Ultimately, he learns the meaning of love and kindness.

I read this book when I was a teenager, it set the stage for a life of searching for a higher purpose and today, almost 40 years later, my life is heaven on earth.

In Abraham Lincoln's words...

"All my life I have tried to pluck a thistle and plant a flower wherever the flower would grow in thought and mind." Abraham Lincoln

And M. Scott Peck's words...

"Abandon the urge to simplify everything, to look for formulas and easy answers, and to begin to think multidimensionally, to glory in the mystery and paradoxes of life, not to be dismayed by the multitude of causes and consequences that are inherent in each experience -- to appreciate the fact that life is complex." M. Scott Peck
Profile Image for anne.
26 reviews12 followers
September 17, 2022
ok, like I just wrote in a comment . . . this is probably one of those books that you have to read at a particular moment in your life.

for me I was 15, had just run away from home and was in utter despair that the entire world was as mean, strict and narrow-minded as my peers seemed to be at that time. I longed for a friend, I longed for a sense of the world being more than what was drowning me.

the friend who put this book in my hands also gave me Blind Melon's first album - and together these two items may have literally saved my life.

Bach's writing is simplistic, yes. it is almost childlike, yes. But there is for me an enduring wisdom to it. the seagull is obviously a very simplistic metaphor for a human, but in reality, particularly from where I was at the time, the idea of the "flock" just doing as it was told and spending all its time eating, shitting and talking about other gulls was not far off from my experience.

as that 15 year old wandering soul, I connected - not with the gull - but with the sense that there had to be more to life and that the pursuit of perfection was not in vain. this book was like a child's story that assured me that my sense of things was not off-base. and I'm not kidding when I say that I felt that Jonathan Livingston Seagull was my first friend.
Profile Image for Agir(آگِر).
437 reviews486 followers
April 10, 2021
چرا دشوارترین کار در جهان این است که پرنده ای را متقاعد کنی،آزاد است؟

این کتاب اول از شناخت خویشتن و مطابق آن زندگی کردن و نه بخاطر نان زندگی کردن می گوید

اغلب مرغان رنج آموختن پرواز را در حدی فراتر از یادگیری ساده ترین حقایق به خود هموار نمی کنند
می اموزند که چگونه از ساحل به سوی غذا پرواز کنند و چگونه بازگردند
برای بسیاری از مرغان تنها خوردن غذا مهم است و پرواز اهمیتی ندارد

در ادامه ریچارد باخ یه جورایی میخاد بگه که انسان توانایی انجام هرکاری رو داره،اگه بتواند عدم محدودیتش را باور کند

آنچه که دیدگانت به تو می گویند باور نکن.همه ی آنچه که می توانی ببینی محدود است. با ادراک خود بنگر

گفته های کتاب بعضی هاشون اساس علمی و بعضی ریشه در ادیان کهن دارند

شناخت خویش و پرورش استعدادها و سعی در بهتر کردن جهان اطراف خویش،ریشه در آموزه های دینی ودا و ... دارد

غیب شدن جاناتان برگرفته از نظریه استفاده از بعد زمان می باشد
اگه بتونیم این بعد را درک کنیم میتوانیم در یک ثانیه از غرب به شرق برویم
یعنی همان غیب شدن

این سوال برام پیش آمد
اگر چیزهای که در مورد بعضی عارفان گفته اند که در یک لحظه از شرق به غرب می رفتند راست باشد ،آیا آنها بعد زمان را شناخته اند؟

از شجاعت جاناتان خوشم اومد؛آزمودن چندین باره پرواز سریع و اینکه در برابر بزرگان قرار گرفت چون به عقیده اش ایمان داشت
Profile Image for Henry Avila.
451 reviews3,229 followers
March 3, 2023
Ode to the Paper Book: Holding a paper book in yours hands, smelling it feeling the pages as you flip them.Touching the cover, looking back as you pass the bookshelf at an old friend.No, a computer can never replace that! A machine, cold , impersonal,dead. As long as there are people in this crazy world of ours , the paper book shall survive.-Jonathan Livingston Seagull is a different kind of bird. He would rather fly as high as possible than catch a fish.Recklessly diving for fun, he cheats death many times .Of course Jonathan is an outcast who the others shun.Taught by an elder seagull about spiritualism (bird style) J.L.S. reaches gull heaven soon after (no he doesn't die). The seagulls big activity in paradise is to sit on a cliff contemplating their navels, I know they haven't any, or wings or something like that (might sound a little strange to humans?). Bored, he begins teaching others. His followers begin calling Jonathan , Son of the Great Gull, who else? Will he return to his flock back on Earth?And spread, not his wings but the word?...A product of its time.
Profile Image for Adina.
800 reviews3,075 followers
March 27, 2019

