Non Fiction

All posts in the Non Fiction category

F*** You Very Much: The Surprising Truth About Why People Are So Rude – Danny Wallace

Published June 1, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

You’re not imagining it. People are getting ruder. And this is a serious problem.

Did you know that even one rude comment in a life and death situation can decrease a surgeon’s performance by as much as 50%? That we say we don’t want rude politicians, but we vote for them anyway? Or that rude language can sway a jury in a criminal case?

Bestselling writer and broadcaster Danny Wallace (Yes Man, Awkward Situations For Men), is on a mission to understand where we have gone wrong. He travels the world interviewing neuroscientists, psychologists, NASA scientists, barristers, bin men, and bellboys. He joins a Radical Honesty group in Germany, talks to drivers about road rage in LA, and confronts his own online troll in a pub.

And in doing so, he uncovers the latest thinking about how we behave, how rudeness, once unleashed, can spread like a virus – and how even one flippant remark can snowball into disaster.

As insightful and enthralling as it is highly entertaining, F*** You Very Much is an eye-opening exploration into the worst side of human behaviour.

What did I think?:

First of all, a huge thank you to Chloe Rose and Ebury Press via Penguin Random House for sending me a copy of Danny Wallace’s new book in exchange for an honest review. A big thumbs up to blogger friend Stuart at Always Trust in Books for letting them know that I might enjoy this one too! And enjoy it I certainly did. I’ve read a few of the author’s previous books in my pre-blogging days such as Join Me and Yes Man and thoroughly enjoyed his writing style and sense of humour so I was pretty confident that I was going to feel the same about this one, especially when I found out the subject matter – rudeness, a HUGE bugbear of mine. I devoured this book in about a twenty-four hour period and loved every moment, particularly when Danny draws on personal experience and of course, the geek in me enjoyed when he drew on scientific research to illustrate his (many) great points.

Danny Wallace, British author of F*** You Very Much.

So, I don’t think I need to go into too much depth about the contents of this book – the title and subtitle pretty much do the job for me! It’s a fascinating insight into how our society has got ruder and Danny explores the reasons that may be behind this gradual change in attitudes. The book itself is divided up into certain sections, to name a few of my favourites: Bad Manors, Women And Rudeness, Policing Rudeness and Rudeness And Power. It’s not until the author delves deeper into the subjects of why people have become so rude that I really started to notice things in my own life that I have found more difficult in recent years. To take a personal example, I have a chronic illness and can’t stand up for long periods of time but have to make a long commute into London each day. The rudeness I’ve encountered when people glance at you and then deliberately look at their phone to avoid giving you a seat is frankly, unbelievable and can be quite upsetting.

Then there’s trolling on the Internet, particularly Twitter, a hotbed of vicious snipes and negativity. Danny recounts his own personal experience with a troll who sent him an incredibly nasty message. I won’t go into what happens with this pathetic excuse for a human being but let’s just say Danny feels somewhat vindicated in the end. Throughout the entirety of this book, the author talks about the topic of rudeness with a wry sense of humour that at points, had me cackling like a banshee.

Ah….if only all Internet trolls were as cute as this!

Although it was one particular “hotdog” related incident that was his inspiration for opening up this fascinating talking point, he also quotes some historical incidents and, as I’ve mentioned real, hard evidence to back up his claims. Some of the information he quotes is hysterical, for example, how can one naked bottom save lives and change the behaviour of a group of people? Other parts are far more sobering, like the shocking effect one stressful, rude incident can have on the performance of a doctor/surgeon leading to potentially mistakes being made and lives being at risk.

Why have we got ruder? It’s hard to say but it seems to be a growing problem. Danny invites you to think of TV personalities that are famous for being rude and people LOVE them for it. Think of Simon Cowell who says exactly what he thought on TV talent shows, Anne Robinson who delighted viewers with her put-downs on The Weakest Link and Gordon Ramsay where everyone is on tenter-hooks, waiting for him to blow his top with some poor, unsuspecting cook.

