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Jonathan Livingston Seagull - Richard Bach

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Author: Richard Bach / Genre: Fiction

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      10.03.2010 16:07
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      There is a little Jonathon Livingston Seagull in each and every one of us!

      Every once in a while you find a book that is equally inspiring as it is moving, and makes you think about things in perhaps ways before we might not have considered.

      I consider myself to be positive and open minded so when I was told about this inspiring book by a close friend I decided to look it up on Amazon and give it a go. I ordered the book straight away and after reading several positive reviews was very excited for the postman to post this to me.

      Jonathan Livingston Seagull is known as the "most celebrated inspirarional fable of our time" and is written by Richard Bach.

      The book is very short with only 87 pages and is split into three parts. Throughout this small book there is photographs by Russell Munson of seagulls. I found these photographs capturing and have to confess I spent quite a long time looking at the photographs as I found them fascinating.

      This book is about the life of a seagull called Jonathon. Jonathon is not like all the other seagulls who exist to mearly eat and survive. Jonathon sees flying as living and tries to fly faster, learn new tricks and improve himself. Jonathon is frowned upon by his seagull society, he looks upon his life as more than an existence, he wants to better himself and make the most of his life and believes there is a higher purpose that not everyone seems aware of. Jonathon is prepared to follow his dreams and even if others find his ideas silly or not worthy he still has faith and pursues his true purpose.

      I am not going to tell the story as I do not want to ruin this experience for anyone who wants to read the book themselves and find their own unique interpretation.

      For me I feel this book would benefit people of all ages and each individual could gain different messages from it. An inspiring fable about a very special seagull which you could easily relate to our lives. This book shows us that if you believe in the possibility of your dreams and in yourself enough then you can achieve anything. This book also teaches about understanding others even if they are unkind to you or do not understand you. It also demonstrates kindness.

      A part of the book which really made me smile and struck a chord with me was on page 53:

      "Chiang spoke slowly and watched the younger gull ever so carefully. "To fly as fast as thought, to anywhere that is," he said, "you must begin by knowing that you have already arrived...""

      A beautiful fable about the life of a very special seagull that can inspire and teach us all.
      Personally I believe there is a little Jonathon in each and every one of us!!!!

      Thank you for reading my review, I hope it has been helpful!
      This review is als on Ciao under my username laurajeantinks

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        15.01.2010 23:00
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        A simple yet inspiring fable

        Jonathan Livingston Seagull: A Story by Richard Bach (story) and Russell Munson (photography)
        ISBN: 0006490344
        First published 1970

        This book was recommended to me by a friend several years ago. We had only just met, but shared interests in music and films. He told me I had to read this fantastic book that he read every year. I was intrigued enough to pop to my local library and try to find the book. I found it. No one had got the book out for six months, tucked away in a tiny niche, you would only find it if you knew what you were looking for. I got the book out, took it home and made myself a nice cup of tea and sat down to read. I was so engrossed the tea went undrunk and I found a book which, though so short can easily be read in one sitting, engrosses you for the entire time you are reading.

        Jonathan Livingston Seagull is a gull like no other. Most gulls love to eat. He loves to fly. He practices and practices, much to the dismay of his parents and the rest of the flock. In fact, he becomes so adept at flying that the flock, who are resistant to change, cast him out. Jonathan goes on to transcend his present existence and thus begins to learn more about love and kindness. He feels he is searching for a higher purpose and finds others like him whom he helps.

        Originally published in 1970 (though still in print today) the book was seen as a spiritual self help book and now many people criticise it for being unoriginal, however, it was a leader in its genre. The book is presented in three parts, the first telling of how Jonathan is dissatisfied with the materialistic life of a gull and how he feels there must be something else to work towards. The second part shows Jonathan transcend to a place where he meets other gulls like him and where he has a student teacher relationship with another. The third part shows Jonathan trying to work on another aspect; the last words of his teacher "Keep working on love".

        I read this book several times a year, normally if I need a little pick-me-up or a kick up the backside to get one with things. It really does make you think about what you are doing and if you feel like you want to be inspired I would recommend this book to you.

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          05.05.2009 21:02
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          A beautiful book

          Once in a while, someone passes on a book for you to read - and it ends up as one of your all-time favourites. So it is with Jonathon Livingston Seagull. From the very first page, I was hooked on the story of Jonathon, the seagull who wants to be more than just one of the flock, who has dreams of other things.
          This is one of those books which is full of metaphors; you can put the experiences that Jonathon has into context with all the obstacles and progressions in your own life. It is uplifting in its simplicity, just a small book of approximately 90 pages and yet has proved to be so inspirational to many.