I was recommended this book by a friend. As I had no intention to buy this in case it proved to be dreadful I decided to finally get a library subscription. I’ve been wanting to go to the library for a long time as I am hoping this way I will buy less books. That might not work out as intended but a girl can hope.

I am not a fan of inspirational fables. Call me cynical but I do not believe a nice little motivational story can change your life. It can provide an extra nudge to change if you are already on that path. Also, most of them are also ridiculously stupid, The Monk who Sold his Ferrari comes to my mind right away to prove this idea. Having said that, I thought Jonathan Livingston Seagull to be cute and some of the ideas even touched me.

Jonathan Livingston is not your usual seagull who flies only for feeding purposes. No, he loves to fly and constantly challenges himself to improve his control, speed and form. Unfortunately, his flock disagrees with his revolutionary approach to flying and he is excommunicated. He soon finds other seagulls that share the same passion and strive for greatness. He follows them to another world, some sort of paradise, where Seagulls can be their true self. After a while, Jonathan returns to the flock in order to teach others to fly as he does and follow their dreams.

The story encourages people to find what they love, follow and cultivate their talent and decide for themselves in life. The book also teaches us to be tolerant, seek the good in other people and love them for those qualities.

The author obviously loves flying (he was a pilot) and you can see that in every page. His description of flying was the best part of the story for me.
Profile Image for بثينة العيسى.
Author 22 books25.2k followers
November 30, 2018
من خلال حكاية نورس واحد يحبُّ الطيران "جديًا" استطاع ريتشارد باخ أن يرينا تاريخ الأديان في دورته ذات المراحل الأربعة. منذ نبذ الأنبياء وطردهم وحتى تقديسهم والتبرّك بقبورهم. شيءٌ واحد فاتنا، في هذه الرحلة؛ أن نتعلم منهم الطيران. وكيف نكون ذواتًا حقة. وأن القانون الوحيد هو القانون الذي يدفع بك باتجاه حريّتك، وبداهات أخرى نسيناها.

يرسم باخ مستويات متعددة للوجود، ومستويات متعددة للفهم. من خلال النورس جوناثان نرى نظرة البشرية لله، وللأنبياء والقديسين، وللسياق التاريخي الذي تتشكل فيه أي حركة إصلاحية (نسميها دينًا)، وكيفية تشكل فريق من الحواريين/الصحابة المؤمنين بالرسالة، ثم السقوط المؤسف في مرحلة تحريف الرسالة، وتفتيت الحقيقة في طقوس مادية، ونشأة الفقه والكهنوت والمؤسسات الدينية الرسمية.

إن تقديس الأشخاص في الغالب يكون أكبر عائق أمام التعلّم منهم.
حتى لو كان ذلك الشخص هو النورس جوناثان بعينه.

رواية ذكية جدًا.
Profile Image for فؤاد.
1,047 reviews1,696 followers
September 15, 2017
داستان نبود، بیشتر میشد گفت "حکایت" بود، مشابه حکایت های سهروردی خودمون، با درونمایه ی عرفانی. البته عرفان این کتاب، عرفان انسانی بود بیشتر تا عرفان الهی. اما سیر مراحل شناخت، خیلی شبیه مشابه های وطنی بود (سیر من الخلق الی الحق، سیر فی الحق، سیر من الحق الی الخلق، سیر مع الخلق الی الحق.)
مضامین کمابیش تکراری بود، داستان پردازی ضعیف بود، شخصیت ها به خاطر "حکایت" بودن، پرداخت نداشتن. نتیجه ش میشه دو ستاره.
Profile Image for Nataliya.
727 reviews11.6k followers
June 24, 2020
There is that special magic in the books you loved as a kid. The wide-eyed innocence and all that stuff does give even the least subtle stories that unforgettable magical sheen.

