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How Not To Be a Boy
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How Not To Be a Boy

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  4,468 Ratings  ·  429 Reviews
Rules for being a man:
Don't Cry; Love Sport; Play Rough; Drink Beer; Don't Talk About Feelings

But Robert Webb has been wondering for some time now: are those rules actually any use? To anyone?

Looking back over his life, from schoolboy crushes (on girls and boys) to discovering the power of making people laugh (in the Cambridge Footlights with David Mitchell), and from losi
Kindle Edition, 337 pages
Published August 29th 2017 by Canongate Books
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Sep 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
A funny-but-with-sad-bits memoir, themed around masculinity… A look at my life through the lens of gender.
(Webb’s summation of this book on the TV show The Last Leg.)

This is a celebrity memoir that is more about abstract ideas than celebrity - which makes it worthwhile even for those who are unfamiliar with him.

Webb is a mid-forties comedian (writer and performer) I’ve long enjoyed, and I was vaguely aware that his mother had died shortly before he was due to finish school. The funny bits ar
Dash fan
Oct 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
4☆ Compelling, Funny, Poignant, Emotional, Thought Provoking!

How Not To Be a Boy is Robert Webb's Autobiography.
Ok so I know many people find Autobiographies hard to read.
But Robert has this way of engaging the reader with his Witt, Humour and sarcasm which makes for a very interesting and thought provoking read.

It really gets you thinking.
It's a book that delves into stereotypes, Family relationships, sexuality, conforming to the 'norm'. It was funny yet compelling and emotional.

I was first in
Jul 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: owned, glbt, 2018
"Men in trouble are often in trouble precisely because they are trying to Get a Grip and Act Like a Man. We are at risk of suicide because the alternative is to ask for help, something we have been repeatedly told is unmanly."

I have been looking forward to reading this for quite a while - especially because J.K. Rowling herself said she genuinely cried and laughed while reading this book. Let me just state that I did neither of these two things. My overall emotion while reading it was impatience
Sean Kennedy
Sep 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an exceptionally honest and soul-baring autobiography which goes beyond the normal bildungsroman of the autobiography and explores how societal attitudes help shape and affect the people we become. Webb is pretty 'woke' as he discusses how patriarchy affects and limits the development of men and women, although in different ways. Through this he looks at his strained relationship with his father, his rather callous twenties, his struggle with the early death of his mother, his bisexualit ...more
Matt Richardson
Jul 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Robert Webb has chosen to bare his soul with this autobiographical debut. He doesn’t just want to tell people where he came from and what has happened to him in his first forty three years being Robert Webb. He wants to show you how his struggles with the norms of society that have plagued him with issues within his own life. These now seem to have been entirely avoidable with the enlightenment the benefit of hindsight has now given him.

Bloody hell you might initially think, but you would be wr
Nov 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars. Review to follow.
André Oliveira
Feb 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lee Osborne
Dec 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
I've long been a fan of Robert Webb's work, so I was keen to read this when it popped up on my radar. I love Peep Show and the sketch shows he's done with David Mitchell.

This is a memoir with an interesting slant to it - Webb looks at his life through the lens of masculinity, and how it has affected things. The book is an interesting and funny description of his life, although it's moving at times too - especially when he talks about losing his mum to cancer when he was a teenager. He then goes
Ruth Brookes
Aug 07, 2017 rated it liked it
A brutally honest memoir/exploration of society's damaging gender expectations. Not the most comfortable read, but told with humour (well of course!) & searing self criticism. Good to hear another voice in this ever more relevant discussion!
♥ Jx PinkLady Reviews ♥
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
I've got to say, when I first began reading this biography I thought I was not going to like it, after all, it's my husband who is a fan of his show, PEEP SHOW, and certainly the first quarter did not win me over. However as Robert Webb's life story developed I felt completely drawn in, fascinated and compelled to keep reading.