          Where the other birds were content just to eat, breed and fly, Jonathon is diferent from the other gulls, he wants to get more out of life. He constantly takes risks, pushing himself to limits, just to prove that he could. He enjoys doing this, and does them for fun, a concept unhearsd of by the other birds. His first attempts to improve his flying skills only earns him the scorn of the flock, and he becomes an outcast. That doesn't bother him enough to make him change - he sets himself new goals, and aspires to reach them. His pleasure is in the constant achievement of these goals, doing what no gull has ever done before so-to-speak. He is never satisfied, constantly finding something else to push himself into doing. This sets him apart from the other gulls and he lives quite a solitary existence.
          As he reaches old age, one day he is interrupted whilst gliding half asleep through the sky, by two brilliant white gulls flying alongside him. He decides to test their ability to keep up with him (even in his dotage) and is surprised when they do. They tell him that it is time for him to progress to the next part of his journey, to go from this world to the next, but that there his skills will be appreciated and he will be able to pass them on to others who wish to learn.

          Jonathon later returns to visit his old flock, still as staid as when he left it, still ruled by the council under the same rules. In showing some of his skills, he becomes the hero of some of the younger gulls, who realise they want to be like Jonathon. Jonathon begins to teach them all he knows, and finally moves on, leaving one of them (who he feels has the same calling as he has) in charge, knowing that they will continue to expand their skills and knowledge.
          People will read into this tale all manner of things. I find it encouraging and at other times calming and soothing. this is a book for sharing, for passing on to family and friends, children and teens. It crosses the boundaries of race, colour, creed and age, encouraging us to follow our hearts, be individual, make a difference - in ourselves, in the world we live in. It gives us permission to follow our dreams, and attempt those things which we may not think we can achieve, yet to try them nonetheless.

          This is a beautiful story that transcends all, a wonderful little book that somehow manages to pack more into its small size than some others of epic proportions.

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          13.10.2006 17:30
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          A fascinating book.

          I remember reading this book many moons ago.
          It simply blew me away on a lot of levels and after reading this I became a firm fan of Richard Bach's other work.

          At first glance it appears simplistic enough...Jonathon is one of many seagulls, living an everyday existence of eating fish and obeying the 'elders' of the flock.
          While the other seagulls are content to battle and wait for scraps of food, Jonathon swiftly realises that he is not an average, everyday seagull at all.
          Instead of falling in line and doing as he is instructed, he becomes passionate about developing his flying skills; slowly coming to the conclusion that there is a lot more to life than blindly following everyone else.
          Naturally this leads to all manner of conflict with his flock and he is soon targetted as a troublemaker and rebel.

          The book is split strongly into two separate halves and while the first part focuses entirely on Jonathon's individual and highly personal development - as well as the manner of how he is treated by other members of his seagull fraternity - the latter half of the book takes on a strongly spiritual context which opens up new characters and story development.

          This is a book which offers a wide range of different moral lessons and one which is easy to return to, time and time again.

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            05.07.2005 13:12
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            An inspirational tale with a high seagull quotient

            Seagulls are not my favourite animals – too much noise and too much sh*t. There’s just one exception to my no-seagull rule. It’s Richard Bach’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull, one of my favourite books of all time. It's available from Amazon at £4.79 new and £2.29 used.

            ***And so to the plot***
            Jonathan Livingston Seagull is a seagull who wants to do more than squawk and grub around on the beach. He wants to soar above the clouds in a quest for perfection and excellence. He spends his days learning about speed and flight, ignoring occasional hunger pangs and stiff opposition from the traditionalists in the flock. But eventually these powerful traditionalists make him Outcast and he is forced to leave the flock and live on the Far Cliffs. He continues to practice and at what appears to be the end of his life he is whisked off (into what may be heaven) by two radiant gulls.

            In part two, Jonathan finds himself with others of like mind and discovers that there’s still more to learn. His mentor Sullivan and the leader of the flock, Chiang, help him go further in his quest to find perfect speed and exceed his limits. He discovers that he can communicate telepathically and learns to appear and disappear at will.

            Once he’s mastered these tricks, Jonathan wants to go back to his old flock to teach what he has learned. He meets Fletcher Lynd Seagull who is Outcast, as Jonathan once was, and begins the process of teaching him. Eventually they return to shake up the ideas of the larger Flock (sort of like coming back from the dead, with all the attendant shock). Finally, Jonathan passes the baton to Fletcher and moves on to the next stage (we don’t know where).

