Sunday, May 1, 2011

Book Review - Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year by Anne Lamott

Title: Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year 
Author: Anne Lamott 
Year: 2005
Page: 251
Genre: Non-Fiction - Memoir, Family

FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

Summary (from
It’s not like she’s the only woman to ever have a baby. At thirty-five. On her own. But Anne Lamott makes it all fresh in her now-classic account of how she and her son and numerous friends and neighbors and some strangers survived and thrived in that all important first year. From finding out that her baby is a boy (and getting used to the idea) to finding out that her best friend and greatest supporter Pam will die of cancer (and not getting used to that idea), with a generous amount of wit and faith (but very little piousness), Lamott narrates the great and small events that make up a woman’s life.

First Sentence:
I woke up with a start at 4:00 one morning and realized that I was very, very pregnant.

My Thoughts:

Why this book?
  • I read Caroline Bookbinder's review and thought it sounded fantastic. Some of you might remember we don't have any children. We're still deciding whether we want any. I thought I'd read some motherhood books to learn more - it is probably the biggest decision one has to make and I want to make sure we make an informed decision (the last thing I'd want is to bring a child into this world and find out I hate being a mum or that I am unfitted to be one)
First thought:
  • Fast read, but I can't finish it!
Cover Art:
  • Could have been cuter (the design, not the photos)
  • Clear enough what it is about
  • It is a small book, and before I knew it, I was about half way through. BUT the writing didn't engage me and even though it probably wouldn't take me long to finish, I just was not interested enough to finish it (stopped at p131)
  • It wasn't until afterward I realized that she also wrote Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (okay, on the cover of this book it did say Bird by Bird on it, but somehow I failed to see it). I read that a few years back before blogging days. And guess what? I couldn't finish that one either. That was just something about the voice that I didn't like. And I think the same could be said about this book. Her books have A LOT of good reviews, but I guess her writing voice and my reading style just don't mash. I gave her a second chance unknowingly, and so I think I am not biased.
  • The book started off interesting enough, but then it got too whiny, it talked more about hating a certain political party (and I am apolitical so it is not like she's offending my political party), lack of a husband...
  • Even though human have a tendency to get nosy about other people's life (we probably all have a degree of voyeurism - hey that's what gossips are for right? And look at all the reality TV shows!), and I like books in diary format, I just don't care about what happened in this book
  • I don't remember much about her son at all and the author just came off as bitter
  • Some reviews said the author is funny, but I guess we have different sense of humor (though I always thought I have a weird sense of humor so it's probably just me) 
  • Since I didn't finish it I can't tell you!
  • Isn't it ironic, I am whinging about not liking a whiny book
What I Learned:
  • Despite A LOT of people enjoy this author's work (this book or others), I just don't like what I don't like
  • I have to say, the quote I mentioned below, is something I'd said similarly about our youngest cat Sesame. If he isn't so cute, it's hard to get over all the naught stuff he does (yeah I know, it sounds so superficial but it's the truth. Hard to stay mad at him when he crooks his head to the side and looks down as though he is apologetic)
Read this Author again?
  • I doubt it.

I've decided the reason Sam's so gorgeous is that God know that I wouldn't have been able to fall in love with this shitting and colicky little bundle if he looked like one of those ET/Don Rickles babies. p20

Overall Rating:
0 Star. Did Not Finish

All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.


  1. So sorry you didn't like it better! But of course, we all have very different tastes. A couple of books to check out about having kids:
    What I Thought I Knew by Alice Eve Cohen (this book is medically scary so I'm not 100% sure I should recommend it as it could scare you off altogether.)
    The Zygote Chronicles by Suzanne Finnamore (this is listed as a novel but it's pretty much a memoir)

    Sorry I can't suggest more, but as a non-parent myself, I don't read much in this genre!

  2. Thanks for the other recommendations Carin! I do already have Cohen's book on my TBR list. I am not too worry about medically scary books as I like reading medical memoir, and I work in health care. But I suppose pregnancy-related scare might hit close to home.