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 an audiobook for anyone who has ever failed Which means it s an audiobook 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 never otherwise have understood I have evolved as a result of things going wrong than when everything seemed to be going right Out of crisis has come clarity, and sometimes even catharsis Part memoir, part manifesto, and including chapters on dating, work, sport, babies, families, anger and friendship, it is based on the simple premise that understanding why we fail ultimately makes us stronger It s an audiobook about learning from our mistakes and about not being afraid Uplifting, inspiring and rich in stories from Elizabeth s own life, How to Fail reveals that failure is not what defines us rather it is how we respond to it that shapes us as individuals Because learning how to fail is actually learning how to succeed better And everyone needs a bit of that

9 thoughts on “How to Fail: Everything I’ve Ever Learned from Things Going Wrong (Audio Download): Elizabeth Day, Elizabeth Day, HarperCollins Publishers Limited: Audible Audiobooks

  1. Kate Hopkins Kate Hopkins says:

    I enjoyed the three episodes of Elizabeth Day s How to Fail podcast that I heard interviews with Jessie Burton, Olivia Laing and John Crace Day was a good interviewer, asked really interesting questions and her guests were refreshingly frank about things that had gone wrong for them, and how they d coped I looked forward very much to this book as a result, but I m sorry to say I really didn t enjoy a lot of it.I think the main problem is that Day has decided to make the book essentially a memoir, rather than a summary of things she learnt from the podcast Quotes from the podcast do feature, but only brief ones, and with rather too much space given to Dollie Alderton and Phoebe Waller Bridge at the expense of others Day has, it is true, had two horribly bruising encounters with failure her failure to conceive a child not, as she rightly points out, a personal failure, as it was essentially down to biology and her failure to remain married to BBC journalist Kamal Ahmed She writes gracefully, eloquently and well about both of these, and the chapters on divorce and childlessness are the two best in the book by a long way.The trouble is that How to Fail isn t a book on divorce or infertility it s meant to be about life failures in general, and of all kinds And though Day has experienced sorrow and difficulty in her life the loss of grandparents and an ex boyfriend, being bullied during a brief period at a Belfast boarding school, developing a semi eating disorder in her twenties due to an obsession with body image it s hard to take quite a lot of the things she lists as failures as seriously as she d like I couldn t feel that sympathetic with her claims to have failed at sport, music and art as she didn t really demonstrate a passion for any of these things her desire to play tennis largely seemed to relate to being invited to tennis parties Some of her claims to failure struck me as dubious I don t think she can be said to have failed at her twenties because she didn t devote herself to hedonism and light hearted affairs, as they might have not made her any happier, and possibly could have jeopardised her later successes Claiming to have failed at work because as an Observer staff journalist you weren t given your own column or a particular speciality in seven years seems a bit over the top, though I m sure she did experience some frustrations I m not sure that Day has failed at families because she didn t tell her parents she was frightened and lonely on a solo exchange to Russia at the age of 13 again, it seems a bit over the top or that she s failed at anger because she didn t yell at a post divorce much younger boyfriend for being reluctant to father her child At worst, the failures depicted seem just a bit silly, as with Day s claim she learnt to fail at friendship when her best friend at primary school played with another girl for a few days and Day got annoyed there ve somehow been no failures since or the thoroughly vapid chapter about how to fail at being Gwyneth Paltrow , which largely consists of Day telling us about a week undergoing luxury spa treatments At times like this in sharp contrast to the chapters on divorce and childlessness one wonders if Day really knows what failure feels like for many people.It doesn t help either that Day uses enormous sections of the book to list her multiple successes I don t think I ve read about so many achievements professional, academic, sexual and social in an autobiography since Claire Tomalin s, and Tomalin at least had the excuse of being in her eighties and having come through several appalling tragedies Nearly every page there s a reminder of one or triumphs, including how well Day did at Cambridge, how many amazing and utterly devoted friends she has many of them celebrities , how well her career as a journalist has gone, how short her periods of singledom have been two months only until the age of 36, and even post divorce, if she got together with the younger man quite soon, and is now re partnered, she can t have had that much time in the dating game, unless she was manically doing it all the time , how admired her novels are and how easy it was to get freelance work once she d left the Observer, how many wonderful travels she s had, how many parties she gets invited to, how she was approached by a modelling agency and how slim she still is at 40 this was meant to be in the context of having failed to have a supermodel body but if Day s nearly 6 foot and still a size 12 or 10, or even sometimes an 8, she s hardly doing badly At times one feels the book should be called How I Learnt to Be Very Successful But Sometimes Failed and it can certainly unintentionally I m sure make readers feel inadequate I ended up in tears and had to be comforted by my partner at one point, as I felt that I d clearly failed in various aspects of life I don t think somehow reducing readers to a sobbing heap was the effect Day wanted the book to have The other dispiriting thing I found in the end was that the book, unlike the podcast, was somewhat conventional There was a lot of the standard stuff about learning to love oneself and make time for one s self, and about how women should be assertive and have self belief all true enough, but not particularly original There s not really enough criticism of either social media or internet dating, neither of which seem much fun but about which Day seems pretty enthusiastic, and a strange underlying message that you have to be extremely popular with loads of friends to be happy I m not sure how far other than some brilliant writing on infertility and not beating oneself or others up after a divorce, which I m sure women in these situations would find invaluable this book would really help anyone feeling very bruised from a failure of some kind, or wanting to change their life And there is a great deal of preoccupation with the self rather than any larger moral or ethical concerns.On the other hand, Day does write very engagingly and often well, and there are some very interesting passages throughout, including some great stuff on how nerves can make you seize up as a performer in music or sport now, that really was useful to read about , on how even supposedly dream jobs can disappoint, on the roles people automatically get assigned in families, and on quite how hard being in one s twenties is The material on childlessness, as noted, is beautifully written and courageous, and Day comes across as a generous person I also hugely enjoyed some of the snippets from her podcast contributors, particularly Olivia Laing, Jessie Burton, David Nicholls, Sathnam Sanghera and Gina Miller I just wish there were of them.I do believe one should be honest as far as possible in an review, and I have to admit that as a whole I didn t much enjoy this book and found it made me feel extremely inadequate But this is not to say that there is not some excellent writing in it, that the idea behind it wasn t a good one it is or that others might find it much pleasurable than I did And even I found some bits to savour So my reaction may be a purely personal one and shouldn t put off other readers.

