Tuesday 26 November 2013

TBR Tuesday: How to Be a Woman - Caitlin Moran

Like everyone, I have shelves full of books I’ve bought or gotten review that I’ve never quite got around to reading. Inspired by the booktuber Katytastic, I wrote out a selection of them and popped them in a glass jar. Tada! A TBR Jar! Now my monthly Blast From the Past feature will be melded with TBR Tuesday’s and will depend on what I pluck from the jar.

For November’s slot, my sister pulled out...

How to Be a Woman, Caitlin Moran

PAGES: 309
RELEASE DATE: 1st March 2012
PUBLISHER: Ebury Press
EDITION: UK paperback, second hand purchase
SHELF LIFE: about a year

The Chronicles of Narmo, Moranthology

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?

Part memoir, part rant, Caitlin Moran answers the questions that every modern woman is asking.


How to Be a Woman was a little different to what I was anticipating. After reading her novel, The Chronicles of Narmo, I had certain expectations, though I couldn’t tell you what they were, and this was just wholly different.

I loved how Moran began each chapter with an anecdote from her life, all chronological, and used them to discuss ideas of womanhood, femininity and the social reaction to being a woman. I have to admit that a few of the 80s references went straight over my head, but she weave the story narratives together effortlessly. For me, this also gave her arguments and ideas grounding, substance and feeling, even though most of them weren’t ideas that were new or revelatory to me.

That being said, I read How to Be a Woman really quite quickly for a style and an author that I’m not used to. Moran’s writing is engaging, brash and honest and she’s instantly likable, though I’d definitely be too intimidated to say hello if I ever met her! I expected her writing to be laugh-out-loud funny as well, but though it was amusing, I never once laughed properly. The humour seemed more cringe-inducing, tongue in cheek to me; she’s very witty and intelligent and that came out in a drier sense of humour to me.

My favourite element of How to Be a Woman was definitely Caitlin Moran’s overarching conclusions about herself and feminism: she doesn’t actually wants to be a ‘woman’ as they are traditionally defined, she wants to be normal. And to her, feminism is simply people being polite and fair to each other. That’s something I can get behind, right there. And something that other people, especially people scared of the word and its implications can agree is a good thing, something to be worked for.

How to Be a Woman is an important book in many ways. It catapulted the plight of women all over the world into the mainstream, with humour, wit and boldness. Moran’s arguments touched the minds and hearts of both men and women in all situations and that can’t be taken lightly. She’s started the discussion again, maybe even awakened the waves...

Definitely not! It’s a wonderfully brash, bold and important novel. As Caitlin said throughout How to Be a Woman, feminism is more relevant than ever in a scary amount of ways.



  1. I love your little 'should it have stayed on the shelf' verdict at the end! I love the idea of a TBR jar getting us to read those books just gathering dust and I am really interested in this one. I may have to give it a go now

    Cait x

  2. A great idea all around! Like your 'should it have stayed on the shelf' thing - very unique :D

  3. Caitlin Moran gets my highest recommendation. Her style is witty and frank. I am passing this book on to my sisters and friends and I can't wait to read her next one.
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