Thursday, 28 April 2016

Book Review: Be Awesome: Modern Life for Modern Ladies by Hadley Freeman

A photo og Be Awesome: Modern Life for Modern Ladies by Hadley Freeman

Be Awesome: Modern Life for Modern Ladies by Hadley Freeman

Published: 1st January 2014 | Publisher: 4th Avenue Publishing

Hadley Freeman, Guardian features writer and author of the popular ‘Ask Hadley...’ column, reminds the modern lady to ‘Be Awesome’.

‘Being single is often awesome. You can leave a party when you want to, whether that be 9pm or 9am; you don't have to live in fear of ever hearing yourself described as “my better half”; and you can spend all day lying on the sofa in your pajamas watching “Murder She Wrote” and eating peanut butter straight out of the jar.’

Covering topics vital for any modern woman to consider (from ‘How to read women’s magazines without wanting to grow a penis’ to ‘Beyond the armpit: a guide to being a modern day feminist’), ‘Be Awesome’ tackles body image, sex, dating and feminism head on.

With an attitude that is unfalteringly funny, smart and surprisingly heartwarming, Hadley Freeman is a voice of sanity that every woman should hear.

From Goodreads.

This review was originally posted on my book blog, Once Upon a Bookcase.

When I reached out on Twitter last year, asking for recommendations of feminist non-fiction, Be Awesome: Modern Life for Modern Ladies by Hadley Freeman was one of the books recommended. It sounded as awesome as it was telling us ladies to be, and so I bought it, excited to be educated while laughing. Unfortunately, I really didn't like this book.

The major problem I had with Be Awesome is the offensive language and jokes Freeman makes. She uses the word "lame" several times (p3 for example), she makes a joke about how little people who sit at their computers all day move, describing them as "'paraplegic'" (p10), she makes a joke involving depression (p54), and jokes about women's magazines making women want to get sex changes (p171). None of this sat right with me at all; it's out of order, and I think it's appalling that these jokes got past editing. It was first published four years ago, but I don't think that excuses it.

The whole book is written with sarcasm, snark, and with Freeman's sense of humour, but I just didn't find it funny at all. I started off rolling my eyes at some of the jokes, but the more I read the more it grated on me. I started getting really annoyed, wishing she would just be serious, please! The book is written with the intent of being humourous, but in my opinion, it just isn't funny. You know how on TV they show show comedians tellings jokes, and the audience simply doesn't laugh? That was my relationship with this book. That's likely down to my sense of humour and what I find funny rather than an unfunny author, considering all the praise printed in the book, but Freeman's voice just didn't work for me. Which led to me leaving it at home when I didn't have far to go; I knew I would finish it before my work day was over and would have nothing else to read, so I took another book with me. Over a week went by before I picked it up again, and even then I only picked it up so I could write this review.

Despite how much I didn't enjoy Freeman's voice or humour, she does make a lot of sense in various chapters - to the point that I know I would have enjoyed this book if it was written seriously, and wasn't so bloody offensive. I loved what she had to say in the chapters 'Talking about eating disorders without using a single photo of Kate Moss', 'You're never too old for Topshop', 'How to cheer up your friend who is depressed about being single without lying to them, patronising them or making them feel even worse', 'There will always be something wrong with your body, which means nothing is wrong with your body', and 'Beyond the armpit: a ten-point (plus three addenda and some posh little footnotes) guide to being a modern-day feminist'. I was educated, I was made to think and alter my viewpoint, so I guess Be Awesome did what I wanted it to. I just wish it wasn't so difficult to read.

Even though I was educated and Freeman made some good points, I really didn't like this book. I wouldn't recommend it, because I'm sure similar ideas are discussed by other writers who aren't so offensive and who can write seriously. I won't be reading anything by Freeman again.

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