“Right, I’ll get you more pumpkin. I’ll ram it right up your f***ing a***. Would you like it whole or diced?”

Gordon Ramsay said this by the way, not me. Complaints his way please!

Finally, there is the perhaps obvious blatantly rude person in the media at the moment. You know, the one who was elected as President Of The United States. A lot of people didn’t see it coming but come it did and personally, I continue to be horrified with everything that comes out of his mouth. If that kind of person can be elected to be in charge of a country, well…..the less said about that the better otherwise I’ll just get into a massive rant. I’ll just say that the author describes Trump’s personality and the things that he has done/said so far perfectly when relating it to the topic of the book, but somehow manages to stay light-hearted and bring out that fantastic humorous side that he is well known for.

Donald Trump – Rudeness And Power?!

There’s so much to savour in this book, tasty tid-bits that I know I’m going to remember and quote to others like the information junkie that I am! It explores so many topics, including class, power, the modern world and women with such delicious detail that I could go on and on about the wealth of information covered within. One final thing – the author describes how if you experience someone being rude to you, you are statistically more likely to be rude to another person later on, maybe that day or perhaps a bit later, depending on how the incident has affected your state of mind. This absolutely horrified me as I would hate to be “that person,” and I would hope that I’m not intentionally rude to ANYONE. However, when I mused on it a bit more, I realised that it may be true. I’ve been grumpy, been upset and I’ve probably mistakenly snapped at someone else because I felt hard done by! It’s horrible to think of and I’ll certainly be checking my reactions in the future. Meanwhile, if you’re into non-fiction and fancy a few smiles and things to mull over, F*** You Very Much is definitely the book for you!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

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H Is For Hawk – Helen Macdonald

Published May 16, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Obsession, madness, memory, myth, and history combine to achieve a distinctive blend of nature writing and memoir from an outstanding literary innovator.

When Helen Macdonald’s father died suddenly on a London street, she was devastated. An experienced falconer—Helen had been captivated by hawks since childhood—she’d never before been tempted to train one of the most vicious predators, the goshawk. But in her grief, she saw that the goshawk’s fierce and feral temperament mirrored her own. Resolving to purchase and raise the deadly creature as a means to cope with her loss, she adopted Mabel, and turned to the guidance of The Once and Future King author T.H. White’s chronicle The Goshawk to begin her challenging endeavor. Projecting herself “in the hawk’s wild mind to tame her” tested the limits of Macdonald’s humanity and changed her life.

Heart-wrenching and humorous, this book is an unflinching account of bereavement and a unique look at the magnetism of an extraordinary beast, with a parallel examination of a legendary writer’s eccentric falconry. Obsession, madness, memory, myth, and history combine to achieve a distinctive blend of nature writing and memoir from an outstanding literary innovator.

What did I think?:

Recently, I’m getting more and more interested in non fiction, although I have to remind myself to “get reading” it, I have far too many fiction books begging to be read on my shelves. I was aware of H is For Hawk when it first came out and then it won the Costa Award for Best Biography in 2014 so I was even more intrigued to read it. I remember going into bookshops multiple times, seeing it there, picking it up and then putting it back down again. After all, how interesting can a book about training a hawk really be? Then my boyfriend listened to it on audiobook and raved about how wonderful it was. That was it, determined. I HAD to pick it up and read it soon. Well, I finally got round to it recently and oh my goodness, why on earth did I wait that long?! This was a wonderful, touching and fascinating read that gave me a little fuzzy feeling inside and an instant admiration and respect for the author, Helen Macdonald.

The author of H is For Hawk, Helen Macdonald with her goshawk. I love this picture!

