Book Review: “Almost Everything: Notes on Hope” by Anne Lamott

On a browsing trip at the library recently, I uncovered a gem — a book that wasn’t on my TBR (to be read list) and one hadn’t heard of. What I was looking for at the time is now a faded memory because instead I chose Almost Everything by Anne Lamott.

Almost Everything

As in many of her other books, Anne is witty but profound, sharing her wisdom on many subjects in her notable short chapter format. Topics range from Humans 101, her thoughts on Writing, and what she discovered In the Garden. Yet all her thoughts rally around an important message we need today: how to bring hope back into our lives.

Chapter 5, Don’t Let Them Get You to Hate Them, resonated with me. Over the past year, America has divided itself into two separate camps on nearly every issue, and many aren’t shy about making their beliefs known on social media. In this book, published in 2018, Anne writes, “Certain special people of late have caused a majority of us to experience derangement. Some of us have developed hunchbacks, or tics in our eyelids.”

Why have we allowed ourselves to be hateful instead of hopeful? Anne laments over this. “How did we become so filled with hate? This is not who we are. Hate is the worst emotion of all, second only to acute jealousy.” She states that many times, our hate is really the result of fear of the alien or unknown. “Hate, on one hand, is comforting, but regrettably, on the other, it’s malignant.” 

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Photo courtesy of Nick Fewings from Unsplash

“I shall allow no man to belittle my soul by making me hate him.”

Booker T. Washington

Anne revealed how she was falling into these unwanted feelings as she followed the news cycle. I could relate. “At some point, the hate becomes an elective. I was becoming insane, letting politicians get me whipped up into visions of revenge, perp walks, jail. And this was satisfying for a time. But it didn’t work as a drug, neither calming nor animating me. There is no beauty or safety in hatred. As a long-term strategy, based on craziness, it’s doomed.”

Even though we may loathe certain politicians or leaders, we can’t let it consume our lives. “We are fused with people when we hate them. We’re not us anymore. We become like them. They – Them – are really not doing anything to us.” Her advice is that while “we can’t change those individuals … we can pray.”

How do we bring some hope back into our lives when hate is so prevalent today? Anne reveals that “everything good begins with awareness, whether awakening to the momentousness of the present or to the damage we are causing . . . Awareness means showing up, availing oneself of the world, so there is a chance that empathy will step up to bat, even in this lifetime.”

We can lend hope to others by sharing our stories. “I’ve learned that almost more than anything, stories hold us together. Stories teach us what is important about life, why we are here and how it is best to behave, and that inside us we have access to treasure, in memories and observations, in imagination.”

If you need timely encouragement from an author who has probably been where you are today, add Almost Everything to your reading list.

Disclosure: As an Amazon Affiliate, there may be links in this post, which if you click through and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission that helps support this blog. You are in no way obligated to use these links.

4 responses to “Book Review: “Almost Everything: Notes on Hope” by Anne Lamott”

  1. What strikes me is your quote that says we become fused with those we let ourselves hate! Ugh!! Nobody wants that. And I agree that sharing your story can be very powerful.

  2. Thanks for the great resource – from a fellow book nerd. Our libraries are back on curbside pick-up mode for the moment so no browsing again but will definitely be on the lookout for 'Almost Everything' to find some hope in these still difficult COVID days

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