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How to Build a Girl #2

How to be Famous

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A hilarious, heartfelt sequel to How to Build a Girl, the breakout novel from feminist sensation Caitlin Moran who the New York Times called, "rowdy and fearless . . . sloppy, big-hearted and alive in all the right ways."

You can’t have your best friend be famous if you’re not famous. It doesn’t work. You’re emotional pen-friends. You can send each other letters—but you’re not doing anything together. You live in different countries.

Johanna Morrigan (AKA Dolly Wilde) has it all: at eighteen, she lives in her own flat in London and writes for the coolest music magazine in Britain. But Johanna is miserable. Her best friend and man of her dreams John Kite has just made it big in 1994’s hot new BritPop scene. Suddenly John exists on another plane of reality: that of the Famouses.

Never one to sit on the sidelines, Johanna hatches a plan: she will Saint Paul his Corinthians, she will Jimmy his Pinocchio—she will write a monthly column, by way of a manual to the famous, analyzing fame, its power, its dangers, and its amusing aspects. In stories, girls never win the girl—they are won. Well, Johanna will re-write the stories, and win John, through her writing.

But as Johanna’s own star rises, an unpleasant one-night stand she had with a stand-up comedian, Jerry Sharp, comes back to haunt in her in a series of unfortunate consequences. How can a girl deal with public sexual shaming? Especially when her new friend, the up-and-coming feminist rock icon Suzanne Banks, is Jimmy Cricketing her?

For anyone who has been a girl or known one, who has admired fame or judged it, and above all anyone who loves to laugh till their sides ache, How to Be Famous is a big-hearted, hilarious tale of fame and fortune-and all they entail.


First published June 28, 2018

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About the author

Caitlin Moran

27 books3,721 followers
Caitlin Moran had literally no friends in 1990, and so had plenty of time to write her first novel, The Chronicles of Narmo, at the age of fifteen. At sixteen she joined music weekly, Melody Maker, and at eighteen briefly presented the pop show 'Naked City' on Channel 4. Following this precocious start she then put in eighteen solid years as a columnist on The Times – both as a TV critic and also in the most-read part of the paper, the satirical celebrity column 'Celebrity Watch' – winning the British Press Awards' Columnist of The Year award in 2010 and Critic and Interviewer of the Year in 2011. The eldest of eight children, home-educated in a council house in Wolverhampton, Caitlin read lots of books about feminism – mainly in an attempt to be able to prove to her brother, Eddie, that she was scientifically better than him. Caitlin isn't really her name. She was christened 'Catherine'. But she saw 'Caitlin' in a Jilly Cooper novel when she was 13 and thought it looked exciting. That's why she pronounces it incorrectly: 'Catlin'. It causes trouble for everyone.

(from http://www.caitlinmoran.co.uk/index.p...)

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 826 reviews
Profile Image for Kara Babcock.
1,922 reviews1,258 followers
July 12, 2018
This is not a drill.

I repeat: NOT A DRILL.

Yes, Caitlin Moran has written a sequel to the sublime How to Build a Girl . I never expected this, never asked for this … and I definitely don’t deserve it, but young women do. This sequel is arguably better, brighter, more brilliant than the first book. I devoured it in a day, and I already want to go back and re-read it, underline it, find quotations, make my friends read it to hear their opinions. This is a book I want to share and evangelize and enjoy again and again, but it is uncompromising and unflinching in its feminism … yet it also contains so much joy.

Spoilers for the first book! Content warnings for this book: lots and lots of drug use, explicit sex (if you are sex-repulsed you are not going to like this), sexual harassment/misconduct, discussions of eating disorders/purging/fatphobia.

How to Be Famous picks up where the first book leaves off: 19-year-old Johanna Morrigan, writing under the pen name Dolly Wilde, reviews music shows and lives in London. She is, in her own words, a raunchy “Lady Sex Adventurer”—but really, of course, she is still young and learning her way through the sometimes terrifying and disappointingly misogynistic world of the London music scene. Johanna refuses to sleep with a comedian, then gives him a second chance—but when she snubs him yet again, he takes revenge. Soon Johanna finds herself in a situation too many prominent women face: being publicly shamed for her sexual behaviour (which is really no one else’s business).

