Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year
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Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year

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4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  15,672 ratings  ·  1,403 reviews
The most honest, wildly enjoyable book written about motherhood is surely Anne Lamott's account of her son Sam's first year. A gifted writer and teacher, Lamott (Crooked Little Heart) is a single mother and ex-alcoholic with a pleasingly warped social circle and a remarkably tolerant religion to lean on. She responds to the changes, exhaustion, and love Sam brings with apl...more
Paperback, 251 pages
Published March 8th 2005 by Anchor (first published 1993)
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Skylar Burris
Anne Lamott is the epitome of the vitriolic, hateful liberal. The catch is that she actually seems to realize it. Throughout Operating Instructions, one finds scatterings of an understanding that there’s something not quite consistent about preaching love, mercy, and non-judgmentalism while simultaneously ripping apart Republicans as a group, actively training one’s child to revile them, and comparing them to the greatest of evils. She actually gets that there’s something not quite right about r...more
Rachel Bash
I teach at Creighton University, and so (like most instructors) was appalled when Lamott was "disinvited," but never more than after I read this book. It's been a long time since I've laughed out loud while reading a book, and longer since a book has provoked guffaws (seriously, hearty laughter) AND reflection, revelation, and grief. "Honest" is a perfect word to describe this book, which bravely (I think) puts out there the concept that being a mother isn't always being 100% in love with your c...more
Keri
Sep 16, 2007 Keri rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: new parents who are losing their minds
This is the best parenting book ever! Right when you feel like you have hit the wall, Anne Lammott makes it OK to feel all the frustrations and pain as well as the awe and overwhelming love for your little offspring. When my second child refused to sleep more than 2 hours at a time for 3, count em, 3 months while I was working full time...I bought every book about getting your child to sleep that I could find. I finally called in sick, sent my kid to day care, and read this entire book in one da...more
Andi
Hold your hats, folks. I’m about to get all “over-the-top” in this review.

I needed this book right now, with all it’s one-lines that make me laugh out loud. You should have seen me last evening, lying in the grass outside my church (it was only in the 70s yesterday, and today, with a light breeze - perfect grass lying weather) and laughing like a maniac. I’m sure all the Amish people who came by in their buggies must have thought I was nuts.

So this book is the journal that Lamott kept during her...more
Joanne
Feb 07, 2008 Joanne rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: parents, pregnant couples
A friend of mine gave me a copy of this book while I was pregnant, and he never knew what a favor he truly did for me.

Anne Lamott writes all the gritty details of the thoughts that go through any sleep deprived parent's mind, but we aren't ever brave enough to admit them, sometimes not even to ourselves.

Having already read about some crazy lady (Anne Lamott) wondering if she could leave her baby out in the cold and see if that whole "survival of the fittest" thing would work out, I was far more...more
Alla
This is not an empowering book. This is a let-me-feel-sorry-for-myself kind of book. At some point, it has become hip and "good writing" to use profanity and say shocking things like "I hate my baby". While I acknowledge that feeling overwhelmed is very real for some mothers, especially those without a partner (myself included in the latter category), reading "Operating Instructions" gave me a dark feeling, somewhat akin to the feeling that reading Dostoevsky causes (minus the mastery of the pro...more
Melissa
This is a great, lovely book about having a newborn. I had a blast reading it because I don’t have a newborn anymore (a three & a half-year-old is a whole other flavor of getting your ass kicked) & it’s easy to have fond feelings about G's babyhood that are based on totally false recollections. "Remember when we could just set him on the couch & he couldn't go anywhere? Remember when he took two whole naps a day? Ah, such good times." I am an idiot. I was so constantly exhausted that...more
Ann
Oh how I wish I had read this book when my children were babies! Then perhaps I would have realized I was not alone in finding new motherhood so hard while loving my children so unbearably much. Annie Lamott just nails it.
Bonnie
Even if you have never been a parent, your kids have grown up, read this for the sheer pleasure of it.
Karen Backe
a few things were laugh-outloud-funny, a lot of things were kind of ridiculous. Having a new little dude ourselves, certainly there were moments and events I could relate to, but the self-absorbed self-deprecating thing got really tiresome for me. Also, yes, I get it, you belong to a predominately black church; move on.
Eva Leger
I should have reviewed this when I quit the book but instead I waited so long so I may forget some of what I wanted to say. I do remember this though, Lamott borderline disgusts me. If she bothered me just a smidgen more I'd be thoroughly disgusted with her person.
When you pick up this book you tend to think it's about her son's first year of life right? You know, the whole "Journal of My Son's First Year" in the title and all. Well... no.
It's a hidden agenda for her political rants. And that...more
Emily
Feb 08, 2008 Emily rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Emily by: Melisa, Amy, Noelle, Carrie, etc., etc., etc.
Just finished this one this morning. This was the kind of book that I resisted because everyone else kept telling me to read it. Also, because I'm writing a lot, I was afraid I'd start writing like Lamott and BINGO! I am. Anyhow, that said, I'm glad I've read it. The end is very sad, sadder because it is true. Reading it also fulfilled that promise that you'll think about your own new motherhood and think: "At least I'm not Anne Lamott." I was going to give the book three stars instead of four b...more
Christina
My lust for books that are about motherhood has led me to "Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year" by Anne Lamott. This book chronicles the experience of Anne's first year as a new mother. A single mother. Anne wries boldly. Possibly because she did not intend to publish her personal journal. However, I am glad that she did. Her innermost thoughts are right there on the page. Thoughts that all new mothers have but none will admit to. Anne admits these thoughts. She deliciously...more
Reese
In Anne Lamott's OPERATING INSTRUCTIONS: A JOURNAL OF MY SON'S FIRST YEAR, you find phrases and sentences that give your false teeth some delicious, chewable morsels and poke a few neurons in your brain and jump-start the battery in your pacemaker. Reading it, however, did not make me miss my adult children's childhoods. It did prompt me to add the I-Should-Have-Kept-a-More-Detailed-Record-of-Those-Days folder to my Regrets file. Those days were, in many ways, magical; and I believe, as Lamott m...more
Carolyn
I can see why some would consider this the original mommy blog. She fits the genre perfectly but was writing about 20 years before it really took off. Which means her writing is fresh, honest, witty, and at times, TMI.

