Go the Fuck to Sleep

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Go the Fuck to Sleep
Go the fuck to sleep.jpg
Book cover
AuthorAdam Mansbach
IllustratorRicardo Cortés
CountryUnited States
GenreChildren's literature, black comedy
PublisherAkashic Books
Publication date
June 14, 2011 (2011-06-14)
Media typeHardcover
Followed bySeriously, Just Go to Sleep
You Have to Fucking Eat 

Go the Fuck to Sleep is a satirical book written by American author Adam Mansbach and illustrated by Ricardo Cortés. Described as a "children's book for adults",[1] it reached No. 1 on Amazon.com's bestseller list a month before its release, thanks to an unintended viral marketing campaign during which booksellers forwarded PDF copies of the book by e-mail.


When Adam Mansbach's daughter, Vivien, was three years old, she would take up to four hours to fall asleep. Exhausted and exasperated, one night Mansbach posted a note on Facebook, "Look out for my forthcoming children’s book, Go the Fuck to Sleep". 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[2]), and approached Akashic Books, a book publisher from New York.[1]


Adam Mansbach, author of Go the Fuck to Sleep, in 2007

Go the Fuck to Sleep is written as a "children's book for adults".[3] While its writing is in the style of classic children's bedtime stories, it includes the parent's language as commentary on the tricks used by Mansbach's daughter to avoid having to go to bed.[4] The narrator advises the child that other animals have gone to sleep already including cats and lambs, and asks the child to "Please go the fuck to sleep".[5] As the pleading progresses, the narrator begins to grow more upset, decrying himself as a parent, then eventually falling asleep himself. He wakes to find his child asleep, then quietly exits to watch a movie with his spouse. Unfortunately, a beep from the microwave wakes up their child again.

Publication history[edit]

Go the Fuck to Sleep was subject to an unintended viral marketing campaign after PDF copies of the book, presumably from advance copies sent to booksellers, were distributed via email. While the book was originally scheduled for release in October 2011, by the end of April the book had hit No. 2 on Amazon.com's bestseller list,[1] and by May 12 the book was No. 1. In the meantime, the publishing date was moved up to June, and the publisher increased its first printing to 150,000 copies.[6] Akashic, which acknowledged the importance of social media in popularizing the book ("it's a miracle from the heavens for us"[1]), is trying to prevent copyright infringement of the book. The book's title on the cover had the letters "uc" in the word "fuck" hidden by a full moon, while the book's text includes the full word.[3] The rights for the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth were acquired by Canongate.[2] The film rights have been optioned by Fox 2000.[3]

The audiobook company Audible.com published an audiobook version of Go the Fuck to Sleep, narrated by Samuel L. Jackson.[7] The CD's total running time is just over 7 minutes, which includes an unabridged reading of the book by Jackson, a brief introductory monologue by Jackson explaining why he decided to record the book, and approximately 2 minutes' worth of introductory and legal matter (spoken copyright notice, etc.). The actual reading of the manuscript by Jackson runs approximately 4+12 minutes. It was a finalist for the 2012 Audie Award for Audiobook of the Year and Audie Award for Humor.

As a follow-up, Mansbach wrote a family-friendly version of the book called Seriously, Just Go To Sleep.[8] Whereas the original was a parody of a children's book written expressly for the adult age group, Seriously, Just Go To Sleep is a real children's book for a parent to read to their child, and the word "fuck" was replaced by the parent in the story expressing frustration with the stubborn child in a more G-rated way. For example, "I know you're not thirsty, that's bullshit. Stop lying. Lie the fuck down, my darling, and sleep" was changed to "I know you're not thirsty. You just had a drink. Stop goofing around now, and sleep."[8]

The book was translated into many other languages, and in February 2014, it was announced on Facebook and in other sources the book would receive a translation into Jamaican patois, entitled Go de Rass to Sleep.[9][10]


According to Mansbach, 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."[6] Macy Halford said this frustration elicited a response peculiar to 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.[5]

According to Mark Rotella, an editor at Publishers Weekly (and father of two), 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."[6] The publisher for the UK and the Commonwealth, Canongate, 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."[2]


Positive initial response to the Facebook posts was matched by positive criticism from reviewers. Macy Halford, writing for The New Yorker, said "the book is super funny, and the art, by Ricardo Cortés, is perversely sweet, so sweet and genuine that it made me cringe".[5] Some of the reviewers chimed in from experience, as did Sarah Western Balzer, writing for Here Is the City: "It goes on a bit too long, and by the end, he's kind of in a rage. But then, putting a two- or three-year-old to bed can be totally fucking enraging at times."[4]