Once again, I’m struck by how much I like Johanna as a character. She is a raw and honest narrator, telling the story with some distance from her younger self but still exposing us to her younger self’s earnestness. Once more she lives this split life: on one hand, she is Dolly Wilde, fearless music journalist and Lady Sex Adventurer; on the other hand, she is still Johanna Morrigan, nineteen-year-old girl trying to figure out what the hell this life is all about. This is particularly noticeable when she talks, at length, about her feelings for John Kite. As much as Johanna evinces this confident, sexually liberated exterior, deep down she is still inexperienced, still trying to figure out who she wants to be—and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Indeed, one of the most poignant moments in the book for me comes when Johanna finds herself in the position to take a friend’s virginity, to teach him and show him the ropes, and she discovers how enticing a prospect this is for her. Suddenly, the sex act is not about showing how good she is at pleasing a man; it’s this collaborative experience. Johanna is basically a microcosm for portraying the epochal shift that feminism underwent over the decades, from perceiving “liberation” as “we can or should have as much sex as we want, when we want” to “we can have as much sex when we want, with whom we want, entirely on our terms”. Moran recapitulates this much more resoundingly later in the book. In between then, of course, we have the juxtaposition of Johanna’s unsatisfactory experiences with Jerry Sharp.

Although set in the mid-nineties, this book will obviously resonate with the current #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. Johanna discovers firsthand the inequity of being a woman who has casual sex. In addition to the professional fallout from refusing Tony (in the first book), there’s the way Jerry Sharp essentially goes out of his way to target her—something that sounds all too credible to me, unfortunately, just from what I read, and will no doubt feel even more familiar to some women readers. Moran masterfully manages the emotional upheaval that Johanna endures, the ups and downs culminating in a fantastic nadir, a flight, and then of course the redemptive realization that she would rather fight (but how?).

This is where How to Be Famous departs from some of the more gritty takes on rape culture that I’ve read over the years: it has a happy ending, and Johanna gets some measure of closure or retaliation. Despite dealing with a very serious subject, it nevertheless remains hopeful and buoyant and defiant in that way. And I want to be clear: I’m not saying that’s better than books that adhere to a less optimistic storyline. The whole point is that we deserve all sorts of narratives about this topic. We need narratives that portray the brutal, uncaring realities about rape culture. We also deserve narratives about how it is possible to fight and to win against men who abuse their privilege. Just as How to Build a Girl made me excited for teenage girls to read it because it talks so honestly about some of the feelings they might wrestle with, I’m excited that How to Be Famous exists for young women. It shows them that you can be strong and still be scared, and upset, and at a loss at times. You can fight back and still be terrified and unsure of yourself. Media often simplify narratives, raising up some people as paragons and casting down others as unworthy—and it is never that simple. It is always more complicated. Moran captures that in Johanna’s behaviour here.

This book feels a lot more focused, in terms of plot, than the first one, which is another reason I find it even better. That being said, don’t mistake this book for solely a novel about sexual misconduct. There’s so much more happening in here, so many fascinating feminist subplots. Let’s just briefly list them: Johanna and her dad, the way she’s acting as this proxy mother figure (and at odds with her own mother); the hilarious conversations between Johanna and her brother Krissi, which always warmed my heart; the ruminations, once again, on the effects of poverty on one’s psychology and actions—see the scene with Johanna and her brother Lupin; Suzanne and the record deal and the way Suzanne has a lot of ideas but is scared to commit them to a recording; and, of course, the quixotic love story between Johanna and John Kite. There is just so much happening in this book it actually beggars belief. I definitely need to re-read it at some point because there are so many rich little nuances I probably missed as I tore through it this once.

If you want something that is honest and uncompromising in its portrayal of women’s sexuality, yet also fun and optimistic and hopefully empowering (not really my lane here), How to Be Famous might be that. You don’t have to read the first book, but I would highly recommend it. This is not just a worthy sequel: it’s an exquisite pleasure, a story I never thought I’d get—and honestly one that I wasn’t really clamouring for, yet now I’m so happy to have it. Again, this book isn’t really for me per se … I’m so excited to share it with my female friends, to see what they recognize of their own experiences in this, to have fascinating conversations with them. But it definitely helped me, helped expand my empathy and my understanding, which is why I would recommend it to a general audience. Moran’s writing is humorous and humane, and I always want more of that in my life.

Creative Commons BY-NC License
Profile Image for Tania.
1,200 reviews271 followers
July 7, 2018
"Girls should smile, when they think about their sex lives. That is the greatest wish I have for them."

