Thursday, 12 April 2012

Review: How To Be A Woman, Caitlin Moran

How To Be A Woman

Caitlin Moran

Ebury, 2012 (2011)

It's a good time to be a woman: we have the vote and the Pill, and we haven't been burnt as witches since 1727. However, a few nagging questions do remain...

Why are we supposed to get Brazilians? Should we use Botox? Do men secretly hate us? And why does everyone ask you when you're going to have a baby?

You know those books that you read, and while you're reading them you want to read them out to everyone around you, including the slightly mental woman on the bus behind you? (I live in Birmingham, where there is always a slightly mental woman on the bus behind you.) This is one of those books. I laughed so hard at some points that my housemates thought I was losing my mind. I have promised to lend it to a whole host of people, with the caveat that if they hate it, they can't tell me, because I thought it was excellent and would thus be crushed if they didn't laugh every time the doleful dog makes an appearance.

The book is described as "part memoir, part rant". The chapters revolve different aspects of "being a woman" - from bras and periods to having children (or not) and getting married (or not). The first part of the book covers a lot of Moran's childhood growing up in Wolverhampton, which was possibly my favourite part, not least because the unadulterated joy of receiving your teenage library tickets (while your mental dog strangles themselves on their lead outside) is one I remember well, just like confessing to my friend behind the sofa that I was in love with Burt Ward (Moran makes a similar confession - thought not regarding Burt Ward - to her sister in the airing cupboard).

I could go on and on and on about how funny and smart this book is, and how many times I wanted to shout "YESSS!" out loud when I read a bit that made me realise there are other women out there who think an extra layer of eyeliner works as a night time look, or who question the absurdity of large (or indeed, any) weddings, or who have been asked one too many times "when" (and not "if") they're going to have children, and who have wondered about double standards and sneaky sexism and all those other pesky things. But I will stop there, and offer up two of my favourite quotes. (If I had had a highlighter and a flagrant disregard for the sanctity of the page, I would have highlighted a lot of quotes in this book, but I don't have either, so these are just two plucked at random.)

"I come from grunge, and then Britpop - scenes where you boast about how little you spent on an outfit... and taking pride in 'getting ready to go out' consists of little more than washing your face, putting on your Doc Martens/trainers, and applying black Barry M nail varnish, £1, on the bus into town." (p.198)

On finding a partner: "Speaking for all my lady friends, we all want some geeky, nerdy, polite and ridiculous mate who we can sit at home with, slagging off all the tossers, and waiting for our baked potatoes to be ready." (p.304)

I say "plucked at random", but that's pretty much my life right there.

Overall rating: 10/10

Book source: Bought from Waterstones in Birmingham.


  1. BRILLIANT review! I have seen this book around so many times (Waterstones had it featured for a while too I think!) and considered buying it but didn't because I wan't sure if it would be annoying or not. Your review and the quotes you choose have made me really want to read it! Geeky, nerdy, smart and slagging off the tossers is THE DREAM. Glasses on a man are my kryptonite. x

  2. Thanks! I'd definitely recommend it, I wasn't sure whether to buy it or not but I'm so glad I did. And I am all for smart, nerdy men!


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