Good Minds Suggest: Anne Lamott's Favorite Books to Fill You with Hope

Posted by Goodreads on April 1, 2017
Anne Lamott

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"Mercy is radical kindness," Anne Lamott writes in her new book, Hallelujah Anyway. In examining the idea of mercy, Lamott draws on her own life, pop culture, and Scripture as well as extreme examples of people who found a way to forgive the seemingly unforgivable. For her it boils down to the permission you give others—and yourself—to let go of the judgment and pain that make life so difficult. In Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy, Lamott explores mercy's limitless (if sometimes hidden) presence in our lives, why we ignore it, and how we can embrace it.

Lamott has earned her reputation as a writer of honesty and humor—with a hopeful dose of hands-on spirituality—in her bestselling books that include Traveling Mercies, Bird by Bird, and Operating Instructions. We asked Lamott, who has inspired many of her readers, to tell us her favorite books that fill her with hope.

Strangers in Their Own Land by Arlie Russell Hochschild
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"I have been foisting this on everyone since the election. A famed sociologist from Berkeley spends months visiting the Louisiana Bayou and getting to know the people who live there—their values, problems, minds, hearts, lives, and dreams. What they tell us in their conversations and how Hochschild changes by listening to them give me hope for our country."


Happy All the Time by Laurie Colwin
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"This is a beautiful, hilarious, bighearted novel about four really good, slightly odd mixed-up people (like us) as they form couples: shy, worried, and brave. I have given away THOUSANDS of copies."


Praying for Sheetrock by Melissa Fay Greene
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"This is one of my favorite nonfiction books ever. It's about a small backwoods county in Georgia in the 1970s struggling to be included in the progress for civil rights and about the idealists who lead the cause against entrenched racism. It's a story that reads like a novel, filled with eccentrics and ordinary folks. Lovely in every way. If you read it, you will owe me forever."


The Illustrated Rumi by Jelaluddin Rumi
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"I love Rumi so much. I can open this book to any page, read any one of his poems, study any one of the illustrations, and feel spiritually rejuvenated—or at least a little less cranky and self-obsessed."


Women Food and God by Geneen Roth
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"This is the most profound and helpful book on healing from the tiny, tiny, tiny issues around eating and body issues that some of us have had for, oh, most of our lives. Charming, wise, funny, and deep."



Want more book recommendations from authors? Check out our Good Minds Suggest series.



Comments Showing 1-30 of 30 (30 new)

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message 1: by Teatime (last edited Apr 05, 2017 09:24PM) (new)

Teatime Dear Ms Lamott,
I am deeply grateful to you for reminding me of the title of one of my most favorite books (that I read back in 1979) -- Happy All the Time by Laurie Colwin. I could not for the life of me remember enough information about that book to find it. I will have to check out some of your other selections as we seem to have the same taste in books! Thank you again!!!
Monica M.


message 2: by Susan (new)

Susan If I handed one of my friends a book and said, "You need to read this because Hilary was almost elected." They'd throw it at me. Just recommend your books and leave the politics out of it - FOR ONCE!


message 3: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Owens Susan wrote: "If I handed one of my friends a book and said, "You need to read this because Hilary was almost elected." They'd throw it at me. Just recommend your books and leave the politics out of it - FOR ONCE!"
Geez, I think politics defines us all to an extent and I saw no mention of Hilary at all so maybe you need to read this book!


message 4: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen Daniell I have everyone of your books. You inspire me to be a better person. I met you on your book tour for stitches. Your books help me in my early recovery. Just waiting for the new book to arrive today. God bless


message 5: by Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* (last edited Apr 06, 2017 05:51PM) (new)

Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* Barbara wrote: "Susan wrote: "If I handed one of my friends a book and said, "You need to read this because Hilary was almost elected." They'd throw it at me. Just recommend your books and leave the politics out o..."

She's referring to the first suggested book that is speaking of Trump climate before he won. It's a political book with its message on trying to "solve" the downtrodden mystery on why not everyone agrees with liberals and their voting. Not sure why it belongs on a list about hope - yes, the writer is trying to understand the cultural differences because people think 'they' need to solve this mystery so they can fix what they consider ignorance, but I wouldn't list it as a top inspirational from the reviews and synopsis.


Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* Praying for Sheetrock sounds good - added to wishlist


message 7: by Michele (last edited Apr 06, 2017 09:36AM) (new)

Michele Pfrogner I hope that all of us are more than the votes we cast on election day; however, I am very tired of authors, celebrities, or anyone else with a "microphone" always inserting their political views into interviews or conversations when not specifically asked. While Anne Lamott's Operating Instructions helped me navigate my own ineptitude as a new mother, and Bird by Bird became my go-to writing book for my high school students, I do not want to hear, nor do I care, about her political views.


message 8: by Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* (last edited Apr 06, 2017 05:52PM) (new)

Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* Michele wrote: "I hope that all of us are more than the votes we cast on election day; however, I am very tired of authors, celebrities, or anyone else with a "microphone" always inserting their political views in..."

Which is why I'm passing on the first recommended book too. It comes off the theory and premise that anyone who didn't vote a certain was was blind, ignorant or wrong. Not interested in books like that at this time. Overdosed on politics the past six months already.

Will check out some of the other recs though.


message 9: by Katie (new)

Katie I'm thrilled to see Praying for Sheetrock on your list. I loved this book so so much when I read it over two decades ago. I think of it often, and may just have to pick it up for a re-read!


message 10: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Dear Anne,
You love Rumi


message 11: by Maria (new)

Maria I love hearing Anne's voice on everything, including politics. Nobody is forcing you to read her recommendations.


message 12: by Ruthie (new)

Ruthie Michele wrote: "I hope that all of us are more than the votes we cast on election day; however, I am very tired of authors, celebrities, or anyone else with a "microphone" always inserting their political views in..."

Then I would suggest that you not read her books. I know, when I pick up something She has written, there will be a statement of faith AND a statement of her political stance in some way. I value that and she has helped me to shape my own beliefs. Some I agree with Anne, some I do not. But, I know her writing and if I am not in the "mood" for her genre at the moment, I choose something else. That simple.


message 13: by Dawn (new)

Dawn I make it a point to read book lists... especially from famous authors who share what was meaningful or life-changing for them. I don't have to read EVERY book on the list. But if I find I share core values with the writer, then I have found someone I would want to spend time with. (I might read Bill O'Reilly to hear his point of view... but you couldn't pay me to sit next to the man on a bus!)


message 14: by Ivan (new)

Ivan Erin ☕ *Proud Book Hoarder* wrote: "Michele wrote: "I hope that all of us are more than the votes we cast on election day; however, I am very tired of authors, celebrities, or anyone else with a "microphone" always inserting their po..."

Now I want to read the book!


message 15: by Lisa.daigle (new)

Lisa.daigle Thanks for such great suggestions. I started reading Rumi after my father died and that really helped.


message 16: by Kristy (new)

Kristy Seagle Erin wrote "She's referring to the first suggested book that is speaking of Trump climate before he won. It's a political book with its message on trying to "solve" the downtrodden mystery on why not everyone agrees with liberals and their voting. Not sure why it belongs on a list about hope - yes, the liberal writer is trying to understand the cultural differences because people think 'they' need to solve this mystery so they can fix what they consider ignorance, but I wouldn't list it as a top inspirational from the reviews and synopsis."
Anne clearly says the author changed. She says nothing about fixing ignorance.


message 17: by Amy (new)

Amy Craft Erin ☕ *Proud Book Hoarder* wrote: "Michele wrote: "I hope that all of us are more than the votes we cast on election day; however, I am very tired of authors, celebrities, or anyone else with a "microphone" always inserting their po..."

This is a very important and valuable position of writers, celebrities, and people in the public eye, to have their finger on the pulse of what is going on. I appreciate that they speak their mind! They give voice to those who don't have one. If it's not your voice, you can certainly choose to listen or to move on.