I requested this as an ARC, just assuming it would be more of Caitlin's essays, which I really enjoy. Once approved, I saw that it was actually classified as YA fiction, and fully prepared myself to give it a try and then to inform Netgalley that unfortunately this is not my thing.

To my surprise I really enjoyed it, packed with the author's trademark, irreverent sense of humour it swept me away to 1990's London and the rise of Britpop. Her books may not be for everyone - filled with LOTS of sex, drugs and rock n roll (not to mention the swearing), but what you need to know is that she can write. This little story is full of amazing ideas, energy and real issues.

There were many giggles, but also some ugly crying when we got to the crux of the story. At its core this is an ode to teenage girls and young women. I loved her article explaining why teenage girls are the most important fans of all. She also takes a look at sexual inequality and things like slut shaming and sex videos, which is probably even more valid now than in the 1990's.

Make no mistake, this book is far from perfect - for one thing, the hero John Kite is just way too perfect to be believable, but it was so different than anything I've ever read that I just got sucked up in this whirlwind story.

I would like both my children to read this when they're older (but being Afrikaans, and thus a bit conservative I'm not sure what that age should be? Maybe 25 😃)
Profile Image for Maxwell.
1,135 reviews8,140 followers
August 26, 2018
Much like the first book in the series— How to Build a Girl—this was incredibly raunchy and hilarious. Moran doesn't sugarcoat anything, and it's very refreshing. Yes, at times it's awfully lewd, but Johanna is such a fantastically crafted heroine you can't help but fall in love with all aspects of her personality, including her extreme openness about...well everything. The last 10% or so was a bit too on the nose for me; I wouldn't have minded a bit more nuance in the storytelling. But overall a fun ride and one that had me turning the pages, reading the entire thing in 1 day. Definitely looking forward to the final installment in this series. (Be warned if you pick this book up it has very explicit material in it.)
Profile Image for Julie Ehlers.
1,111 reviews1,397 followers
July 20, 2018
How to Be Famous was a little disappointing. Caitlin Moran clearly had a lot of points to make, mostly about how women are perceived by the larger culture, and I was fine with that. I like novels that make points. But nothing about this particular novel felt unified or organic; it was a bunch of interrelated points held together by a shaky scaffolding of plot. I think maybe How to Be Famous has a case of middle-book syndrome: It's neither the exciting opener of a trilogy nor its (hopefully) grand conclusion, just the book that gets you from one of those to the other. I still enjoyed it, just not as much as I expected to.
Profile Image for Leo.
4,304 reviews384 followers
February 16, 2022
The first book "How to build a girl" was one of my favorite books of 2021 and in my top books of all time and I've been meaning to pick this up since then although I was a little wary I wouldn't like it as much. While I didn't love it as much as the first one I still like this one a lot. 4.5 stars. I loved how the character of Johanna feels so realistic, a bit over the top but it's a nice change from the almost too quite female characters I come a cross reading. Although it's been a a great change in that as well. I'm a little sad there isn't another book about Johanna to delve into, but rereading is always an option, thankfully
Profile Image for Nadia.
270 reviews175 followers
June 2, 2019
This was hilarious and exhilarating!!

But frankly, I wouldn't expect anything less from a book written by Caitlin Moran! I read two of Caitlin's previous books How to Be a Woman and How to Build a Girl and loved them. For my American friends who don't know Caitlin Moran, I would describe her as a feminist comedian, a UK version of Amy Schumer.

How to Be Famous centres around 19 year old Dolly Wilde who moved to London from North England. Dolly grew up in an unconventional family living on benefits. Her upbringing and background is similar to Caitlin Moran's own childhood. Dolly Wilde is outspoken, fun and overweight, and she often finds herself in the most bizarre and awkward situations. If you've seen Moran's TV show Raised by Wolves (which I highly recommend!), you will recognise some similarities between the main characters.  

Despite this book being a book 2 featuring Dolly Wilde (How to Build a Girl being #1), How to be Famous can be definitely read as a standalone. If you are looking for a fun read and don't mind reading anecdotes featuring penises and vaginas, definitely add this one to your summer reads. I can promise you'll be laughing out loud most of the time.

Many thanks to Penguin Random House for my e-copy in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Howard.
1,177 reviews73 followers
January 24, 2020
4.5 Stars for How to be Famous (audiobook) by Caitlin Moran read by Louise Brealey.
This is such a great series. I hope there is more books to come. The author does a great job of empowering women without being anti men. I’m also really enjoying the narration. I’ll look for some more books read by Louise Brealey. She has a great voice.
Profile Image for Christy.
Author 5 books389 followers
July 13, 2018
This is a fucking brilliant love letter to girls and all their power and possibility. It's also an ode to art and music and food and sex and all the things that make life worth living.