Yes, H is For Hawk IS about how Helen learns to train a goshawk with very little previous experience but this book is also about so much more. She originally gets her first goshawk, Mabel after the sudden death of her beloved father and whilst she is struggling with her grief, she finally realises one of her biggest dreams since she was a little girl, becoming a falconer. When she was younger, Helen loved to read the author T.H. White’s non fiction book entitled The Goshawk which described his own experiences as a novice training a bird of prey. She decides to re-visit that book as an adult whilst training Mabel and basking in the memories of her father and the reader is treated to parts of T.H. White’s own story as he battled with both a cranky, independent goshawk and the truth of his own sexuality which he was desperate to hide.

The goshawk (not Mabel, just a random one!) but an absolutely beautiful bird of prey, I’m sure you’ll agree.

I adored reading Helen’s story, from the minute she bought Mabel to the early days of training and the struggles with an incredibly fiesty, stubborn creature. Then there were both heart-breaking and heart-warming passages as Helen’s grief for her father threatens to overwhelm her, leading her to neglect her mental health, shut herself off from friends and social events and make her worry that she’ll never be able to connect with her strange new animal companion. Then there are the triumphs which quite honestly, brought a tear to my eye. I’m a huge animal lover anyway but there was a particular scene in H is For Hawk that really choked me up. Helen has been told that goshawk’s don’t really “play,” but one evening, Helen decides to throw a paper ball at Mabel and the goshawk begins to join in, tossing and crunching the ball and moving her head to stare at Helen through a paper tube, extremely happy and content. This was a huge breakthrough for both Helen and Mabel and it was a passage I had to read over and over again, it was too adorable for words and I loved seeing both Mabel’s personality coming out and Helen’s happiness in the goshawk’s reaction.

This is a far more emotional read than I was anticipating and really demonstrates the nature of grief, which rolls around like waves and may severely affect you some days more than others. I want to thank Helen from the bottom of my heart for being so honest about her suffering and am certain it will help other people going through the same thing, in that there is light at the end of the tunnel and the potential to be happy again. I’m also delighted to have found Mabel, such a huge character and beautiful creature that I’ll find difficult to forget, that’s for sure.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Bookworm: A Memoir Of Childhood Reading – Lucy Mangan

Published April 11, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

When Lucy Mangan was little, stories were everything. They opened up new worlds and cast light on all the complexities she encountered in this one.

She was whisked away to Narnia – and Kirrin Island – and Wonderland. She ventured down rabbit holes and womble burrows into midnight gardens and chocolate factories. She wandered the countryside with Milly-Molly-Mandy, and played by the tracks with the Railway Children. With Charlotte’s Web she discovered Death and with Judy Blume it was Boys. No wonder she only left the house for her weekly trip to the library or to spend her pocket money on amassing her own at home.

In Bookworm, Lucy revisits her childhood reading with wit, love and gratitude. She relives our best-beloved books, their extraordinary creators, and looks at the thousand subtle ways they shape our lives. She also disinters a few forgotten treasures to inspire the next generation of bookworms and set them on their way.

Lucy brings the favourite characters of our collective childhoods back to life – prompting endless re-readings, rediscoveries, and, inevitably, fierce debate – and brilliantly uses them to tell her own story, that of a born, and unrepentant, bookworm.

What did I think?:

Oh my goodness, what could be better than a book about books? My boyfriend got me this book as a gift and as a loud and proud bookworm, he couldn’t have got me anything better. Seriously, this must be how some girls feel when they’re given jewellery? Lucy Mangan’s thorough exploration of her childhood reading is beautifully nostalgic and warmed my heart. We hear small parts of Lucy’s own life but unlike other memoirs, as the title suggests, this book is focused purely on how different books have shaped the author’s life. As a bookish, rather solitary child myself, I nodded along with almost everything the author described. For example, the joys of being sent to your room as a punishment – hey, more time alone to read right? Or the delights of reading under your cover with a torch when you’re supposed to be sleeping, which made me very tired the next morning at school but strangely satisfied as I managed to finish the book I was reading!

