birds flying over snow in front of a building in Istanbul, Turkey

If you are a writer, you are probably familiar with Anne Lamott, as she is a hero among writers.

If you are not familiar with Anne Lamott, let me introduce her to you. She has a gift for homing in on the nuances of spirituality, anxiety, love, and other topics of great pertinence to our interior selves.

Among writers, she is renowned for authoring a beautiful nonfictional book called Bird by Bird. I read Bird by Bird years and years ago, and it helped me greatly as a young writer. In large part, the book is about seeing more clearly the inaccurate things we writers tell ourselves when we are feeling frustrated and vulnerable. It’s about the writing process, and how to think and go about the writing process in such a way that one does not destroy oneself or abandon the attempt. It’s about how to be gentle with oneself when one is trying to do something very, very hard.

But Lamott doesn’t just write about writing; if you’re not a writer, she has books to offer you, as well. She is a good author to read during hard times. She lifts the reader up; she understands what you’re going through. She doesn’t say too much. She seems to listen. She says just enough. She gives you space to think.

I know two wonderful mothers of very young children. Babies are great . . . but mothering babies is exhausting work. This past December, having noticed a new Lamott book on the bookstore shelf, I knew this was the right gift for each of them.

And then, having given away those two copies, and crossed over from December into January, I realized that it was the right gift for me, too. To me, from me. I checked it out from the library and devoured it: cozy beside her imaginary fire.

This recently published gem is called Almost Everything: Notes on Hope. In the following passage, Lamott references the title, illuminating its significance:

“Some days there seems to be little reason for hope, in our families, cities, and world. Well, except for almost everything. The seasons change, a bone mends, Santa Rosa rebuilds after the fire.”

Hope is the thing we need upon reading the headlines.

Hope is the thing we need in January.

Where do you seek and find hope?