I checked this out from the library to read it, but I am now going to buy my very own copy to own and keep on the special shelf of favorite books that's next to my bed. These are the books I want to revisit, even just in part, the ones that I consider friends. This book is one of my dear friends, and I think Johanna/Dolly would appreciate that.
Profile Image for Lynx.
198 reviews79 followers
January 7, 2019
Once again, it's as if Caitlin Moran has read my teenage diaries and used them as a base for a fictional story. I connect heart and soul with every sentence and it's always such an emotional, heartfelt experience. Love love love it.
Profile Image for Sonja Arlow.
1,080 reviews7 followers
October 16, 2018
3.5 stars

Sex, drugs and f*#$king rock n roll.

This is snarky, raunchy with a good dose of feminist views and as much as I loved it, I know this may not be for everyone.

Johanna Morrigan (AKA Dolly Wilde) is 18 and for the first time living on her own in London, at the height of Britpop hype. She works for a music publication and tend to meet a lot of famous and almost famous people.

She makes the fundamental mistake of having bad sex with a bad man and must deal with the aftermath of public sexual shaming. The way that she dealt with that is one of my favourite parts of the book.

But the book is far from perfect, I wasn’t completely sold on the John Kite angle, but I enjoyed the build-up to it, and I loved the audio narrator so much that I have decided to round up to a full 4 stars.

If you know this author you will have some idea of what to expect, she does not hold back or shy away from ugly truths even if it means making the reader (and her characters) uncomfortable. I have read almost all of her non-fiction books but must say I was mightily impressed with this fictional story. Raw, funny and thought provoking.

A friend of mine said in her review “At its core this is an ode to teenage girls and young women” and its such a wonderful way to sum this up.
Profile Image for Alex.
319 reviews19 followers
August 30, 2018
Let me get this clear: I love Caitlin Moran. I think she is, bar a few cringe-worthy mis-steps, intelligent and hilarious.

I don't think I love her as a fiction writer, though.

On the face of it, I am all about this book: it's feminist book exploring abuse of power within the male-dominated music industry. Music! Feminism! Yay! And the general story was fairly enjoyable, the main character was fairly fun to read (mostly because she was essentially Caitlin Moran, who I love).


But throughout it all, it seems like Caitlin never really settled into the first-person narration of her main character. At times, it became too obvious that Caitlin-the-outspoken-feminist was writing what she thought 19-year-old-girl-who-isn't-aware-of-sexism would think about things. The sentences that ended "this is just what girls do" felt a little too much like Caitlin was silently adding in parentheses ("BUT THAT'S BECAUSE THE WORLD IS SEXIST") that it didn't feel like a believable inner monologue.

But aside from that, there were other occasions that just felt more like Caitlin than the protagonist. And yes, I get that, despite what the opening page claims, the protagonist basically IS Caitlin. But times felt like obviously Caitlin thought of something witty, and decided to shoehorn it into the book, even though it didn't really feel like a natural observation of a first-person narrator. So maybe... a third-person narration style would suit Caitlin's voice better. It's almost like she's someone who is very used to being a journalist and a columnist, and 90% of her writing has been her writing her own thoughts, and being allowed to add Caitlin Moran's side-comments wherever she wants to.

My final issue with the writing is that the tense didn't always make sense. While mostly written in present tense, there were a few occasions where suddenly something would be described in the past tense - which, again, sounded like Caitlin make a narrator's observation from 2018 about what life was like in the 90s. Which is a totally and valid fine thing to do, if the rest of the book isn't written in present-tense and set in 1994. You can't talk about these being 'the days when people could smoke in gigs' if your narrator is not even aware of a future where you CAN'T smoke in gigs. And your 19 year old protagonist can't have a short paragraph talking about how nice her hangovers are, 'not like the hangovers you get when you're over 30' because... she's not over 30. She has no experience of that.

My one other gripe is the HUGE amount of grammatical errors. I will slightly let this off and hope they are corrected in future re-prints, but good lord there are a lot. There are words missing, there are grammatical errors (like "a enemy") and there are random mis-spelled words, like "sayid" instead of said. And... presumably proofreading is somebody's job? Whoever it was, may I suggest they hire me instead.