From the delights of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Lucy takes us through books that meant something to her as a child and how they changed her as a person. Lucy is slightly older than me by six years so some of the books I wasn’t instantly familiar with but I had a bundle of fun researching them on Google, especially when she mentioned illustrators like Edmund Evans and Maurice Sendak. However, the cockles of my heart were well and truly warmed when she mentioned my own childhood favourites like C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles Of Narnia, the master that is Roald Dahl, the heart-break of Charlotte’s Web, the goddess of adventure stories that is Enid Blyton and of course, my own personal heroine, Judy Blume. Helpfully, the author also provides a complete list of all the books she mentions in the appendix and I have to admit to adding quite a few to my wish-list!

Bookworm: A Memoir Of Childhood Reading is a gorgeous, evocative read that will have you remembering the books that really made an impression on you when you were younger and leave you with a wistful urge to re-read them all over again. The only reason I’m not giving it a higher rating is that there were a few books that I didn’t know and so didn’t quite feel the same connection with as others. However, this is a fantastic journey back in time that I thoroughly enjoyed and highly anticipate reading again in the future next time I need a trip down memory lane. The style of Lucy Mangan’s writing really invites you in and makes you feel like you’re having a chat with a good friend about the favourite topic of any bookworm of course – BOOKS. I’ve got that fuzzy, gooey feeling all over again just talking about this book!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

 

Eating Animals – Jonathan Safran Foer

Published April 3, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

From the bestselling author of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and Everything is Illuminated:

Discover the mind-blowing, life-changing book which revolutionised the way we think about meat – coming soon as a major documentary film by Natalie Portman

Eating Animals is the single most original book about food written this century. It will change the way you think and change the way you eat. For good.

Whether you’re doing veganuary, trying to cut back on animal consumption, or a lifelong meat-eater, you need to read this book.

‘Universally compelling. Jonathan Safran Foer’s book changed me’ – Natalie Portman

‘Moving, disturbing, should be compulsory reading. A genuine masterwork. Read this book. It will change you’ Time Out

‘If you eat meat and fish, you should read this book. Even if you don’t, you should. It might bring the beginning of a change of heart about all living things’ Joanna Lumley

‘Gripping, breathtaking, original. A brilliant synthesis of argument, science and storytelling. One of the finest books ever written on the subject of eating animals’ TLS

‘Shocking, incandescent, brilliant’ The Times

‘Horrifying, eloquent, timely’ Spectator

What did I think?:

A quick side-note before I start talking about this book, I normally include the Goodreads synopsis above but I don’t normally include the quotes. With Eating Animals, I have chosen to because it was reading the quotes that pushed me to read this book earlier than I might originally have done. With Joanna Lumley suggesting “a change of heart about all living things” and Natalie Portman stating that it had changed her, I was super intrigued. Now, I’ve always been a meat-eater. I was raised as a meat-eater and although I’m a huge animal lover, as long as the food didn’t have a “face,” I was relatively okay about eating it, as long as I didn’t imagine the animal in its original form, frolicking in a field. Then a few years ago, my boyfriend turned vegetarian, purely because he had heard some awful things about the treatment of animals prior to them being killed for our meat. I was concerned at first about how our eating would change but to be honest, I haven’t noticed much of a difference. He will cook me meat when I want but generally, for ease of cooking, we both eat the same thing and I’ll perhaps eat meat, away from him on my own time. However my consumption of meat/fish has definitely gone down and I always wondered, could I do without it?

I have to admit, this book has been on my TBR for the longest time and I was a bit worried about reading it. Perhaps I’ve been putting it off as I didn’t want to be confronted with the brutal truth about where our meat comes from and thought it might finally tip me over the edge into vegetarianism. Well, now I’ve finished it and finally know the ugly truth. And it is horrendous. Some of the facts about how chickens, pigs, turkeys, cattle etc are treated in this book are truly disgusting and it has definitely made me think twice about eating meat in the future. I’ve made the decision not to go into detail about how exactly the animals are treated in this review because I really don’t want to offend or upset anyone but believe me, it’s all kinds of shocking. I think I’ve had blinkers on for so long now about this issue and have heard rumours here and there but it’s seeing it put down there in black and white with clear facts and figures and statistics provided by the author that is really eye opening and a huge game changer for me.

