Have a baby who refuses to sleep? Maybe one who gets up and down asking for things and doing whatever it may take to not have to go to bed? This book, Go the F*** to Sleep by Adam Mansbach, is for you!
Published in June 2011, Go the F*** to Sleep was written by American Author, Adam Mansbach, and beautifully illustrated by Ricardo Cortés. This bedtime classic for parents has been an instant hit, reaching Amazon’s bestseller list a month before it released, thanks to a viral marketing campaign that released a PDF files of the book by email. Still, a hardcopy is on my own bookshelf, and I have given it at several of my close friends baby showers or other such gatherings.
According to Reyhan Harmanci, “When Adam Mansbach’s daughter, Vivien, was two years old, she would take up to two hours to fall asleep.” And, as parents, haven’t we all been here before: “Exhausted and exasperated, one night Mansbach posted a note on Facebook, ‘Look out for my forthcoming children’s book, Go the — to Sleep'(Harmanci). Then, “Following his post, friends of Mansbach responded enthusiastically, so that Mansbach began writing what was then only a hypothetical book. Mansbach had the illustrations for the picture book done by a friend, illustrator Ricardo Cortés (a contributor to The New York Times), and approached Akashic Books, a book publisher from New York” (Harmanci). It was then published 3 months ahead of schedule and put in all the best stores. I bought mine from Barnes and Noble in store, but don’t go looking in the children’s section because it’s, thankfully, not there. You might have to ask a store salesman in order to locate it in their particular store.
Though you can’t find it in the children’s section, it is written as a classic children’s bedtime might be, but with tongue-in-cheek, adult language and content. It employs the tricks used by its author’s daughter to avoid having to go back to bed. Throughout the book, the narrator advises the child “The windows are dark in the town, child. / The whales huddle down deep. / I’ll read you one very last book if you swear / You’ll go the fuck to sleep” (Mansbach). To go with the words (the first two lines said aloud and the last two lines in the narrator’s head) are bright and colorful images that will turn you into a child again, just with more appropriate content.
In an interview, Mansbach said that the frustrations he wrote about “are not permissible to talk about. We’re not completely honest because we don’t want to be bad parents” (Hetter). Macy Halford of The New Yorker said this frustration gave a peculiar response from modern parents:
“Whatever the cause, it is definitely the case that, when faced with a kid who refuses to go to sleep, we get annoyed, like all parents before us, but, rather than just abandoning the child to the dark and telling it that it can go to sleep or stay awake as it likes but it is staying in the bed until morning (remember Proust at the opening of Swann’s Way?), we sit there with it, reading to it and singing to it and distracting it with swirling night lights until it decides it feels like going to sleep, all the while thinking to ourselves, Go the fuck to sleep, kid” (Halford).
And in Hetter’s article on the release of the new book, Mark Rotella, an editor at Publishers Weekly (and father of two), says this is one of the books “that are less earnest about raising your child. They help parents step back and laugh at themselves a bit … It’s more like a parenting book for when the parent is inconsolable in the middle of night and frustrated.”(Hetter). In Neill Greame’s article quoted Conogate, a UK publisher, likewise pointed to the book as a parents’ book: “This book perfectly captures the familiar and unspoken tribulations of putting your child down for the night. In the process, it opens up a conversation about parenting, charming and enraging as it can be, and chimes a note of solidarity with tired parents everywhere” (Neill).
I hope you enjoy this book as much as I have. I remember it every time Diva refuses to go to sleep, which is about every night. I sometimes read it to myself and laugh to release stress!
Halford, Macy (May 5, 2011). “The Mystery of Go the F to Sleep Solved”. The New Yorker. Archived from the original on October 28, 2014.
Harmanci, Reyhan (April 28, 2011). “A Whim, A Book, And, Wow!”. The New York Times. Archived from the original on October 28, 2014.
Hetter, Katia (May 13, 2011). “Bedtime story: Go the bleep to sleep”. CNN. Archived from the original on October 28, 2014.
Neill, Graeme (May 13, 2011). “Spoof kids’ book to Canongate”. The Bookseller. Archived from the original on October 28, 2014.
BUY THE BOOK HERE: Go the Fuck to Sleep By: Adam Mansbach