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Gift from the Sea

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In this inimitable, beloved classic—graceful, lucid and lyrical—Anne Morrow Lindbergh shares her meditations on youth and age; love and marriage; peace, solitude and contentment as she set them down during a brief vacation by the sea. Drawing inspiration from the shells on the shore, Lindbergh’s musings on the shape of a woman’s life bring new understanding to both men and women at any stage of life. A mother of five, an acclaimed writer and a pioneering aviator, Lindbergh casts an unsentimental eye on the trappings of modernity that threaten to overwhelm us: the time-saving gadgets that complicate rather than simplify, the multiple commitments that take us from our families. And by recording her thoughts during a brief escape from everyday demands, she helps readers find a space for contemplation and creativity within their own lives.

With great wisdom and insight Lindbergh describes the shifting shapes of relationships and marriage, presenting a vision of life as it is lived in an enduring and evolving partnership. A groundbreaking, best-selling work when it was originally published in 1955, Gift from the Sea continues to be discovered by new generations of readers. With a new introduction by Lindbergh’s daughter Reeve, this fiftieth-anniversary edition will give those who are revisiting the book and those who are coming upon it for the first time fresh insight into the life of this remarkable woman.

The sea and the beach are elements that have been woven throughout Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s life. She spent her childhood summers with her family on a Maine island. After her marriage to Charles Lindbergh in 1929, she accompanied him on his survey flights around the North Atlantic to launch the first transoceanic airlines. The Lindberghs eventually established a permanent home on the Connecticut coast, where they lived quietly, wrote books and raised their family.

After the children left home for lives of their own, the Lindberghs traveled extensively to Africa and the Pacific for environmental research.

130 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1955

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About the author

Anne Morrow Lindbergh

87 books590 followers
Anne Morrow Lindbergh was born in 1906. She married Charles Lindbergh in 1929 and became a noted aviator in her own right, eventually publishing several books on the subject and receiving several aviation awards. Gift from the Sea, published in 1955, earned her international acclaim. She was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame, the National Women’s Hall of Fame, and the Aviation Hall of Fame of New Jersey. War Within and Without, the penultimate installment of her published diaries, received the Christopher Award in 1980. Mrs. Lindbergh died in 2001 at the age of ninety-four.

Not to be confused with her daughter Anne Lindbergh.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,832 reviews
Profile Image for Rachael.
181 reviews119 followers
June 20, 2007
This is one of those books that really will change your life, and it's one that absolutely should.

Lindberg (the wife of Charles Lindberg) explores the necessity of not only looking inward, but of focusing on one's development in order to fully live as a person, a woman, a mother, and a wife. She is especially potent when discussing the necessity of occasional moments of solitude in order to realign one's priorities and give freedom to creative expression, rather than running oneself ragged with the million fragmented responsibilities of the American woman.

This book was written in 1955, and it is even more relevant today. The text is anchored with a series of metaphors based on the shells that Lindberg collected over a 2 week retreat to the beach, and somehow the shells make perfect sense.

In reading this I realized that I need to not only focus on continuing my own inner development for my own sake, but so that I can be an interesting woman, a mother more capable of giving, and a wife who will continue to grow with my husband rather than stagnate in the ceaseless pursuit of vital--but admittedly repetitive--household tasks.
Profile Image for Kristin.
591 reviews87 followers
March 28, 2018
I absolutely LOVE this book!! I highly highly recommend it. It is the perfect gift to give a friend/sister/mother or to buy for yourself to read and re-read. It is also a really quick read which is a nice little bonus. If you want a really professional review read Lucy's. (I really think Lucy should become a book critic). But here's what I thought about it...this was my second time reading the book. The first time I read it I was around 18 and getting ready to leave for college. My mom had read it and really liked it and had suggested I read it. (She has always had two copies of this book...one she kept at home and one she kept at her office). I read it and liked it and even took notes and wrote down favorite quotes from it. (I actually found my old franklin planner and the notes that I took...it was really fun to read). When I read it at 18 my parents were in the process of getting divorced, my family was moving from Kansas City to Houston, and I was getting ready to leave for BYU. Most of the quotes I wrote down were about separation.