I was probably around eleven or so, still in the warm fuzzies of childhood, still far away from snarky and exasperated teenage know-it-all cynicism when I came across this slender little book in the depths of out school library. It was in English - the language that I was just learning at that time, and looked more accessible than my prior attempt at an English language story (Sister Carrie, if you’re curious, a terrible book choice for a barely English speaking preteen).

I inhaled this story over the course of a single afternoon, even with never-ending dictionary searches. It was wonderful, beautiful, splendid in its entirely not subtle “pursue your dreams no matter what” message. It was dedicated “To the real Jonathan Seagull, who lives within us all”, and I was floored and preteen mind was blown.

Yes, my little impressionable heart agreed, yes - I WILL pursue my dreams and will never settle, and I will keep persevering until I reach new heights.

“Do you have any idea how many lives we must have gone through before we even got the first idea that there is more to life than eating, or fighting, or power in the Flock? A thousand lives, Jon, ten thousand! And then another hundred lives until we began to learn that there is such a thing as perfection, and another hundred again to get the idea that our purpose for living is to find that perfection and show it forth. The same rule holds for us now, of course: we choose our next world through what we learn in this one. Learn nothing, and the next world is the same as this one, all the same limitations and lead weights to overcome.”

Since then, I haven’t revisited this story, but would occasionally remember it, usually when on the beach and seeing seagulls scramble for food. Those are not Jonathan Livingston Seagull, I’d think; they probably have not yet discovered that perfect joy of striving for more than just the basics.

And then Tadiana’s review came along, and after getting through the initial shock of “wow, how is this book not five stars for everyone????!!!!” I decided to revisit it — even though I knew that there’s no way to recapture the magic of childhood. I told myself I wouldn’t, I knew I shouldn’t — but what do I usually do when I know I shouldn’t do something? Right. Obviously, I reread it.
As Terry Pratchett aptly wrote: "If you put a large switch in a cave somewhere, with a sign on it saying, 'End-of-the-World Switch. PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH' the paint wouldn't even have time to dry."

That often tends to sum up my life choices.
It’s such a short story when the illustrations are ignored. And it’s so blatantly unsubtle and cheesy and heavy-handed and in-your-face with the message. And I was annoyed and disappointed, sure.

But then I remembered what it felt like to be eleven and inspired by Seagull Jon and my inner grumpy cynicism let go a little, and some of that warmth crept back into my shriveled Grinchy heart.
Because yeah, this is the book for the preteens who need to be inspired, and childhood is where it belongs, and it’s not its fault that I chose to dredge it out now when I’m completely unsuitable for its wide-eyed magic. And so I’m meeting my young self and my now-self in the middle, settling on the 3 stars.

But I’m still going to sneak it into the reading pile for any suitable kid. Because it’s still awesome when you are eleven.

3 grumpy stars now (but full 5 stars from my eleven-year-old self).
Profile Image for Cecily.
1,106 reviews3,883 followers
May 16, 2010
This reminds me of Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist (the only one of his I've read). It's self-consciously "beautiful" and spiritual, but doesn't really have much depth. I enjoyed it in my late teens, when I had delusions of profundity, but I don't think it has much to impart to adults.

It has 2* for nostalgia. If I read it now, I expect I'd only give it 1*.