Anyway, despite all of these complaints I feel I should clarify again that I did enjoy the story, and I mostly enjoyed reading the protagonist. I just really wish that some tighter fine-tuning could have been done on the narration style - either by removing some elements that were clearly written by Caitlin rather than Dolly, or else just making the book narrated in the third person, and allow Caitlin full reign to give the commentary that is so clearly going on in her head as she's writing.

(Also, sidenote: I haven't read How To Build A Girl (to which this is the sequel) since it came out in 2015. I rated that one 4 stars, and I'm not sure whether I was just less critical for that one, or whether the issues I had with this book weren't very noticeable in that one.)

((Incidentally, I just went back and read my review of How To Build A Girl. Funnily enough, I had the exact same criticisms there - that the voice was basically indistinguishable from Caitlin Moran's own voice, and the fact it was very distracting when switching from present tense to some indeterminate future self 'looking back on those days'. So nice to know that the writing style is in fact consistent between both books, and that my irritation by it is also consistent.))
Profile Image for Nina.
996 reviews10 followers
September 18, 2018
I enjoyed this so much more than the first book, and here’s why.

How to be Famous has all the good bits of How to Build a Girl - you’ve got a fabulously witty and outrageous protagonist, a gaggle of quirky and interesting characters, and a writing style that is both humorous and engaging. What How to be Famous improves on is the plot and the overall story. I finished this book and I felt so...positive? Euphoric? Dolly/Jo is a much more relatable and real character in this book, and although there was still a lot of wicked humour and nonsense, there was also a real, profound story to be told. I love what Moran did - she took this world that she built and she’s created a novel that is funny but also hard hitting, as it addresses issues that are still so prominent today (e.g. the #MeToo movement). How to be Famous really impressed me, and I’m even more excited because I have tickets to her book tour so I’ll be seeing her next week! Aaaah!
Profile Image for Jerrie.
986 reviews130 followers
August 19, 2018
While not as fun as How to Build a Girl, this follow up was still a smart, humorous look at growing up in the 90s. In this book, Johanna learns that girls do have a voice and learns to listen to her own. With more maturity, she finds greater strength as she struggles through some interesting challenges.
Profile Image for Juan Naranjo.
Author 2 books2,342 followers
March 20, 2020
De la historia que cuenta “Cómo se hace una chica”, el libro que precede a “Cómo ser famosa”, me encandilaron tres cosas:

- Cómo la autora maneja el concepto de diferencia de clases y convierte en antiheroína a una chica cuya familia vive de ayudas gubernamentales.
- Cómo la autora cuenta una historia de entrada en la vida adulta que es bastante atípica, ya que la protagoniza una chica gorda, pobre y de provincias.
- Cómo la autora usa el humor para deslumbrar con su brillante inteligencia y describir la sociedad y la cultura de la Inglaterra de los años 90.

Pero en este libro Caitlin Moran prácticamente se olvida de lo primero y lo segundo, y ‘sólo’ nos ofrece una historia (inteligentísimamente escrita) del submundo de la industria musical anglosajona. Y, por muy bien que escriba Moran, para mí eso no es suficiente después de haberme enamorado de todo lo otro.

Por supuesto que hay cosas interesantes, y hasta retazos de genialidad, en esta novela: me gusta cómo habla del fenómeno fan, cómo desarrolla una historia preciosa sobre amistad entre mujeres o como, de nuevo, el libro gira en torno a la reivindicación y la visibilidad, sin tapujos, de la sexualidad femenina. Pero todo esto está sepultado bajo innumerables escenas de exceso nocturno, con una especie de glorificación del alcohol, la droga y la promiscuidad que a mí, personalmente, no me interesan lo más mínimo.

Lo peor de todo es que todo lo interesante solo se esboza, y el grueso del libro está empleado en la descripción de una relación romántica. No quiero sonar despectivo (todos los géneros me parecen respetables, aunque cada uno disfruta más de unos o de otros) pero lo que en su primera parte era novela eminentemente social, en esta segunda parte es “solo” una novela rosa. Por supuesto que es rosa sucio, pero rosa al fin y al cabo.
Profile Image for Nerdette Podcast.
238 reviews328 followers
August 3, 2018
It is difficult for me to express the absolute perfection that is this book. It's funny and ridiculous and messy, but it's also incisive and gorgeous. It hits me right in the middle of my heart and captures a sense of purpose and delight that I've never quite known how to express. A friend told me she loves Moran because the author puts words to feelings she's never been able to quantify, and I couldn't agree more.
Profile Image for Jessie.
274 reviews2 followers
September 26, 2019
Probably one of the best if not the best coming of age story of a female protagonist I have ever read. The ending astounded me. It says things that everyone should be forced to see in print and recognize the truth of it...how important young girls are and how their enthusiasm can change lives.
Profile Image for Janelle Janson.
709 reviews443 followers
July 18, 2018
Thank you so much to Harper Books for providing my free copy of HOW TO BE FAMOUS by Caitlin Moran - all opinions are my own.