            ***Reading experience***
            At 93 pages (the Pan edition) this is not a long read. In fact, only 40 of the pages contain the story; the rest are (what else?) pictures of seagulls in flight. In my 1973 edition, the pictures are quite grainy, but later editions –I had a glance at a 1990 one – reflect the improvements in image manipulation technology and the photos are much sharper. However, they’re still of seagulls. (Sorry)

            While the language is simple (this book can be read by anybody) the concept behind it is anything but. On the one hand it’s an adventure story about freedom and flight, but there’s also a deeper undercurrent to do with the way people live their lives. It is a story about searching for excellence, finding it within yourself and helping others to do the same. The book definitely has spiritual overtones, as each stage of Jonathan's life could be seen as bringing him nearer to heaven, a process seen particularly in some Eastern religions.

            ***What I thought***
            It’s hard to convey the magic of this short but inspirational tale. Most of the time, you forget it’s a book about seagulls and get caught up in the personalities and characters. At the same time, its ‘seagull-ness’ is part of its enchantment, because for a brief moment you can understand what it’s like to fly.

            We read this at the first meeting of my reading group and six of the eight of us loved it. The other two were put off by the seagulls, and who can blame them? I will say, though, that you might as well give it a read. It won’t take you long and you might discover some of the magic I still find every time I read it. (Ten times and counting!). There aren’t many other ways to feel this good without artificial help, so it's not surprising that it sold one million copies in its first edition. I wish I could give it more than 5 stars!

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              10.07.2002 23:00
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              I said I would not dare to write a book review. Like Jonathan I have dared, and can only hope that to a small degree I have succeeded. I'm sure you'll let me know if I should go back to dogs and yoghurt. :-) When a way of life has always been; when the limitations of a culture have been accepted as the norm by all the generations before, change is feared. The rare being born with the vision to see what could be possible and the faith to act on his beliefs is a heretic. This is a story of one such being, whose courage turned impossible dreams into reality, even though the penalty was to be the utter loneliness of the outcast. Richard Bach was a pilot who's passion for his craft takes us on a ride which brings tears to the eyes at times. Not with sadness, but with awe, as we join a spirit so powerful that it takes a young body into the unknown and then beyond Earth itself. Jonathan Livingstone Seagull wanted to fly despite the disapproval of his elders. Seagulls don't fly. They drift on wide spread wings, dive for fish and scraps and return to the shore or cliffs. Flying is for eating. It is for the falcons and eagles to soar and dive and roll, and hurl themselves thousands of feet upwards until they are out of sight of all but others of their kind. The first half of this book, only 127 pages long , takes us with Jonathan out across the empty sea by himself as he practices flight. All day and every day, while the others are feeding and doing the lesser things that seagulls do, Jonathan tries to force wings not made for speed or aerobatics to work for him in his obsession. Meanwhile he suffers the censure of his parents and the judgement of the flock. Jonathan knows that he is breaking every rule of his kind. Seagulls are not meant to enjoy flight or to spend their days alone.. ... and seagulls never ever fly in the dark. There are times when he has doubts, when he tries to conform, but the pass
              ion does not leave him and he returns again to the wide sea and the skies. Here it is that Richard Bach absorbs the reader in the heady technicalities of flight as Jonathan finds out for himself, often at the very edge of violent death, how he can make his wings fly for him. We fear with him as he progresses through ever more hazardous errors (each with near disastrous consequences for the youngster), until he finds for himself that just the control of his wingtips can make the difference between success or being "blown into a million tiny shreds of seagull". He discovers that the infinitesimal lift of a feather gives him a "wide sweeping turn at tremendous speed". We exult with him as he reaches "terminal velocity" with amusing and far reaching results. "It happened that morning, then, just after sunrise, that Jonathan Livingstone Seagull fired directly through the centre of Breakfast Flock, ticking off two hundred and twelve miles per hour, eyes closed, in a great roaring shriek of wind and feathers. The Gull of Fortune smiled upon him this once, and no one was killed." Banished to perpetual isolation Jonathan continues in his quest for perfect flight, learning so much more than the mechanics of aerodynamics. Part 2 of the story carries you alongside Jonathan on a journey which takes his quest for knowledge far beyond that ever achieved by his species, and then onward and upward into a realm and a time outside imagination. Here he is to find that there are no limits, that he is reaching into boundless infinity in his search for further perfection. It would spoil things if I told you more. Only that there are more adventures as Jonathan Livingstone Seagull nears his goal. The book was inspired by John H. Livingstone, a leading pilot of the nineteen twenties and thirties, much admired by the author. This apparently simple story will charm and absorb all ages.
              It matters not that you buy this book for a child or keep it on your own bookshelf. Although it would not be considered a great literary work, it has sold millions of copies and,I believe, will continue to do so. It has so much more to say than just the need of a seagull to fly beyond the possible. There is a spirtuality within the pages which creeps into your heart and holds it still for moments at a time. It is one of those little books which will be kept, perhaps for years, and then passed on to someone who you would really like to read it. The Book Cupboard has the paperback on sale at £4.50 reduced from £5.99. http://www. bookcupboard.co.uk/shop/richardbach.html.

