I read this book this time last year, and I have reread it this time this year. From that, you can probably ascertain that I enjoyed Caitlin Moran’s humorous autobiography, ‘How to be a Woman’.
I enjoyed it for not one, not two, not even three, but four good reasons. I have listed these reasons below in my minorly adapted 2012 review cleverly entitled: 4 good reasons to read Caitlin Moran’s “How to be a Woman”
It would be fair to say, during its short life (published in 2012) this book has generated quite the media furore. Voted ‘Galaxy Book of the Year 2012’, ‘How to be a Woman’ has taken the country by storm. An overwhelmingly positive storm at that, with Jonathan Ross branding it ‘spectacular’. There was, however, a small amount of negative backlash, with many (men I expect…men-y?) slamming it with a huge, great anti-feminist sledgehammer claiming Moran’s opinions are ‘too black and white’. One discontented reviewer went so far as to say he was so disgusted by the book that he could not get to sleep for one hour. One whole hour? Poor chap. I can just imagine Caitlin Moran now, head back, lion’s mane shaking with a roar of laughter:
“Women survive on 1 hours sleep, whilst raising 3 children, holding down a job and looking after their husband!” she would cry triumphantly, “I LAUGH IN THE FACE of losing 1 hours sleep!”
Disclaimer: I do not know Caitlin Moran: the fictional rant above was based entirely on the fact that I feel like I know her. Which brings us neatly to:
Caitlin Moran possesses that rarest of talents – the ability to write in a convincing, conversational tone. She writes as though she were having a personal tete-a-tete with you, the reader. This being the case, I leaned back having finished the book, shut the cover and thought to myself “Thanks Cait, so I’ll see you next week for coffee where we can lightly discuss the solution to the European Debt Crisis then?”. Obviously this will probably never happen, and this is mainly due to:
Reason Caitlin Moran is super, super cool. Like, so super cool she could say ‘super cool’ and actually still be cool without sounding like some over-excited American pre-teen talking about Justin Bieber’s pet snake, Johnson. I, being on nowhere near the same level of coolness, am therefore very unlikely ever to meet her to discuss anything, let alone something important like debt. Lauren Laverne, a pretty cool cat herself, echoed the thoughts of myself and thousands of others, stating:
“Ever since I was 18 I wanted to be as cool as Caitlin Moran. Now this book has shown me how.”
As if being a talented writer and cool were not enough, Moran has one more trick up her sleeve: humour. Anyone who’s read her columns or Twitter feeds knows this already, but Caitlin Moran is one funny woman. Ergo, this book is funny. From the first sproutings of pubic hair right through to the perils and pitfalls of being in love, Caitlin takes us on a ride of such a hilarity that I really did laugh out loud. This is saying something, because I am not usually a ‘lol-er’…I’m a ‘chuckler under my breath’ at best and most of the time, I just smile wryly.
So if you read this book, you get a masterclass in conversational writing, you learn how to be cool and you laugh every step of the way. Do you really need another reason to be reading it? No, no you do not, but I’m going to give you another one anyway, just in case.
“How to be a Woman” explains what feminism is. I will confess this is done in a banner-waving, all-guns-blazing, strident feminism forever IN CAPITALS kind of a way, but it is done. This is something no book I have wanted to read before has achieved. Feminism was something that floated around in my midbrain, along with game theory and cholesterol, as something I knew was probably important, but hadn’t fully considered yet. Then this book came along and told me what it was, in simple, easy to understand terms.
Moran has been accused of being of the persuasion ‘its my way of the highway’ in terms of her views on feminism, a fact that has riled many people and led them to dislike this book. It is important to remember, however, that this is a light entertainment book. A light entertainment book with a message. It’s not an out-and-out feminist handbook, listing pros and cons and arguments and counter-arguments (we’ve got Germaine Greer for that), it is simply a funny book with a little bit of strident feminism attached.