You’d think this might be a manual advocating vegetarianism/veganism as the only proper way to do things and that it could potentially get a bit preachy. I didn’t find this at the beginning, in fact the author plays devil’s advocate and talks about the benefits of eating dogs (of all things!). He describes the vast numbers of stray dogs that are euthanized each year and how large an ecological and economic problem getting rid of their bodies is. Of course, I don’t condone eating dogs in the slightest, they’re one of my favourite animals but it’s interesting to see him try and find an environmental case for eating animals, even if they’re few and far between. It was also fascinating to learn that animal agriculture in general provides a 40% greater contribution to global warming than all transportation in the world combined and it is actually the number one cause of climate change. That’s definitely food for thought (no pun intended!).

Overall, I’m not quite sure where to rate this book. It absolutely did what I expected it to do – it turned me off eating animals with its brutal honesty and has made me seriously consider vegetarianism as a lifestyle option. Knowing what I know now after reading this book, personally I would feel so guilty eating meat as I realise the process it *might* have gone through to get to my plate. Perhaps ignorance is really bliss but I’m glad I read Eating Animals, I feel much more educated about the farming process and so-called “free range.” It wasn’t a perfect book at all, occasionally it got slightly repetitive and I didn’t care much for the writing style or how it was structured but I can’t deny it’s a life-changing book that made me think differently about how I eat.

Would I recommend it?:

Probably! (with caution)

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer was the twenty-third book on my quest to conquer Mount Everest in the Mount TBR Challenge 2018!

Mini Pin-It Reviews #19 – Four Author Requests

Published March 25, 2018 by bibliobeth

Hello everyone and welcome to another mini pin-it reviews post! I have a massive backlog of reviews and this is my way of trying to get on top of things a bit. This isn’t to say I didn’t like some of these books – my star rating is a more accurate reflection of this, but this is a great, snappy way of getting my thoughts across and decreasing my backlog a bit. This time I’ve got four author requests for you – please see my pin-it thoughts below!

1.) The Spirit Guide – Elizabeth Davies

What’s it all about?:

Seren has an unusual gift – she sees spirits, the shades of the dead.
Terrified of being accused of witchcraft, a very real possibility in twelfth century Britain, she keeps her secret close, not even confiding in her husband.

But when she gives her heart and soul to a man who guides spirits in the world beyond the living, she risks her secret and her life for their love.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

2.) I Once Knew A Poem Who Wore A Hat – Emma Purshouse, Catherine Pascall-Moore (illustrator)

What’s it all about?:

Looking for a book packed with begging-to-be-read-out-loud poems and joyful pictures? Look no further! Come inside and meet Figment (of the Imagination). Discover poems about a grandad with big ears, an invention for recycling belly button fluff, Jeevan’s quest to find his Opal, teeth, dinosaurs, cats, dogs, dragons and lots, lots more!

Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

3.) Return To Glow: A Pilgrimage Of Transformation In Italy – Chandi Wyant

What’s it all about?:

In her early forties, Chandi Wyant’s world implodes in the wake of a divorce and traumatic illness. Determined to embrace life by following her heart, she sets out on Italy’s historic pilgrimage route, the Via Francigena, to walk for forty days to Rome.

Weakened by her recent illness, she walks over the Apennines, through the valleys of Tuscany, and beside busy highways on her 425-kilometer trek equipped with a nineteen-pound pack, two journals, and three pens.