In an award-winning essay,[11] the scholar Robin Bernstein analyzed the book and its sequel, Seriously, Just Go to Sleep, to argue that children's literature is a site of complex power negotiations between parents and children.[12]

The senior vice president and director of Macmillan Children's Publishing announced that she felt the book was a parody of Macmillan's book It's Time to Sleep, My Love by author Eric Metaxas and illustrator Nancy Tillman, saying "Except for the profanity laced throughout, the book has the same kind of lilting lullaby as Eric's, and the art style is the same as Nancy's."[13] Metaxas complained that the book damages the innocence of children's lullabies.[14] Mansbach responded that he was not familiar with the Macmillan book and that his work satirized children's bedtime books in general rather than any particular book.[13]

Go the Fuck to Sleep is 69th on the American Library Association's list of most commonly challenged books in the United States between 2010 and 2019, a list compiled in 2020.[15]


In July 2011, Men's Health published a retort to the book: a parody poem written from the child's perspective titled "Get the Fuck Out of My Room" and containing parenting advice.[16]

MAD Magazine parodied the book as "Stay The Fuck Awake" in its February 2012 issue, in reference to air traffic controllers sleeping on the job.[17][18][19]

In September 2012, Samuel L. Jackson parodied his audio narration of the book by appearing in an ad for Barack Obama's reelection campaign entitled "Wake the Fuck Up", written by Mansbach.[20]

Celebrity readings[edit]

As well as the audio book read by Samuel L. Jackson, the book attracted several celebrity readings including by German film director Werner Herzog at the official launch of the book at the New York Public Library.[21] Kevin Pollak, doing a vocal impression of Christopher Walken, read some of the story on Kevin Pollak's Chat Show by viewer request.[22]

As part of a rapidly growing internet meme, the publisher of the book in Australia, Text Publishing, posted a video of Australian actress Noni Hazlehurst reading the book to camera in the style she formerly used on the children's television program Play School. She immediately offered to record a reading of the book after being sent a copy by the publisher.[23][24]

A Spanish audiobook narrated by George Lopez was released in 2011 by Penguin Audio.[25]

LeVar Burton (known as the former host of the children's television show Reading Rainbow; as Geordi LaForge on Star Trek: The Next Generation; and as Kunta Kinte on Roots) read the book during a 2014 charity live stream event held by the Rooster Teeth podcast.[26]

Actor Jennifer Garner 'lovingly' read the book for Vanity Fair, which became popular on YouTube in March 2016.[27]

Cassandra Lee Morris used her vocal role of Morgana from Persona 5 to read the story in 2018.


In September 2014, a sequel, You Have to Fucking Eat was announced, which was published that November.[28] It is illustrated by Owen Brozman.[29] A third book in the series, Fuck, Now There Are Two of You, has been released on October 1, 2019.[30]

His book Stay the Fuck at Home (2020), was written to support awareness of coronavirus disease 2019 self-isolation measures; it has yet to be formally published. The book was read on Jimmy Kimmel Live by actor Samuel L. Jackson.[31][32]

