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Be Awesome: Modern Life for Modern Ladies

3.40  ·  Rating details ·  801 ratings  ·  90 reviews
Hadley Freeman, Guardian features writer and author of the popular ‘Ask Hadley…’ column, reminds the modern lady to ‘Be Awesome’.

All women need to listen to Hadley. She might just have the answers to life’s trickiest questions, such as: why does the funny girl in the film never get the guy? Can you read a women’s magazine without damaging your brain? And should you ever
Paperback, 286 pages
Published January 30th 2014 by Fourth Estate (first published April 25th 2013)
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Emma Blackery
A book which was clearly written in the hopes of inspiring women through anger, but instead, leaves the reader angry through Freeman's self-absorbed woes and examples of her exaggerated reactions to being victimised by men, women, the film industry, men, shop assistants, her pregnant friends, men, her next-door neighbour's cat, men, and most of all, The Daily Mail.

One wouldn't at all be disappointed to read such self-indulgent blathering if the book was not described as "to show you just how
Aug 19, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A little disappointing. Made me laugh in some places (I really liked the Dos and Donts for talking to a single friend) but I disagreed with some of her sentiments (like if you're vegetarian and you go to a dinner party with no veggie option you should just be totally cool with not eating???). Also in general I'd have liked it to be more positive and proactive - if you do this you'll be happier living as a woman in the patriarchy - rather than sort of pointing out shitty things and telling us why ...more
Jess Butterworth
May 11, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Gave up. Don't need anyone else to tell me how to be awesome.
Into the new (and not exactly wonderful) genre of “essays that feel like blog posts” comes Be Awesome, Guardian columnist Hadley Freeman’s free-wheeling compilation of personal musings about life, sex, work and feminism. The resulting book is frequently funny, occasionally insightful, and only sometimes does it betray the need for a better structure and more editorial input.

I loved Freeman’s unbridled take-down of faux-feminism and ‘self-deprecating tourette’s’. Her analysis of society’s
Elise Edmonds
Sep 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
As an ex-avid-Daily-Mail-reader I found this book refreshing and honest on the topic of feminism. The message that feminism means having the opportunity to live your life in the way you want without judgment or criticism is commendable and empowering.

Many of the topics dealt with were amusing, although I identified with some more than others. In places it was a little fast paced and ranty, but definitely worth reading.
Good lord this book was preachy. It had such a promising title but in no way did it make me feel awesome, just irritated and annoyed. I feel like it was aimed at women who don't know much about feminism, not women who already know they're feminists. I want to smack Hadley Freeman quite honestly. We all hate the Daily Mail love, you don't have to mention it a thousand times. We get it.
Nikki Plummer
Dec 27, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unfinished
Decided to give up on this because I'm already plenty awesome and Hadley Freeman's writing is fucking annoying. Personally, telling other women what to do with their bodies and snarkily bitching about teenage girls she considers to have been "slutty" is not my idea of feminism.
Prachi Pati
My Rating: 3 Stars
Genre: Feminism, Humour

I've finished this book and I still cant make up my mind whether I would like to recommend this book to my friends or not, hence the 3 stars.

What I liked about the book was that I learnt about a lot of new things- the issues women face in America and UK, about new books and movies and inspiring women that I should look up or follow, or things I should avoid, if I'm a feminist. But what I didn't like about the book was the overall tone of the book. I
Lucy Walters
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
The first few chapters of this book come across as a little aggressive and prescriptive. Considering that Freeman later describes the abhorrent nature of generalisations, she isn't afraid of throwing a few out there in the early pages of this book.

However, a few chapters in the tone of the book becomes friendlier and a little less heavy handed, and results in an overall enjoyable read.
Girl with her Head in a Book
Most people who know me are aware that I adore the Guardian. Despite my notoriously skinflintish ways (as a student I collected all my stationery as free gifts from society fairs and whenever I had a cold, I stockpiled napkins from the cafeteria rather than springing for a box of tissues), I willingly pay out to have access to the Guardian on my phone. Although I do wish it would stop sending me push notifications just because some film or other has been nominated for an award. Just the serious ...more
Jun 13, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fic, feminism
Originally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.

When I reached out on Twitter last year, asking for recommendations of feminist non-fiction, Be Awesome 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
Jun 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those rare books I was both racing to finish (because it's so good) and trying to savour (ditto). I also totally interrupted the most serious five minutes of an episode of The Returned (also awesome, by the bye) that my housemate was watching by cackling like a loon at Hadley's particularly excellent parody of all the dating advice you'll ever receive as a woman, ever. OH LOOK, YOU'RE TURNING INTO A CRONE. MARRY NOW, MARRY NOW, MARRY NOW.

