Richard David Bach is an American writer. Born in 1936 in Illinois, USA, Bach is also a pilot who served in the USA Air Force. Most of his literary works contain allusions to flights.

Bach has authored both fiction and non-fiction. His most notable works includeΒ Jonathan Livingston Seagull and Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, both bestsellers of the decade.

After a near-death experience, Bach added another seventeen pages to Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

Russell Munson is a photographer and pilot. He is also the author and photographer of Skyward: Why Fliers Fly.


Jonathan Livingston Seagull is the story of the eponymous seagull, who was different from other seagulls since his childhood. Jon’s parents try to get him to conform to the “normal behavior” of his flock. And while Jon tries his best, he finds the daily routine of squabbling boring. All he wants to do is fly high.

After a flight goes awfully wrong, the elders of the flock banish him. Alone, Jon leads a happy, peaceful life. He never gives up on his passion for flying.

One day, he runs into these two seagulls, who take him for a “higher plane of existence”. Here, he befriends the wisest seagull of all, Chiang, who shares his knowledge with Jon. This enables Jon to instantaneously move anywhere in the universe. He later returns to earth to share his experiences with others. One of his students, Fletcher Lynd Seagull, becomes a teacher himself as Jon decides to reach out to the other flocks.

Note: This review is of the originally published novella and does not include the fourth part that was added in 2014.


Jonathan Livingston Seagull teaches us that sky is the limit if we really set our minds to something. All it needs is an unwavering belief in ourselves and our dreams. One must work hard and consistently seek to improve themselves to attain their material and spiritual goals. Once we recognize the power of our minds, anything is possible.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull excerpt

The fable also reminds us of two things – the limitlessness of the sky and the importance of the relationship between a teacher and a student. Jonathan Livingston’s story conveys the need to continuously strive for perfection. In fact, the book convincingly drives home the point that, in the process, we can even help others fulfill their destiny. Another important lesson that Jonathan Livingston Seagull imparts is the true meaning of forgiveness.

Bach has narrated the story with such simplicity that it doesn’t really matter how old one is to make sense of the story.

The black-and-white photographs by Russell Munson complement the story. Each picture captures Jonathan’s life and is critical to understanding the story.

Arguably the best thing about Jonathan Livingston Seagull is that it is both a spiritual guide and a self-help book, motivating the readers to become what they were meant to.


The present edition was not the complete edition and is not inclusive of the fourth part, which was added much later, in 2014.


We can lift ourselves out of ignorance, we can find ourselves as creatures of excellence and intelligence and skill. We can be free! We can learn to fly!

No, Jonathan, there is no such place. Heaven is not a place, and it is not a time. Heaven is being perfect.


Ameya Score:

Jonathan Livingston Seagull is an inspirational read that simply anyone can and should read. It is a simple story with a profound lesson that transcends all barriers of age, creed, and gender.

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Anusuya book review writer

A proverbial bookworm, Anusuya is always hungry for new stories and adventures.