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Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son's First Son

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  12,228 ratings  ·  939 reviews

In Some Assembly Required, Anne Lamott enters a new and unexpected chapter of her own life: grandmotherhood.

Stunned to learn that her son, Sam, is about to become a father at nineteen, Lamott begins a journal about the first year of her grandson Jax's life.

In careful and often hilarious detail, Lamott and Sam-about whom she first wrote so movingly in Operating Instructio

Hardcover, 272 pages
Published March 20th 2012 by Riverhead Books
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Average rating 3.66  · 
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 ·  12,228 ratings  ·  939 reviews

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Mar 10, 2012 rated it it was ok
In the end, it's really all about her.

Okay, I get it: it's a memoir. I hate it when I have nothing nice to say about a memoir, because I feel like I'm being mean to the actual people IN the memoir, and three of the main characters in this memoir are very young: Lamott's son Sam, Sam's girfriend Amy, and their little boy. Lamott's memoir is subtitled "A Journal of My Son's First Son," but irritatingly, it is hardly that; rather it is a journal of a weirdly self-absorbed and controlling grandmothe
Jan 01, 2012 rated it it was ok
I won this book as an Advance Reader Copy on Goodreads. Thank you for the opportunity.

I really, really wanted to like this book. I read Anne Lamott's earlier book, Operating Instructions, and loved it. It was a raw, intimate tale of a woman raising a child on her own, and the community she built around her. It was a messy, honest account of Lamott's own, personal story.

Some Assembly Required, on the other hand, feels like Lamott is telling someone else's story. Her 19-year old son and his girlfr
Mar 24, 2012 rated it liked it
You know who Anne Lamott is, she’s that great great aunt who had a tiny but bright blip in your life and she opened some windows, taught you a few things and made you look at dreadlocks differently. But here it is, almost Christmas, and you know it’s time to make that annual drive to her house, a museum of eccentricities with two too-many animals and ugh, the dread. Two hours in the car and this intrusion in a day -- where really you didn’t have any other plans -- is heavy. Before you even twist ...more
Aug 29, 2012 rated it it was ok
This book does a lovely job highlighting the dazzling selfishness of grandparents, god love them. This is a phenomenon that I've had ample opportunity to witness firsthand since the birth of my kid. In Lamott's case, she may have slightly more reason to be overbearing since her son was 19 when his kid Jax was born, but that still doesn't entirely excuse her. She has an extremely hard time letting the child's parents, otherwise known as not her, call the shots. At times it gets painful to read ab ...more
Tracy Miller
May 24, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2012
You know, I think I'm just not in the right life space for Anne Lamott. I've enjoyed her nonfiction books in the past (her fiction doesn't really do it for me), but I found myself skimming a lot of this book with a sense of irritation.

Right now, in my life, there is a lot that needs to get done. And Anne is all take a walk, have a thought, call a friend, take a nap. Sometimes she mixes up the order, and sometimes she does a few of these things simultaneously. Sometimes she throws in going to ch
Mar 28, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir
I was so excited to read another Anne Lamott book; I've been a fan since Hard Laughter. What a disappointment this book was! One would THINK it would be about her first grandchild; but, no, it was all about Anne and the bag of neuroses she drags around. Yes, she had an unhappy childhood. Many people did. At 55, it's time to move on ...

She does adore her family and her writing is wonderful. However, I felt like I was stuck in an elevator with Debbie Downer.

If she were my mother/mother-in-law, I
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Mar 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: relationships
I’ve been following Anne Lamott’s life since she had her son and published Operating Instructions, a book about all the struggles and difficulties and amazing experiences she had as a single mother. I followed Lamott through Bird by Bird, a book that is sold as a writing instruction manual, but that is really more of Anne Lamott’s life. I pursued Lamott through Traveling Mercies, a book about her unexpected dive into Christian spirituality, and continued through Plan B and Grace (Eventually), a ...more
Dec 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: elle
A sweet, careful gem of a book, I believe it's a worthy read for any grandparent. Anne Lamott is honest about her neuroses and shortcomings, and the reliance she puts on faith to help see her through the unexpected pregnancy of her young son's girlfriend and their joint efforts to raise and love the baby. Most importantly, she accepts great personal responsibility for how she chooses to behave, an inspirational trait for any circumstance, and tries to be understanding of others' personal motivat ...more
Apr 13, 2012 rated it liked it
I love Lamott's honesty, particularly her refusal to hide or gloss over moments of insecurity and selfishness. Her voice is beautifully, gloriously human. But I have mixed feelings about this book. This text felt more emotionally distant than her other books, perhaps because the most pressing conflicts are between her son and his girlfriend, and her Great Challenge is learning NOT to get involved in the conflicts. While refraining from action is a very difficult thing to do in life, it does not ...more
Mar 15, 2012 rated it liked it
In the interests of full disclosure, I received a giveaway copy of this book via Goodreads, AND Operating Instructions is one of my all-time favorite books.