Return to Glow chronicles this journey that is both profoundly spiritual and ruggedly adventuresome. As Chandi traverses this ancient pilgrim’s route, she rediscovers awe in the splendor of the Italian countryside and finds sustenance and comfort from surprising sources. Drawing on her profession as a college history instructor, she gracefully weaves in relevant anecdotes, melding past and present in this odyssey toward her soul.

This delightful, transporting tale awakens the senses while inviting readers to discover their own inner glow by letting go of fixed expectations, choosing courage over comfort, and following their heart.

Would I recommend it?:

Maybe!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

4.) Trudge On: The Poetic Works Of Shawn Worth

What’s it all about?:

American Poet Shawn Worth explores themes of nature, class, depression, technology, and human interaction though the use of free verse and structured poetry.

Would I recommend it?:

Maybe!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

COMING UP NEXT TIME ON MINI PIN-IT REVIEWS: Four YA Books.

 

Another Day In The Death Of America – Gary Younge

Published March 16, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

On Saturday 23 November 2013 ten children were shot dead. The youngest was nine; the oldest was nineteen. They fell in suburbs, hamlets and ghettos. None made the national news. It was just another day in the death of America, where on average seven children and teens are killed by guns daily.

Younge picked this day at random, searched for their families and tells their stories. What emerges is a sobering, searing, portrait of youth and guns in contemporary America.

What did I think?:

This piece of non fiction has been on my TBR for quite a long time and I’m delighted (yet still slightly traumatised from the reading experience) that I’ve finally got around to reading it. If you’re a long-time follower of my blog you might remember a post I did on the short piece of work by Stephen King called Guns. If you haven’t read it and feel as passionately as I do about gun regulations, you really should, I found it to be a phenomenal read. But back to Gary Younge whom in Another Day In The Death Of America, takes one 24 hour period, completely at random and catalogues in detail the stories of young people who have died because of guns. Some of the families of the victims he was unable to speak to personally, (understandably some grieving parents found it too difficult to talk to a journalist) but in these cases, he goes behind the scenes and learns as much about the young person that has died as possible.

It’s absolutely shocking to think that in the one day that Gary Younge chose, TEN young people were shot dead, the youngest being just nine years old which was particularly horrifying to me. I’m not sure if it was the age of this victim, a young boy called Jaiden, or the manner of his death which was so abhorrent to me and I really felt passionately angry at the perp. What kind of grown man or to put it better – monster, inflicts that on a child purely to get back at an ex? With Another Day In The Death Of America, the punches just keep on rolling and I had to keep my notebook handy to write down multiple facts as I read them as I just couldn’t believe what I was reading. Did you know that firearms are the leading cause of death in black children under the age of nineteen in America and the second cause of death in children of the same age groups after car accidents? Furthermore, a lot of people justify these figures as being “black on black crime” (a direct quote from a New York Mayor) but the difference between black people killing other black people and white people killing other white people is barely significant.

I just want to mention one more story that had a profound effect on me, although I have to add that all these stories will touch in you in some shape or form. There was a case of two boys, eleven and twelve years old respectively, who were left alone overnight without adult supervision. Tragically, one of the boys was killed by the other accidentally. The father was held as responsible, often leaving his guns out where the children could reach them and in the end, he was charged with the crime of “contributing to the delinquency of a minor.” Basically, this is the same charge as if the two boys had found his stash of porn!

One of the things I enjoyed most about this book, apart from Gary Younge’s obvious compassion towards all the victims, is that not all of the victims are made out to be angels. He accepts that in fact, some of them made very bad decisions and life choices and illustrates their individual circumstances, situation they were born in to, limited choices, bad schools, the availability of drugs, the lure of gangs etc. He doesn’t make any excuses for them but lays out the cold, honest facts on the table for the reader to scrutinise. At the end of the day however, does anything in the world excuse the fact that they were shot? I don’t think so.