  • Go the Fuck to Sleep (2011)
  • Seriously, Just Go To Sleep (2012)
  • You Have to Fucking Eat (2014) ISBN 978-1617753787
  • Fuck, Now There Are Two of You (2019)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Harmanci, Reyhan (April 28, 2011). "A Whim, A Book, And, Wow!". The New York Times. Archived from the original on October 28, 2014. Retrieved May 13, 2011.
  2. ^ a b c Neill, Graeme (May 13, 2011). "Spoof kids' book to Canongate". The Bookseller. Archived from the original on October 28, 2014. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
  3. ^ a b c Harmanci, Reyhan (May 12, 2011). "'Go the F--- to Sleep': The Case of the Viral PDF". The Bay Citizen. Archived from the original on October 20, 2014. Retrieved May 13, 2011.
  4. ^ a b Balzer, Sarah Western (May 12, 2011). "Go The F*ck To Sleep (Review)". Here is the City. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved May 13, 2011.
  5. ^ a b c 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. Retrieved May 13, 2011.
  6. ^ a b c Hetter, Katia (May 13, 2011). "Bedtime story: Go the bleep to sleep". CNN. Archived from the original on October 28, 2014. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
  7. ^ Netburn, Deborah (June 15, 2011). "Samuel L. Jackson reads 'Go the F --- to Sleep'". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on December 10, 2011. Retrieved June 15, 2011.
  8. ^ a b Mansbach, Adam (2012). Seriously, Just Go to Sleep. Akashic Books. ISBN 978-1617750786.
  9. ^ Charles, Ron (February 11, 2014). "Hey mon: 'Go the F— to Sleep' gets a Jamaican patois translation". The Washington Post. p. Style Blog. Retrieved October 28, 2014.
  10. ^ "Go de Rass to Sleep". Akashic Books. Akashicbooks.com. 2014. Archived from the original on March 18, 2014. Retrieved October 28, 2014.
  11. ^ ""MLA AWARDS WILLIAM RILEY PARKER PRIZE"" (PDF). Retrieved December 28, 2021.
  12. ^ Bernstein, Robin (October 2020). ""'You Do It!': Going-to-Bed Books and the Scripts of Children's Literature". PMLA. 135 (5): 877-894.
  13. ^ a b Lodge, Sally (June 8, 2011). "To Feiwel and Friends, Instant Bestseller Is a Bit of Deja Vu". Publishers Weekly. PublishersWeekly.com. Archived from the original on December 27, 2011. Retrieved June 14, 2011.
  14. ^ Metaxas, Eric (June 13, 2011). "Hugh Hewitt Show" (Interview). Interviewed by Hugh Hewitt.
  15. ^ Banned & Challenged Books (September 9, 2020). "Top 100 Most Banned and Challenged Books: 2010–2019". Office for Intellectual Freedom. American Library Association. Retrieved May 4, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  16. ^ Eric Adams; Steve Belanger; Adam Campbell; Bill Phillips (July 2011). "Get the F**k out of my room!". Men's Health. Archived from the original on July 22, 2011. Retrieved November 13, 2011.
  17. ^ Richmond, Tom (December 12, 2011). "On the Stands: MAD #513". Tom's MAD Blog!. tomrichmond.com. Archived from the original on October 28, 2014. Retrieved September 27, 2012.
  18. ^ "MAD Magazine 20 Dumbest Things of 2011: Sleeping Air Traffic Controllers in "Stay the F**k Awake"". The Huffington Post. Huffingtonpost.com. December 5, 2011. Archived from the original on January 27, 2012. Retrieved September 27, 2012.
  19. ^ "NTSB Investigating Sleeping Air Traffic Controller At Reagan National". The Huffington Post. Huffingtonpost.com. Associated Press. March 23, 2011. Archived from the original on March 25, 2011. Retrieved September 27, 2012.
  20. ^ Blistein, Jon. "Samuel L. Jackson Delivers Colorful Get-Out-the-Vote Message". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on March 27, 2014. Retrieved September 27, 2012.
  21. ^ Martin, Adam (June 15, 2011). "Werner Herzog Reads 'Go the F*ck to Sleep'". The Atlantic Wire. Archived from the original on October 28, 2014.
  22. ^ Pollak, Kevin (June 22, 2011). "Kevin Pollak reading a piece of "Go the F*** To Sleep" as Christopher Walken". Kevin Pollak's Chat Show. YouTube (Official channel). Archived from the original on August 5, 2011. Retrieved September 27, 2012.
  23. ^ Quinn, Karl (July 13, 2011). "Noni Hazlehurst reads expletive-ridden 'children's' book". Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on July 16, 2011.
  24. ^ "Go the F**k to Sleep". Text Publishing. Australia. July 13, 2011. Archived from the original on October 28, 2014. Retrieved September 27, 2012.
  25. ^ OCLC (2011). "Duérmete, carajo! (Audiobook on CD, 2011)". WorldCat. OCLC 818315516.
  26. ^ Fahey, Mike (October 26, 2014). "LeVar Burton Reading Go The F**k To Sleep". Kotaku. Kotaku.com. Archived from the original on October 26, 2014. Retrieved October 26, 2014.
  27. ^ Shi, Diana (March 2, 2016). "Jennifer Garner lovingly reads 'Go the F*ck to Sleep'". Mashable. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
  28. ^ Flood, Alison (September 26, 2014). "Author who put bad language into bedtime writes sweary sequel". The Guardian. Archived from the original on September 26, 2014. Retrieved September 28, 2014.
  29. ^ Pescovitz, David (September 24, 2014). "You Have To Fucking Eat (from the author of Go The Fuck To Sleep)". Boing Boing. Archived from the original on September 29, 2014. Retrieved September 28, 2014.
  30. ^ Mansbach, Adam (2019). Fuck, Now There are Two of You. ISBN 978-1617757600.
  31. ^ Parker, Ryan (April 1, 2020). "Samuel L. Jackson Reads 'Stay the F---' at Home' to Stress Isolation Amid Pandemic". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 1, 2020.
  32. ^ Kirkland, Justin (April 1, 2020). "Samuel L. Jackson Reading Stay the F**k at Home Is a Gentle Reminder to Stay the F**k At Home". Esquire. Hearst Digital Media. Retrieved April 1, 2020.

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