"Parting is inevitably painful, even for a short time. It's like an amputation, I feel a limb is being torn off, without which I shall be unable to function. And yet, once it is done...life rushes back into the void, richer, more vivid and fuller than before" Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

I also had a few that I wrote down about trying to figure out who I was and how I mattered to the world.

"...When one is a stranger to one's self then one is a estranged from others too. If one is out of touch with oneself, then one cannot touch others". Anne Morrow Lindbergh

I remember crying on my bed, while reading the book, thinking...Anne Morrow Lindbergh really GETS me. Reading it again at 34 it was a like a whole different book and this time I was laughing reading it thinking...Anne Morrow Lindbergh really GETS me.

She compares the different phases of a woman's life to different sea shells. I loved the analogy of the oyster shell. That would be the married/raising a family stage. She describes it as very ordinary looking...rather lumpy...embedded on a rock...with things attached to it. She talks about how it reminded her of a house full of children, toys and bikes everywhere, with friends spilling out, noisy, messy and chaotic. That sounds so familiar!! She talks about how women's lives are so full of responsibilities, meals to be made, housecleaning, kids to be taken care of, pets, hobbies, friends, children's friends, activities, children's activities, committees and husbands that women rarely take any time for themselves to be renewed. So that quote that I wrote down when I was 18 about being a stranger to one's self means something totally different at 34.

I also really liked how she described the different stages of marriage. My favorite quote from this read-through was:

"Love isn't gazing at each other...it is standing side by side and looking in the same direction"

I think this book has had such appeal and longevity because it is full of universal truths. We, women, are more alike than we are different and that it even transcends time and generations. I can't wait to read the book when I'm 50 and again at 80 and see if Anne Morrow Lindbergh still GETS me...somehow I think she will.
Profile Image for Cindy Rollins.
Author 22 books2,017 followers
September 9, 2021

I read this and all of Anne Morrow Lindbergh's diaries when I was a young wife. They were somewhat guides to life for me as a young bride. A guide from someone in tune to her inner and outer life. It is no surprise that the older I get the further back into the book I find insights. That is how it was written. This time I especially enjoyed the add-on chapter Gift from the Sea re-opened. Especially this passage:

"When I wrote Gift from the Sea, I was still in the stage of life called "the oyster bed," symbol of a spreading family and growing children. The oyster bed, as the tide of life ebbed and the children went away to school, college, marriage, or careers, was left high and dry. A most uncomfortable stage followed, not sufficiently anticipated and barely hinted at in any book. In bleak honesty it can only be called 'the abandoned shell." Plenty of solitude, and a sudden panic at how to fill it, characterize this period. With me, it was not a question of simply filling up the space or the time. I had many activities and even a well-established vocation to pursue. But when a mother is left, the lone hub of a wheel, with no other lives revolving around her, she faces total re-orientation. It takes time to re-find the center of gravity."

It was especially helpful to hear this because, one, she did have a creative vocation before her empty nest and yet, she still experienced the shift and two, she acknowledges that there is not even a hint of this among other women and books. We don't like to admit that this transition is the hardest thing we have ever faced. We know it is natural and even good, but it is still a seismic shift in our lives.

This rereading was done for our November book club meeting.
Profile Image for Paula K .
420 reviews424 followers
October 22, 2017
I've really got to stop reading a book just based on the title and cover. I love the sea and the beach. During the fall and winter I go sea glass hunting North of Boston. It's my second passion to books. My house is filled with all types of sea shells and different shades of sea glass. My husband tells me I should make jewelry when I give up my current job.

I've got to say this book is quite outdated. It's all about women and their place in society. I don't need someone to tell me that females need to seek solitude. I love solitude and wish I had more of it. When my husband says do I mind if he goes out with the folks from work after hours I'm like go! Have fun!