Be Awesome is a mixture of chapters on
Ali George
Aug 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is more a 3.5 star book I think - there are some very funny parts, some less so. I really like Hadley's columns and this is essentially a collection of those; some funny, some insightful, and one or two that left me cold. I think after reading funny feminist books along the lines of 'How to Be A Woman' and 'Let's Pretend This Never Happened' I was perhaps expecting a similar narrative hook, but whilst Hadley gives some insight into her life growing up, this book is not presented in the ...more
Jun 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Any book that has a reference to 'The Princess Bride' on the first page is going to win my heart immediately. In ‘Be Awesome’, Freeman takes on various societal expectations about women in her usual smart and funny style. I particularly enjoyed ‘What to Expect when your Friends are Expecting’ as well as the very cleverly-written ‘A Day in your Life in Daily Mail Headlines’ and ‘How to Read Women’s Magazines Without Wanting to Grow a Penis’. If you like Hadley Freeman’s Guardian columns, you’ll ...more
Sophie Collier
Inconsistent, not funny, or life affirming
Jul 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, feminism
I love Hadley Freeman's writing, she has an effortless conversational quality, reading this feels like speaking to your smart, awesome (obvs) friend, who will put the world to rights for you. Lots of thought-provoking comment and generally excellent advice for women, I wish I had read this book in 2012/2013...! Ah well, read now, loved now.
Anna Katharine
I only know Hadley Freeman from a few of her articles (not even her column) at the Guardian, so I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. It was mostly hilarious, clear-eyed feminism, with a few slower chapters that didn't quite hit the mark. If you liked Caitlin Moran's How to be a Woman, you'll enjoy this.
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
The first few chapters felt manic, and rushed, and I did not feel I processed anything. However, by the end of the book I was thoroughly enjoying it, there are chapters I will need to visit again multiple times as the information and advice were so good, and so many good book (and film) recommendations!
Aug 13, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: feminism, non-fiction
I enjoyed this book, but it didn't stand out to me as anything particularly special. It seemed like a compilation of individual blog posts, or something similar, as opposed to one linear book. A good read, but nothing particularly special.
✿ Deni
Dec 15, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
This book was just ok. It had interesting parts and it had rubbish parts. I read it in one sitting, as the chapters are short and there are lots of lists, but I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I will.
Seymour Glass
Mar 05, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 stars, rounded down because I think parts of this I liked because they came at an appropriate time for me in my life and I needed to read something of this ilk.
Jun 07, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nobody, not even a homeless guy who wanted to use it as fire wood.
"Sometimes a snappy title indicates an author’s talent. Often, however, it obscures a mediocre effort by piquing interest with a promise that will never be delivered." - M. Well that was certainly true of this book. This book has less to do with genuine women's issues and more to do with whining about trivial 1st world tripe. Contradicting herself Hadley tells us women we have a right to our own choices but then fudges it by saying those choices are not valid when they aren't "the right choice" ...more
Sep 03, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
First things first, if you have given this book a low rating because it deals with 'first world problems' then you are an A-hole.
Second things second, I wanted so badly to like this more than I did... writing this review I'm wiping back a few tears of disappointment.
Third things third, the cover. What the hellingtons? Was everyone on holiday the week this was dealt with or was it done by a clueless intern? Appalling, I can't even begin. And the blurb is just, well, PAP, although perhaps given
Lucy Wright
May 04, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: smart-thinking
'Be Awesome: Modern Life for Modern Ladies' is a funny one. On One hand, Hadley seems confidant and experienced enough to justify a book that could technically slot into the self-help genre. On the other hand, there is such a heavy subjectivity and lack of depth to the author’s advice that I would be wary to recommend it.

That isn't to say that there is little value to Hadley's stance on feminism. Her final ten-point guide to being a modern day feminist isn't deranged. What it is, however,
May 10, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This collection of essays did not hit a stride for me until about the half-way point with "You're never too old for Topshop" although much of the advice in essays placed earlier in the collection would have been helpful to me were I still finding my way in my 20's. My favorite quotes:

You're Never Too Old for Top Shop
Nothing-not meth, not sunbeds, not even the passage of time- is more aging that you saying you're too old for something. This is not because other people will then look at you anew
Sep 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought Be Awesome mainly because I was attracted by the really pretty cover and snorted out loud at one of the early sentences in the book, which is generally a pretty good sign. I also enjoy Hadley Freeman's articles for The Guardian. I didn't really know what to expect going in to this, and actually enjoyed it quite a bit, whistling through it in two days.

Freeman posits a lot of advice throughout the book, from how to talk to your single friend who is sad about being single without making
Oct 31, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Trying to be How to Be a Woman but sadly not nearly as good/well written. There are some pretty ok insights hidden in the book but also quite a lot of waffle. The organisation is chaotic and a bit random; there doesn't seem to be a cohesive flow to the sections... but I would recommend picking it up from the library for 3 chapters:
- "A day in your life in Daily Mail headlines" (this is a very funny chapter/concept, until she does it at least twice more with other well-known journalistic formats,
Jan 15, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
First DNF of the year.

I wanted to love this so much but Freeman's writing often went off into nonsensical rambles and there was no actual constructive & empowering advice on how to 'be awesome'.

I thought this would be an inspiring read to start the year but it just came off as a series of messy blog posts.

It was also clear that if Freeman really was setting out to empower women with her words, she only had one type of woman in mind:

In a chapter entitled 'ten awesome books', she lists books
Valerie Christie
I was actually quite disappointed by this book. I saw it recommended on a reading list in Glamour a while back and was looking forward to reading it at some point. I was expecting it to be something along the lines of 'How to be a woman' but it fell short of my expectations. There were a few parts of the book that really struck a chord with me, for example the chapter on how to talk to your depressed single friend, but I felt in other parts of the book her tone was a little too judgemental for ...more
Aug 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book I wished I had as an adolescent. The tone is hilarious and sarcastic but light enough for those looking to get started on the road to feminism. It made me feel better about myself, more "normal" in how I've thought and felt over the years. It made me feel like it was going to be ok, that I was enough and the more I read the more confident I felt. As I said, I wished I'd had this years ago when I needed it. Some of the chapters actually made me feel queasy with how much they reflected my ...more
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Hadley Freeman (born 1978) is a columnist and writer for The Guardian, who also contributes to the UK version of Vogue. She was born in New York to Jewish parents, and attended Oxford University. Her first book, The Meaning of Sunglasses, was published in 2008.
“Pubic hair is proof of sexual maturity and if your partner finds that a turn-off, you should probably reconsider that partner.” 8 likes
“Handy Hint! When your friend talks about having 'a sweep', do not then visualise Dick van Dyke in his cheeky chappy chimney sweeper outfit heading up into her uterus to do a rendition of 'Step in Time'. Laughter is the inappropriate response to your friend's news.” 2 likes
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