Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith

by Anne Lamott

Paperback, 2006




Riverhead Books (2006), Edition: Reprint, 320 pages


"The world is a more difficult place to live in than it was when Anne Lamott's runaway bestseller "Traveling mercies" was published six years ago. There's the big picture, in which terrorism and war have become the new normal, George W. Bush is president, and environmental devastation looms ever closer. And there are greater personal demands on Lamott's faith as well: turning fifty, her mother's Alzheimer's, her son Sam's adolescence, and the passing of friends and time. Fortunately for those of us who are anxious about the state of the world, whose parents are also aging and dying, whose children are growing harder to recognize as they enter their teenage years, Plan B offers hope through the panic and despair. With her trademark humor, wisdom, and honesty, Lamott tells us stories of daily life-- shopping at the supermarket on her birthday and winning a free ham she doesn't want ; skiing with a dying friend who teaches her to fall ; celebrating Thanksgiving with Sam and his dad ; attending protest rallies. She watches the seasons come and go, and shares with us the comfort and insights that she draws from life around her even as she continues to panic and despair-- and also to struggle, as all of us must, to make the world a safer, and more loving, place to live" -- container.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member SqueakyChu
This book, the second book by this author that I have read, is a book of essays. They are great! She talks about a variety of topics, but her son Sam pops up in many of them, and her abiding faith is prominent throughout. I find LaMott's writing to provide very pleasant interludes. It's the kind of writing that can be picked up at different times and does not need to be read straight through. She makes me laugh, and she tells it like it is. I enjoys the lessons of life that come shining through her work.… (more)
LibraryThing member jwcooper3
I turn to LaMott's non-fiction works when I forget how to breathe. It's calming to laugh and relate to so much of what she writes; gut level wisdom and honesty about the craziness all around. Bird by Bird is still the best. This volume is a collection of essays written for and deals, to a large extent, with the raising (re: coping) of her teenage son.… (more)
LibraryThing member Seven.Stories.Press
It's funny how Anne Lamott has come into my life, and how at this point she's just about set up shop inside my head. This book is no exception, and though there are some significant ideological differences between the two of us (she's a Christian and I... well, I am not), they are really superfluous every time I read one of Lamott's essays. And if an old-school atheist like ME can adore Lamott, I think almost anyone can. Highly recommended for anyone on a spiritual journey.… (more)
LibraryThing member jd234512
Many say this, but I wholeheartedly agree in saying that Ms. Lamott is a breath of fresh air into the conversation of those with the Christian faith. I really appreciate her honest approach of her faith and also her lack of using a language that only makes sense to a certain group of people. Her stories are without need of translation and speak to the core of many different types of people simply because she is quite open with her thought processes. I am quite thankful for her perspective even if we might not see eye to eye on everything… (more)
LibraryThing member readaholic12
That I chose to read this book is a minor miracle, based on the title, as my thoughts on faith and religion are both deeply private and non-negotiable, and I loathe preachiness. As it turns out, Anne Lamott's thoughts on faith and life are so human and so well written, conversational even, that I was hooked after a few pages. I found much common ground in her very real struggles and triumphs. I found her New Age Jesus Freak approach to life interesting, and I appreciate bridging another gap in human understanding. Mostly I appreciate her sharing deeply personal events - addiction, love, loss, friendship and death - that everyone can relate to, but few can describe with such humor and eloquence. I inhaled this book, I laughed and I cried and I immediately bought Travelling Mercies.… (more)
LibraryThing member gpmartinson
Lamott is a breezy observational poet who has made her living writing non-fiction. She does this though a prose that is full of image and metaphor that rings really true. Her thoughts about the reality of God are not the same sa mine, I have to say that she personalizes God too much for my own sense of the divine, but she does a wonderful job of describing the reality of her own life and faith.… (more)
LibraryThing member andersoj
This book was a bit of a disappointment. I'm a fan of Lamott, but her flights into showy bouts of irreverence are very distracting. While it is commendable and refreshing that the author addresses the messy circumstances of real life with frankness, that is no excuse for cavalier writing. I would point interested readers to her earlier "Travelling Mercies," which was fantastic.… (more)
LibraryThing member CrossingBorders
For all those struggling to retain hope for the future under the current administration, this book is for you. Full of the usual Lamottian humor and wisdom.
LibraryThing member kuzmatt9
I was also disappinted. I actually got bored and gave up after 50 pages. I had heard Travelling Mercies was good, but it wasn't at the library so I tried this instead. I did like that Lamott's writing is so honest and personal, but the bitter political commentary is not my bag.
LibraryThing member rayski
Anne provides further antidotes on life experiences, faith and how they interplay with each other. She has a very much down to earth way of looking at religion and faith, definitely isn’t a blind church follower. Her writing as always is enjoyable, funny and interesting. Take a star away if you don’t like her style of writing.… (more)
LibraryThing member franoscar
I was disappointed in this. I don't know why I expected something different, but the religion seemed very Jesus-Freaky to me, and the points were scattered.
LibraryThing member mms
Lamott's thoughts (in essay) on Progressive Christianity in the face of the 2004 election.
LibraryThing member jennyo
Spent a good part of the last day or so reading these wise and funny essays about parenting, faith (and isn't there a lot of that involved in parenting?), politics, and love. I really like Lamott's style. And her politics. And her particular brand of Christianity (in one part of the book she talks about how God will definitely allow her friend's Jewish sisters into Heaven; I promised my son that God will have Legos in Heaven). Anyway, it was a pure delight to read.

