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Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith [Paperback]

Anne Lamott
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (195 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 28, 2006

With the trademark wisdom, humor, and honesty that made Anne Lamott's book on faith, Traveling Mercies, a runaway bestseller, Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith is a spiritual antidote to anxiety and despair in increasingly fraught times.

The world is a more dangerous place than it was when Lamott's Traveling Mercies was published five years ago. Terrorism and war have become the new normal; environmental devastation looms even closer. And there are personal demands on Lamott's faith as well: turning fifty; her mother's Alzheimer's; her son's adolescence; and the passing of friends and time.

Fortunately for those of us who are anxious and scared about the state of the world, whose parents are also aging and dying, whose children are growing harder to recognize as they become teenagers, Plan B offers hope in the midst of despair. It shares with us Lamott's ability to comfort, and to make us laugh despite the grim realities.

Anne Lamott is one of our most beloved writers, and Plan B is a book more necessary now than ever. It will prove to be further evidence that, as The Christian Science Monitor has written, "Everybody loves Anne Lamott."

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Editorial Reviews Review

Few people can write about faith, parenting, and relationships as can the talented, irreverent Anne Lamott. With characteristic black humor, ("Everyone has been having a hard time with life this year; not with all of it, just the waking hours") she updates us on the ongoing mayhem of her life since Traveling Mercies, and continues to unfold her spiritual journey.

Plan B finds Lamott wrestling with mid-life hormones and weight gain while parenting Sam, now a teenager with his own set of raging hormones. Her observations cover everything from starting a Sunday school to grief over the death of her beloved dog, Sadie; lamenting the war to bitterness over her relationship with her now-departed mother.

As she tugs and pokes out the knots in a slender gold chain necklace, it becomes a metaphor for letting go and learning to forgive. "…any willingness to let go inevitably comes from pain; and the desire to change changes you, and jiggles the spirit, gets to it somehow, to the deepest, hardest, most ruined parts." It’s her willingness to show us the knotted-up, "ruined parts" of her life that make this collection of sometimes uneven essays so compelling.

"Everything feels crazy," writes Lamott, adding, "But on small patches of earth all over, I can see just as much messy mercy and grace as ever…." Lamott’s essays will serve as reminders to readers of the patches of messy mercy and grace in a chaotic world.--Cindy Crosby --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Five years after her bestselling Traveling Mercies, Lamott sends us 24 fresh dispatches from the frontier of her life and her Christian faith. To hear her tell it, neither the state of the country nor the state of her nerves has improved, to say the least. "On my forty-ninth birthday, I decided that all of life is hopeless, and I would eat myself to death. These are dessert days." Thankfully, her gift for conveying the workings of grace to left-wing, high-strung, beleaguered people like herself is still intact, as is her ability to convey the essence of Christian faith, which she finds not in dogma but in our ability to open our hearts in the midst of our confusion and hopelessness. Most of these pieces were published in other versions on, and they cover subjects as disparate as the Bush administration; the death of Lamott's dog, her mother and a friend; life with a teenager and with her 50-year-old thighs--yet each shows how our hearts and lives can go "from parched to overflow in the blink of an eye." What is the secret? Lamott makes us laugh at the impossibility of it all; then she assures us that the most profound act we can accomplish on Earth is coming out of the isolation of our minds and giving to one another. Faith is not about how we feel, she shows; it is about how we live. "Don't worry! Don't be so anxious. In dark times, give off light. Care for the least of God's people!" Naturally, some pieces are stronger than others--her wonderful style can come across as a bit mannered, the wrapup a bit forced. But this is quibbling about a book that is better than brilliant. This is that rare kind of book that is like a having a smart, dear, crazy (in the best sense) friend walk next to us in sunlight and in the dark night of the soul.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Trade; Reprint edition (March 28, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594481571
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594481574
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (195 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,463 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Anne Lamott is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Grace (Eventually), Plan B, Traveling Mercies, and Operating Instructions, as well as seven novels, including Rosie and Crooked Little Heart. She is a past recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
265 of 294 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lamott still charms her choir March 9, 2005
Anne Lamott is not for the faint-hearted. A bookseller and I agreed last week that Lamott is an acquired taste and more enjoyable if you've read a lot of theology and still find your heart is broken. Lamott reminds us that sanitized piety should not be confused with real faith; that Jesus Himself had radical ideas and didn't sit around worrying about whether our kids are watching PG movies.

Lamott's personal relationship with Jesus is one she's forged on her own, against all odds, reminding us that faith doesn't always come in an apple-pie/right-wing/Miss-America package. She is a roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-to-work Christian -- a Christian who knows that it isn't enough to sit around quoting the Bible to be a good human being. Admitting her broken-ness and allowing us to laugh with her, we open our hearts to our own humanity. What a relief.
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196 of 221 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lamott at her best--and that's very, very good March 8, 2005
Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith contains a series of essays by Lamott from her column that she wrote during the beginning of the Iraq War. As a left wing Christian, Lamott understandably has trouble with the war and George W. Bush. As if that weren't enough, she is also turning 50 and her son is becoming a teenager. Lamott writes of all these things with great candor and humor. She is breathtakingly honest, but not in a way that makes me cringe or think "too much information." She also writes of friends and loved ones with great affection and compassion that manages to avoid sentimentality. Lamott has the ability to be very funny and very wise at the same time, which is always a pleasure. As a person who more and more searches for straight forward honesty, I find Anne Lamott a welcome breath of fresh air. I highly recommend this book.
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62 of 69 people found the following review helpful
I first encountered Anne Lamott when I read Operating Instructions, her wonderful book about her first year with her son Sam. I have never read a more honest account of motherhood's beginnings, or one with more love shining through. I've tried since then to find another book by her to love, without success.