This is the follow up to Moran’s HOW TO BUILD A GIRL and it did not disappoint. Johanna Morrigan or rather her alter ego, Dolly Wilde is such an engaging, complex, yet relatable character. Dolly is an eighteen-year-old in the mid-nineties, living in London, and writing for a music magazine. She’s extremely infatuated with her musician friend, John Kite. However, she has a fortuitous one-night-stand or maybe two that ends in a very scandalous way. I really enjoyed reading a story surrounded by the Britpop music scene with concerts, late nights, and after parties. I graduated high school in the nineties, recognizing all these bands and pop culture references, so this was especially nostalgic.

Luckily when I got this book, I quickly ran to the bookstore to get a copy of her previous novel. I loved them both, but this one I loved even more. Moran is a talented writer with such honesty and grit that you just instantly fall in love. Dolly’s character is effusive, clever, witty, and often inappropriate, so what’s not to like? HOW TO BE FAMOUS is the perfect blend of coming-of-age, feminism, and humor - like laugh out loud, highlight half the book, funny. Moran captures the backstage scene of sex, drugs, and rock and roll with precision. I loved that her characters were written with such raw emotion and sharp dialogue. You definitely don’t need to read HOW TO BUILD A GIRL first, but I’d recommend it for the full experience. My motto is buy them both...it’s more fun that way.
Profile Image for Daniela.
228 reviews50 followers
May 23, 2018
How to Be Famous felt so relevant to me because there was an episode in my life where I religiously followed a band everywhere. It was fun, and a bit insane.

Johanna is living the dream: she's young, lives in London, goes to concerts and writes about musicians. In my opinion, she's totally winning the "London game", but she's still inexperienced about love and sex. I know this is a love story, but to me, romantic love came second. The most important part was Johanna's standing up for herself: quitting a job where she wasn't appreciated, giving hell to a bastard, and just being her hilarious, amazing self. Both Johanna and Suzanne are wonderful feminist icons, and I wish they could be my friends.

Even though it's set in 1994-5, the problems Johanna faces are too real, too contemporary. We actually have a glimpse of the Me Too movement, and it made me happy that young women reading this book will learn about the many sides of sex and consent.

I've practically highlighted the entire book, but my favorite quote was:
"Baby just got her Angry Wings! Oh, babe—it's always a festal day, when a woman finally gets angry for the first time. I'm so happy for you."

Big thanks to the publisher for providing a copy of this book for review purposes.
Profile Image for Jo.
879 reviews34 followers
July 10, 2018
This was even better than the first one - moving, joyful, heart-shaking, wonderful. I wanted the "villain" to be punished more than he was, and my ship didn't sail, but I loved the whole thing anyway, and I love Johanna 💛
Profile Image for Mehrsa.
2,234 reviews3,657 followers
August 10, 2019
Caitlin Moran is such a consistently funny writer. She's also razor sharp. Her takes on teenage fandom and sex shaming are so great and so well written. And I love that she uses her characters as a mouthpiece for her hilarious takes and insightful commentary.
Profile Image for Amanda Bannister.
412 reviews5 followers
October 23, 2021
There were some laugh out loud lines in here, particularly from Johanna’s father 😊
I really liked Johanna’s understanding of herself and her growth, plus calling out the inequity of the views on male and female sexual behaviour. I love female empowerment books and this felt a much better example of that than the previous book. A solid 4⭐️ for me!
Profile Image for La Central .
609 reviews1,400 followers
May 26, 2020
"Han pasado un par de años, y Johana se ha mudado a Londres, se codea con famosos, ha practicado sexo, se pasa el día de bar en bar, y hasta se ha enamorado. Se podría decir que de momento ha hecho realidad sus sueños de chica de pueblo.