Some of my favorite bits.

From "red cords" in which she's complaining about George W. Bush bringing about the end of the world:

"Sometimes I feel like the big possum who has been coming into our driveway lately, worried and waddly. I hear that the stress hormones possums produce are off the charts. Possums live only a few years in the wild. I suppose that if I had two penises and still fainted a lot, I'd be stressed to the max, too."

From "holy of holies 101" about starting up a Sunday School class for kids:

"One secret of life is that the reason life works at all is that not everyone in your tribe is nuts on the same day. Another secret is that laughter is carbonated holiness."

"We did not exclude anyone because Jesus didn't. On bad days, I could not imagine what he had been thinking."

From "good friday world":

"In a library, you can find small miracles and truth, and you might find something that will make you laugh so hard that you will get shushed, in the friendliest way. I have found sanctuary in libraries my whole life, and there is sanctuary there now, from the war, from the storms of our families and our own minds. Libraries are like mountains or meadows or creeks: sacred space."

From "untitled":

"I'm decades past my salad days, and even past the main course: maybe I'm in my cheese days--sitting atop the lettuce leaves on the table for a while now with all the other cheese balls, but with much nutrition to offer, and still delicious."

From "sam's brother":

"I tell you, when God is not being cryptic and silent, He or She is so obvious."

From "cruise ship":

"Once again: If Jesus was right, these are all my brothers and sisters. And they are so letting themselves go."
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LibraryThing member truesally
Anne Lamott's voice is so conversational and true, I forget she's not my best friend across the street. This 'sequel' to Traveling Mercies discusses her life beyond 50 as the single mother of a teenager. Her reflections are brilliant, though thoroughly human, and she continuously reminds me that although our Christian journey is not without trials, it can still be fun.… (more)
LibraryThing member anndouglas
Anne Lamott's follow-up to the bestselling "Traveling Mercies." She's back with more wisdom on making sense of faith in challenging times. This book is much more political than the earlier book. (If you're a big fan of George Bush, you won't be a big fan of Anne's by the time you make your way through the first Chapter!) However, it's nonetheless a highly personal and engaging account of her life and faith.… (more)
LibraryThing member knitwit2
Normally, I really like Ms. Lamott's writing, but this book isn't her best work. I listened to it on CD and found her voice monotone and annoying. Her neurosis was also a bit a bit cloying. She tells us that she is 5'6" tall and weighs 140 pounds, then progresses to whine about her body in practically every chapter. Further tells us that she was able to make some peace with her thighs (the "Aunties") 15 pounds ago. 5'6" and 125 lbs, at this point I lost all sympathy. Additionally, her obsession with Bush was over the top. Good Grief! She ran out of stuff to say about him and became repetitive. I don't like him either but you can only express it so many different ways before people are begging you to change the subject.… (more)
LibraryThing member
Anne Lamott has been described as witty, gritty, quirky, left-wing, down to earth, reverent and irreverent in the same sentence, funny, fast-talking, and an unlikely circuit writer (rider) spreading the word of God’s love. In Plan B: Further Thoughts of Faith, she is all of that and more. This collection of essays takes the reader deeper into the world of Lamott and her faith journey, which began in her earlier book, Traveling Mercies. She is unabashed about declaring her love for God and Jesus and for sharing her struggles on what that means in her life and that of her son Sam in today’s world. She has said, though, that it is not her intention to convert others to her faith. Rather, she says, readers should understand that “her essays and perspectives on life are filtered through her religious view and accept that it is the way she processes the people and events in her life.” (from a Riverhead release on Plan B) And process she does, on varied subjects, in this book.

When not writing on faith, Lamott writes novels—Blue Shoe, Joe Jones and Operating Instructions to name a few. The author also teaches writing and wrote an excellent resource for aspiring writers called Bird by Bird.

Although the essays could stand alone, they have a common thread. Each is an attempt by Lamott to show how her faith and life intersect at every turn, whether it be in grieving the loss of a beloved family pet, in starting a Sunday school at her church, or in dealing with her menopausal body, which she nicknamed the “Menopausal Death Crone.” She does not speak in lofty theological terms, but rather in the voice of the common person. She speaks of brokenness and hunger and war and unforgiveness. She speaks of healing and feeding the soul, of peace and of the grace to forgive. She examines and re-examines what it means to be a person of faith. The author invites her readers to do the same in the context of their own lives.

