Jonathan Livingston Seagull, written by Richard Bach, is a short fable that is presented in the form of a novella. Just the mere presentation of this book attracts the reader almost instantly and two hours can literally slip out of existence if you find a copy sitting on a coffee table and don’t care too much about your remaining appointments that day.
This is the story of a bird’s learning to fly. It then develops into a homily of sorts about what it means to be perfect.
First published in 1970, there were over a million copies of Jonathan Livingston Seagull in print by the end of 1972. The book soared to the top of the New York Times Best Seller list and hung effortlessly in the clouds for 38 weeks. This is exactly what the bird himself does to each reader who joins up with him in his quest for higher consciousness. He takes you on a ride that you won’t soon forget.
The novel tells the story of Jonathan, a seagull who is bored with the daily routine of finding food and who is suddenly seized by a passion to fly higher than any other bird has ever flown. He throws caution to the wind but soon discovers that his unwillingness to conform results in an eventual expulsion from his flock. An outcast, he nevertheless continues and becomes increasingly pleased with his ability to lead the idyllic life.
Eventually, two gulls take Jonathan to a "higher plane of existence" where he meets many other gulls who also love to fly like him. Once he perfects his existence, Jonathan returns to Earth to find others like him and to teach them the secret of life.
"Do you want to fly so much that you will forgive the Flock, and learn, and go back to them one day and work to help them know?" Elements of Hindu and Buddhist thought, love, respect and forgiveness seem to be interwoven into the theme here but critics have cited every spiritual teaching known to man.
If you are a fan of the audio, Irish actor Richard Harris won a Grammy in 1973 for the audio-book LP Jonathan Livingston Seagull. You can check it out in either format and you are going to enjoy it.
This is a story that transcends time and will likely live on for many generations to come.