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How Not To Be a Boy

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  11,628 ratings  ·  905 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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Average rating 4.21  · 
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 ·  11,628 ratings  ·  905 reviews

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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 a
4 stars! I loved how funny this memoir was. I thought I didn’t know squat about Robert Webb but didn’t realise he was the one from Peep Show and best mates with David Mitchell. He’s so funny, and I think even if you don’t know who this guy is do listen to it anyway. Hilarious, sad and entertaining - Robert Webb is a great comedian.
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
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
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 degree
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.
Dec 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Eilonwy by: Cecily
I'd never heard of Robert Webb before I saw Cecily’s review of this book. She made me curious enough that I immediately put a hold on this, despite having a teetering TBR pile.

This is a memoir, framed through the lens of gender, as Webb grows up in a very masculine family without ever feeling that he's succeeding at masculinity in any way. This discomfort and outsider status gives him the perspective to see how "masculinity" is as much a set of cultural demands on boys and men as it is anything
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
Jan 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've had a copy of How Not To Be a Boy by Robert Webb since Xmas 2017. It's wonderful. I wish I'd read it sooner. It's also much better than I was expecting. Far more than just a regular celebrity memoir.

Robert Webb relates a potted history of his life, which is already interesting and eventful, and then elevates this with an insightful discussion on masculinity and traditional gender stereotypes. If that sounds a bit worthy and po-faced then let me reassure you that nothing could be further fr
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! ...more
Jx PinkLady Reviews ♡ bookwormthoughts
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
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
I loved this so much more than I expected to, Robert Webb looks at masculinity and what it really means both to be a boy and a man... and also how not to be both. Childhood, grief, sexuality, love, lust, fame, parenthood and much more are discussed in this memoir that is also really a look at just where on earth all these preconceived ideas and expectations around masculinity lie.
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.
Apr 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book came to me recommended by a feminist activist, and it was good but not in the format I had in mind. There were some very funny insightful commentary, but I believe the first person narrative is what makes it relatable especially to the group of men who are ready to reject anything about gender equality that comes out of a “woman”‘s mouth.
We have to remember who the real enemy is: the patriarchy
Elaine Howlin

I loved this! I have never wanted to reread a memoir but I will definitely be rereading this.

I listened to the audiobook narrated by Robert Webb himself (best way to experience a memoir). His narration is wonderful and the audiobook features a very entertaining and interesting interview at the end about some topics raised in the book.

It leaves you with so much to think about concerning gender and stereotyping while still being very entertaining.

“The great thing about refusing to feel feelings is
Mindfully Evie
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
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.
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
Oct 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Being a big fan of Peep Show and the Mitchell and Webb sketches, I was curious to get a glimpse of the author’s writing abilities and techniques. I didn’t expect to get a welcome, heartfelt, blunt but extremely truthful view of gendered society in the mix, too. Webb is a great storyteller who navigates the bittersweet, at times hilarious and often devastating childhood and teenage years as-it-is; he refers to the reader in a Jane Austen nod whilst consistently taking the piss out of himself; and ...more
Sandy Plants
Jun 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
I wish I could have read this book 7 years ago when I was still stuck in the traps of thinking I’d never be able to talk about my feelings because I was a “man”.

I related SO much to robert’s account of growing up: feeling Iike he didn’t fit in as a boy, experiencing trauma and then going inward because he didn’t have a safe space to process his emotions and becoming an insufferable dickhead who drank too much and wasn’t emotionally available as a result.

I adore his comedy and it was exciting t
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
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.
Lucy Langford
Mar 21, 2018 rated it liked it
A brilliant book with very comical moments peppered into it (what do you expect from Robert Webb!?).
This was a refreshing take on understanding Britain's societal structure of "masculinity" and one mans experiences of navigating it.

This book features experiences from Robert Webb's childhood and adulthood. It discusses feelings, emotions and reactions to events in life- not just anger that is stereotypical to the perception of males. This book tackles the perception of masculinity and shows the v
Apr 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a remarkably powerful book which gave me cause to reflect upon the impact of the parenting which we give to our children and particularly the father/son relationship. The opening prologue is brutally honest as the author is confronted by his wife about his failure as a parent and husband and, as a father and husband myself, I found this very sad and it led to a level of reflection on my own shortcomings. No one trains you to these roles which are more important than any job or career an ...more
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.
Melanie Lewis
Feb 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audible-books
When a book has well over 5,000 reviews there's a certain part of me that thinks I don't need to bother to add mine. But this was so good I feel the need to spread the joy! I cannot imagine How Not To Be A Boy is as good a read as it is a listen. Robert Webb describes his background, the intimate details of his teenage life and his family with the kind of exquisite comic touch we have become accustomed to over the years. There are moments of poignancy, but before you know it Mr Webb has swept yo ...more
Apr 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
'How Not to be a Boy' - is Robert Webb's combined autobiography and analysis of toxic masculinity.

Webb has produced a well researched and refreshingly honest book, which confronts difficult issues and manages to be very funny, whilst by turns troubling and thought provoking.
Paul Clarkson
Jan 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm reading a few laugh with books at the moment, this being one, that have a serious undertone. The author’s a British comic actor, and the jacket states 'Robert Webb tried to follow the rules for being a man: don't cry, drink beer, play rough and don't talk about feelings. Looking back over his life he asks whether these rules are actually any use. To anyone'.

This doesn’t do justice to the extent of the 'rules' he identifies that men are required to play by or fail in being a man, and by defa
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