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                09.07.2001 00:42
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                The story is about a seagull called Jonathan who becomes bored with his mundane life of basic flying manoevers and decides to try loop the loops and 360 turns at high speed. All his seagul friends laugh at him and he becomes an outcast when he fails to stop spending more time flying than fishing. The story then goes on to say how he finds enlightenment with other seagulls who think the same as he does and he shares his enlightenment to those who will listen. Jonathan Livingston Seagull is such a self help book. It plants the idea that if you believe you can do something a nd you try hard enough then you will succeed. Also it tells us that even though people may try to drag you down and tell you that you are not good enough as long as you believe in yourself than you will achieve everything you want to achieve As long as you are enthusiastic about something then other people will take an interest and you will achieve more.

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                  13.02.2001 22:41
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                  Jonathan Livingston Seagull is simultaneously simple and profound. Only 90 - odd pages long, yet Bach has managed to create a powerful message. He opens up doors to his readers, which they are able to walk through long after they have finished reading. This book is about life and wonderment, questions and revelations, curiosity and stiving for knowledge. Also important to the overall 'atmosphere' is the question of physical and imaginary barriers...philosophy which everyone can (if they are willing) apply to their own lives. Bach is successful in making each one of his readers feel as though he has written this especially for THEM, the individual. J L Seagull is a bird who does not fit in with the rest of his flock. He breaks the mould and is shunned for his alternativism...which ultimately drives him to discover the secret of unlimited freedom. This is a feeling familiar to many people, even though it may pass with time. It is the idea of the underdog striving against the odds to survive which is one of the book's most appealing factors, and what makes it so easy to identify with. The book can be read and enjoyed on many levels. It is simply written, and taken purely as a story about a seagull still makes an interesting read. But the lack of detail and description is what reveals it as somewhat more than just a story. I first read this book when I was nine and enjoyed it. When I picked it up ten years later I saw it completely differently and my enjoyment of it was far greater. Make what you want of it - but I'll guarantee you'll enjoy it.

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                    12.01.2001 19:54
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                    This book travels with me whenever I go off to work overseas and in fact at this moment is sitting on a Greek island awaiting my return next summer. I first read it over 20 years ago, have read it many times since and it never loses its magic for me! Being a bit of a nomad and a free spirit, I have worked abroad quite often over the years and have read Jonathan in various locations. The best spot of all was when I was living in the Algarve and found a secret 'retreat' where I could enjoy peace, quiet and contemplation. It was on a ledge at the top of a cliff (quite a wide ledge!!) looking out to sea, hearing the waves crashing against the rocks below. Just across and down from 'my ledge', part of the cliff jutted out and was home to a flock of seagulls!! As I read about Jonathan's adventures, describing how he experiments with speed, decreasing his wing span to bring him out of the plummeting fall that threatens to send him crashing into the sea, I watched those seagulls. Although many of them were obviously enjoying gliding on the wind and diving downwards (mainly because they'd seen the glint of a fish in the sea!) none of them appeared to have the Jonathan spirit!! Every time I see a lone seagull I say a silent hello to Jonathan! THE STORY AND THE LESSONS THEREIN Yes, this is a story about a seagull, but it's oh so much more than that. You see, Jonathan discovers his individuality. He doesn't want to be just one of the flock, living only to feed and breed. He wants more out of life and to sometimes do things just for the fun of it. His first successful attempts to improve his flying skills inspire him to continue, even though he is made an outcast for defying the rules of the flock!! His excitement comes from seeing how far he can push himself, discovering new challenges that will fulfil him, setting himself new goals to achieve. He is in fact, ahead of his time and ends up living rather a solita
                    ry life, pushing himself harder and harder. Ironically, because of the skills he develops he can catch better fish, so justifying his efforts even more. Although Jonathan enjoys his life, and achieves fulfilment, he would love to share it with other like-minded gulls. Having lived to a good old age, he is gliding through the sky one day, dozing on a breeze, when he opens his eyes to find that he is has company - two dazzling white seagulls flying wingtip to wingtip with him. He decides to put them to 'his tests' and hey, they match his speed and skills! They tell him it is time to leave his present world and travel on into the next, where his skills will not only be recognised but he will have the opportunity to share them with others willing to learn. During the second part of the book, Jonathan revisits his old flock which is still living under the same rules, governed by the council members. He demonstrates his skills with some amazing speed flying and somersaults and gradually some of the younger gulls, defying threats from 'the elders' that they would be made outcasts, join Jonathan, wanting to be like him. The number of willing pupils increases and Jonathan teaches them all he knows and then leaves one of the youngsters (within whom he recognises another Jonathan) in charge while he goes on to be a new leader elsewhere. THE MESSAGE The message that flows through this book is that we are all individuals. Somewhere inside us, even though it may be buried deep, we have the strength to make a difference. This doesn't necessarily mean going out and challenging a cause, it can just mean challenging yourself to achieve something you've always wanted, to make a difference in your own life, to follow a dream. Even if you make just a small change, which leads to you being a happier person, it's amazing how much of an effect it can have on the people around you. Although a little book, readin
                    g it is a wonderful experience and you discover a little something you've missed or forgotten, each time you read it! Lots of lovely photography throughout the book too. If you haven't already read it, now's the time - it's never too late to learn some lessons of life! Wishing you all happiness and fulfilment.

