Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “How to Fail: Everything I’ve Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong” as Want to Read:
How to Fail: Everything I’ve Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

How to Fail: Everything I’ve Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  5,318 ratings  ·  389 reviews
Inspired by her hugely popular podcast, How To Fail is Elizabeth Day’s brilliantly funny, painfully honest and insightful celebration of things going wrong.

This is a book for anyone who has ever failed. Which means it’s a book for everyone.

If I have learned one thing from this shockingly beautiful venture called life, it is this: failure has taught me lessons I would nev
...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published April 4th 2019 by Fourth Estate
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about How to Fail, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about How to Fail

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.03  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,318 ratings  ·  389 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of How to Fail: Everything I’ve Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong
Paromjit
Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is the kind of book that is likely to appeal to a wide range of people because unlike the overwhelming focus on success in society, this studies the phenomena of failure, and this is something we all have experience of. Elizabeth Day writes a part memoir and draws on the wide ranging celebrities that she has interviewed on the topic of 3 failures in their lives for a hugely popular podcast. Day looks on failure with her multitude of personal examples and her interviews with others, such as ...more
Sara
Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This is the book I never knew I needed. Throughout our lives, we’ll fail multiple times. Whether that’s failing a test (I failed my driving test twice), failing relationships (I’ve had many) or failing any other aspect of your life. You will fail. But it’s what we learn from our failures that define who we are, and shape the person you are now. That’s the knowledge that’s imparted here.

Part biography, part self help journey, Eliza
...more
Doon
Mar 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Elizabeth Day is a good writer and I found her writing style engaging and the content interesting, as her anecdotal stories are weaved in with sound bites from people from the How To Fail podcast. However, while Day acknowledges her privilege I felt like the book was unable to see beyond it. All of the anecdotes are from cis, white, middle class people.
Emily Cox
Jul 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
I really love Elizabeth Day, she’s a fantastic journalist, podcast host and interviewer - maybe one of the best interviewers today.
Despite this, I ironically, failed to like this book. Each chapter has a theme of failures and how Day overcame them, for example; work, relationships, tests, fitting in, family etc etc. It sounds like a great premise but I found it very reserved as though she was holding the reader at arms length. The only chapter that I felt we were really ‘let in’ to her life was
...more
Phee
Jun 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Absolutely adored this. I related to it so much which was such a pleasant surprise. Normally I get a little hesitant when I'm reading a memoir of a woman who's a fair bit older than me. Mainly because I haven't experienced much in my life up to now, due to being in my early twenties. But my goodness, everyone can get something from this book. I have a feeling I'll be gifting this to many people for birthdays etc. Everyone has failed at something. Most of us have failed at many things (I certainl ...more
Hally
May 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Failure is absolutely not something I’ve ever been brought up to embrace. I can only imagine what a difference it would have made to me growing up if I’d have been introduced to the concept of using failure as a positive experience, or even a neutral one, early on.

I slowly fell in love with Elizabeth Day’s How to Fail podcast a year ago, making my way through every episode. Despite enjoying her writing, I think she is especially brilliant at bouncing off of people, asking questions, and drawing
...more
Caro Harper
Apr 29, 2019 rated it liked it
I really wanted to like this book, as I enjoy the podcasts. I made myself read it to the end, but it was a slog. Even though a lot of what it says makes sense, it is just too naval gazing for me.
Tabitha
Dec 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
I found the chapter "How to Fail at Your Twenties" reassuring, but the rest of the book I didn't connect with. It seemed narcissistic and assumed her reader's experiences were just like her own, or her celeb friends/interviewees.