Profile Image for Amethyst.
185 reviews336 followers
January 15, 2016
شیفته ی این کتاب شدم , خیلی ساده و کوتاه با داستانی شیرین و نمادین شاید حرف هایی رو زد که قرن ها پیش پیامبران سعی میکردند به مردم دوره ی خودشون یاد بدن , نماد زیبایی از تمام وجود های اوج گرفته و سیراب نشده اما رشد کرده ای بود که همچنان هم در حال رشدند و به دور از محدودیت هایی که جامعه هاشون براشون در نظر میگیره , پرواز میکنن و پرواز رو هم به عشاقش یاد میدن , بدون هیچ ادعایی بدون پذیرش اینکه چیزی و یا قدرتی شبیه به خدا دارند ...همه ی وجود ها فراتر از جسمند اما درگیر این جسم هستند و فقط تحمل دیدن تا نوک بینی دنیای خودشون یا شبیه پرندگان دنیای جاناتان , نوک بال هاشون رو دارند , کاش همگی پرواز رو یاد بگیریم و بعدش به مشتاقانش هم یاد بدیم ... کاش کمی مثل جاناتان بی باک و کنجکاو و با انگیزه و پر شور و نشاطش و به دور از خواسته های دنیایی و سرگرم کننده اش بودیم ....
Profile Image for Jeff .
912 reviews682 followers
November 22, 2016
When I was a lad, I had to endure my hippie science teacher's self-narrated slide show of the entire book. It beat listening to a lecture about photosynthesis, but not by much.
Profile Image for Tanu.
312 reviews292 followers
January 8, 2023
"We can lift ourselves out of ignorance, we can find ourselves as creatures of excellence and intelligence and skill."
What happens when you start to live as your true self? 
There is certainly some fear in starting to become the person you were born to be.  If you’ve spent your life trying to do what is expected of you, your stepping out of that role may cause some consternation on the part of the people around you.  For those readers developing the practice of listening to a voice other than those that clamour around them, Jonathan Livingston Seagull  is a welcome companion.

The story is told in a symbolic manner. You'll feel a connection with Jonathan Seagull as soon as you start reading it. It's a young Seagull who's fed up with the monotony of existence. It is continually yearning for a higher plane of existence. Other seagulls, however, who are used to the food-shelter-life approach, are insulted by Jonathan's ideas.

Fun Fact:  

It was not written as one complete novel initially; Richard Bach wrote it as a series of short stories which was published in a magazine called “Flying” in the latter half of the 1960s. Then, the series of short stories was compiled by Richard Bach and was first released as a book in 1970. It reached the top of the New York Times “Best Seller List” for thirty-eight straight weeks. The book was illustrated by Russell Munson.

Grab your copy here.
Profile Image for Nat K.
408 reviews148 followers
January 3, 2020
”It was morning, and the new sun sparkled gold across ripples of a gentle sea.”

Isn’t this the most beautiful opening line for a book?

This is an inspiring little story, about a seagull who didn’t simply want to fly to survive, but wanted to fly to feel alive.

”More than anything else, Jonathan Livingston Seagull loved to fly”

Which makes me think about the whole idea of joy and happiness. What makes you happy. What fires your passion. Brings a smile to your face. Gives you a feeling of contentment.

Sure, life comes with responsibility in a myriad of forms. Needs to be met. Bills to be paid. And it’s so easy to lose sight of ourselves. To get worn down by the daily grind. But none of these worries are what makes you “you”.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull never gave up. He had a dream. He was determined. He wanted to fly for the simple joy of doing so. To soar as high as he could. He failed often. He went against the flock. But he kept going. It was hard, but it was worth it.

”We can be free! We can learn to fly.”

Yes, I admit I’m a bit of a sucker for seagulls. I’m lucky enough to live near the beach, and I love watching them. Their line and form. Their ability to soar. Their freedom.

The style of writing and the way the message is put together is a tiny bit dated. A bit hippy trippy. But that’s ok. It was written in 1970 after all, and definitely reflects the mood of the time. But it still retains its inspirational theme. The message still rings true. To be your own person (or seagull!). And to support and encourage others to be the best version of themselves. To believe. To see what others can see.

The photos are a perfect match for the text, and make this a wonderfully calming book to read and ponder over.

TEXT: Richard Bach
PHOTOS: Russell Munson

”The gull sees furthest who flies highest.”

A nice opener for a bit of inspiration this early in the New Year. 3.5★ squawking stars.

*** Follow your bliss ***
Profile Image for Luís.
1,828 reviews479 followers
January 21, 2023
Just as one can read books too early, there are certain books one reads too late. And no doubt, Jonathan Livingston the gull is one of them: if I feel vague that I would have appreciated this book at the beginning of adolescence, his adventures today leave me unmoved.
Especially if the first part speaks to me a lot, I have a little more trouble with the second. As long as Jonathan fights against the mediocrity of his surroundings to live his dreams, I quickly get the message. However, the second part, with luminous birds which defy all the laws of physics and try to bring the good word to the rest of the world, leaves me a little more skeptical.
Profile Image for Mohsin Maqbool.
85 reviews66 followers
February 8, 2017
image: description