I think the winning factor was, I felt him develop as a person. I got used to the hopping around his life timeline, and actually didn't mind it doing that, it probably he
Graeme Strachan
Dec 20, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: biography
I embarked on this book with more than a little trepidation. I've been long aware of Webb's work from watching the Mitchell & Webb series, and from various other appearances, however have always found him in interview to come across as a snarky and self-important ass. This book goes some ways to explaining that particular side of his personality, as well as some of his more widely held convictions on life, and on the generalising of people.

It's by no means a terrible book. Webb's English deg
Oct 19, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, nonfiction
Ok, I think the 3 stars is mainly my fault. For some reason I was under the impression this book was going to be about passionate speeches on the stigmas surrounding masculinity and the importance of gender equality. Including different examples throughout his life with explanations and facts and stories from other men. I think what mislead me were the chapter titles and the back cover topic, "rules for being a man". The chapter titles and the context within that chapter had little to do with ea ...more
George Kingsley
Sep 08, 2017 rated it liked it
As someone who is generally quite sceptical about celebrity books, I did feel that 'How not to be a boy' offers something a bit different from the norm. Webb strikes me as quite a likeable and honest man, unafraid to speak candidly about his, often troubled, upbringing.

I enjoyed the chapters when talked about his own anecdotal experiences about feminism and the way that gender does and does not define our lives. My only problem with the book is that it doesn't seem to decide whether it wants to
Katie Lumsden
Nov 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
A really enjoyable memoir, with great discussions on gender. Both very funny and very sad and a thoroughly enjoyable read.
Feb 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Being a fan of Peep Show and watching it over the last few years, you become accustomed to the character of Jeremy being rather similar to Robert Webb. However it's fair to say I found How Not to be a Boy a roller coaster of emotions. Some hilarious passages speaking clearly of his times in university and growing up in a male dominated background did have me sniggering to myself, whilst my partner looked at me weirdly like 'What this time?' but how Webb speaks about his self doubt throughout the ...more
Sep 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
📚🍂 Autumn Reads 2017 🍂 📚 Amazing, wonderful, profound, moving, brilliant. Potential book of the year.
Charlotte Jones
Jan 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I went into this with an open mind, having watched a few of Webb's shows but not really knowing anything about him.

So far, this has been the only book I've read that discusses gender and feminism from the male perspective. Robert Webb talks not only about his own life as a whole but about what it's like to grow up as a boy surrounded by the pressure to be a 'real man' and to conform to the stereotypes that come with being male. As someone who has a 1 year old son, this was endlessly fascinating.
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
Disappointed. Here I was all set to go and see the author at the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival and now I might replace him with others.
To me this felt whiney, disgruntled and what mostly irritated me was that is it being touted as a way to be a different kind of man. I don't know that this is the kind of man we want new men to be.
So, read it as a memoir of a famous person, don't read it for enlightenment.
Oct 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The subject of gender has come a long way since the studies of Judith Butler, Jack Halberstam or Eisler & Skidmore - and as the frequent rage of the Daily Mail over school uniforms or toilets attests, it now stands as one of the most prominent sites of popular discussion and disagreement.

To the layperson, the language of twenty-first century intersectional feminism and gender discourse can be a bit inscrutable (see TERFs and SWERFs and kyriarchy and microaggressions). This is dangerous at a
Jul 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely brilliant read. As someone who even now, regularly, gets asked by colleagues and peers “how are you not gay?” (I’m nearly 26 and have been a full time teacher for 3 years), this was a perfectly pitched exploration of the inanities that make up the social construct of gender.

Of course Robert Webb speaks about the terrible fact that men are more likely to take their own lives, and that this is likely due to the fact that they are encouraged not to talk about feelings or act in a way th
Nov 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Robert Webb is one half of comedy duo Mitchell and Webb. I've followed both of them ever since Peep Show and That Mitchell and Webb Look had me in hysterics. Something I didn't know is that Robert Webb was born in Lincolnshire and the book follows his upbringing in Lincolnshire with a mother he adored and a father he feared, to his days at the Footlights Comedy Club at Cambridge University where he met his comedy partner David Mitchell as well as other soon to be famous names on the comedy scene ...more
May 23, 2018 rated it did not like it
DNF @ 40% because however much I might have to read this for class, I have standards and the discussions already passed and I just don't care anymore. Literally, that was my only mood while reading this book: i do not care.

