I first heard of the book while listening to a workshop on preaching by Fred Craddock. Craddock is without a doubt one of my favorite preachers. He brings the reader into the sermon in such a way that captivates and challenges using story. In this particular workshop Craddock was talking about the importance of creativity and some activities that preachers can do to spur their creativity. He mentioned Anne Lamont's book Bird by Bird. I decided to pick up a copy for my summer reading, and have discovered a new favorite preaching book.
Lamont is writing about writing, but if you begin to see preaching as a mixture of spoken and written art, her book is immensely helpful. While reading through her book memories and ideas for illustrations flooded by mind. I was reminded of unforgettable, particular yet universal stories, as she wrote, "Write down everything you can remember about every birthday or Christmas or Seder or Easter or whatever, every relative who was there. Write down all the stuff you swore you'd never tell another soul. . . Scratch around for details: what people ate, listened to, wore-- those terrible petaled swim caps, the men's awful trunks, the cocktail dress your voluptuous aunt wore that was so slinky she practically needed the jaws of Life to get out of it." The book was funny and interesting and it reminded me that parts of my life are funny and interesting. I have thousands of wonderful stories lurking in my subconscious. Waiting to be written down and formed into material that can be used to help connect the Word with our lives. The book also breathed like a conversation, it felt genuine and honest, qualities that I often feel left out of preaching texts. Anyway, preachers, writers, readers read this book.