I WAS gifted Richard Bach’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull by my elder brother when he visited Karachi from Frankfurt for his vacation in 1973. However, I did not read the book until 1987. To be honest with you, I did not think much of it at the time and gave it away to a friend.
Learning more about birds with the passage of time, I wanted to read the book again. I regretted giving it away. Luckily another friend of mine had a copy. He lent it to me for just one night in 2005, saying that it actually belonged to his son who hadn’t read it yet. I finished the book in a few hours. I liked it much better this time and even wrote a review for my friend to read.
Yesterday I re-read the book on pdf so that I could review it for goodreads. And I must admit that this time I actually found the book to be amazing. Maybe with age I have become more mature as I was able to grasp many things which I could not when I first read it during the '80s or even a decade back.
The book is extremely inspirational. Besides, it has a story to tell – an interesting one – that keeps you glued right to the very end. Mr Bach used to be a fighter pilot and a writer for magazines like Avian which is why talking about the flight of seagulls comes naturally to him.
Jonathan Livingston Seagull was more interested in flying than eating fish or bread crumbs for survival. He wants to fly as high as possible and at speeds deemed impossible. He kept challenging himself to break each previous record.

image: description
A seagull in sunny spotlight.

The Elder of the Flock does not like Richard breaking rules and regulations. He wants him to stick to normal flying. “Jonathan nodded obediently. For the next few days he tried to behave like the other gulls; he really tried, screeching and fighting with the flock around the piers and fishing boats, diving on scraps of fish and bread. But he couldn’t make it work. It’s all so pointless, he thought, deliberately dropping a hard-won anchovy to a hungry old gull chasing him. I could be spending all this time learning to fly. There’s so much to learn!”
He flies during the night. He is considered an Outcast and kicked out of the Flock.
“It wasn’t long before Jonathan Gull was off by himself again, far out at sea, hungry, happy, learning. The subject was speed, and in a week’s practice he learned more about speed than the fastest gull alive.”
Although Mr Bach is writing all about seagulls and flight, he uses simple English which even a layman reader would be able to understand. Having said that, it is creative writing at its best. Alliteration too is used in several places.
“He learned more each day. He learned that a streamlined high-speed dive could bring him to find the rare and tasty fish that schooled ten feet below the surface of the ocean: he no longer needed fishing boats and stale bread for survival. He learned to sleep in the air, setting a course at night across the offshore wind, covering a hundred miles from sunset to sunrise. With the same inner control, he flew through heavy sea fogs and climbed above them into dazzling clear skies ... in the very times when every other gull stood on the ground, knowing nothing but mist and rain. He learned to ride the high winds far inland, to dine there on delicate insects.”

image: description
A seagull flies over cliffs.

The book teaches us to be kind and loving and tolerant through Jonathan who during a later stage of his life becomes an instructor for seagulls who want to become achievers by being at their innovative best where flying is concerned.
The tome is philosophical in some places like in the following paragraphs:
“I don’t understand how you manage to love a mob of birds that has just tried to kill you.” “Oh, Fletch, you don’t love that! You don’t love hatred and evil, of course. You have to practise and see the real gull, the good in every one of them, and to help them see it in themselves. That’s what I mean by love. It’s fun, when you get the knack of it.”
“We choose our next world through what we learn in this one. Learn nothing, and the next world is the same as this one, all the same limitations and lead weights to overcome.”
The next world can also be understood as the next stage in our life when we proceed to college from school or to university from college or even to a career when we are through with our education.
The book deals with a bit of fantasy too. But if I describe it, it would be akin to spoiling the fun for you.
The inspirational fable contains eight black and white photographs of seagulls in flight which have been magnificently captured by Russell Munson.
I highly recommend the book to everybody who likes reading good and meaningful literature and also to those who love our fine-feathered friends.
Director Hall Bartlett adapted the novella into a film in 1973. Whereas the book was a bestseller, the film was poorly received by critics and was a box-office failure. However, it was nominated for two Academy Awards: Best Cinematography and Best Editing. Neil Diamond wrote and recorded an album for the film's soundtrack which was a critical and commercial success, earning Diamond a Grammy Award and a Golden Globe Award.
Another plus point for the film is that it is recognised by American Film Institute in the following list:
2006: AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers – Nominated

image: description
Film poster of Jonathan Livingston Seagull.
image: description
The camera catches Neil Diamond along with the high-flying Jonathan Livingston Seagull for the album's cover.
Profile Image for Sonia Gomes.
308 reviews95 followers
November 8, 2020
I am so glad, I got to know how other people feel about Jonathan Livingstone Seagull.

