Jonathan Livingstone Seagull – A Story by Richard Bach is one of those books on your self that you can never have enough of. The book contains an inexplicable connection with your innermost dreams and seems to tell a story that everyone can relate to. Like every other book of Richard Bach, an avid pilot, this book also revolves around the beauty of flying. However, this book, in all of its ninety six pages, also tells us about the beautiful world of dreams, the single minded approach to see them fulfilled, the world that will never believe you unless you have achieved your dreams, and the pleasure in seeing your dream inspiring others to carry on from where you have left it.
Jonathan Livingstone, as the title suggests, is just another seagull except that he does not fly for the sake of food. He flies for the sake of flying. So while most of his community is busy looking for food, Jonathan Livingstone is busy discovering the various nuances of flying and in the process doing things on air that no Seagull had ever done. Unable to explain himself to the Elders, he gets thrown out of his community only to find himself in the company of a Great Seagull who resides in a very different world – a world that not only appreciates Jonathan Livingstone’s fancy for flight but also teaches him new and unimaginable details of the same. Jonathan Livingstone grows up – a master in the art of flying.
But wait. Things are still not done. Jonathan Livingstone realizes that there are other Seagulls like him who are interested in the art of flying. So he comes back to his community as a mentor to all those who share his dream. Jonathan Livingstone fights with the initial suspicion to win the confidence of many Seagulls who follow him, look up to him and learn from him. However, his increasing popularity does not go well with the Elders of the community who intend to drive him out. In the events that follow Jonathan Livingstone disappears only to resurrect in front his trusted disciples, pass the baton onto them and move to those who are waiting for him in other worlds.
The book has a very nice flow that takes the reader along a journey with Jonathan Livingstone as he goes through the various phases of his life. It is written in lucid, easy flowing English but the imagery made is so powerful that you almost start visualizing Jonathan Livingstone as you go through the book – the hallmark of a classic. You feel the thrill of flying without any bounds, the pain of having to explain your love for something, the pleasure when your love materializes and the satisfaction in seeing your love being accepted by others – all in ninety six pages only. The book also contains some very beautiful photographs of Seagulls that Richard Bach took on his flights that add to the charm and the overall look of the book.
In fact, so engrossing is the book that at the end the reader is left wanting for more and wondering if ninety six pages could do true justice to the wonderful idea behind the book. But everyone who has dreamt of something to achieve, something to live for will find the book largely personal – with the Seagulls, the hardships and the success as metaphors to various things in his own life. And it is then that you realize the inexplicable charm in the book.
Some say it is the story of Jesus Christ told in an unconventional way. I do not question them. In this little world where every one of us wants to do something that we love, something that we enjoy, it definitely is the Bible!
A must read for everyone – dreamer, non-dreamer; theist, atheist; successful, unsuccessful; a habitual reader or someone who does not like reading much.