On a personal level...

As a mother, I could really relate to her emotions as they ran the gamut from adoration to exhaustion.

As a Christian, I could really relate to her dependance on Jesus and her faith to get through just about everything.

As a personality, I could hardly relate...more
Carin
I picked this up at the used bookstore 2 days ago, having always heard about it. I'm not a parent and intend not to be one, but I read all sorts of memoirs about things I intend to not do, so I figured why not. And I'm thrilled I did, because I loved this book!

It was a very fast read. And for once I don't only mean that I whipped through the pages very quickly (3 hours). I mean it was fast-paced and I felt like I had to speed-read to keep up. It was an interesting feeling, being whipped through...more
Craig
Sometimes I really hate this site. This is easily the third or fourth time this month I have written a multiple-page review only to have it deleted when I click on the "save" button. Sigh. Let me begin again...

I love this book. I love this author. I love the honesty of this approach. I love a parent that doesn't buy into the idea that a good parent keeps their damned mouth shut.

I love the viewpoint from a parent of a cholicy child (even if her child did start sleeping through the night fairly e...more
Marieke
My friend Michelle lent me this book after we were talking about feminist books about motherhood. I haven’t read anything by Lamott before, but after reading this one I definitely want to read more of her books, both fiction and nonfiction.

She has a book about writing called Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life that sounds interesting; I might look it up. Operating Instructions is presented in the form of a journal, excerpted from the personal journal she kept during her first ye...more
Deborah
I thought this book was alright. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone but a new or about-to-be-new parent. I certainly don't think it's the best book Anne Lamott has ever written. I liked Bird by Bird and a couple of her novels a lot better than this.

It's written as if it really were Lamott's journal, and maybe that's true. But I didn't like the structure because it jumped around between different subjects and moods too much.

I only gave it two stars mostly because I was uncomfortable about the way...more
Brooke romney
What's great about this book? The writing, the writing, the writing. Her fabulous humor, her honest portrayal of the first year of being a mother, her honesty about her baby not having a father, her grief at her friend's diagnosis, the way she hysterically talks about Republicans, the support so many give her, and especially her true deep belief in a loving God (though it completely contrasts with who she is) and watching her faith ebb and flow.

What is not so good? The language...too often, and...more
Tricia
After stopping reading because I'd started when I first got pregnant and stopped when I had my first miscarriage (who needs someone exuding pure love and delight about their baby when you've just lost yours), I finally picked this up today almost two years later to decide about getting rid of it. My place was still marked, so I polished it off this afternoon. It was a good read, but is so very baby-centric that you should only read it if you are a new mother yourself, pregnant at a safe late sta...more
Kimberly
I really enjoyed this book- written from the prospective of someone who finds themselves shocked and amazed to be performing the role of "mother" Lammott grinds her way through her son's first year with humor and brutal honesty. While I hope I don't think about leaving my son on the porch overnight so that I might gain a few more hours of sleep, I appreciate the author's honesty about her wishes to do so, and am sure that I will sympathize even more once the little guy is finally on this side of...more
Mrs. Reed
This was an Anne Lamott book that I had skipped for years and years, figuring I wouldn't appreciate it until I was a mom. Well, I'm glad I waited. I definitely wouldn't have appreciated it as much if I hadn't been able to connect with the motherhood thing.

