How To Be a Woman

Last year when I attended the London Book Fair I had the pleasure of listening to an interview with Caitlin Moran, the author of How To Be a Woman. Before the interview started, a young woman sat down next to me and asked me if I was familiar with Moran. I had to confess that I was not. She said, “Oh, she’s hilarious. She’s the reason I came today.”

Photo taken during the London Book Fair, 2012.

Photo taken during the London Book Fair, 2012.

Moran did not disappoint. As it turns out, I found her to be comical and insightful. According to Moran, after a night at the pub, where she and her cohorts bemoaned the sad state of feminism, she decided to write a book about feminism. Five months later How To Be a Woman existed. I have to give it to her. Usually when I leave the pub I head home, drink some water, and hope I don’t have a headache in the morning. Maybe I should hang out with her and see if I get inspired.

I found her to be so entertaining I decided to pick up her book. Six months later I finally121 read it. I know, not as impressive. Her book is a memoir and starts off when she’s thirteen. For those who don’t like to be shocked, I wouldn’t suggest this book. For those who like a person with a sense of humor and who can still make relevant points, then this may be your thing. Personally, I laughed out loud on many occasions. Moran writes about many female subjects. To give you a feel, here are some of the chapter headings:

I Start Bleeding!

I Become Furry!

I Don’t Know What to Call My Breasts!

I Need A Bra!

I Go Lap-dancing!

I Get Married!

Moran doesn’t hold back in her memoir and shares not only funny moments in her life, but painful ones as well. She discusses being fat, marriage, having children, having an abortion, Brazilians, shoes, fashion, and many other topics. Her book made me laugh, cringe, and ponder the decisions women have to make in life. All of it isn’t serious, but all of it comes together brilliantly.

To be honest, when I finished the book I wasn’t sure that she came up with an answer of how to be a woman. However, I’m not sure that was her intention either. What she did present was an honest account of what life has been like for her as a woman. Let’s face it, all of us are different. While I didn’t relate to everything in the book, I appreciated her opinions and insights, even when I disagreed with her. And I agree with her point that all of us should do our best to get along and support each other. Can’t we all just get along people.

Caitlin Moran (her full name is Catherine Elizabeth Moran) is a British writer, TV critic, and columnist at The Times. She has seven siblings and was home-schooled in Wolverhampton. When she was thirteen she read a novel that had a character named ‘Caitlin’.  Moran liked the name and started going by that. However, she pronounces it ‘Catlin’. In 2011, How To Be a Woman won the Galaxy National Book Award.

About TBM

TB Markinson is an American who's recently returned to the US after a seven-year stint in the UK and Ireland. When she isn't writing, she's traveling the world, watching sports on the telly, visiting pubs in New England, or reading. Not necessarily in that order. Her novels have hit Amazon bestseller lists for lesbian fiction and lesbian romance. She cohosts the Lesbians Who Write Podcast ( with Clare Lydon. TB also runs I Heart Lesfic (, a place for authors and fans of lesfic to come together to celebrate lesbian fiction.
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27 Responses to How To Be a Woman

  1. Caroline says:

    I bought this when it came out but haven’t read it yet. Just recently I saw a few reviews which were extremely critical. I guess there was a bit of a misunderstanding – from my side as well – many didn’t get it’s a memoir, they thought it was more like Beauvoir’s 2nd sex or some such feminist book.
    I heard however that she’s very funny so I’m going to read it sooner or later.

    • TBM says:

      I haven’t read Beauvoir’s Second Sex yet, but it is on my shelf. That one intimidates me for some reason. This one is not intimidating, well I did learn some new words. I have seen some bad reviews–not everyone will like her writing style and frankness. I found it to be a funny read. Let me know what you think about it. Also, if you are in London in April–check out the Book Fair. You’d love it!

  2. That sounds hilarious!! 🙂

  3. thirdeyemom says:

    Sounds like an interesting read. What did your wife think of the book? I can’t imagine sharing such personal things with strangers though! That takes guts!

    • TBM says:

      She doesn’t hold back when it comes to personal issues. I loved her frankness and admired her spirit. She has much more confidence than I do when it comes to sharing. And during her interview she had such poise. I would have been blushing and umming and ahing the whole time. The better half hasn’t read this one yet. Not sure it’s on the TBR list currently.

  4. missshutterbug says:

    Hi, I read this book some time back and I loved it. I thought she was so refreshing but at the same time I felt like a lot of the things she said I had thought at some point. It’s a simple and light read and Moran doesn’t complicate or treat anything with too much seriousness.
    I think if you don’t overanalyze the book is a really enjoyable read!

    • TBM says:

      Yes, don’t over analyze. Take it for what it’s worth, a funny memoir that has some good points, but more laughs. For those who expect a serious take on feminism will probably be disappointed.

  5. Lucid Gypsy says:

    When I saw the title I thought ‘oh no’ but it sounds hilarious!

  6. petit4chocolatier says:

    Sounds interesting and humorous!

  7. Lynn says:

    This sounds like a good read – providing you’ve gone into it with the right idea of what it’s about. I have heard quite a lot of criticism but now I’ve read your review it makes sense as it seems that some readers have gone into this thinking it’s going to tackle some major feminist issues whereas it seems to be more a laugh along memoir.
    Lynn 😀

    • TBM says:

      I can understand why some might be disappointed, but when I heard her interview I knew that it wouldn’t be completely “serious.” She tells it how it is from her point of view. And there’s a lot of humor, some of the serious folk may not like that. Me, I can’t live without humor. I saw on the news today that some people only smile seven times a day–that’s awful. They need to take Miles to the park and play red ball. Seven smiles an hour with that boy.

  8. The Guat says:

    Dude very cool synopsis. The titles definitely aroused my curiosity. I might take a gander when I finish the current book I’m reading … you know Life of Pi. I tried reaching you but my comment must have gotten lost in the shuffle. That flu really kicked my butt so I didn’t read for two weeks, so I’m two weeks behind. Sorry for the delay you probably finished last week, huh? What a slacker I am, but don’t lose faith. I’m on it.

    • TBM says:

      Oh please don’t feel rushed. I just wanted to check in and see if you were waiting for me. Take your time, enjoy. And I’m so glad you finally kicked the flu–I had it a month ago and man it sucked.

  9. Will have to look out for this at the library. Once I get that Shania Twain song “Man, I feel like a woman” out of my head 😉

  10. winsomebella says:

    Maybe we drink the wrong thing when we are at the pub? I’d like what she had 🙂

  11. Fergiemoto says:

    It sounds entertaining! Looks like there are some “emotional roller coaster” events included in the book.

    • TBM says:

      Some of the issues she’s had to deal with were not easy. And she doesn’t hold back and tells you how it was for her. A lot of people may not like her honesty, but I found it refreshing.

  12. Looks like all of us women have a few books inside us…out with them everyone!

  13. my son is a conceptual artist and whether it’s art, music or books, to bare your soul for all to see and to judge takes quite a bit of courage.

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