El problema es que ser una chica de diecinueve años es más complicado de lo que parece. Es muy difícil manejar tu propia sexualidad cuando no tienes más idea que las anécdotas que se escuchan en los bares, casi siempre de boca de los hombres, y dando por sentado que hay ciertas cosas que son absolutamente normales. Es complicado pretender ser adulta.

Pero ¿qué pasa cuando algo no cuadra, y te niegas a aceptar que ha de ser así? ¿Qué hacer para salvar la reputación cuando se emprende una campaña de desprestigio personal como venganza?

La maravillosa Caitlin Moran nos deleita una vez más con una fantástica y divertidísima novela en la que, entre chistes y anécdotas, pone de relieve lo difícil que es ser una mujer en un mundo de hombres -en este caso, la industria musical-, y las dificultades que nos encontramos en el camino hacia el descubrimiento personal." Marta López Blanco
Profile Image for Arila.
145 reviews32 followers
February 2, 2019
Definitivamente como autora de ficción, Caitlin Moran no es para mí. En su momento leí su libro de no ficción, Cómo ser una mujer, y me encantó. Son pequeños ensayos de temas variados con una perspectiva femenista y un tono informal y de humor.

En sus libros de ficción también transmite estos mismos mensajes feministas, pero el argumento de la historia para mí es poco más que inexistente y carente de interés. Lo construye alrededor de esos mensajes que quiere transmitir pero como historia no va a ningún lado en realidad. Y a esto le añadimos que la ambientación de la industria musical de los años 90 no me llama especialmente la atención. Esto, que a otras personas les puede hacer gracia del libro, a mí no me aporta mucho.

Conclusión: se me ha hecho muy cuesta arriba esta lectura, he leído las últimas páginas en diagonal y no creo que vuelva a leer nada de ella de ficción.

Sorry, Caitlin, no hemos cuajado.
Profile Image for Jeannie Zelos.
2,801 reviews51 followers
July 5, 2018
How To Be Famous, Caitlin Moran

Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews

Genre:, General Fiction (Adult) Women's Fiction

Gah, I can't believe it, Caitlin is described as “feminist sensation” in publicity blurb and then this book gets stuck in that old, dated, “women's Fiction” category. Why do we do this? Moan about equality and then prop it up with stereotypes about what men will and won't read!!
Anyway, that over, what about the book. I was so keen to read this, love the rockstar trope, and though my era was a decade or so before the story and setting really appealed to me. Sadly it didn't work out though. I found Johanna's voice, brash and grating, found her to be pretty shallow as a character. I didn't finish the book though, couldn't get past the forced humour and to me, artificial feel of it. Maybe if I'd read more I would have seen hidden depths to her but the story just wasn't working. A shame as flipping to the end I can see that there's a serious and very pertinent issue with the comedian.
I think for me this book was trying to deliver too much, a romance with rockstar theme, a snippet of recent history in a kind of biographical way, the humour – which fell so pushed on me (I felt it was telling me: go on – laugh dammit, its funny, even when I was left mystified) and then the feminist sex issue with Jerry. That happens to men too though, and is one of my pet hates, when something is seen as exclusively the province or issue of one sex only. It's also a power issue not just a sex one and recent political news had burst out just how serious this is in the media industry.

I can see others love this story, that's great, we all have different tastes and there's books to suit all out there. This just isn't one for me though.

Stars: Two, I wanted to like it, expected to like it but...

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Profile Image for AK.
51 reviews8 followers
November 6, 2019
For as much a I'll say that teenage girls drive pop culture, I didn't realize how much the former teen fangirl I once was needed to hear a love letter to herself. What a lovely, hysterical, touching, raunchy, honest follow-up to How to Build a Girl, one that stands on its own and earns a special place on my shelf and in my heart.
Profile Image for Ryan.
1,041 reviews33 followers
May 3, 2021
Caitlin Moran the person I like enormously; Caitlin Moran the novelist not so much. It’s the same story - me and my wacky life - with few variations and lower returns.
Profile Image for Leonie Hinch.
1,028 reviews37 followers
July 21, 2018
Thank you to Netgalley, Ebury Publishing & Caitlin Moran for my ARC of How to Be Famous.
Anyone who knows me, knows that Caitlin Moran is one of my favourite people in the whole world who I don't actually know in person. After picking up How to Be a Woman in a charity shop years ago I fell fast and hard for her blunt, brilliant and hilarious but serious approach to feminism.