All these years I was under the impression that some great philosophy and inner meaning had flown past my head, and that I was one of the very few who had missed it all.

Seems I was right, there is no great philosophy. Phew ! I am not a dumb idiot after all.
Profile Image for J.G. Keely.
546 reviews9,596 followers
June 3, 2007
This book is a response to the flawed and disappointing underbelly of humanity, revealed for author Bach in Vietnam, the Kennedy assassination, the battles for Civil Rights and Feminism, and the Sexual Revolution. Unfortunately, it is not a work which embraces or explores those changes, but seeks an escape from the difficult questions of the world.

Perhaps it should be unsurprising that the author would want to escape the everyday anxieties which mark the changing world. There is a sort of blind optimism in Jonathan Livingston Seagull, the sort you get when you take ancient and complex philosophy and distill it down into meaningless fluff. It is from this feel-good denial that the whole New Age movement springs, giving hope without guidance, and adding self-help to our self loathing.

The surface of the water seems calm and glassy from afar. The ripples almost insensible. It is tempting to hope that the whirling eddies of hate, the tumult of inequality, and the maelstroms of fear do not persist beneath it. We shall someday find, when we must navigate Scylla and Charybdis, whether we have melted down our statues and our cannons both to build a monument to the lost.
Profile Image for Kimberly.
82 reviews11 followers
October 15, 2019
I don't even know what to say about this book. One of my favorite books ever. It's very short and extremely easy to read. Great for children, even better for adults. JLS is my hero, pretty much.

My copy of this book no longer resembles a book so much as a stack of papers.
Profile Image for Mahsa Tahmasebi.
38 reviews30 followers
June 23, 2016
اول چندتا جمله از کتاب رو مینویسم.

برای اغلب مرغان دریایی پرواز اهمیت ندارد، خوردن مهم ��ست.اما برای این یکی خوردن اهمیتی نداشت، پرواز مهم بودجاناتان بیش از هرکار دیگری ، عاشق پرواز بود.اوفهمیده بود این طرز فکر باعث محبوبیت نزد مرغان دیگر نیست.

اکنون زندگی مفهومی به جز تقلای یکنواخت درپشت وجلوی قایق ها خواهد داشت. ما میتوانیم خود را از جهل بیرون بکشیم، میتوانیم خودراموجوداتی دارای فضیلت، هوشمندی و مهارت بدانیم. می توانیم آزاد باشیم! می توانیم پرواز یادبگیریم.

"خب از اینجا به بعد چه میشود؟ ماکجامیرویم؟ آیااصلا بهشتی وجود دارد؟"
"نه جاناتان. چنین جایی وجود ندارد. بهشت یک مکان نیست، زمان هم نیست. بهشت کامل بودن است"

او از چیزهای بسیار ساده حرف می زد.اینکه هرمرغ دریایی حق دارد پرواز کند.اینکه آزادی در فطرت و موجودیت اوست، اینکه هرجیزی مانع این آزادی باشد، بایدکنارگذاشته شود، خواه آیین باشد، یاخرافه، یامحدودیت به هرشکل.

کاش میتونستم کمتر از کتاب کپی کنم ولی واقعا نتونستم.