I appreciate the concept; Day wants to raise awareness of failures that are often normalised and overlooked, especially for women, using her personal experiences and those from some key interviewees. That's the book I'd hoped to find comfort in. But the part autobiograph
...more
Alex
Mar 26, 2019 rated it liked it
I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

How To Fail is a hugely successful podcast in which Elizabeth Day interviews actors, writers and other people from the public eye on their failures and how they have dealt with them. I have to admit this reviewer has not listened to the podcast but was intrigued by the concept of the book. I must admit, I have not read a book in such a long time that has left my so conflicted, that has made me question so much but more so the
...more
Nina
Apr 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc, memoir, self-help
3.5stars.
Split into chapters, such as •How to Fail at Fitting In •How to Fail at relationships etc, Elizabeth Day in this memoir, inspired by her How to Fail podcasts, shares her own stories and insights into what she has learned from things going wrong, as well as anecdotes from celebrities who have been on her podcast.

I found the first few chapters merely pleasant, and the one on failing a driving test a little self-indulgent. Elizabeth Day is open about her white, middle-classed privilege, b
...more
NellieTests
I'm really not sure what I made of this book. On one level I applaud the concept yet its execution was not quite what I expected and, for me, fell a little flat.

I do not have the benefit of having listened to any of the podcasts which gave the idea for this book and, maybe, had I, I may have understood more?

Whilst I appreciated the open and honest discussion of some very personal material I found myself thinking that much of the rest of the book was an opportunity to name drop. This took away
...more
Acordul Fin
This is a book for anyone who has ever failed. Which means it’s a book for everyone.
Yeah...no. I kind of, sort of have to disagree. I don't think it's particularly relatable because Day comes from a place of great privilege which many times played a role in the way she dealt with her various struggles. The average Joe & Joanna, or even more, people with financial great struggles won't have the luxury of the choices she was able to make. But it's not like she can help being this fort
...more
Katie
Feb 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
How To Fail With Elizabeth Day has been the most-listened to podcast on my iPhone in the last six months, and just a quick glance at Twitter makes me realise I’m not the only one obsessed with this weekly show.

