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How to Be a Brit

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  698 ratings  ·  85 reviews
George Mikes has written many successful books on a variety of interesting subjects, but one so successful as those on the subject most central to his own experience: his adopted country. The first of these came out in 1946: the ever famous "How to be an Alien." Later he enlarges the picture with "How to be inimitable" and "How to be Decadent." All three books were illustr ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published April 24th 1986 by Penguin (first published 1984)
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Average rating 3.84  · 
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 ·  698 ratings  ·  85 reviews


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Petra-X
"You can keep a dog; but it is the cat who keeps people becasue cats find humans useful domestic animals." Upped from 2 star to 3 star for that. I've finished the book, but with effort. The author is one of those people who laugh at their own jokes. He's so pleased with himself, that this edition has three different prefaces all about the author and how successful his books are, which to say all that is not very British at all. I managed one and a half. I didn't attempt the third one. The ending ...more
U
Mar 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
A classic of the genre: funny and wit with a very clever humour. An interesting and entertaining book on cultural diversity and British uniqueness.
However, having being published decades ago it's a bit outdated and sometimes, as an expat in London, it makes me difficult to relate to it.

Highly recommended to be read along with Angela Kiss's "How to be an alien in England", which provides an equally interesting and sharply hilarious, yet updated look at the English character.
Rebecca
Aug 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
(3.5) I’ve been reading this for weeks off and on and only just realized that the cover deliberately says “Minibus” instead of “Omnibus.” Anyway. The three volumes vary a bit in quality (see my individual reviews) – How to Be an Alien = 4 stars; How to Be Inimitable = 3 stars; How to Be Decadent = 3.5 stars – so overall it’s a 3.5. I enjoy books like this that give a wry and loving look at one’s adopted country. I bought this and various other books with the Amazon voucher I got as a ...more
Mark
Jul 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
"An Englishman, even if he is alone, forms an orderly queue of one." This quote says all there is to say about this book.

I say... this book is quite enjoyable.
Tosh
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-bought
I'm attracted to the Penguin classic design book and when I saw "How To Be a Brit" at the Last Bookstore in Downtown Los Angeles, it brought back memories of me going to used bookstores in London and finding old Penguin paperbacks from the 1940s. That it has illustrations going through the entire book is an additional plus. I didn't buy it. Two weeks later I saw it at a Tokyo bookstore that has an English language section, and they had a stack of this title. For sure, the perfect book for the fo ...more
Mark
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: travel, humor
I read the book more years ago than I like to admit, in my undergrad days while living in Perugia and attending the Italian University for Foreign Students. It was actually a gift from one of my professors, a British don of decidedly 'old school' sensibilities. When he handed me Mikes' little book Dr. Tompkins-Guinn informed me that, although I was a frighteningly 'ignorant Yank' he'd decided I wasn't stupid! Mikes' guide to the quirks of British culture turned out to be the first step in a sust ...more
Love Fool
Feb 17, 2016 rated it it was ok
I got this as a funny gift from my British boyfriend because I think I'm British by default (because I'm dating one). It was not nearly funny as I hoped it would be.
Lamilla
Nov 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I registered a book at BookCrossing.com!
http://www.BookCrossing.com/journal/14500760
...more
Claire
Apr 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A combination of three books by the same author, an expatriate to the UK. One written in the 40s, one in the 60s, one in the 70s. But the humor has aged well. Funny for anyone who's an anglophile or anyone who likes to make fun of people who are anglophiles.
Anna
Mar 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: funny
3xW = Witty, Wise, Worth reading!
Even though I dare to say that it's easier to comprehend for all foreigners than for Englishmen with sense of humore ;)
Hamid
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is a social satire and was a joy to read. The way Mikes describes the Brits is really humorous. I had no idea that British people are fond of queuing and do it every chance they get. They talk about the weather all the time. That is their favorite topic. And so much more. Here's some excerpts from the book:

I think England is the only country in the world where you have to leave your lights on even if you park in a brilliantly lit-up street. The advantage being that your battery gets e
...more
Jorge Rosas
This recompilation feels odd because of the time gap between the content but still it was quite hilarious, having visited England with someone who lived there a little while greatly improved my appreciation of the humor and the little things that you can’t help to notice when you’re there.
Carol
May 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This is fun, witty, and if I must confess, utterly hilarious. The best part is the original 'How to be an alien', as the other works were written many years later and don't quite read the same. Having lived in London myself for a bit over a year, there were parts I found extremely hilarious. I definitely wouldn't consider myself an expat or anything, was just a student back then, but you start noticing certain things, and you start observing people, and taking in the city. All the bits about how ...more
Helawae Friew
Sep 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
To say I enjoyed this book is an understatement. Such unbridled wit and style. I think this is one of the books most foreigners would easily relate to. The love the author has for England shines through the pages and that is a beautiful thing to see. Definitely worth a read.
Eustacia Tan
Feb 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think I've found the other Guy Browning. Or perhaps since he came first (I think), Guy Browning is the other George Mikes? At any rate, these two authors make me laugh.

How to be a Brit was an impulse purchase from a bookstore (yes, I paid full price and my wallet scolded me for it) and consists of three works: How to be an Alien, How to be Inimitable and How to be Decadent. Unfortunately, the 'Alien' in the first book isn't about little green man, but the more traditional foreigner (by the way
...more
Brian Nwokedi
Funny light read about some of the stereotypes of English culture from a foreigner's point of view. The resident alien in this story arrives to England by way of Budapest. During his stay, he picks up on the striking differences in mannerisms and plesantries between his new country and his home country.

There are constant reminders throughout this book that as a foreigner even if you imitate and naturalize to English customs, you will never truly be English. At best you can be considered "British
...more
Widad Oteh
Dec 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As an Irishwoman with a deep, inexplicable fondness for and am currently living in Great Britain, this book was brilliant. I not only feel like I know the British even better now, I also feel like I've been right about them all along. Many of the chapters seemed to touch my very soul, such as 'Soul and Understatement', 'On the Art of Conversation', and 'On Cat-Worship'. These chapters had me rolling around with laughter because I felt them. 'It's so true!' I shouted while on the toilet/cooking d ...more
Beáta
Apr 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
It is a book by George Mikes, alias Mikes György, a Hungarian author who lived in England. I really liked it. I love his humour. Some situations were familiar to me though I have never been to England. And some observations are still true, there are things that never change...

Lassabban haladtam ezzel a könyvvel, mert angolul olvastam, de nagyon élveztem. Kicsit tartottam tőle, hogy fogom-e érteni a humorát, de szerencsére értettem és jókat vidultam olvasás közben. Egyes jelenetek nagyon ismerősn
...more
Laura
Aug 31, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: humor
An often amusing, quick read - three classics compiled into one volume. Mostly found this interesting because it reflects changes in Britain from 1946 (when How to be an Alien was published) until 1977 (when How to be Decadent was released). Some observations are strikingly still relevant while other aspects of the writing are quite dated.
Carly
Oct 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, travel
It is an amusing book that doesn't take itself and Britain particularly seriously. At times it is outdated and in a couple instances even offensive but overall it is a lovely read. whether you are British or not.
Latanya (Crafty Scribbles)
An anglophile's dream to perfect their posturing in the U.K. Not to be taken seriously, but one can't help but laugh and wonder what's true and what's not. A good satirical read to pass the time.
ShanDizzy
Mar 15, 2020 is currently reading it
Just within the first 24 pages, this is a very humorous book! It was written in 1945 and it's about a 'foreigner' from Budapest who moves to England.