After the horrific Florida Parkland shooting recently, I feel more strongly than ever that there should be more stringent regulations on guns. In this book, Gary Younge could not have illustrated this point any better by including a quote by President Obama who said words to the effect: “if there’s a lock to prevent a child getting into some aspirin, there should definitely be a lock to stop a child pulling a trigger on a gun.” In fact, it’s a sobering thought that 31% of accidental deaths caused by firearms could be prevented by adding child lock/loading indicators. If you’re interested in this topic and have fervent views on gun violence like my own, I highly, highly recommend this book. It will make you think, break your heart and pray that something can be done to stop this madness soon.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Another Day In The Death Of America by Gary Younge is the twentieth book in my quest to conquer Mount Everest in the Mount TBR Challenge 2018!

Girls Will Be Girls: Dressing Up, Playing Parts and Daring to Act Differently – Emer O’Toole

Published March 10, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

The fiercest new voice of feminism – Emer O’Toole is the perfect mix of Caitlin Moran, Germaine Greer and Lena Dunham.

Emer O’Toole once caused a media sensation by growing her body hair and singing ‘Get Your Pits Out For The Lads’ on national TV. You might think she’s crazy – but she has lessons for us all. Protesting against the ‘makey-uppy-bulls**t’ of gender conditioning, Emer takes us on a hilarious, honest and probing journey through her life – from cross-dressing and head shaving, to pube growing and full-body waxing – exploring the performance of femininity to which we are confined.

Funny, provocative and underpinned with rigorous academic intelligence, this book shows us why and how we should all begin gently to break out of gender stereotypes. Read this book, open up your mind and, hopefully, free your body. GIRLS WILL BE GIRLS is a must-read wake-up call for all young women (and men).

What did I think?:

Girls Will Be Girls was the third book on my Five Star TBR Predictions post and one I had high hopes for after reading some fantastic reviews and learning about some of the content. As an ardent feminist myself, I am always hungry for books that explore the topic in a new, fresh and exciting way and I’m delighted to announce that Emer O’Toole gave me everything I had been looking for. Using her personal experiences, brutal honesty and novel ways to look at gender equality, Girls Will Be Girls was a fascinating read that I found difficult to put down. Although it wasn’t quite five star, it was extremely close and I have no qualms about highly recommending this to everyone if you’re intrigued by the subject matter.

The book is divided into twelve chapters and a conclusion and explores a variety of topics surrounding gender interspersed with tid-bits from Emer’s own life to illustrate the points she is making. She starts off completely honestly, admitting that she hasn’t always been the best feminist in the world and often conformed to those pesky female stereotypes to fit in with a group of friends or her male friend/boyfriends points of view. She laughed at their sexist jokes, dampened down her own vibrant personality and ambitions in order to “be like a girl.” It wasn’t until a bit later on in her early adulthood that she started realising she didn’t have to do all that, she could be her own person and there was no need to bow to the whims of society. So started her journey of experimenting with her gender – dressing like a boy, refusing to shave her legs and underarms and even shaving her head to try and understand how deeply rooted gender stereotypes really are in our world and if there was a possibility she could bend things so other women wouldn’t feel so pressurised to act/be a certain way.

I absolutely loved that Emer used her real-life experience to approach the gender debate and this book was packed full of humour, heart and real honesty as she embarked upon her journey of discovery for the good of womankind. I had heard about her infamous interview on This Morning here on the UK where the presenters quizzed her about her refusal to shave and I was delighted to discover an genuine, intelligent woman who was just as funny and “real” as the writing in her book. She had some incredibly sound points to make about how society constrains young girls and puts unrealistic, sometimes very unnecessary pressures on them. I admire her bravery and resilience for standing up for what she believes in and think all women could take a leaf out of her book in their approach to being a woman. If we’re ever going to have anything close to gender equality, I really think we need to challenge things like the media, people’s expectations and how we raise our children if we’re ever going to teach the next generation that women are in fact, not second-class citizens to men.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0