This book sounds like something my mother would have wrote. She hated to be alone. I could never understand that. Who wants to be around people all the time? A walk on the beach with the seagulls overhead, the sun on your back, and the sand in your toes is what it's all about for me.

Gift From the Sea is a shorty so no big deal. But I sure didn't expect it to be like Dear Abby!

3 out of 5 stars (kindly).
Profile Image for Joel.
174 reviews23 followers
February 28, 2008
I love walking around a bookstore and picking up five or six books of varying genres that catch my eye, sitting down and skimming. If I'm interested I may read a chapter or two, a dozen poems, maybe even ponder buying it before I put them all back on the shelf. This was number four in a stack of nine that I picked up today at Borders. After skimming the introduction, I flipped to the first chapter... forty-five minutes later I had left the store to get a pen from my car and had picked up three napkins at the adjoining coffee shop to scribble down quotes. I didn't even touch the other five in my stack once I had opened this. It was wonderful to start the year with a book that contemplates life in a lyrical fashion, using metaphor to reach truth.

Lindberg writes of simplicity to the end of clearing out the distractions and leading to focus on what is most important. She writes of the importance of making time to be alone to reflect on who we are - "When one is stranger to oneself then one is estranged from others too." My campus minster says something very similar - 'When you don't feed yourself, how can you feed others?' She writes of relationships throughout their changing spans, from the "one-and-only moments", being with just the person sitting across from you, whether your spouse, child, or friend, so they feel cared for individually. She writes to help herself deal with the movements of life as they come to her, and in doing so, has captured something to for others mull over.

What a restful day I've had.
Profile Image for Ginger.
753 reviews371 followers
July 4, 2017
This was a great little memoir to read! With only 130 pages, it doesn't take too long to read. In fact, you can read it in chapters over a long period of time and you'll have no problems following along.

Most of all, I enjoyed the ideas and inspiration in this book by being more authentic with yourself and your life. To be okay with disappointment along with joy. To be more aware of your aloneness, thoughts while you are alone and being okay with those thoughts.

I loved how she wrote about living in the moment and allowing yourself to go with the flow of life and responsibilities. You can gain something from this book depending on the subject matter and what you're looking for.

Great read!
Profile Image for Connie G.
1,690 reviews451 followers
June 19, 2015
Anne Lindbergh spent two weeks on Captiva Island in Florida, one week alone and one week with her sister, reflecting on her life and relationships. She uses five shells found on the beach to symbolize her ideas. She felt that women should try to simplify their lives. Find time for solitude, creativity, and an inner life. Have time alone with your spouse and each child for "one-and-only moments". Find balance between obligations to your family and your community, and time for inner harmony.

Relationships have ebbs and flows like the tide, and peaks and troughs like the waves. Three of her shells represented different phases in relationships, especially marriage, as people go through life. Enjoy the present, find the joy and peace in the here and now.

This lovely slim volume written in 1955 was partly memoir, and partly an inspirational group of essays. The author was a wife and mother during my grandmother's and my mother's generations. It made me wonder what Anne Lindbergh would think about the world today where my daughters' generation is bombarded with information and new devices constantly. Perhaps today's woman has even more need to nurture an inner life as this book suggests.
Profile Image for Whitney.
227 reviews397 followers
June 25, 2020
On my third reading of Gift from the Sea, I continue to be amazed at how immediately relevant this 1950's classic feels. Anne Morrow Lindbergh takes us with her on her two week sabbatical to a Florida island, where she slowly unravels the tangled busyness of her life as wife, mother, and writer. She eloquently describes the constant tension between her roles in life, the demands and expectations of society, and her own yearning for solitude and creativity.

It's not a difficult read; on vacation, I finished it in a day. But her words make a deep impression on me, and this will be one I return to regularly, for inspiration and comfort and challenge.
Profile Image for Inder.
511 reviews71 followers
July 25, 2008
Okay, my favorite part of this book was the afterwards, wherein Ms. Lindbergh acknowledges just how dated the book's appraisal of feminism was (the book was written in 1955, so you can't blame her for what she didn't know was right around the corner - still, her somewhat negative appraisal bugged me and I was relieved that she acknowledged its problems). She also hints at how difficult it is to follow her type of super-zen advice in real life.

