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How to Lose Friends and Alienate People

3.29  ·  Rating Details ·  4,449 Ratings  ·  374 Reviews
In 1995 high-flying British journalist Toby Young left London for New York to become a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. Other Brits had taken Manhattan--Alistair Cooke, Tina Brown, Anna Wintour--so why couldn't he?But things didn't quite go according to plan. Within the space of two years he was fired from Vanity Fair, banned from the most fashionable bar in the city, a ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published June 5th 2003 by Da Capo Press (first published January 1st 2002)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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May 25, 2009 Greg rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
I found this book to be really amusing when I read it, but now after seeing Toby Young on this past season of Top Chef, I think he just an unfunny douche bag. I'll leave the original four star rating, but only because reading about a douche bag can be funny.
Jul 12, 2015 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in popular culture; memoir mavens

In 1995, British journalist Toby Young got the phone call every Fleet Street hack dreams of — an offer from Graydon Carter, the renowned editor of Vanity Fair, to fly to New York and work on the magazine. Toby then proceeded to stuff up every opportunity that came his way, starting with his interpretation of the “casual” dress code as a pair of vintage 501s and a T-shirt “featuring a bare-chested Keanu Reeves and the strapline: ‘Young, Dumb and Full of Come’”.

I first read How To Lose Friends &am

Oct 11, 2013 Helen marked it as to-read-or-not-to-read
Shelves: stgrc
Lernaean Hydra Getty Villa 83.AE.346

In the accordance with Hydra principle - I'd link you but it got deleted.

I'd also like to say that I didn't get a notice that this review will be deleted.

If we are deleting anything off-topic, does this mean that those pre-release, pre-read reviews that are nothing but a pile of gifs "expressing reader's excitement" go to? The one you chose to defend?
Sep 28, 2011 Kurt rated it it was amazing
I didn't expect much when I impulse bought this book at a used book store. I recognized Toby Young's name from his appearances as an occasional guest judge on Top Chef, where I didn't like him much but appreciated his shameless bitterness, and I found the book title very clever. When I finally got around to reading the book, though, I was surprised to love it.

The story is a memoir from Young's journey through the New York City magazine publishing world in the mid-1990s. I have little interest in
Dec 19, 2008 Martin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Why did I find Toby Young such an annoying twerp. I very nearly didn't finish this book, a very rare occurrence. His obsession with celebrity, parties and tottie just made me cringe but his analysis of the cultural differences between New York and London was very incisive and that is what kept me reading, as it was I read two other books in breaks when I'd had too much of Toby.
María José
May 12, 2009 María José rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: gente que esté interesada el el mundo de las revistas de moda y sociedad, de la jet-set, etc.
Recommended to María José by: la conciencia colectiva
Así se presentaba el libro: una crónica satírica desde el backstage del mundo de los más famosos y adorados, escrita por un periodista británico que trabajó durante tres años para la muy glamurosa (y casi centenaria) revista Vanity Fair. ¿Suena bien, verdad?

Pues para empezar, no encontré en este libro ni rastro del humor seco británico que tal descripción promete. Tampoco su densidad de detalles sobre el mundillo de la edición de una revista que hace y deshace reyes del mambo era tan alta como p
Hannah Eiseman-Renyard
How to Alienate Readers, Too

I bought this book because the title caught my eye, and the quotes on the cover were divine:

"I'll rot in hell before I give that little bastard a quote for his book"

- Julie Birchill

However, having read this all the way through - I agree with the various nay-sayers on the cover, and would like to hit Toby Young about the head with a hardcover copy of this memoir.

It would be safe to say Mr. Young doesn't really get it. When writing yourself as the cute, laddish foo

Jul 15, 2012 Mom rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was a very light read and not too difficult to get through, interesting enough to keep me reading. Beyond that I can't think of much positive to say. Another British writer (at least this one didn't use a lot of terms that were unfamiliar to me), male, and very opinionated, his biography reflects his experience in a very specific social setting in America in which he, self admittedly, acted like a pompous jerk. In the telling he seems to work through his problems and become a better pe ...more
May 08, 2010 Jill rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
With a title like "How to Lose Friends and Alienate People: A Memoir", you'd expect Young to come off as a completely annoying prat that you'd want to stab to death, say, 50 pages into the book. I found myself pleasantly surprised on this front. Young does come off as a clueless and delusional prat with self-destructive tendencies at several points, but his book is surprisingly readable. Unlike, say, Tom Parker Bowles' Year of Eating Dangerously (now there's a prat for you) or the Twilight serie ...more
Lee Ann
Jun 24, 2009 Lee Ann rated it liked it
Shelves: history
This was smart and funny. The inside Vanity Fair stuff is great. The last third of the book falls apart. There was too much of his “oh what a loser I am schtick.” I'm glad he found love but the girl comes across as a snobby twit. The first third was a great take on celebrity culture and New York in particular. The book falls flat when he tries to equate New York with America as a whole. His experience with limousine liberals in Manhattan doesn't give him any insight into how the rest of the coun ...more
Aug 01, 2011 Anna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Saw the movie because I love Simon Pegg movies. I was pleasantly surprised by this book though. There were some pretty outlandish things that went on with the author and I question how this book got published if they were true. Let alone the people he talked about so candidly - it's interesting in that he talks about reputation and yet there were some things revealed in this book that would slightly tarnish said rep. In my opinion anyways. Either way, if you're a total fashionista who's into the ...more
Aug 13, 2007 Kirsten added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone locked in a prison cell for 10 years with this book as the sole object in it
What I learned from this book? Don't believe the hype. This was one of the shittest books I've ever read. Toby Young has no conception as to why he can't get a shag and why no-one laughs at his jokes. Want to find out why Toby? Read your own retarded humour-vacuum of a book.

