“Go the F**k to Sleep”: Destined to Become a Bestselling Book?

Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger

Several  weeks ago, I read some interesting news about a “not yet published” picture book titled Go the F**k to Sleep. The book had begun climbing Amazon’s best-seller list on the strength of preorders that people had placed. According to an article in The New York Times, neither the book’s author Adam Mansbach nor his publisher could account for the “phenomenon.” Galleys of the book had not been distributed. The only people to have seen the work were, purportedly, “a handful of booksellers who received a PDF via e-mail.”

It appears the PDF of Go the F**k to Sleep went viral. Some of the booksellers who received the PDF of the book must have forwarded it to other people…who probably forwarded it to still more people.

Go the F**k to Sleep is a picture book that is not intended for reading to children. It was written for weary parents who lose patience when their “little ones” don’t want to go to bed.

It seems the book has become all the rage. Even Rachel Maddow designated Go the F**k to Sleep a “Best New Thing in the World” on one of her recent shows on MSNBC. Touré, a writer and cultural critic who is the father of two young children, called it an “awesome” book in an appearance on the Dylan Ratigan Show. And actor Samuel L. Jackson recorded an audio-book narration for it. Jackson said that there were times in the past when he was exasperated when his young daughter wouldn’t fall asleep and told her to “go the f**k to sleep.” Nice way to speak to a young child, don’t you think?

Here’s how the text of the book begins:

The cats nestle close to their kittens now.
The lambs have laid down with the sheep.
You’re cozy and warm in your bed, my dear
Please go the fuck to sleep.

Maybe I’m an old fuddy duddy. My opinion of the book is different from that of Maddow and Touré. In my opinion, Go the F**k to Sleep is not awesome. It’s not a “best new thing in the world.” While I laughed when I first heard about the book, I found the rhyming text tiresome after the first couple of pages. I got the joke. I thought it wore thin quickly.

What I wonder about is how many mothers-to-be and parents of newborns will receive this book as a gift. I also wonder how many parents may now think it’s cool to tell their wee ones who don’t feel like going to bed to “go the f**k to sleep.”

Listen to Samuel l. Jackson’s reading of the book and let me know what your opinion of it is.

I’d like to suggest some fine picture books to read to young children at bedtime:

The Mystery of “Go the F to Sleep” Solved (The New Yorker)

Go the Fuck to Sleep: a storybook for exhausted parents (Boing Boing)

‘Go the F— to Sleep’: The Case of the Viral PDF (The Bay Citizen)

A Whim, A Book, And, Wow! (New York Times)

60 thoughts on ““Go the F**k to Sleep”: Destined to Become a Bestselling Book?”

  1. @Elaine M

    A written text can be read/perceived in more than one way. People interpret things differently.

    How about an extemporaneous verbal statement? Can that be perceived in more than one way? Can people interpret that differently?

    You were singing a different tune a few weeks ago.

  2. Roco,

    You are a creep. I bet you will offer that Anthony girl a job taking care of your children, won’t you?

  3. The child doesnt go to sleep
    because he wants more of your attention
    you fucking creep

  4. If you don’t believe in God then get rid of the crapola paper you carry. Remember it says on all US Currency, “In God We Trust.”~himhim or herher
    that’s what credit cards are for silly…

  5. MeMe (viral Internet meme/VM)

    Yes, I was; however, any true Texan knows that you were never born there, you wuz ‘borned’ thar.

    Mr. Perry? You must mean the angel-haired prayin’ Texas Prairie Fairy.

    And VM, the “In God We Trust” motto is vintage circa 1956 CE not 1956 BCE.

    Furthermore, I place no trust in any pent-up, constipated ornery old cuss I caint tell face-to-face the disdain I have for ‘him’ for all the misery his silly, putrid myth has caused ‘this’ world.

    Nevertheless, my deer child ‘meme’, I do sincerely prey that you a preyed upon by the devil at Rapture Tyme as you wing your way heavin-bound…

    Gawd Bless yourn little pea-pickin’ hard-headed heart..

  6. Oh Lookie, an Atheist with morals. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH….. Bet you will next say you were born in Texas. At least Perry has something, he has a God. If you don’t believe in God then get rid of the crapola paper you carry. Remember it says on all US Currency, “In God We Trust.”

  7. Frank:

    The First Amendment protects the awe inspiring, the awful, and the offal. I’m just categorizing the work for us.

  8. “We were never angry at him, we were just tired and wished he’d somehow sleep through the night”


    In your own experience is your answer why FFLEO and myself don’t find the book’s premise funny. Using fuck in this context is an expression of anger. To tell someone to shut the fuck up could well be fighting words. Some of us don’t find parent’s existential anger at children funny. Damn it, I’m 67 and when I even just think of my children my eyes fill with tears and my chest fills with warmth. Other than marrying my wife, which was the proximate cause of me having children, they are the crowning achievement of my life. I can remember the very infrequent anger I might have at their actions, but never at them. Certainly never at them for doing what kids do.