Elizabeth Day is already an acclaimed novelist and journalist (she’s one of my favourite writers), and now with How To Fail: Everything I’ve Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong, we have her first foray into non-fiction books, a direct result of the successful podcast which has featured ev
...more
Alison Caldicott
Aug 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
“The more I thought about it, the more I realised that the biggest, most transformative moments of my life came through crisis or failure”. I adore Elizabeth’s weekly podcast on the topic of failure, and her refreshingly honest take on the good and bad things life throws at us. This book is a brilliant culmination of what she considers some of her biggest failures, along with useful snippets and insights from past podcast guests. The chapter in which she explores her desire (and ultimate ‘failur ...more
Jo Fisher
May 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I finished this book smiling, nodding, and feeling more at peace than I have in a while. Each page resonated with me - at times it was as if I had written it myself. I love Elizabeth’s fiction and her podcast of the same title, and she has a wonderfully confident (but by no means arrogant!) way of writing. This book is ideal for anyone who struggles with feeling good enough, who considers themselves a perfectionist to a fault, or who just wants to become more at peace with who they are, warts an ...more
Karina Webster
Apr 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
i listened to this one on audio and i really recommend. Very interesting & hugely relatable although extremely heartbreaking at times. Day talks about and describes parts of the female experience that just don’t get talked about enough & i really appreciated it. Will be listening to her podcasts asap! ...more
Ros
Apr 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very enjoyable and insightful book which gave me constant opportunities to think about my own fails and successes but also many laugh out loud moments due to the many cultural references which I could relate to so much.
Rachel Buckley
May 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wish this book had been out 10 years ago
Patrick O'Donoghue
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” Samuel Beckett
~~~~.~~~~.~~~~
As a huge fan of Elizabeth Day’s podcast, I was very excited when I heard that she would be publishing a book based on it. Described as ‘part memoir, part manifesto,’ How to Fail details Day’s failures in several areas of her life, but also celebrates that these failures were necessary steps to success, whether that be in her career, personal relationships, self confidence, and knowledge of who
...more
Belinda Carvalho
Jun 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
If you're looking for a memoir that's a bit different :)
Received as a Netgalley ARC. Disclaimer :I don't listen to the How to Fail podcast
I really liked the concept of this book where various chapters examine personal life and different failures you can have. As I don't listen to her podcasts I enjoyed her mentions of the celebrities and writers featured and how they learned from failure and adversity.
It's a tribute to this book and Elizabeth Day that the tone is often light and extremely read
...more
Laura King
Apr 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It was a real privilege to be able to read How to Fail by Elizabeth Day ahead of publication. I really immersed myself in these essays, and in my free time when I wasn't reading it I was listening to the podcast that was the inspiration for the book. Fans of the podcast will enjoy revisiting early episodes, but will also gain insight into Elizabeth Day's own life and, even more interestingly, how she has weaved different people's stories of success and failure, as well as her own, into an incred ...more
Hollie
Feb 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Review to follow
Anastasiya Mozgovaya
Sep 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
a well-written reminder of the fact that everyone is fighting their own battles. your life may look fine from the outside and feel awful on the inside. you may do your best and fail. some things won`t work no matter how hard you try, and you will need to learn to accept them and find fulfillment somewhere else if you do not want to spend your whole life being miserable and mad.

this book is exactly what i needed right now. being a human is messy and complicated, but...it can be easier and more en
...more
Roos Havinga
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
I don’t know whether I just have a thing for self-help memoirs written by British female authors (Emily Dean’s “Everybody died, so I got a dog” might be my favourite book of 2019) but I loved this book. Her lessons of being honest to yourself about your failure and showing this is refreshing in a world where we are constantly on the hunt for perfection. Refreshing, motivating and funny, highly recommend.
Danielle Walker
Oct 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A refreshing reminder that in a world that increasingly strives for perfection, there is ample opportunity for growth when failure inevitably happens. There are lessons to be learnt and connections to be made when we let our guard down and embrace vulnerability and our imperfections.
Rebecca Morrison
Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Essential reading for any woman aged 20 - 40 it is relatable, moving & makes sense of all the ways we carry our failures as burdens and not lessons. I have the feeling it is a book that will be bought of the shelf again & again in times of crisis. ...more
Tamzen
May 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
Just listen to the podcast.
Anthe
Aug 07, 2019 rated it liked it
Didn't like this as much as I'd hoped, although the chapter on anger really resonated.
Beth Bonini
Jun 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
I received a copy of this book at a publishing event (thank you, 4th Estate Books) before it was actually published (April 2019) but it has taken me a while to get around to it. The first reason for my delay is that my 25 year old daughter nabbed it off of my ‘to read’ book pile and kept it for quite a while. (She’s a big fan of Elizabeth Day’s podcast of the same name; she’s also a big fan of what her generation calls learning to ‘live your best life’.) The second reason is that I’m not as incl ...more
Vicki Duncan
May 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As an avid listener to the How to Fail podcast I couldn’t wait to read this. After waiting SO LONG for it to come out in paperback I wasn’t disappointed.. I LOVED IT! 💚
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Everything I Know About Love
  • Adults
  • Expectation
  • Pretending
  • Jog On: How Running Saved My Life
  • How Do We Know We're Doing It Right: & Other Essays on Modern Life
  • Queenie
  • Girl, Woman, Other
  • Ordinary People
  • Animals
  • Exciting Times
  • So Lucky
  • I Am Not Your Baby Mother
  • The Authentic Lie
  • Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas
  • Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race
  • I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman
  • How Do You Like Me Now?
See similar books…
404 followers
Elizabeth Day is an English journalist, broadcaster and novelist. She was a feature writer for The Observer from 2007 to 2016 and has written four novels.

Related Articles

In these strange days of quarantine and isolation, books can be a mode of transport. We may have to stay home and stay still, but through t...
55 likes · 42 comments
“For so long, we woman have turned our anger inwards, redirecting it towards ourselves and allowing it to manifest as shame. We have told ourselves, instead, that we are sad or hormonal or stressed, but these have been placeholder emotions. And for so long we have been encouraged to do this by a misogynistic culture that realises female anger is dangerous not because it is the product of mental imbalance but because it is fuel. Female anger is power.” 7 likes
“That there is no one on this big, wide planet who can understand the you-ness of you more than you.” 1 likes
More quotes…