May 29, 2007 Jessica rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, humor
My fondest memory of this book was the day that I was reading it on the train on my way home from work. A guy got on the train and sat down next to me. He was reading "How to Win Friends and Influence People." Sometimes the planets just align.
Sarah Clement
Aug 10, 2016 Sarah Clement rated it really liked it
This is a highly entertaining book, but a bit like reading a Bret Easton Ellis novel, where few of the characters have any redeemable qualities, including the author. Only in this book the tales are ostensibly true. (I know the truth of many aspects of this book are disputed, but I figure it's best not to think about it too much and just go along for the ride.) Young certainly sets himself up as a funny but quite shallow and rather misguided character; and I'm not sure if we're supposed to see h ...more
Another case of the movie being better than the book. I didn't like this, I didn't think it was funny and I feel like I've wasted 10 hours of my life listening to it. But then I suppose that's the point of a book that details the stories of a person who made every idiotic decision under the sun to spoil his own life and career. It's a collection of misogynist stories, followed by a collection of star-fuckery stories, followed by a collection of stories championing out-dated and offensive stereot ...more
Angel Koh
Jan 07, 2016 Angel Koh rated it liked it
TLDR: This is the male version of the Devil Wears Prada. Toby Young plays Anne Hathaway to Graydon Carter's Meryl Streep. But there are some key differences - Toby is not wholly new to the journalism industry, and he does not end up climbing the ranks at Vanity Fair, unlike Anne Hathaway, who is a fashion noob who ultimately rises to become Meryl Streep's personal assistant.

Further thoughts: I quite enjoyed this book. It's funny and a tad inspiring how Toby has managed to turn a string of seemin
Erika Gill
Aug 13, 2012 Erika Gill rated it really liked it
Toby Young's ruminative work on social psychology, popular culture, the workplace hierarchy at Condé Nast in the 90s, and generally being unable to relate with people is a raw nerve, honest, and very British-ly self-effacing story that is VERY different from the 2008 movie.

As the son of Michael Young, who coined the term meritocracy long before his son Toby would come to be, well, sort of sidelined and knocked down by the cultural interpretation of it, Young offers an academic insight into the k
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 18, 2010 Agreenhouse rated it liked it
I am teaching a memoir writing class to adults, so I went to the library and picked out a bunch of titles. I have been trained to find and share mentor texts with my students,so they can get ideas on how they want to write. I don't think this book will be my prime mentor text, but it is a quick, funny read and the author is very honest about himself. It is full of gossip, so it is many ways a longer, more literary version of In Style magazine. For those who are fans of the Devil Wears Prada or U ...more
Feb 17, 2009 Dathan rated it really liked it
This book was sort of a break from the ordinary for me. I normally read plot-driven novels -- Louis L'Amour, Dan Brown, and a whole host of science-fiction and fantasy. I picked this one up on a whim, mostly because they cast Simon Pegg to play the lead role in the movie based on it. I was about a third of the way through, and thoroughly disappointed, when I realized I was reading it all wrong. I was waiting for the plot to pick up; for the author to stop making what seemed like pointless, exten ...more
Apr 22, 2008 Jerramy rated it it was amazing
I used to hate Toby Young. In fact, his London newspaper articles used to upset me so much that I actually wrote a letter to the editor to express how much I detested Mr Young and all of his ludicrous, sexist views. Then a friend of mine lent me his book and insisted I read it. Of course, I didn't want to, but one day I picked it up and then I couldn't put it down. And by the time I had finished, my views had made a 180-degree turn. Instead of hating Toby, I wanted to be his apprentice. This boo ...more
John Harney
Aug 04, 2009 John Harney rated it liked it
A decent, quick read that becomes less satisfying as you realise how awful a person the author actually is. His moralistic crusading against the journalistic compromises of the staff of Vanity Fair become a little much when the evidence of his own loathsome behaviour expands beyond the definition of a lovable rogue.