I hate to say it, because so many women just L.O.V.E. this book, but it just didn't do much for me. There were definitely some lovely moments here, but much of it was cliched platitudes, and sounded pretty stale and New Age-y to me. It's the kind of stuff that sounds pretty wise, but it's hard to figure out what it really means.

To give Ms. Lindbergh, who I have much respect for, the maximum amount of credit, these ideas might be cliches because this book is just that popular. If so, good for her.

Maybe I am at the wrong time in my life for this book - it's quite possible. Being a married but childless lawyer, I don't spend a lot of time worrying about "giving too much of myself." This is more a (perfectly legit) concern of mothers and homemakers.

There may be some personality issues as well. I'm pretty social. I like hanging out with people. I do enjoy my alone time (which I spend reading, hello), but I'm just not desperate for it like more introverted types often are. This book is definitely very supportive of introverts, but that was a little lost on me. I actually like bustle. I don't like silence and quiet (I mean, that's what ipods were invented for!). I'm tired of preachy introverts suggesting that this means I'm not contemplative!

I'm not giving up on this book entirely - I may come back to this - but for now, "Eh."
Profile Image for Sandy T.
280 reviews23 followers
August 27, 2008
I remember reading this at BYU for a class and having to do a paper on it. I remember wondering what all the hoopla was about it... it just didn't do all that much for me. But now, some 30+ years later, it had a whole new meaning for me as I truly understood and felt exactly what she was expressing...
It is amazing that though this book was written over 50 years ago, so many of her observations still ring true today, and I found myself marking up page after page. Perhaps the most I got from it was more understanding of the need to embrace each phase of life... the ebb and the flow like the sea tide...
It would be interesting for me now to re-read that paper I wrote back in college!
Profile Image for Laurie  (barksbooks).
1,723 reviews672 followers
October 26, 2016
I found this audio in the bag I keep in the car. It's a nonfiction account of one woman’s ruminations on life while she escapes to a beach cottage for a few weeks. This was written in the 50's but much of it still feels eerily current and will resonate most with introverts.

The MP3 player in my car didn’t like the way this disc was formatted and played the tracks out of order so I can’t review this properly as it kept skipping around. If it weren’t so short (2 hrs or so) I would’ve thrown in the towel for this reason but it was short enough that I got the gist without getting too frustrated.

It’s basically about taking time outs from your life to find your “center”, living with less stuff and fewer distractions and experiencing relationships in the present rather than dwelling on how great they were in the past or worrying about what may happen in the future. All sound advice, if you ask me.

“One cannot collect all the beautiful shells on the beach. One can only collect a few. One moon shell is more impressive than three. There is only one moon in the sky.”

There are a lot of beautiful "quotables" in this book but I didn't take notes. This one struck a cord, and stuck with me, for obvious book related reasons ;)
Profile Image for Jenny (Reading Envy).
3,876 reviews3,048 followers
August 20, 2016
Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote these musings in 1955, and it is definitely a capture in a moment of time, when roles for women were still assumed to be #1- marriage, #2 - having children, and #3 - taking care of the household. Lindbergh herself in the 20 year anniversary afterword in the version I have mused on how quickly roles and rights changed in her own lifetime, and how central women were to not only their own rights but other civil rights movements.

Still, even though I am not a mother or a housewife, I still found plenty that resonated with me. The need for silence, for solitude, for reflection. The ways we deplete ourselves without carving out time for breathing and thinking. And the gift of being on an island. In my imaginary life, on an imaginary island, I would keep this on my bookshelf to pull out in quiet moments, and maybe use her words to inspire me to be better at journaling and pulling back. Some of it fits right in with my desire to be more mindful, more reflective, and maybe there are some shells with something to teach me too.

