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

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  163 ratings  ·  37 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
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published April 4th 2019 by Fourth Estate
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4.32  · 
Rating details
 ·  163 ratings  ·  37 reviews

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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
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
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
Karina Read
Apr 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-releases
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!
Apr 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, memoir, self-help
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
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
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Elizabeth Day, you have walked me through my 44 years and have given me the opportunity to look at those years with a complete openness and honesty, leaving me with a completely different mindset to go forward with the next chapters of my life and to realise that the first 44 are not how I should have seen myself.

This is the best therapy session I’ve ever had and instead of often feeling utterly exhausted I feel reborn and secure. Secure that we are not alone with the self doubt, the self loathi
Jan 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’m a huge a fan of this woman. First discovered her work with her fourth novel, The Party. Have since worked through her backlist and then of course have listened in awe at the podcast series “how to fail” which this books takes its inspiration from.
This book though is more than an accompaniment to the podcast. It’s more memoir than self help. And far more personal, honest and raw than I was expecting from the outset. Chapters on relationships and babies brought me to tears, yet at other times
Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2019
I am a huge fan of Elizabeth Day's podcast, How to Fail. The book follows the same premise as the podcast - that we learn far more from failure than we do from success, and that it's important, more so than ever in today's filtered highlight reel social media world, to be honest about the lows in life as well as the highs. If you've ever looked at a successful person and thought "wow, they've just got it all, I'm sure they've never screwed anything up" and then around at your own life, with all ...more
Cressida McLaughlin
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is wise and brave and honest. It made me laugh and cry. I identified with a lot of it and feel stronger for having read it. I would recommend it to anyone.
Lucie Deacon
Mar 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Uplifting, reassuring.
Mar 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
I am a huge fan of Elizabeth Day's How to Fail podcast so I was really excited when I heard she was writing a book to go alongside it. Society focuses heavily on success and social media encourages people to show only the positive moments of their lives. The How to Fail podcast and book are really refreshing in that it focuses on people's failures and what can be learned from them.

The book is part memoir and also features snippets from interviews with celebrities from the podcast. It features i
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.
Steph Warren
Apr 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
*I received a free ARC of this novel, with thanks to Harper Collins UK and NetGalley. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*

How to Fail draws together various interviews and opinions from the How to Fail with Elizabeth Day podcast series.

The book is split into short essay segments such as ‘How to Fail at Dating’ or ‘How to Fail at Work’, neatly drawing together snippets from different interviews around individual themes. All of the interviews feature people who have achieved career
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
Cliona Healy
Apr 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Amazing, insightful, comforting and assuring are just a few of the adjectives that I could afford this novel.

Elizabeth Day has taken the stories and insights shared on her hugely popular podcast “How to Fail” and turned it into a truly unique novel. As the title suggests, this novel is an exploration of failure through themes such as family, work and relationships. Amongst Day’s own recollections of failure, she weaves in the stories of her interviewees, revealing that even the likes of Twilight
Apr 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"The older I get, the more I realise that success only feels good when it is congruent with who you are. That is why the success of the 'How to Fail With Elizabeth Day' podcast was such a pleasant surprise... I genuinely didn't mind if only five people listened to it. As long as those listeners got something from it, I was happy."

Part memoir, part conversations with guests on her How To Fail podcast, Day's book of the same name is about how valuable failure can be and how to learn from it. Split
Mar 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019

I am a massive fan of Elizabeth Day’s writing and have read and loved both The Party and Paradise City (and have her other books on my Kindle) so was very excited to read How To Fail. Based on her extraordinarily successful podcast of the same name, Elizabeth Day has written a collection of essays about the various ways she has failed in life. Her belief is that in order to really, really succeed we need to have failed first and it is through her various fai
Rachel Murray
Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Phwoar.. that's what you call a memoir. How to fail is the most honest, raw, funny and interesting memoir I've read in a long time.