It was like this. Some years ago I spent a lot of time with a young lady who is very proud and conscious of being English. Once she asked me to my great surprise whether I would marry her. "No," I replied. "I will not. My mother would never agree to my marrying a foreigner." She looked at me a little surprised and irritated, and retorted "I, a fore
...more
Pedro
Jun 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shop-scans, british
This book is hilarious and obviously a joke to be taken as such, by no means to be taken seriously. Mainly anecdotal differences about England and the continent and the rest of the world. Favourite passages:

An Englishman, even if he is alone, forms an orderly queue of one -

If the death penalty is ever to be restored in Britain, it will not be for murder but for queue jumping, the most heinous of all crimes. -

The verb "to naturalise" clearly proves what the British think of you. Before you are a
...more
bookinglibrarian
Dec 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
This serendipitously-purchased volume combines 3 of the following short, humorous books by George Mikes, a Hungarian born British citizen:

How to be an alien (1946)
How to be inimitable (1964)
How to be decadent (1977)

All three consist of entertaining and insightful observations on British character and society.
Here are a few:

“An Englishman, even if he is alone, forms an orderly queue of one.”

“Q. Why don't the British panic?
A. They do, but very quietly. It is impossible for the naked eye to tell
...more
Erin
Mar 10, 2019 rated it liked it
I understood the humour / irony he was going for but I just didn't find it very enjoyable. There were pockets that earned my appreciation or inner smirk (eg the bit on Belsize Park, Belsize Mews, Belsize Park Mews, Belsize Road, etc, that having been the first neighborhood in which I went flat-finding), but on the whole, I found I was muddling through*.

Generally, I enjoyed How to be an Alien more than the subsequent portions. Less of an overtly negative grumpiness. (Again, I understand that's w
...more
Kumar
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have never laughed out loud as much with P G Wodehouse and Tom Sharpe as I have with George Mikes's "How to be a Brit". It is so unputdownable that I devoured it all almost at one sitting. The author's use of humor, irony, exaggeration, and ridicule to expose and criticise the British's manners, habits, idiosyncrasies, belief and vices makes him a humorist par excellence!

The book was entertaining and risible right from the beginning!

The chapters "The Language", "Civil Servant", "Journalism", "
...more
David Ramiro
Mar 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Truly hilarious. I could have never imagined feeling so identified by a book written by a Hungarian more than 50 years ago. It is amazing how some aspects of the British society are still present: the way Brits see themselves, the way they see the exterior (assuming it exists), the way they stick to their rules over centuries, the social class segregation... Definitely a book for improving the adaptation in the Empire and a book to confirm all the conclusions already extracted about this wonderf ...more
Fiona
This book is made up of three books:
* How to be an alien (1946).
* How to be inimitable (1960).
* How to be decadent (1977).

I found how to be an alien very funny and easy to read, and in many ways still accurate to British life despite being written 70 years. I would give it a strong 4 stars. However, I found the next two books didn't really add much but were still funny so overall they were 2 or 3 stars.
Daria
Mar 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: britain
This book was recommended and given to me by a friend who loves it dearly. I found the first, most famous and the earliest part of it - "How to be an alien" - the most amusing. Later parts are added by George Mikes when he is far too britonised for his own good, and they read more like an old British person moaning and nagging about politics, rather than a witty observation of a bizarre and foreign culture.
Bartley Sharkey
Mar 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
Started out as a quirky, fun read but quickly deteriorated into a padding exercise to presumably reach a word count that justified publication. The fact that the middle and end of the book continuously refer back to the start of the book, often referring to the fact they were written thirty years apart, gets really quite tiresome and the anecdotes and observations become much too forced. Conclusion, unfortunately, is that here's a case of quantity over quality.
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George Mikes (pronounced Mik-esh) was a Hungarian-born British author best known for his humorous commentaries on various countries.

Mikes graduated in Budapest in 1933 and started work as a journalist on Reggel ("Morning"), a Budapest newspaper. For a short while he wrote a column called Intim Pista for Színházi Élet ("Theatre Life").

In 1938 Mikes became the London correspondent for Reggel and 8 Ó
...more

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