I agreed with almost all Lamott's views in this book---which are mostly political, despite this being subtitled a book about faith. So my mixed feelings about this book are not because of differing political views. Rather, I felt that the tone here was mostly harsh. That's honest---it's nice to read that faith doesn't turn us all into happy clones. But I guess when I read a book about faith, I would like to have some feeling of grace or of being uplifted or at least of happiness. After reading this book, I felt totally depressed about the state of the world.

I also felt often that Lamott was making fun of people she didn't agree with. Especially when I read about her cruise, and her discomfort with all the flag adorned people, it seemed she didn't really try to follow the basic Golden Rule. She seemed to have little regard for those she met, and it seemed as if she was on her own personal cruise---which is fine, but again, not really too uplifting.

It was great to hear more about Sam, at least from my point of view. From HIS point of view, I would guess that he might not want to have it in print that he could be very mean to other kids, that he got drunk a few times, that he doesn't like to go to church...all somewhat normal teenage things, but I always wonder if it's really a parent's place to write about their teenager. There were a few times that she said she wasn't allowed to say more about him, but that didn't always seem to apply.
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55 of 61 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not nearly as good as her others... June 19, 2005
By Kate
Anne Lamott has written some wonderful texts, namely 'Operating Instructions; a Journal of My Son's First Year'. However, she has really fallen short of the mark with this collection of essays on religion, American presidency and her family.

Essentially, the greatest flaw of the work is its mind-numbing repetition. It unfailingly reinterates the same points and covers the same material in each and every essay or article.

Whilst I strongly agree with her endless tirade on George W. Bush and the state of American leadership, it does become slightly dull when repeated in every chapter. Similarly, I realise that she is angry at her mother and the behaviour of her son, but there is only so many times I can read about it. The work comes off as self-indulgent and Lamott herself is less likable in this work than her others.

Despite this, the text is beautifully written and does have a few topical highlights. These are generally the stories she shares about the unflinching beauty of others, such as 'Joice To The World' and 'One Hand Clapping'.

It is for this reason I give the work three stars, although it undoubtedly left a sour and negative taste in my mouth.
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thinking about faith March 26, 2006
I feel like I'm not other reviewers of this book...I believe in the Christian teachings, but I am not a church-going, Bible-reading, Jesus-loving type. I don't do ANY of that stuff. In fact, I'm an atheist. So I was curious, but also a little hesistant. I've never read a book about faith before because any one I've ever picked up were all "fire and brimstone," "Jesus this, Jesus that," and it completely turned me off and turned me away. I picked up Anne Lamott's book at a tag sale & I knew who she was from "Bird by Bird," and I was willing to give her a shot because she has dreds. I know this sounds silly, but seriously, that was my deciding factor in reading a book about Christianity...the author has dreds.

It is FANTASTIC. This is coming from an avowed atheist who . I haven't been able to put the book of essays down since I bought it yesterday...she is nurturing whatever burgeoning spirituality I have inside me and making me think about thinks I have avoided thinking about before. That is all you can ask for from a book...that it makes you think.

The top two best things about Anne Lamott are 1) she's both really cool and really uncool at the same time, and 2) she's honest, even at the risk of having judgement passed on her. By 1) I mean that she's totally this Northern California, ex-alcoholic, progressive Bush-hating hippie, but she's also the mother of a teenager and writes about how they fight over him not having good manners.

By 2) I mean that she writes about her deceased mother very, very critically and that's so _refreshing_ for people who don't have nicey-nice, glowing things to say about our moms all the time.

I love her: I just bought 4 of her books off Amazon.

In summation: I feel calm after I read this book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars You'll feel better.
Read it. You'll feel better.
Published 6 days ago by Emalie
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent A.L. as usual.
Published 18 days ago by Diane Elliott
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 month ago by Sue
5.0 out of 5 stars insight and love. A wonderful book
Anne Lamott writes with truth, insight and love. A wonderful book.
Published 4 months ago by Mystery Writer
5.0 out of 5 stars I love Anne Lamott
I love Anne Lamott. She is the only writer I know who can exquisitely hold the tension between reverence and irreverence. She is paradoxically both at the same time. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Amos Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Lamott's honesty and the complexity of her views show faithfulness ...
Lamott's honesty and the complexity of her views show faithfulness as it really is--a journey that you take, not a something that you are.
Published 5 months ago by Michael P. King
4.0 out of 5 stars A nice little book for aging hippie chicks.
Essays about faith, single-motherhood, human relationships, self-actualization. Easy reading. At turns sad, humorous, wise, self-indulgent, self-deprecating. Read more
Published 6 months ago by J. L. Parker
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read
Great book. Entertaining stories. Loved getting to know more about author'a life after reading some of her interesting earlier works.
Published 8 months ago by LSC
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my new favorite authors
Deeply reflective in a very accessible and humorous way, she chronicles what it means to be human. I guess I'll have to read all her books now.
Published 8 months ago by David Kasperek
5.0 out of 5 stars Love Lamott
I was separated at birth from this woman. I am convinced of this fact. This is a funny, uplifting, inspiring book.
Published 10 months ago by Kindle Customer
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