On that note, I liked this book, but I wanted to love it. Since Operating Instructions, I've developed a love-hate relationship with Lamott's authorial voice. When she nails it, oh, does she nail it, but sometimes she's just so....herself (as she would admit). Her 19 year old son and his girlfriend have a baby, and echoes of her memoir of sin
Apr 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Saw the author and her son do a reading from this recently, which was hilarious. Very enjoyable book about the first year of life for her grandson, the child of unmarried 19-yo son Sam and his 20-yo girlfriend Amy. I liked it just a bit less than Operating Instructions, re Sam's babyhood. Still very funny and insightful, but......

(a) probably shouldn't have read them back to back -- like any writer, she has only so much material, and some of her go-to themes (my small congregation is fantastic;
Sep 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Anne Lamott made me want to be a better writer. She used such off the wall introspection about her first year of "grandmotherhood" that I was hooked. I have an 8-month-old and loved every glimpse into "a day in the life of baby Jax" because I related so well.

She's just a hilarious storyteller. Like stand up comedy, in print.

It seems like this book got a lot of negative feedback due to the author writing quite a lot about herself when she promised a journal of her son's first son. I can understan
I'm really not sure what star rating to give this book. I would say that about 70% of it I ADORED - and when I started it, I really thought I was going to love the whole thing unconditionally.

About 15% of the book, though, especially in the travel sections (as she spends time on vacation in different parts of the world), didn't seem to particularly fit the rest of the book, thematically - and the section in India, in particular, I found kind of painful. It really felt like it was taking a LONG t
May 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
I read an interview where Anne Lamott says that Some Assembly Required is her favorite book she has ever written. It tells the story of her nineteen year old son becoming a father and gives an account of the first year of his son’s life. She writes tenderly about her enormous love for her grandson and writes honestly about her strong urge to hop in and control this sometimes precarious situation. I can relate to how she describes the urge to control things through the veil of making suggestions ...more
Apr 27, 2013 rated it did not like it
I come to Anne Lamott as a fan and faithful reader. Her past books have been mordantly funny and self-deprecating. She recognized her self-absorption, and seemed to have built herself a great network of friends who would willingly, gently puncture her self-absorption.

I don't know what happened.

This book disappointed me in so many ways. Her black-humored self-absorption seems in this book to have turned into epic narcissism. And yet she's self-aware enough to recognize it as narcissism and offer
Jul 01, 2012 rated it it was ok
I wanted to love this book. I love Anne Lamott--her self-deprecating humor, her love for Jesus, her body issues. I love seeing her in person when she does readings of her books. But I just don't like this book. She's supposedly struggling with her son becoming a father at a very young age but I'm not sure there was much of a struggle nice she fell in love with young Jax the second he was born. The biggest struggle seems to be to keep her mouth shut. And I know from personal experience that chall ...more
Susan Johnson
Oct 02, 2017 rated it liked it
This is what I agree with Anne Lamott about- being a grandparent is the best thing in the world. It is a job that only requires you love another person unconditionally. You are not responsible for them. You don't have to discipline them, give them guidelines and boundaries. Your only job is to love them and give them a safe haven.

That being said, I could not live in my child's pocket the way she does. Is it because it was just her and her son? I had four children so I would have completely los
Jul 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Edgy people of faith
Yes, I can understand why some reviewers seem to have been turned off by Anne Lamott's sometimes unflattering self-revelation. At times the obsessiveness can be wearying. But it is exactly her gift for stepping outside herself enough to describe what is going on in her head and heart in frank and often outrageously funny terms that endears me to her. She is something of a mess, but aren't we all? Facing up to that with warmth, humor, inquisitiveness and faith makes life an adventure. Her son and ...more
Jan 15, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
I won this book through "Goodreads" but am sad to say that the excitement ended shortly after this book arrived at my doorstep.

While I shouldn't be disappointed at the home-written journal writing style (it says "Journal" in the title doesn't?) I frankly was. The writing was simplistic and the 'plot' lacked insight and that special touch that kept me wanting to read on...
I have to be honest that I lost steam midway through.

I really enjoy reading about different characters, learning to see the
If you're hoping for another Operating Instructions experience this is not it. Classic Lamott-isms but this story is not hers to tell - it belongs to her son and his girlfriend. Heard Lamott speak last week where she revealed that her publisher was responsible for pushing the idea of this book which she initially turned down because she thought it would be "exploitative" - she was right and should have stuck to her guns.
Mar 03, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: bookclub
Let's get this straight: this wasn't a journal of her son's first son. This was a journal of neuroses, mostly of becoming a grandmother, but also of controlling others' lives and trying to keep that patter tamped down as best she could. I might have been charmed had I not read it as a mother with young children myself, which put me in a different perspective.

