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Grapefruit: A Book of Instructions and Drawings

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  1,915 ratings  ·  157 reviews
Back in print for the first time in nearly thirty years, here is Yoko Ono's whimsical, delightful, subversive, startling book of instructions for art and for life.

"A dream you dream alone may be a dream, but a dream two people dream together is a reality."

"Burn this book after you've read it." -- Yoko Ono

"This is the greatest book I've ever burned." -- John Lennon
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published October 10th 2000 by Simon Schuster (first published 1970)
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Average rating 4.24  · 
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 ·  1,915 ratings  ·  157 reviews

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Feb 29, 2012 rated it did not like it
Instructions for obtaining, reading, and disposing of Grapefruit

Buy this book on amazon with two others for free s&h. Still think you spent too much money. Don’t care you spent too much money because you think this book will make you a better person.

See the word “whimsical” on the back cover. Laugh at the word whimsical. Laugh with a coworker about the word whimsical. Say, “Oh, Yoko Ono, you so whimsical!”

Make notes on every page. On some pages make pictures. In most of the notes, draw from your
Mar 24, 2012 added it
what an unorthodox and brilliant book--cross-genre in the truest sense--and so liberating. almost a declaration of artistic independence. it is sectioned into 9 "chapters" or so that instruct you on how to create an art piece in a particular genre: music/painting/poetry/event//object/dance/film/etc. in its range, the book is truly democratic, imagining all the possibilities for experiencing and creating art in so many ways. in its elliptical language, the book is deceptively simple, challenging ...more
Mar 18, 2012 rated it liked it
A rewrite I composed, addressed to my family, based on my experience with Yoko Ono's flowering poetry in Grapefruit:

Make a mountain.
Put the mountain outside.
Hand out small portions to people who
come to see it.

Break big light into pieces.
Put the pieces in an empty bag.
Use pieces from the bag to fill
empty conversation.

Collect sounds you have heard throughout the week.
Replay the sounds at fullblast while
you laug
Suad Shamma
Jul 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, 2017
I mean...I'm not sure how to review this book. It is a piece of incredible artistic work, only because it really allows you into Yoko Ono's thought process. It gives us a glimpse of how she viewed the world, her ideology and her quirkiness. Her creativity came through in every piece, it really gave me a clear idea how she worked and how she is an artist in every sense of the word. It is an intimate look into her works - music, art, poetry, film and exhibitionism. In every aspect of her life, her ...more
Appreciating Yoko as more than John's wife is one of the best things that ever happened to me. The pieces in this book are hit-or-miss for me, but much love for Yoko.

For your listening pleasure, some of my favorites: x, x, x.
Mar 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I can't believe these reviews! To people who hated it and who hate Yoko Ono: wtf have you ever done that made me feel good about life? Have you ever slowed down time through the economy of words? Have you ever made me wonder? Yoko Ono likes simple words everyone can understand arranged in small, beautiful koans! Little bouquets of language! Just like flowers! You have to stop and smell them!!! What's not to understand/like? I love this!! GTFO!
Feb 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
Let’s Piece I

500 Noses are more beautiful than
one nose. Even a telephone no. is more
beautiful if 200 people think of the same number at the same time.

a)let 500 people think of the same
telephone number at once for a
minute at a set time.

b)let everybody in the city think
of the word “yes” at the same time
for 30 seconds. Do it often.

c)make it the whole world thinking
all the time.

1960 spring

I’ve been carrying this book around with me for a month and a half. It got lighter. And I love it. I need more
Sep 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, favorites
I became aware of this book because of my interest in the Beatles and John Lennon. Yoko Ono's art is one of those things that you either love or hate. I happen to love it. This is a book of instructions...little koan-like thoughts like; "imagine the clouds dripping. Dig a hole in your garden to put them in." Some of them are bizarre, some of them are poetic, some of them are painful, but they are all thought-provoking and beautiful - just like Yoko. Read this, and you'll understand why John fell ...more
Apr 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fluxus, art
Ok, this was a very important bk to me. In 1975 when I read this, I wd've just recently heard Ono's "Fly" LP wch I also loved enormously so when I read this it had plenty of impact. I was probably just learning about Fluxus in general at the time. This is "A book of instructions + drawings by Yoko Ono" & it exemplifies Fluxus short performance index card scores - such as the ones also explored by George Brecht. I have "LIGHT PIECE" circled in pencil:

"Carry an empty bag.
Go to the top of a hill.
May 17, 2012 rated it did not like it
Fuck . I've never hated someone so much.
Nov 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Yoko Ono's never gotten a fair shake. Recently, the art establishment has lent her individual artistic prowess some modicum of respect, but the public still sees Ono merely as a strange shrill woman who broke up The Beatles. It's an undeserved and unfortunate albatross slung around her neck. Nevermind that The Beatles were hurdling toward a break-up any day--minimizing her influence to that of just John Lennon's girlfriend ignores everything that makes Yoko Ono remarkable. Grapefruit captures th ...more
Michalle Gould
Mar 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes I laughed with it and sometimes at it (I am a bad person) but I always enjoyed reading it.
Mar 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art, poetry
One of my favorite books.
Yeshi Dolma
Jun 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Evocative. People should give this a try!
Feb 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Let people copy or photograph your paintings. Destroy the originals.

1964 Spring


I was inspired to read this book after sitting through brunch with a middle-aged dude who spent the whole pancake course sh*tting upon Ono, specifically for her bizarre (but, I would claim, intentionally subversive and hilarious), screeching performance as a backup singer for John Lennon and Chuck Berry's otherwise standard duet of "Memphis, Tennessee". (YouTube it.)