This book was discussed on Episode 062 of the Reading Envy Podcast.
Profile Image for Anne Bogel.
Author 7 books54.7k followers
February 17, 2014
I can't believe I put off reading this one for so long. Short, sweet, timeless. Reminds me very much of Eleanor Roosevelt's You Learn by Living (and I LOVE that book).
Profile Image for Teresa.
Author 8 books781 followers
May 12, 2017
Except for my little book club of two (what my friend referred to yesterday as a tête-à-tête), this is not something I would’ve even considered reading. I’d vaguely thought of it as maybe a self-help book, certainly a saccharine read, but it’s neither. It’s one woman’s meditation on the role of women through the stages of life and, in particular, how an artist with a family can claim a space of her own, a sort of practical extension of Woolf’s A Room of One's Own.

I finished it a week ago and while it was a pleasant enough read and the tête-à-tête brought forth some intriguing ideas (as it always does), the book feels rather ephemeral, perhaps because much of what AML writes of, such as everyone needing alone time (a concept she says was looked on as crazy then), is part of our consciousness now. Yet the book still has some relevance, of things we might need to be reminded of, such as living in the moment or downsizing our possessions to give them a space for our deeper reflection.

She was writing from a privileged position: her own escape, to a cabin on a beach island, is not feasible for those without money and resources. But I also considered how revolutionary this book likely was in 1955, its innocuous cover sheltering some radical ideas. I imagine a housewife of the time--think of the Julianne Moore character in either Far From Heaven or The Hours--receiving this as a gift, keeping it by her bedside to reread, her husband not realizing what changes it might inspire in his wife and the mother of his children.
Profile Image for Regina.
1,136 reviews2,999 followers
August 29, 2016
"A Gift from the Sea" is mentioned several times in "A Year by the Sea," so I naturally wanted to read it. As with AYBTS, I could have underlined paragraph after paragraph. Even 60+ years after its initial publication, it is still highly relevant for "the modern woman." I will likely return for another reading next time I find myself at sea, needing a harbor of solidarity.
Profile Image for Therese.
320 reviews11 followers
December 9, 2020
When I started listening, a part of me thought, Oh...it’s going to be one of those women’s “self help” books. But it turned out to be anything but that. Written in 1955, many of the topics such as a woman’s strength and resilience, and the need for moments of solitude necessary for growth and understanding, still resonate today. The author reflects on these subjects while on vacation, collecting shells on a beach and contemplating the different phases of a woman’s life. It’s a book that would be easy to return to again and again, picking up different insights every time it’s read. I ended up thoroughly enjoying it.

Coincidentally, researching the author after I finished reading, I discovered that she was the wife of famed pilot, Charles Lindbergh, and the mother of the child that was kidnapped and later found murdered, which was quite a tragic episode back in the day.
Profile Image for Hillary.
131 reviews2 followers
April 24, 2008
I may be the only person on mother earth that thinks this book is over-rated. I've read it twice now and I just don't get what everyone thinks is so amazing about it. Lindbergh does bring up some interesting ideas that are worth thinking about, but she loses me with the sea shells. I agree with Becca in that, if i want to read something thought provoking with the potential to change my life, i'll read the conference talks in the ensign.
Profile Image for ♥ Sandi ❣	.
1,271 reviews8 followers
April 8, 2018
3 stars

This is a very short non-fiction by Anne Lindbergh. I listened to this on audio. It was adapted to a movie in 1960. An anniversary copy of the book has an introduction by her daughter, Reeve. The audio is narrated by Claudette Colbert, a famous actress from the 50's and 60's.

Lindbergh spoke from the heart. During a vacation on a Florida shore she muses about life's many wonders as she relates them to the shore and sea shells. She speaks on love, marriage, children, solitude and contentment. Lindbergh speaks to the escape from everyday demands.