Lamott’s honesty is refreshing, although at times her bluntness can seem harsh. Upon reflection, though, she gives voice to the thoughts that many of us may have but don’t dare speak aloud. Consider this about her mother, with whom she had a difficult relationship at best: “I have to say from day one after she died, I liked having a dead mother much more than having an impossible one.” Later, she adds, “I really loved her and took great care of her. I couldn’t, even after she died, grant her amnesty. Forgiveness means it finally becomes unimportant that you hit back. You’re done, and I guess I wasn’t done.” That won’t resonate with everyone who reads it, but it certainly did with me.

In the next chapter, about beginning a children’s Sunday school class, her observations might move you to tears—and if Lamott had her way, move you to action as well. For her, faith is not abstract; it is a way of life, something to flesh out in everyday existence. She believes in “loving out loud.”

In her earlier work, Traveling Mercies, son Sam is a little guy, and she tells often outrageous and always courageous stories of raising him as a single mom through Sam’s younger years. Now Sam is a teenager, and she has a whole new set of concerns. She wants him to study, to be successful, to be loving, to work hard at whatever he does. In typical teen style, he usually flies in the opposite direction. Every two weeks, the rule is that he must accompany his mother to church. They argue. He sulks. Does this sound at all familiar? Her words: “Of course, he doesn’t want to come to regular worship, but he doesn’t want to floss either. He does not want to have any hard work, ever, but I can’t give him that without injuring him. It’s good to do uncomfortable things. It’s weight training for life.” Sam is a major focus of her life, and she wants what is best for him. For now, that means having Sam understand what role an active faith plays.

Nonetheless, Lamott doesn’t offer pat answers. In fact, she seems aware that there are still many unanswered questions. She doesn’t claim to be an expert. The reader will not be swayed by flowery prose or lofty doctrine. At times, her crude, explicit speech might seem incongruous with a book on faith.

Lamott will not be heard apologizing for either her style or her beliefs. What you see is what you get. Rarely does she get a neutral response, and I think that is just fine with her. Some may be amused, some offended and some just blown away by her particular brand of faith. If what she shares can make us think, laugh, cry, and perhaps even examine our own faith—in God, Buddha, or whatever higher being we connect with— she would, I believe, be pleased.
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LibraryThing member cherryblossommj
I didn't finish this book. I only listened for a little bit and I think that later in life I may really benefit from this book, but for right now it's just not what I need. I'm the wrong age to appreciate her words and shared feelings in her book.
LibraryThing member cherryblossommj
I didn't finish this book. I only listened for a little bit and I think that later in life I may really benefit from this book, but for right now it's just not what I need. I'm the wrong age to appreciate her words and shared feelings in her book.
LibraryThing member cee2
I like Anne Lamott's honesty and her recognition that life isn't all peaches and cream or a linear path of progress for those who are walking the Christian path. Though we haven't shared the same addictions and I cringe at every "f" word, I also feel a kinship to her as another seeker and lover of Jesus.
LibraryThing member ecw0647
I suppose it's a little strange that I would really like this book given it's spiritual overtones, but Anne Lamott's unique blend of humor, observations on relationships and life in general ("Everyone has been having a hard time with life this year; not with all of it, just the waking hours"), not to mention her caustic comments about Bush even as she struggles to love him because her faith insists on it, should win over just about everyone. She can have you moved to tears as she describes the painful death of a friend to howls of laughter describing bumps in the road raising a teenager.

Lamott is unfailingly honest about herself and others. Predictably, some reviewers have complained about an occasional "vulgarity," but to me that just makes her writing more honest and real. After all Jesus, himself, was nothing if not radical and honest. I suggest that anyone offended by this book has no life and little compassion.

Lamott has all these great lines. We were listening to her read her book; I would recommend this as she is such a great raconteur. I was unable to write down all the great lines, but here's a small sample:

"If you insist on having a destination when you enter a library, you're short-changing yourself."
"Someday the lamb is going to lie down with the lion, but the lamb is not going to get any sleep."
"Jesus was soft on crime; he'd never get elected to anything."
"On my forty-ninth birthday, I decided that all of life is hopeless, and I would eat myself to death. These are dessert days."
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LibraryThing member mawls
i enjoyed the honesty of the narrative and the different stories that makes Lamott believe in a God. blunt and to the point ideas combined with well-written prose.
LibraryThing member amf0001
Equisitely written magazine articles brought together in one book. Questions of Faith and Race and other big issues are dealt with with incredible honesty and truth. I love the way she writes. If you devour it too quickly, it can feel a bit samey, but if you read it slowly, take a break between chapters, it is indeed a soul refreshing draught of water. I got it from the library and immediately went out and bought a copy. That's how much a keeper it is. :)… (more)
LibraryThing member LireEnRoute
Honest, humorous voice. More casual than I expected, and for me it did not live up to the rave reviews. Still, a pleasure to read, comforting.
LibraryThing member sturlington
I normally like Lamott’s writing, but her “thoughts” on faith strike me as naive, perhaps even juvenile—more like someone wanting mommy or daddy to make everything all better than actual thoughts. Still, she is funny.


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Physical description

320 p.; 5.36 inches


1594481571 / 9781594481574

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