Social commentary and think pieces

27 April 2019

Book review: the last 3 books I read

Everything I know about love - Dolly Alderton

Despite the hype surrounding Dolly Alderton's memoir Everything I know About Love, it was a book I was reluctant to buy. Having never read a memoir prior to reading Dolly's I had a preconceived idea that, as a genre, memoirs would be overly self-indulgent and come from a slightly narcissistic perspective.

However, Everything I Know About Love very much proved my assumptions wrong. I absolutely loved the book. In fact, its the first book I've read in a long time that I would be able to honestly describe as 'unputdownable'.

The book centres around female friendship, making the clear point that sometimes the platonic relationships you have with females are often just as valuable (if not more valuable) that the relationships you have with romantic partners.
The strong focus on Dolly and Farly's friendship and the extent of their closeness reminded me to appreciate the female friendships I already have, and strive to make more.

Dolly's ability to make the reader really feel the emotions of what's going on in the book is something to be admired. The chapter 'Florence' especially was evident of her talent of engaging the reader in her world and feelings, leaving me in floods of tears.

My only criticism would be that it got embarrassingly corny towards the end.
 Whilst the actual message in these particular chapters was a good one, I found the "I am my own universe, a galaxy, a solar system" narrative uncomfortable at times purely because it could come across as a bit preachy or similar to a self-help book at times. Maybe thats just the nature of a memoir, I don't know.

Despite this, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. The emphasis on the importance of female friendships really stood out to me and spurred me to be more appreciative of my own.

Notes on a nervous planet - Matt Haig

In Notes on a nervous planet, Matt Haig explores the impacts social media, news and consumerism has on our mental health.
Not only does he look at the impacts and why these things impact our mental health and our society, He also treats the book as a guide on how to not let the digital age take over, and how to prioritise mental wellbeing in a world that almost seems designed to tip you over the edge.

The book had many strong messages on social media. Matt Haig very much drew attention to some of the harsh realities of the digital world, whilst also praising the positive impacts the internet has had on society, too. Despite occasionally coming across as a little self-indulgent, I think the personal experiences shared in the book made it all the more relatable and added to the emphasis of the importance of remaining humane in a world so ridden with technology.

"We still aren't immortal. All these products aiming to make us look younger and glowing and less death-like aren't addressing the root problem. They can't actually make us younger. Clarins and Clinique have produced a ton of anti-ageing creams and yet the people who use them are still going to age. They are just - thanks in part to the billion-dollar marketing campaigns aimed at making us ashamed of wrinkles and lines and ageing - a bit more worried about it. The pursuit of looking young accentuates the fear of growing old. So maybe if we embraced growing old, embraced our wrinkles and other people's wrinkles, maybe marketers would have less fear to work with and magnify."

- From the chapter 'Unhappy beauties'.

How to fail - Elizabeth Day

Based on the hit podcast How to fail with Elizabeth Day, Elizabeth Day's book 'How to fail' explores her personal failures - failing to fit in at school, failing to conceive, and failing to recognise her own worth both in the workplace and in her romantic relationships- and how these 'failures' have very much impacted her successes, and in some cases led her to her biggest achievements. 

Part memoir, part manifesto, the book focuses heavily on both the failures and success of Elizabeth Day herself and those of her podcast guests, who include the likes of Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Dolly Alderton and Sebastian Faulks. 

The book was full of wisdom and reassurance. In particular, the last chapter 'How to fail at success' in which Day shares James Frey's straightforward yet impactful mantra: it is what it is - a mantra that I have spent years repeating to myself when the inevitable occurs. 

How to fail has been the first book I've read in a long time that I can genuinely find no fault with. The memoir aspect of the book wasn't at all self-indulgent, as memoirs often can be - likely because there was also focus on the failures of her podcast guests. 

The ending was particularly impactful, reiterating the message of the book, with the last sentence being "After all: it just is what it is."


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8 comments

  1. Oooh I've had How to Fail on my to-read list for a while and this review just confirmed to me that I need to get my hands on it ASAP!

    Thank you for such honest reviews! I've seen Everything I know About Love pop up all over social media lately and I always wonder if highly hyped titles like this one are really as fantastic as they seem. I was hesitant to give it a read but I think I might now :)

    xx Carina

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    1. I felt the same way before I read it. But, I guess its been hyped about for reason xx

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  2. I have legit wanted to read Everything I Know About Love for ages but I'm the exact same, a memoir just seems like it could be a bit "me me me" but I'm so glad you enjoyed it and you've given me the push to buy it and give it a go!!

    I've been so intrigued to read one of Matt Haigs books as I've heard amazing things about them, this one sounds so interesting and I hadn't really read much about it before but it really does sound amazing!!

    How to fail sounds so inspirational and something I definitely need in my life right now!! Ahh girl my tbr is too long and now its three books longer, I'm over the moon abut it but I can't say the same for my bank account. When I do get around to reading these three I'll dm you about it, I'm always looking for someone to chat about books with!!

    Such a brilliant post x

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    1. I can't wait to hear what you think! I know it can be a bit expensive to buy books but I bought most of the books in this post second hand on amazon. You can get them really inexpensively and they're as good as new. Everything I know about love cost me £3.99 compared to £8.99 in shops. Just thought I'd let you know as buying second hand on amazon has saved me LOADS of money xx

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    2. Omg thank you for letting me know girl!! I buy most of my books on book depository because they have free shipping worldwide and I wait until they have a discount on the books I want but I'll definitely check out amazon as well!! xx

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  3. I really want to read How to Fail. This sounds oddly comforting. :-)

    District of Chic

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  4. Good Review. I too gonna read this.

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  5. Good authors deserve legitimate book reviews like this.

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