This was written over 50 years ago, but is just as relevant today as it was then.
Profile Image for Ken.
Author 3 books925 followers
January 1, 2018
Scrounging around for a short book this morning, I came across this on the hallway bookshelf. Long ago, my great aunt had it on her table. I remember her telling me how wonderful it was. But this is not her copy. I opened it. The signature inside was my wife's grandmother's. What looks to be a first edition from 1955.

1955! Life must have been so simple then. The good old I-Like-Ike days, after the (World) war and before the (Vietnam) war. I started to read. At first, it seemed similar to Walden--all about simplicity, only in this case a well-to-do suburbanite woman on an unnamed beach vs. a middle-aged man slash pencil maker on a pond named Walden.

On p. 42 I found a bookmark. As far as my wife's grandmother got, apparently. It was a business reply card to the Doubleday Book Shop, Bishop's Corner, West Hartford, CT. (Open until 6 p.m.)

Interestingly, it reads: "You have bought this book anticipating a satisfying reading experience. If the book does not upon closer examination appeal to you, bring it back to us and exchange it for another book. Our only requirement for an exchange in our shops is that the book be currently salable and in new condition. Thank you for your patronage."

Wow. We're really going back in time. The LL Bean pledge, from a bookshop yet! Try finding that on Amazon today!

And, turns out, my wife's grandmother was on to something, stopping as she did on p. 42. The decent start quickly devolved into stereotypes (women are inward-seeking, men outward, for instance) and 5-cent, self-help philosophizing, 50's chick-book style. The abstract words began to fall over each other as Lindbergh compared stages of marriage to various shells found on the beach.

Still, I struggled through. And finished. The last of 2017, after I thought the one I finished yesterday was the last. Leaving the problem of what to read tomorrow. The first of 2018.

Eh. Maybe something else short, like the back of a cereal box. Something deep, like LIFE.
Profile Image for Chrissie.
2,737 reviews1,469 followers
May 17, 2016
Anne Morrow Lindbergh writes of being a woman in America in the fifties. She compares different stages of marriage to different shells. The writing is beautiful, poignant, wise and the message clear. It is prose poetry. She speaks of the need for simplification in a world cluttered with obligations and gadgets. She speaks of what can be gained by allowing one to withdraw and find inner solace within one's self. How creativity replenishes the soul. She quotes among others John Donne, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Rainer Maria Rilke, W.B. Yeats and William Blake.

I cannot express with her ability her philosophical views on life and marriage. They are amazingly relevant still today.

Anne was much more than merely the wife of aviator Charles Lindbergh.

There is a foreword by her youngest daughter Reeve Lindbergh. The audiobook is a republication of the original with an afterword from the author 20 years after the first publication in 1955.

The audiobook narration by Claudette Colbert is easy to follow, even if a bit dated.

I highly recommend this short, contemplative book. It is one to return to over and over again.
Profile Image for Linda.
851 reviews32 followers
July 10, 2008
I'm sure I read Gift from the Sea at least 30 years ago and have probably bought and given away as many as thirty copies over the years. Gift from the Sea is one of those books that speaks to a person differently through different stages of one's life. I love it and think every woman should read it. I have since read other books (memoirs, diaries, letter of sorts) by Anne M. Lindbergh and have enjoyed them very much. I was happy to come across the 50th anniversary edition as a gift to myself.
Profile Image for Cheryl.
425 reviews39 followers
November 11, 2018
The PERFECT words for my journey of rounding my 50th year.
Wish I could thank Anne Morrow Lindbergh in person. I hope somehow she knows.
Profile Image for Ayse_.
155 reviews72 followers
February 9, 2017
This book is a collection of essays by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, published first in 1955. Although many years have passed after its publication, I believe many women can relate to her thoughts and feelings reflected in her book. She uses simile of sea and sea-shells to describe life, motherhood, marriage, coming of age. The book is written almost in a whispering tone; like the waves of a calm sea gently brushing the shore. Very soothing read..