I read Operating Instructions a bit before I was pregnant with #1 and appreciated it, and now I'm reading this a bit before I have #2 and a
Jun 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Impossible to put down. Lamott writes clearly, beautifully, with self-deprecation, humor and raw, painful honesty. She does not sugarcoat or idealize, ever, but she is attuned to the beauty of the divine leaking through this messed-up world. The crossroads between these two makes for a vision of heavenly grace stripped of sentimentality, which is to say, heavenly grace. Reading her accounts of the heartbreakingly lovely quotidian makes me more attuned to the little blessings in my own life. "Nat ...more
May 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
In Some Assembly Required, Anne Lamott enters a new and unexpected chapter of her own life: grandmotherhood.

Stunned to learn that her son, Sam, is about to become a father at nineteen, Lamott begins a journal about the first year of her grandson Jax's life.

I listened to this book on audio read by the author (with snippets from her son Son) writes about the complex feelings that Jax fosters in her, recalling her own experiences with Sam when she was a single mother. Over the course of the year, t
Laurie Davis
Apr 22, 2012 rated it liked it
I wanted so badly to love this book. I have loved all of Anne Lamott's non-fiction, and have some interest in the particular subject matter of this one, and was so interested to get to know Sam as a young adult. But, unfortunately, I found it tedious. It really just needed more editing, I think. Tiny little sections, over and over again, about feeling very needy for the baby and for some sense control in the situation, were just too many. I loved the journals of India, but kept trying to figure ...more
May 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I just love Anne Lamott! She's one of my favorite writers. I always enjoy her nonfiction work much more than her fiction, and I always recommend listening to her books read by her.

This book deals with her son Sam's becoming a father, while still just a teenager himself, and her becoming a grandmother at an unexpectedly early age. Well, needless to say, she falls in love with her new grandson Jax at first sight. Then comes the challenge of letting her son and his girlfriend parent the new baby w
Apr 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I'm a big fan of Lamott's non-fiction and this did not disappoint. I particularly like how she lays out all her petty, messy little thoughts that we ALL have, but don't necessarily act upon. She's sarcastic, witty and profound.

Here is some profound advice from her Jesuit friend Tom on what to do when we feel powerless over the actions, or inactions of those we care about:

"so we breathe in, and out, talk to friends as needed. We show up, wear clean underwear, say hello to strangers. We plant bu
Terry ~ Huntress of Erudition
I picked up this book because, like the author, my 20 year old son unexpectedly became a father and his son is almost a year old now. I thought it would be interesting to read about her experience as a grandmother and the first year of her grandson's life, but it was more like a journal about her.
It is interestingly written, but there were whole chapters about her trips to Europe and India which I felt were kind of self centered and irrelevant. I have not read her earlier books, one of which wa
Mary Blye Kramer
Sep 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of Lamott’s best books although does she ever not soar in her writing? I might have taken off a half star for the interviews because they interrupt the flow and I always hate it when writers insert any kind of “journal” style of writing. It isn’t that her son isn’t funny in his own right, as well as a good writer - he is - but I did wish it could have been worked in in another way. No matter, it was a fabulous book with sparking writing and wonderful wit and Lamott’s hilarious self-revelatio ...more
Jul 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I love Anne Lamott's books, and I think my favorite so far was Operating Instructions, a journal of her son's first year. This book is a journal of this son's son's first year...her grandson't first year. She fills it with Jax, the grandson, interviews with Sam, her son, and observations from Amy, Jax's mom. My husband David is away, taking care of his dad in California. So I am alone and have room to be loving and generous; it's pretty easy when I'm not called on to be genuinely, actually eithe ...more
Mar 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
I finished this a week ago, but I've struggled with how to rate it. At some point, I let myself get too distracted by the less-than-glowing reviews, and I even found myself thinking, okay, this will probably be a three-star book. Loving Anne Lamott's voice, but it's no Operating Instructions.

Except that's the thing. It's not Operating Instructions. And even though it's sort of marketed to be all Operating Instructions v. 2.0, it's a completely different kind of book -- and well it should be, sin
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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

Articles featuring this book

A baby brings momentous change in Some Assembly Required. This new memoir about unexpectedly becoming a grandmother was cowritten by Lamott's...
51 likes · 31 comments
“I was reminded of the Four Immutable Laws of the Spirit: Whoever is present are the right people. Whenever it begins is the right time. Whatever happens is the only thing that could have happened. And when it's over, it's over.” 73 likes
“It is a violation of trust to use your kids as caulking for the cracks in you.” 33 likes
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