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                      29.11.2000 01:34
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                      This little book (it's not very long) will really make you think. It's uplifting and inspiring, yet so very simple. Jonathan Livingston Seagull doesn't want to be confined by other people's rules. He knows there are rules about flying and that they are there for safety reasons but he is determined to break the barriers. He's not one of the crowd as he soars higher than anyone would ever think possible. He pushes and pushes until he realizes he has flown higher and better than any other seagull has ever done before. He's done it all by determination and he can do no more. The actual text is sensitively written and at times its really sad. Worth reading if you have a few spare hours (that's all it will take.) Simple, but thought provoking!

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                        25.11.2000 15:17
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                        I first read JLS when I was about 14 or 15 years old. It was on the recommendation of a friend that I got to hear of it. He said it was one of the most awe inspiring books he had ever come across. Well as I was always out to prove him wrong it decided to read it. At that age I seldom read at all, but I managed to read the whole book in one day. It really did change my perception of everything. It also gave me the will to go out and try things that I might not have ever considred. It is a short book, but I would encourage everyone to read it. It is espcially good if you are feeling low or are not "one of the crowd." "Update" I guess I posted this opinion a little early, sorry. As a life changer this is the book that did it for me. The story follows the life of a "rogue" seagull, who whats more than the normal life others follow. He starts to investigate flying and takes it past the limits his elders would consider safe or worhwhile. He progresess until he feels that in his physical incantation nothing furtheer can be gained. The only way he can progress is to go to a higher "spiritual" plain. This gave me the desire to go for it and be more than those around me felt I could manage. I was cosidered to be one of those who would amount to not a lot. Well I kept those thoughts alive from JLS and have fianlly, although a little later than I wanted, to implement good values and have managed to soar higher than my family would have expected. J Bach has, through this book, manged to change several lives as I use this message as part of my teaching to KS2 children. Not all get the message I am trying to put accross, but if it only changes one life, well what worth can you put to that?

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                          28.08.2000 20:37
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                          As has already been stated in other opinions, this is about a seagull. A seagull that is different from the other gulls....... one who is not content just to fall in with what every other gull is doing because that's the way it's always been done...... a gull who is willing to take risks for personal growth.... a gull aiming to reach his full potential. This book is inspiring and thought provoking..... it can be read on many different levels....... as a nice read..... as a following your heart desires...... as a commentary on how something that does not fit in with the accepted 'norm' is treated. This is a book that you can read again and again...... when you feel you need to......... and each time you will gain something more from it *s* ......... enjoy!!

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                            15.07.2000 16:58
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                            A truly wonderful and inspiring book, providing a totally unique way of looking at life. In brief the A short book full of images follows the life of a seagull. A seagull, who wants more out of life than simply following the flock and catching fish. He wants to learn how to fly higher and higher and faster and faster. He wants to be the best he can be and he achieves it. If you take it at face value it’s tells of the adventures of a seagull. If you delve deeper it may even inspire you to do things you’ve only dreamed of doing. This is a book for all ages and upon rereading you discover things you missed. This is definitely a book I’d recommend – an insight into the life of a special seagull who can teach us all something.

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