  2. Zandra Zandra says:

    I was expecting a humorous and deep discussion of failure, but the bits of this book I read consisted of a rather dull, superficial account of disappointments and difficulties in the author s own life, with comparisons to those of celebrities I felt that was she was describing was ordinary life for most people in that age economic geographical group The sense of being an outsider is after all very common, as is not turning out to be good at things you wanted to do I like her novels though, especially The Party.

  3. Greville Waterman Greville Waterman says:

    What a wonderful book I have enjoyed Elizabeth Day s podcast series for ages and this is far, far 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 glorious book that entertained, educated and made me think.

  4. Dr Annie Hickox Dr Annie Hickox says:

    Like many who buy this book, I had already become hooked on Day s podcast, also called How to Fail I was interested not just in the stories of those whom she interviewed, asking them to list three failures in their own lives, but I also found myself captivated by Day s own story In particular, her honesty, warmth, and startling intelligence made me want to hear about her I have always admired her writing novels and journalism and to at last be able to hear her personal story felt like I d mined into something very deep and rich.This book lived up to what I admit were quite high expectations She takes us through stages of her life, from childhood to her 40th year, often relating her experiences with searing pain, humility, and humour In my role as a clinical psychologist, I often meet young adults who struggle to succeed and I have recommended this book to several people as a useful adjunct to therapy Viewing success as a monolithic goal, whether it is achievement, weight, marriage, money and or status, tends to result in a fragile and quite lonely structure, if it is does not include the ballast of happiness and fulfilment This kind of success often draws us away from our true friends, and can lead us to feel we are living a life that is not truly our own.This book describes with candour the decline and fall that can follow the initial highs and rewards of success It provides the reader with a sense that the author has been there before, and we are not alone It helps us recognise that what we thought was success may in fact be a mirage Day shows that meaningful relationships, being true to ourselves, and making mistakes may provide a fulfilling path to where we eventually want to be.I know I will refer to the book s penultimate chapter again and again, as it deals with how we, as women, often fail at anger by bending far too easily and often unknowingly to please others By overlooking and ignoring our own needs, we may even fail at success Thankfully, the author has managed to make this book about failure a success in her own right She has succeeded in making lemonade from the lemons that life has given her, and her readers will be grateful for this.

  5. jenlar jenlar says:

    I have followed Elizabeth from the publication of her first novel, Scissors Paper, Stone, and she just goes from strength to strength as a writer This is a very honest, sometimes very painful, examination of her own life experiences juxtaposed with the experiences of her, often famous and also searingly honest, interviewees Humour and poignancy are beautifully balanced so there is no feeling of self indulgence She has a natural empathy which makes this a compelling read for everyone, all age groups and everyone who has ever failed.

  6. DU DU says:

    Complete Waste of Money

  7. sudipta das1 sudipta das1 says:

    Expected better

  8. Anna Anna says:

    I really like the language this book is written I also like that personally, I can relate to many things, described by the author I guess I needed to find some justification to my life experiences and this book graciously provided that

  9. Steph B Steph B says:

    Really interesting read