How to be Famous is the sequel to Moran's How to Build a Girl another of my firm favourites. So I was expecting great things, and it definitely delivered. We catch up with the main character Johanna or 'Dolly' as she's now known. Now 19, Jo has made it in the world of being a music journalist but after sleeping with her boss and being treated badly for it, she decides its time to see what the rest of the world has to offer.

It's 1995 and Brit Pop is at large, feminism is only just starting to rear its head and Dolly is having to navigate the problems that are now thrown her way. From public sex shaming, drugs, rock n' Roll, sleeping with a friend, watching her best friend and love interest take the world by storm and managing misogyny in the workplace, it's a hard world for a 19 year old girl to be. But somehow this bittersweet novel is also extremely funny and fun! It's like you're learning things but having fun at the same time. What I love most about Moran's books, fictional and none fictional is that they make you sit up and say hold on that's exactly the way women are treated in this world and it's not bloody on!

I really hope that there is more to come in this series, I can't wait to see what Dolly does next!
July 5, 2018
(For more reviews and bookish musings, visit: http://www.bornandreadinchicago.com/)
I ADORED How to Build a Girl, and when I learned that there would be a sequel, I jumped at the chance to read it! Expectations for sequels are high, and rife with the possibility of disappointment. Rest assured that Caitlin Moran still writes with amazing heart, humor...

"He was drunk, and there was nothing on TV - that is how 80 percent of kissing starts in Britain."

and searing hot takes on feminism.

"The idea that women carry the shame for shameful things that have been done to them is Bible old, and Bible black."

As with her previous novel, How to be Famous also feels hyper realistic: full of crazy situations, over the top characters and dialogue that suits the business of rock n' roll, which delighted me to no end. Her brother and father reappear in this novel, and the way these siblings deal with dad's midlife crisis like a hot potato had me guffawing. I also loved the introduction of Johanna's new larger than life musician friend Suzanne Banks who, according to Johanna,

"...she's so f*cking fizzy and delicious, I want to swim around in her innards, like a dolphin."

There's no shortage of f-bombs, crass talk and sex scenes, fair warning. But they absolutely serve a purpose in the broader feminist message that Moran delivers with such unrestrained wit. There is indeed an engaging plot that moves at a good pace, as we buckle up for another ride along with Johanna's rollicking highs, and terrible lows as she makes questionable decisions and deals with a bad situation.
The story is a perfect vehicle for such important messages for women and girls to take to heart about being comfortable in our skin, in our hopes, in our desires, that girl culture is COOL, owning our sexual pleasure, and the importance of being in a relationship that lifts us up, that does not tear us down. There are so many books with a feminist slant being published lately, many with a terrifying Handmaid's Tale tone. These works are important and needed, for sure. (If you haven't read Margaret Atwood, now is definitely the time.) But Moran's work is equally significant while being so very refreshing with uplifting, galvanizing and hopeful feminism.
I marked up How to Build a Girl, but I pretty much wanted to take a highlighter to the entirety of How to be Famous. If (WHEN) you read it, I'd take note of: Dolly's letter to John about how teen girls run the world, when John's fans line up to meet him she writes about the intimacy of art and meeting our heroes, and the last five or so pages about love and a relationship being two people invested in building 'the very best you' just made me swoon with love and light.
Run, don't walk, to get your hands on this brilliant book. Thank you SO, SO MUCH to the lovely people at Harper Books for a free review copy in exchange for my honest review!

P.S. - My husband and I talked about Peggy Orenstein's Girls & Sex a while ago and, upon reading How to be Famous, I hastily moved it further up in the to be read queue. I read Cinderella Ate My Daughter the year after I gave birth to my daughter and highly recommend it!
Profile Image for Oryx.
1,016 reviews
July 3, 2018
What I talk about when I talk about editing. Was this book even edited? The AMOUNT of missing words and clauses was unbelievable, and, also, there was even a typo. And the tenses kept changing. And it annoyed me. But it was very readable. Even if it was, yeah... plastic.

I understand it is communicating important issues in a very accessible way, and for that, I can't fault it. Good on you, Caitlin, but ya know, you've been doing this whole writing gig a while now and I would just like to see you do it better. The tone made me want to vomit. The dialogue was rank, almost as bad as a John Green novel. Atrocious writing. It's like a bouncy ball calling itself 'edgy'.

Blah. I can't knock it. I knew what it was. And it was hard to put down, though I'm not sure why.

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