One of the passages I enjoyed reading in the book is : 'Perhaps middle age is, or should be, a period of shedding shells; the shell of ambition, the shell of material accumulations and possessions, the shell of the ego. Perhaps one can shed at this stage in life as one sheds in beach-living; one’s pride, one’s false ambitions, one’s mask, one’s armor'.

Profile Image for Gloria.
294 reviews26 followers
August 19, 2018
I think I moderately enjoyed this book as a 20-something young mother. But with an extra goodly number of years on my body, I now adore this book.

I feel keenly that Anne Morrow Lindbergh is a kindred spirit.
And if there are as many women as she insinuates who also feel that desperate need to "get away" in order to recharge and refuel-- so that they may come home ready to give again ... then there are more women like me than I thought. I wish I knew where they were...

In any case, it has reaffirmed to me that my desire for solitude is not selfish-- but healthy.
And I am grateful to have a family who lets me do this once or twice a year.
6 weeks and counting until that eagerly anticipated solitary weekend...
Profile Image for Diane in Australia.
668 reviews789 followers
June 11, 2020
Anne, the wife of aviator Charles Lindbergh, has written many books. This one covers her thoughts during a vacation by the ocean. She uses the sea, and its treasures, to 'speak' to her regarding life. 'Tis an introspective journey, meant to help all of us, as we read.

3 Stars = Okay. Maybe not a page-turner, but not sorry I read it.

(My apologies for such a short review. I'm struggling with a few things, at the moment, and just can't seem to find the presence of mind to write longer reviews.)
Profile Image for Celia.
1,192 reviews152 followers
September 3, 2018
I was introduced to this book via a chapter in Will Schwalbe's book "Books for Living". How lucky I am to have found it.

It speaks VOLUMES to women of middle age and even though I am past that, it spoke volumes to me.

Here are some descriptions from Will:
This is one of those books I’d heard about and seen on countless shelves, especially in, predictably enough, beach cottages. The author was the widow of aviator Charles Lindbergh and the mother of the baby who had been so notoriously kidnapped and murdered in 1932.

Gift from the Sea is a quiet book of reflections and meditations written during and after a period of time spent at the Florida seashore (on Captiva Island on the West Coast). Each chapter takes its inspiration from a different shell the author finds along the beach. The book contains Lindbergh’s thoughts on feminism, the environment, motherhood, marriage, work, love, independence, and, more broadly, how we manage our time and our lives.

The problem as Lindbergh sees it is “how to remain whole in the midst of the distractions of life.”

This book spoke to me, Celia, especially in the areas of simplifying one's life and understanding the phases of one's marriage. I am married for 18 years to Harold, the love of my life. Perhaps in that respect I am in the middle years of life. I hope to share this book with him. It might have been written to women. I think he will appreciate it just the same.

Lindbergh herself has words of wisdom about her book. Twenty years after writing it she says:
"The original astonishment remains, never quite dimmed over the years, that a book of essays, written to work out my own problems, should have spoken to so many other women."

Yes, you have spoken to me, Anne. Thank you for that.

5 stars
Profile Image for Linh.
210 reviews8 followers
April 18, 2022
Oof. Never thought I'd have a least favorite book, but here we are.

What this book is about: A privileged white woman had the luxury of a two-week solitary vacation beachside, who then proceeded to come up with this 130-paged overlong rambling essay of random ruminations on her own life; which she then used to make inappropriate over-generalizations to womankind, sprinkled with wise-sounding life advice.

What is in this book: "America" being used to specifically mean just the United States. Random quotes from other philosophers or famous people. The word "one" being over-used to a criminal amount. A sprinkling of religious/ Puritan beliefs to denote moral high ground. Generalization of the American women and their values and goals in life. Inappropriate comparison between various beach shells to different aspects of life.

What is not in this book: Any sort of gifts from the sea. Any interesting stories. Any humility.

