Written by Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull is a fable in novella form, which tells the story of a seagull (named Jonathan Livingston Seagull) who is trying to learn how to fly - and how to live his life as well as possible. Jonathan is bored with his normal life of squabbling over food and flying and wants to learn how to continually be on a "higher plain of existence." He achieves this, but is still unhappy with his new life, so he becomes a teacher for other seagulls, something which totally fulfills him and makes his life much more meaningful.
At release, Jonathan Livingston Seagull was mostly well-received. Author Tom Butler-Bowden said that "it is easy now, 35 years on, to overlook the originality of the book's concept, and though some find it rather naïve, in fact it expresses timeless ideas about human potential." Film critic Roger Ebert thought differently, who in his review for the film based on the book, wrote that "[The film] is based [on], to begin with, on a book so banal that it had to be sold to adults; kids would have seen through it."