As much as I loved this book, I feel like it was written for a person like me: a liberal, slightly neurotic, spiritual mom. If you're not all four of these things, you might end up hating this book a little bit, or maybe even a lot.

One thing I...more
Elizabeth
I do so love Anne Lamott. She's funny, she's smart, she's neurotic. This is a journal of her life raising her infant son by herself. Everything she says makes sense--and ends up making me feel sane and normal. At first, I kept cringing at her honesty--I kept wanting her to be graceful, or dignified about it.
Nope--that is NOT her style.

I started loving her more and more as the book progressed, but this passage made me catch my breath, and warrants a quote here:

"The slow pace and all this rumina...more
sab
So far, as a woman who is 32 weeks pregnant, I think this is a great "look at what I'm about to get myself into" read. I really respect Anne Lamott's honesty, especially when reading about her dark, aggressive thoughts simultaneously against her overwhelming love as both a mother and a person. She gives me the freedom to know that it's ok to at times feel absolutely miserable after the baby is born, that it won't make me a bad mother. Favorite line, in regard to potential (probable!) post pregna...more
Kirsten
I loved this book. I had never read anything by Anne Lamott before, but after this small memoir/journal, I feel as though I know her well and anything else I read of hers will be like returning to a familiar friend. Operating Instructions made me realize that babies, mothers and the experience of mothering are not unique. I've tried for 5 minutes to get that sentence to say what I mean and I can't quite do it. It may be because I am a mother. But the point is that I spent most of the book thinki...more
Tiayra  Tucker
I read this after reading Some Assembly Required & hating it. Reviewers swore up & down that even if I thought Anne Lamott was an ape-shit mother-in-law, I'd like her as a mom. So I gave her writing a second chance. I do not like her at all. In fact, I dislike her more than I did before reading this.

In theory, I should like her. Like me, she is a female writer, a mother, a liberal, a Christian. Every negative review I found for this book was someone complaining about her political &...more
Converse

Operating instructions is based upon a journal kept by the author during the first year of her son's life. The book was originally published in 1993. The book preserves the journal format entries by date. At the time Lamott had her son, Sam, she was a published but still poor author of about 35 years. She had also become sober and stopped using drugs 3-4 years before her pregnancy. The father of the child had urged her to get an abortion and wanted nothing to do with the child. Lamott considere

...more
Jamie
This book deserves 3 1/2 stars, or maybe 3 and 3/4. There were things I really liked about it, but I'm not able to say that I really liked it. I enjoyed Lamott's snarky, self-deprecating descriptions and insights, and the little stories she tells of her baby Sam's growth and development were dead-on funny. She's a gifted writer, no doubt. These journal entries weave together her amazement with Sam, the tapestry of friends who support them, her reflections on addiction, and her meditations on spi...more
Gail
I've read most every book of Anne's now and without question I can say this one is my favorite. I started reading it at such an appropriate time, given that I myself was a first-time mom at home with a 5-week-old child. (and am typing this review one-handed with said child sleeping in my other arm).

Which is why I fell in love with so many of Anne's hilarious recollections of being in the trenches of new motherhood. On her son's colic at the one month mark: "The exhaustion, the sleep deprivation,...more
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read it 5 43 Jun 19, 2013 07:44AM  
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Anne Lamott is an author of several novels and works of non-fiction. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, her non-fiction works are largely autobiographical, with strong doses of self-deprecating humor and covering such subjects as alcoholism, single motherhood, and Christianity. She appeals to her fans because of her sense of humor, her deeply felt insights, and her outspoken views on topics such...more
More about Anne Lamott...
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith Help Thanks Wow: Three Essential Prayers

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“And I felt like my heart had been so thoroughly and irreparably broken that there could be no real joy again, that at best there might eventually be a little contentment. Everyone wanted me to get help and rejoin life, pick up the pieces and move on, and I tried to, I wanted to, but I just had to lie in the mud with my arms wrapped around myself, eyes closed, grieving, until I didn’t have to anymore.” 773 likes
“I don't remember who said this, but there really are places in the heart you don't even know exist until you love a child.” 340 likes
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