Also, I think hope comes in many forms. It's not always centered around something religious or spiritual. Hope can present itself through activism, love, charity, or opportunities. She was sharing books that give her hope. I'm not sure why she would leave one out just because it has a political tone.


message 18: by Jeanne (new)

Jeanne Moran Thank you, Anne. Recommendations from you are akin to recommendations from a dear friend. I've put every one of them (including your latest) in my 'want to read' folder.


message 19: by Katie (last edited Apr 06, 2017 04:06PM) (new)

Katie "Michele wrote: "I hope that all of us are more than the votes we cast on election day; however, I am very tired of authors, celebrities, or anyone else with a "microphone" always inserting their po..."

And yet America made a reality TV celebrity the President. Your argument holds no water. Not one drop.


message 20: by Melanie (new)

Melanie Griffin Lissa wrote: "Trump voters don't want to understand how a seemingly intelligent country could have become the laughing stock of the world with their clown president.
Some others would like to understand so that ..."


Susan wrote: "If I handed one of my friends a book and said, "You need to read this because Hilary was almost elected." They'd throw it at me. Just recommend your books and leave the politics out of it - FOR ONCE!"


message 21: by Karen (new)

Karen Geez...relax people. Either you like Anne Lamott's recommendations or you don't. She doesn't make it a secret as to her political leanings. Or if you are really evolved, you can enjoy her books and get beyond her politics and opinions. This is HER list of recommended books. Hers. Not your's. Read them or not.


message 22: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Doffing Oh my, in regard to the political comments-- I just hope we all "get" that dichotomy is both valid and also a veil. Wisdom lies in accepting differences and setting an intention for common respect and peace.
Acceptance of our common humanity and inherent wholeness and vulnerable spots is a present need-- we must hold a space for love and listening with open hearts, lest we be blinded.

I love Anne Lamott and see her as an individual first, free to share her opinion as a free citizen in the 21st Century.


message 23: by NANCY (new)

NANCY Dear Anne:

I am always excited to see one of your books come out and now as a new member of Goodreads, I am thrilled to read you book recommendations. I have been so excited for your in your successes and your wonderful books since we graduated together from Goucher College. Thank you for your inspirations.
Nancy Ducharme


message 24: by Rosemary (new)

Rosemary Kreuser Amy wrote: "Erin ☕ *Proud Book Hoarder* wrote: "Michele wrote: "I hope that all of us are more than the votes we cast on election day; however, I am very tired of authors, celebrities, or anyone else with a "m..."

Chris Evans said it best: "I've been a human being expressing my opinions much longer than I've been an actor, why should the latter take away my participation in humanity?"


message 25: by Robert (new)

Robert Deangelis Anno Domini
I believe you and your readers would be interested in this suspenseful thriller. The theme of "faith in the good of the world" becomes intensely relevant through this story.


message 26: by Dennis (new)

Dennis Pritchett Lisa, you still don't understand, do you? The reason Trump got elected, and the Dems lost the House and Senate, plus most of the Governorships across the US is because for the past 16 out of 24 years the liberals have been dividing the country economically, and the people who have been ignored and left behind chose a leader. He's not financed and owing his life to big business, he owes the fact he's President to the downtrodden "deplorables of your country. I wish he was our leader up here. Yes, I'm sick to my stomach of liberals, we don't need your advice on anything.


message 27: by Mary (new)

Mary If i !had gave this book to a friends... My friend would most likely fall in love with it!


message 28: by Holly (new)

Holly Mcgregor Michele wrote: "I hope that all of us are more than the votes we cast on election day; however, I am very tired of authors, celebrities, or anyone else with a "microphone" always inserting their political views in..."

Then why, for God's sake, are you reading about Anne Lamott's five favorite books? If you don't care what these are, just skip it. You don't want her opinion? Go to bed.


message 29: by Nora (new)

Nora I finished reading, Happy All The Time, by Laurie Colwin, last night and smiled all the way through it. Thank you so much for recommending it. What a wonderful book and writer..... I love all the photos and recipes that are included....an unexpected surprise and such a wonderful addition......She will go right next to you on my bookshelf, no, that was a lie.....she'll be right along side you on my Kindle, I can't believe I've stopped buying real books and switched over to a Kindle. I need to go back to the real thing.


message 30: by Priscilla (new)

Priscilla Bennett Thank you for your wonderful list of books. I've read several of yours and have really enjoyed them.
Best,
Priscilla


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