Call me a radical femi-nazi or an emotionally privileged human, but I honestly do not care about oh the struggles of men being emotional, and not told by Webb. I hated the writing style, it's so obvious he's a comedian, and it didn't really help his "cause". I understand wher
Prudence and the Crow
Sep 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: patc-2017

Webb is someone of whom I've been a fan for, frankly, a ridiculously long period of time, and I didn't realise quite how long it had been until I was listening to this and things were happening fifteen years ago that I could've sworn were very recent. As it happens, I've wound up listening to a lot of autobiography of late (because this was actually the audiobook), and I think this had the most pronounced issue of somebody coming to publicise a significant volume of their life story, and finding
Eve Dangerfield
May 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book made me both laugh and cry so much. It reminded me a little of The Decent of Man by Grayson Perry and I think you could make a lot of interesting comparisons between the two books; both written by arty men from working class backgrounds with a non-conventional sexuality (Perry is a self-identified transvestite and Webb is openly bisexual). Their wry, self-deprecating and lovely insights about masculinity and how it affects boys (and girls), trapping them in painful behaviors and making ...more
Simon Howard
Sep 14, 2017 rated it liked it
This is an autobiography with a particular focus on gender roles. Robert Webb comes across as remarkably candid, and parts of this book are really quite moving. I was a little struck by the extent to which some of the social commentary seemed to be extrapolating generalisations from a single experience - but that might be a bit unfairly critical. I don't think it helps that I read this fairly shortly after Grayson Perry's The Descent of Man which seemed to cover similar ground in a similar way, ...more
Ting Tong
Jul 18, 2018 rated it did not like it
I was so disappointed by this book; unfortunately the media had hyped it up to be some revolutionary discussion of gender norms and stereotypes and so I was very much left bereft. Granted the book does bristle against the idea that the premise of being a ‘boy’ and being a ‘girl’ is a result of socialisation and not biology but it doesn’t discuss it in any detail or a mature way. It was a drawling recounting of how much of an absolute tosser Webb was throughout most of his life. The book was very ...more
Jan 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Listened via audible. Flippin excellent!
Dec 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: humor, non-fiction
Complicated relationships with parents and discomfort with gender norms? Say no more! I’m gonna read it. What’s that? It’s also charming and funny and has one or two anecdotes about famous people I actually care about? I’m obviously gonna love it. I loved this book from start to finish and have a new appreciation for Robert Webb. I love reading memoirs by people who don’t paint their past selves as the hero of the story. Robert Webb is just “some bloke” who happens to have had a relatable journe ...more
Penny-merelle Gray
Apr 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Do it as an audiobook! It’s very witty and poignant.
Sep 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We took a road trip in late August/early Sept and decided to listen to a few audiobooks (knowing full well we'd be too knackered at the end of the day to do any reading). My husband had this on the list and I thought, great! Robert Webb is hilarious, this will be such a laugh.

It is not a laugh. Well, it is, you'll laugh along with him, but you'll also feel his pain and awkwardness. Someone else has said it I'm sure, but he bears his soul for this book. He describes his broken childhood and dysfu
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“The great thing about refusing to feel feelings is that, once you’ve denied them, you don’t have to take responsibility for them. Your feelings will be someone else’s problem – your mother’s problem, your girlfriend’s problem, your wife’s problem. If it has to come out at all, let it come out as anger. You’re allowed to be angry. It’s boyish and man-like to be angry.” 5 likes
“Yes of course there's always someone worse off than you. But imagine you're in a doctor's surgery with a broken arm. The person next to you has two broken arms, the person next to him has two broken arms and a broken leg. This is all very well, but the point is that you have a broken arm and it hurts.” 4 likes
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