I came to know and read this book thanks to a book group I am part of, and I look forward to discussing it. I feel accomplished that I finished the book, as it lies outside of my usual reading material; and I believe there was one tidbit that I genuinely found interesting. But I will never read anything like this again.
Profile Image for Kimberly.
970 reviews3 followers
October 23, 2012
This book was chosen by my book club, otherwise I wouldn't have read it. To be honest, I just couldn't wax philosophical with Anne. All I could think about when Anne was discussing marriage and women's roles was about her personal life and the affairs both she and Charles had. I'm not judging them, only they know what went on in their marriage, but, at the same time, I didn't find myself inclined to take marriage advice from her. I thought it was strange that she kept quoting Antoine de Saint-Exupery throughout the book until I found out that she had an affair with him. Then, her apparent admiration for him made more sense (don't get me wrong--Exupery wrote some amazing things, namely The Little Prince). I think Anne had some thought-provoking points to her musings, but it was overly poetic and also a little depressing for me. Her continued mentioning of needing to be alone and getting away from everyone gave me the impression of a woman who wanted a different life.

In short, I didn't get out of this what I was hoping to. The best part of the book was the imagery of the ocean in the first chapter. 1.5 stars, rounded to 2.
Profile Image for Deacon Tom F.
1,769 reviews133 followers
March 3, 2021
Amazing in every way.

One of the top 10 books in my life. A way to look at life with gentleness and love.

I was struggling with my self worry and the pace of my career when I was given this tiny book. What an impact. I loved it then and go back to it from time to time.

I cannot recommend this any higher than a top-flight ranking.
Profile Image for GoldGato.
1,139 reviews40 followers
July 16, 2021
This book by Anne Morrow Lindbergh was the #1 nonfiction best-seller in 1955 and it seems to have inspired the self-help movement in publishing. It is simple in thought and simple to read, yet it was one of the first books to focus on middle-aged women and their needs and wants. Nowadays, a person can step on a stone and then create a whole social media empire about the “experience”, but for the 1950s, this work was somewhat revolutionary for its time.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh was the wife of the world-famous aviator, Charles Lindbergh. Prior to the writing of this book, she had endured the kidnapping and murder of her first son, followed by the press frenzy that ensued. She and her husband purchased a small island off Brittany and moved there to escape the noise, but it also led them to sympathetic views of Hitler and the fascists. They moved back to the states where they expounded their isolationist and racist views. The downfall was quick for the famous couple, as any sympathy they had acquired by the death of their baby was wiped away by their political beliefs. She even wrote a pamphlet to support a peace treaty with the Nazi Party because she felt fascism was “the wave of the future”. How quickly we fall.

After the Allied victory in WWII, the Lindberghs needed to pick themselves back up in the public’s opinion, so she started writing again to reboot their glory of the 1920s. This publication is the most famous of her works, a thoughtful combination of nature and the lack of opportunity for women, specifically wives, of that era. There are some nuggets here, as she understands the obsession with youth while middle age is ignored. In our breathless attempts we often miss the flowering that waits for afternoon. The “morning of life” is our focus on youth, which leaves us far quicker than the oncoming flow of aging.

One tries to cure the signs of growth, to exorcise them, as if they were devils, when really they might be angels of annunciation.

Whenever I read a book, I try to do a little bit of research on the author, not so it can affect my reading, but so I can understand why the book was written. In the 1950s, women were still considered to be appendages, even though they had manned the factories that spewed out the eventual weapons of victory for the Allies just a few years before. Plus, we now know that her husband was quite the ass, having multiple affairs and children (proven by DNA tests), on the side. She was rich and she was on the wrong side of history, so it is the easy path in this day and age to disparage her writings. But within these pages I felt a loneliness in her words, perhaps a painful consciousness of her husband’s philandering. There is also an awareness, in that post-war haste in which the Americans did their best to destroy the environment for their eventual suburbs, of the fragility of nature. In essence, this book was ahead of its time.

So I can never agree with her political views, but it’s a thoughtful book that requires a bit of a slowdown, preferably on a blanket on a quiet beach somewhere, not yet spoiled by industrial overdevelopment.

Book Season = Year Round (outgrow the oyster shell)
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