Pulling in her own experiences as well as name dropping some of the podcast guests to cover friendship, dating, work, sport, families... Each chapter, I had a moment of 'ah me too!' and felt less alone with the worries I have or didn't realise I had whilst reading it. And made me feel better about life when nothing seems like it's going to plan. It also had me laughi
Apr 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
I think it's really important to talk about our failures in life. Listening to Day podcasts has firmly fixed that belief in my mind even more. Reading the book made me recognise so many elements of myself as well as it being written at a time that has never been more relevant. In the glitz and glam of this Instagrammable word, if we take a step back and look at ourselves we can learn a lot. *

My personal failure has to be about my friendships, a part of myself that I am still trying to learn abou
Mar 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The chapters cover:
How to Fail at Fitting In
How to Fail at Tests
How to Fail at Your Twenties
How to Fail at Dating
How to Fail at Sport
How to Fail at Relationships
How to Fail at Being Gwyneth Paltrow
How to Fail at Work
How to Fail at Friendship
How to Fail at Babies
How to Fail at Families
How to Fail at Anger
How to Fail at Success

It's the must-have book for perfectionists, and self-critical workers. The lessons learned together with the ego-soothing disappointments that come with life was actually
Pamela Sargent
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Having been an avid fan of Day’s podcast of the same name, I was looking forward to this book. And it didn’t disappoint!

Day believes (quite rightly!) that our failures in life can actually teach us how to succeed better. She addresses many topics in this book and draws on the advice of those she has interviewed both in the podcast and during her journalistic career. I love Day’s writing and tone throughout this book and her honesty and humour shines through. The chapter on her trip to Russia as
Jennifer Lynch
Apr 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Although I have heard of Elizabeth Day's podcast series, I have not actually listened to any of the episodes so I came to this book without any preconceived ideas. I found that Day manages to balance funny recollections alongside poignant memories. I do believe our failures make us better people (eventually!) and I enjoyed Day's honesty in how her struggles have shaped the woman she is today.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a free e-copy of this book in exchange fo
Kate Henderson
Mar 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
**Listened via audible**

Have to be honest, when I first started listening I thought it was a bit too self indulgent and I was ready to DNF. However, I persisted and I’m so pleased I did. Ended up really enjoying this book.
The only reason I did not give this book 5 stars was because I felt like the subject matter was too diverse and felt a little all over the place at times. One minute talking about one thing, and then the next something completely different!!!
By the end though I didn’t want it
Greville Waterman
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful book. I have enjoyed Elizabeth Day’s podcast series for ages and this is far, far more than a rehash or transcripts of the broadcasts.

This is a beautifully written and deeply honest, maybe even cathartic analysis of her life and what makes her tick interspersed with examples from some of her celebrity guests.

She opens herself up about all sorts of personal topics and as a man I hope I am able to say that it gave me an insight into a woman’s psyche and what makes her tick.

A gl
Mar 21, 2019 rated it liked it
An interesting read, I'm definitely going to have to listen to the podcast. I really like the concept of looking at successful people and what they consider to be failures. I think the important message is try not to let failure define or limit you. Life is not always as simple as that, which could cause a little irritation to some, but I think the author's intentions are good. Part memoir and part self-help guide, this is probably going to be a best seller.
Rachael Taylor
Apr 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I listened to this audiobook whilst driving solo and found myself responding out loud in my car. It made me yelp ‘Yes! Bloody hell yes!’ in agreement and made me cry both sad and happy tears as I drove along the M6. Thank you for keeping me company Elizabeth. Your words were powerful and made me reflect on my own failures and how they have shaped me.
Caroline Middleton
Mar 05, 2019 rated it liked it
“We exist in rhythms and melodies that can be harmonious or jarring or syncopated, played in major or minor chords, but the music has to be heard to make an impact. Sound becomes sound by bouncing off other surfaces.”

Great to read in conjunction with the Netflix series ‘Losers’
Katie Fellows
Mar 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Favourite non-fiction read of the year. Just wonderful.
Apr 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the most import books i’ve ever read.
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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.
“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.” 1 likes
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