Within my age and weight category, I am probably on
Laszlo Szerdahelyi
Sep 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Well I wasn't prepared 100% for what this book was about to offer, but it's safe to say that at the end I was left with a big smile on my face and with a lot of paint and color plastered on my mind.

In this beautiful conceptual collection of collages of words and images, Yoko Ono seeks to challenge the readers mind through the use of play, of taking the mind of a person and splashing it against the canvas of the 'real' world. However, in the 'real' a line is a line, but in our minds, or Ono's, it
Dec 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
In this playful book of “instructional poems,” Yoko Ono allows readers to become participants of their own sensory experience. Words and scattered drawings make up this abstract but pleasant book, where Yoko will tell the reader to do something to enhance life: “Steal a moon on the water with a bucket./ Keep stealing until no moon is seen on the water.” Or, “Carry a bag of peas./ Leave a pea wherever you go.” This style of writing allows the reader to conceptualize the act, and be there with her ...more
May 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
So you still think Yoko broke up the Beatles? Get over it.

One great way to do so would be reading this book. It's quick, light, and madly creative. The book consists of a catalog of performance art pieces for you to try -- most of which are completely impossible.

One I try to practice is imagining snow is falling all the time. It's the heat of the summer, and I am certain my fellow Texans will agree that this is refreshing.
Michael Dipietro
Feb 19, 2010 rated it it was ok
Oh, Yoko. What will we do with you? I'm a huge huge fan of Yoko's music but this book just seemed silly to me. I dislike things (and people) that tell me to be still and breathe for a minute, and that that will change my life. I'll do that when I feel like it, thanks! I suppose I'm glad it exists...even though I DIDN'T burn it after reading as instructed, out of spite.
bellatrix begins
Aug 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Those who expect to find a cute story or anectode like Patti Smith's "Just Kids" or those who know the exact definition of art and are really really sure that Yoko Ono's work is not it, will be highly disappointed with this book. If you don't expect anything from the book, it can be quite interesting.

It made me happy. While reading it, I looked at the sky a lot more than usual.
Nov 25, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Man, whatever Yoko says.... Seriously, most people don't know (or outright deny) that Yoko was far more famous an artist than John. I bought this book a a joke, but it is actually really great. Yoko is a brilliant woman. And the Beatles were going to break up anyway. So eat that!
Mar 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: all-stars
if you're feeling aimless or a little lost, you can always pick up GRAPEFRUIT and let ono offer an assignment. they are verbal, visual, imaginative, hopeful and productive. ono is a tender writer and a fierce instructor.
Apr 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A dream you dream alone may be a dream,
but a dream two people dream together
is a reality.

How utterly unsurprising that this statement by Yoko Ono is so often attributed to John Lennon.
Haley Parker
Oct 29, 2020 rated it liked it
This was a trip! Some of the instructions were absolutely wack but some of them were extremely introspective and enlightening!
Aug 08, 2016 added it
I didn't hate it, but I wish some parts had been rearranged. "To the Wesleyan People" would have been helpful first as it explains her views on art and what she hoped to achieve with her events vs happenings, also add to that her ideas about mind music and perception - which is almost like a meditation on finding zen in a small repetitive action. "On Films" would have been nice as a second chapter for a similar reason. Otherwise it's pretty hit or miss for me as far as an art concept book goes - ...more
Rachel Lee
Mar 23, 2012 rated it liked it
Grapefruit. I originally thought of doing this review as a cute and clever list, mimicking the style of Yoko Ono's experimental text. Unfortunately, I'm perpetually late to the party. Because that's already been done (and well), I figured I would stick to the straight and narrow.

Ok, first impression. This book is cute. Small, a cheery yellow cover, a little round Yoko on the front. The cuteness persists in the oddball scraggly drawings and a strange and thought provoking series of instructions.
Kayl Parker
Oct 31, 2016 rated it liked it
I have a lot of love for Yoko Ono, but I struggled with this book as it seemed uncharacteristically self-serving. Though not my favorite of her works, it did produce a few gems for me within it. Grapefruit is a book that I assume many people would disagree on and maybe in that way, it is a successful work.


Hand out small portions to people who
come to see.
Ask them to polish them at home.
Ask them to bring them back in fifty
years to put the Venus together again.

1964 spring

Apr 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved it! It is really small and it may get repetitive in some parts, but it is a lot of fun! I like Yoko's concept of painting. As an art form, we tend to limit painting to the conventional medium, as an ideal, "painting" is done in many ways. The main instruction of Yoko is to create an aesthetic message with whatever it is within our reach (or not, I'll give the option just as she does), even if it is a mere thought, or someone else's name.
Gabriel Kind
Jul 18, 2013 rated it it was ok
I just feel like Yoko Ono is always trying to hard. The book is really a game, and quite clever in concept. It acts as a seed for reader creativity and does a great job at insinuating a surprising amount of emotional and sensory detail through very simple language. Most of the individual examples, however, were unimpressive to me. It's a fun read, but you might be better off browsing writing prompts on reddit. Also fuck Yoko Ono, honestly.
Dec 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
My favorite things in this collection are pieces of conceptual art that take place entirely in your mind, like this one:

Think that snow is falling.
Think that snow is falling everywhere all the time.
When you talk to a person, think that snow is falling between you and the person.
Stop conversing when you think the person is covered by snow.
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Ideas for Imagine lyrics came from this book 1 2 Aug 19, 2017 09:05PM  

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Yoko Ono (オノ/ヨーコ) Lennon is a Japanese artist and musician. She is known for her work as an avant-garde artist and musician, and her marriage and works with world famous English musician John Lennon.

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