این کتاب صفحاتش بسیار کمه، حتا از 100 تایی که نوشته، چون در قطع جیبی هستش، البته من ترجمه زهره زاهدی را خوندم، ولی در هرصورت برای تو اتوبوس مترو و مسیرهای کم عالیه.
خیلی باش ارتباط برقرار کردم، چون ترس های زیادی مانع ازخودم بودن میشه. مطمینا هرکسی به یه نحوی باش ارتباط برقرار میکنه چه در سطح فردی چه اجتماعی
یه جورایی هم یاد "ماهی سیاه کوچولو افتادم".
تمام خط های کتاب محدودیت ها و سنت ها و خرافه را به چالش کشیده واطمینان به خود و توانایی در انجام کارها را هم یاد آوری کرده است.
Profile Image for Masoud Irannejad.
171 reviews111 followers
July 24, 2019
چند سال پیش بود که کتاب جاناتان رو خوندم ماجرای مرغ دریایی که با بقیه فرق داره ، پرنده ای که بر خلاف بقیه مرغا از پرواز لذت میبره و می خواد بهتر پرواز کردن رو یاد بگیره
کتاب جالبی بود نه خوشم اومده بود و نه ازش بدم اومده بود دیروز که تو انقلاب پرسه میزدم متوجه چاپ نسخه جدید کتاب شدم، نسخه ای که یک فصل بهش اضافه شده
تو مقدمه کتاب ریچارد باخ گفته فصل چهارم همون موقع نوشته شده ولی بعد از اینکه بارها و بارها اون فصل رو مطالعه میکنه تصمیم به حذف کردن اون میگیره و کتاب رو سه فصلی عرضه میکنه ، فصل چهارم کنار گذاشته میشه و با گذشت زمان به فراموشی سپرده میشه

بعد از گذشت حدود نیم قرن سابرینا،زنم،نوشته هارو پیدا کرد کهنه ، بی رنگ و له شده زیر برگه های باطله."
اینا رو یادته؟-
گفتم :چی رو ؟ نه
چند پاراگراف آن را خواندم.
آهان یادم اومد اینا...
گفت بخونش
لبخندی به نوشته های قدیمی زد که پیداشان کرده بود،نوشته ها سبرینا را تحت تاثیر قرار داده بود
حروف ماشین تحریر رنگ باخته شده بود . زبان اش به زبان من می مانست،البته زبان گذشته های من،آن چه در گذشته بودم. نوشته ی من نبود،نوشته جوان متعلق به آن دوران بود
سرانجام بخش چهارم همان جایی چاپ شد که قرار بود،شاید حرفی هم نداشته باشد،این بخش زمانی نوشته شده که هیچ کس از آینه خبر نداشت و حالا ما خبرداریم"
Profile Image for Eghbal.
56 reviews32 followers
May 19, 2020
سر آشپز ریچارد باخ

مواد سازنده جاناتان رودی کولمن دریایی :
الهام از پائولو کوئلیو -
الهام از جورج اورول در استفاده از حیوانات -
الهام از سید حسین عباسمنش -
الهام از آیت الله دستغیب کاشانی -
الهام از اسکاول شین-

یه ترکیبی پُر رو که با خوندنش ، تنها نکته مثبت کتاب برام این بود که به لطف پروردگار حجم کمی داره و زود تموم میشه .
در اوایل کتاب تصورم از مرغ دریایی یک دونده کِنیایی بود
در اواسط کتاب تصور به یک دونده کنیایی در رویای بهشت تغییر یافت
و در آخر این تصور به سر گوتاما بودا روی بدن یک مرغ دریایی کنیایی به پایان رسید
بدون خلاقیت
بدون جذابیت
بدون همزاد پنداری
بدون همه چی
وسطشم که یهو زد جاده خاکی و رفت بهشتو . استاد شیفو بیرون اومد و اخرشم قابل پیش بینی .
ریچارد باخ جان منه باخ!!!
به قول یکی از دوستام
شما دیلینی ساخلاماق میکردی خیلی بهتر بود !!!
Profile Image for مجیدی‌ام.
213 reviews104 followers
February 12, 2016
بعد از چندین کتاب سنگین، این کتاب واقعا مثل یک لیوان نویشیدنی خنک به آدم می چسبه...

داستان ی�� مرغ دریایی که اعتقاد داره پرواز پرنده ها باید جز برای پیدا کردن غذا اهداف والا تری داشته باشه و هر پرنده باید در پرواز و شناخت ماهیت اصلی خودش به کمال برسه... جاناتان معتقده که پرواز برای لمس آسمونه و می تونه به کمال برسونه...
به همین دلیل جاناتان از سایر پرنده ها رانده می شه و به تنهایی سفری برای شناخت روح خودش و تحقق اهدافش آغاز می کنه...

کتاب بسیار روان، کم حجم، گیرا، دوست داشتنی، آموزنده و عمیق هست...
وقتی از آدم نمی گیره، توصیه می کنم بخونید...
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