British journalist Caitlin Moran's memoir-manifesto How to Be a Woman is as funny and careerist as Tina Fey's Bossypants, as divulging as Ayelet Waldman's Bad Mother and as earthy as Cheryl Strayed's Wild.
In chatty chapters that resemble newspaper essays (the author is a TV critic and columnist at the Times of London), Moran blends self-deprecating autobiographical anecdotes with earnest meditations on the parlous state of modern feminism. Rakishly personal and uninhibited, How to Be a Woman treats feminism in a down-the-pub clever, not ivory-tower rarified way, and apart from a few references to Germaine Greer, it takes the history of the women's movement for granted.
How to Be a Woman garners its hot topics from Moran's life, beginning with her pitiable 13th birthday and her simultaneously underinformed and privacy-free adolescence as the eldest in a big home-schooled family. An early gem recounts her reporting debut as a 16-year-old Wolverhampton wunderkind in the all-male London newsroom of Melody Maker: Moran's descriptions of her efforts to fit in are both funny-awkward and inspiring. How to Be a Woman's structure is more thematic than autobiographical, with chapters that shift quickly from the personal to the essayistic on everything from body image to weddings to Lady Gaga, with the exception of some intensely intimate accounts of childbirth and an abortion.
Moran's one-liners and set-pieces are offhand, mischievous without being mean, and occasionally hilariously rude. Some bring out the guffaws and the shakes, and put to rest forever the idea that feminists don't have a sense of humor. --Holloway McCandless, blogger at Litagogo: A Guide to Free Literary Podcasts