Young aspires to write as one who recognises his own weaknesses, but truly seems mostly unaware of how awful he can be. This calls into question the accuracy of his claims, complaint
Feb 10, 2008 Steve rated it really liked it
Toby Young is an Englishman, a journalist who is intent on making a success of himself in the US, namely New York City. He fails miserably. Not because of his character, but because of the gulf in the culture. Despite appearing to be a fool, Toby is well-educated and explains what and why things went wrong, which they do for him with alarming consistency. He cannot get it 'right', but then again, the picture he paints of social life in NYC is one of men who are 'not quite human' and women who ar ...more
Derek Baldwin
Entertaining, up to a point, but the "silly me" schtick and the constant repetition grate on the nerves after a while. Towards the end he starts inserting all these pretentious footnotes, citing texts like Civilization And Its Discontents, and the general impression is that he had the files from some old university essays and thought he'd bung them in along with everything else. All the self-deprecation and chest-baring can't disguise the fact that this is one smug little man with one big sense ...more
Leora Bersohn
Dec 02, 2013 Leora Bersohn rated it liked it
I whipped through this memoir about working for Vanity Fair in its late 90s heyday. It's gossipy and amusing, and I fit perfectly into its target demographic: Live in New York, subscribed to Vanity Fair in the 90s (no longer), married to British journalist, sympathetic to people in creative professions. Unfortunately, there's nothing to like about Young as a person. He frequently attributes his faux pas to cultural misunderstanding or his own iconoclasm when he is often simply boorish and unfunn ...more
Duncan Mclaren
Jul 29, 2011 Duncan Mclaren rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A curious mix of tittle-tattle, gossip and thoughtful historical cultural analysis. It's a fairly crude hybrid of novel and non-fiction, which feels rather like much of it was hastily stitched together from the author's journalistic work. At its best it's moving and almost compelling, albeit too often like a train wreck as you wonder what self-destructive error the hero will make next. The factual passages range from the dull - internal workings of fashion magazines - to the insightful - reflect ...more
Feb 01, 2009 Sarah rated it really liked it
If you're fascinated by the media culture in New York, you'd probably like this book. It was all about Toby's wild ride as a "writer" for Vanity Fair. I put it in quotes because he says he got paid $60,000 for about 3000 words, making him the highest paid writer (per word) in the history of Vanity Fair.
Toby is, well, original. I thought I've said and done some pretty heinous things at work, but Toby wins. I love the fact that he wasn't actually trying to get fired, and yet, he could write the h
Apr 15, 2010 Katherine rated it it was ok
Our trusty narrator is pretty sure that he is an annoying person, and I think he might be right. I appreciate his "inside scoop" on what it is like to work in the hallowed hallways of Vanity Fair. Some of his madcap inanities are a bit amusing. I liked this book mainly because it was no more taxing to read than a very long Us Magazine article, and that happened to be exactly what I needed at the time. I am amazed that someone even made a movie out of this! Good for a beach read or if stuck at an ...more
Michael Martin
Dec 28, 2014 Michael Martin rated it did not like it
I had great hopes for this behind-the-scenes look at a young writer employed at Vanity Fair Magazine. It's a bitter, dreadfully self-pity-laden book that thinks it is far wittier than it is. I finished it, but by the end could understand why the author met with no success working under Graydon Carter in New York City and returned to the UK. The only surprising thing is that the magazine kept him on as long as it did. One star.
Sep 23, 2008 Demetria rated it really liked it
Shelves: bio-memoir
Toby Young is basically the Benny Hill of journalism and this snapshot of his five-year run in New York is hilarious. The memoir covers the British journalist's attempt to "take Manhattan by storm" and is just brimming with over-the-top, slapstick, Three Stooges-type behavior on his part. Young seems to be one of those people who has a hard time picking up on social nuances and expectations. Kinda sucks for him, but it makes for very entertaining reading.
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Toby Daniel Moorsom Young (born 1963) is a British journalist and the author of How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, the tale of his failed five-year attempt to make it in the U.S. as a contributing editor at Vanity Fair magazine, as well as The Sound of No Hands Clapping, a follow-up about his failure to make it as a Hollywood screenwriter. His obnoxious wit has earned him almost as many enem ...more
More about Toby Young...

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“It was journalism at its best: irreverent, mischievous and beholden to no one.” 3 likes
“[T]he majority possesses an empire so absolute and so irresistible that one must in a way renounce one’s rights as a citizen and so to speak one’s quality as a man when one wants to deviate from the path it has traced.” 0 likes
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