  9. I’m waiting for the sequel, also not meant for children but for the corporate beasties that lambast the world with the word FUCK (in addition to the currently popular gangsta mentality)at whoever the audience, whatever the hour…..
    it’s called: Go the FUCK to Your Room and Clean up your Act’

    p.s…..(fuck used to be a perfectly good word to mutter under ones breath in tense and frustrating moments on extremely rare occasions….well, the thrill is gone…

  10. Jason,

    A written text can be read/perceived in more than one way. People interpret things differently. When some parents get frustrated, they get angry and yell or swear at their children.

  11. Elaine M.,

    I understand that and it was the first thing I said. What I’m saying is that I think he’s offended by something that isn’t there.

    “Since I am an atheist, my repulsion has nothing to do with religion but everything to do with common decency towards the most innocent and vulnerable human beings.”

    The book isn’t aiming anger “towards the most innocent and vulnerable human beings.” It’s aimed at the inevitable frustration of the *situation*, not the blameless child.

    My first just turned nine months old and I have to admit, we lucked out huge. He’s been the most ridiculously well-behaved baby ever. But in the very brief window when he did get up in the night, we couldn’t help but think, “Oh jeez, please let me sleep,” and then we’d get up and happily deal with him. We were never angry at him, we were just tired and wished he’d somehow sleep through the night (which he started doing at a very early age thank goodness).

  12. Jason,

    “And FFLEO, honestly, I can’t see why you would be offended.”

    That’s why you’re not offended by the book as FF LEO is. You’re two people with two different perspectives.

  13. This is my humor….lol…I wonder how much this will profit….

    I know this offends some….but…as FFLEO stated he would not give it the time of day…mespo…it will be in the Bargain Bin soon…. I am just wondering how quickly it will take all of these Jesus Lovers to condemn the people and purchasers of this book…video etc….

    But then again, I find humor in Prairie Home Companion…..

  14. It’s fine to disagree about the quality of the thing. I’m baffled by some things that many people find hilarious and vice versa. However, hand wringing over what stupid parents might do is ridiculous. Parents stupid enough to consume this work in the wrong way need no particular inspiration to do the stupid things they do. To paraphrase Goldblum in Jurassic Park, “Horrible parents will find a way.”

    And FFLEO, honestly, I can’t see why you would be offended. The book’s point isn’t to direct anger at children. We all intellectually know that an infant does what it does, there’s little or no intent there. But one can be frustrated without that frustration being aimed at someone who is faultless.

  15. This discussion reminded me of an old movie, THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT that featured Michael Douglas as the president of the United States. Here’s what he had to say about Free Speech:

  16. I am an inveterate free speech advocate. The “F” word is just a word and the Westboro Baptists can spout their hatred. However, I will not even bother to click on the video and I would never get pleasure or entertainment out of something I consider abjectly offensive, especially involving children. Since I am an atheist, my repulsion has nothing to do with religion but everything to do with common decency towards the most innocent and vulnerable human beings. I am neither going to condemn others’ approvals regarding this specific book nor would I ever go on a banning crusade against any book, regardless of its revulsion—in my free speech view, of course.

    The world, she *is* a-changin’ and some people with do just about anything to earn a million bucks—but only secured with the common knowledge that others will procure their wares.

  17. Frank,

    “We’ll just have to agree to disagree on this man’s right to publish and sell this book.”

    I’m not suggesting that the author shouldn’t have a right to publish and sell his book. I was a librarian at one time. Librarians don’t take censorship well. In fact, a few years ago I wrote a poem when there was a big kerfuffle over a children’s novel, “The Higher Power of Lucky,” that had won the Newbery Medal. You see, the book’s author Susan Patron, a librarian, had used the word “scrotum” on the first page of the book.

    Here’s the poem I wrote:

    Book Talk
    by Elaine Magliaro

    Dressed in uniforms of blue,
    The word police arrived at two.
    With laser eyes, they scanned our pages
    And locked our naughty words in cages.
    Then up we cried: “You’ve taken text!
    Will you remove our pictures next?”

    “Your pictures?” one policeman said.
    “We only take the stuff that’s read.
    Your naughty words must be excised.
    Let all your authors be advised
    To watch their words when they compose
    Their poetry…and all their prose.”

    Warning given…the men in blue
    Then turned to leave. They bid adieu.
    We books now left with words deleted
    Feel somehow, sadly, incompleted.

    Who’s got a solution antidotal
    For the current row o’er something scrotal?

  18. OK one of the best scenes from The Wire. Kima Greggs doing a bit on Goodnight Moon with her adopted son:

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