Book of the week: How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

Quick Reads, the life-changing scheme tackling the UK’s shocking adult literary crisis, are the way forward to encourage people to read. I love the short books in the 2021 series including best-selling London authors Caitlin Moran, Louise Candlish and Khurrum Rahman among others.

Sunday Times best-seller and British Book Award winner Louise Candlish is renowned for her dark domestic thrillers and has written a powerful short story for this year’s Quick Reads collection – The Skylight. Londoner Louise is part of this year’s campaign because she has experienced first-hand the transformative power of books – she credits reading for setting her on the right path when she was ‘young and adrift’ and discovered books at a free public library – ‘it means such a lot to me to be a part of literacy campaign that really does change lives.’

I have swiftly read Caitlin Moran’s How to be a Woman and found it irreverent and funny. Caitlin Moran is one of the UK’s best-known columnist and commentator on key issues surrounding feminism. Her bestselling feminist manifesto How to Be a Woman won the British Book Awards’ Book of the Year 2011 and has been specially abridged for Quick Reads this year. Her first novel, How to Build a Girl, is now a major feature film. Moran says ‘having a Quick Reads edition of How to be a Woman makes me happier than I can begin to describe – everyone deserves to have the concept of female equality in a book they can turn to as a chatty friend.’

How to Be a Woman is a 2011 non-fiction memoir that documents Moran’s early life including her views on feminism. The abridged version is equally fresh and makes you want to read the original book.

It’s a good time to be a woman: we have the vote and the Pill, and we haven’t been burnt as witches since 1727.  But a few nagging questions remain… Why are we supposed to get Brazilians? Should we use Botox? Do men secretly hate us? And why does everyone ask you when you’re going to have a baby? Part memoir, part protest, Caitlin answers the questions that every modern woman is asking.

Caitlin Moran became a columnist at The Times at eighteen and has gone on to be named Columnist of the Year six times. She is the author of many award-winning books and her bestseller How to Be a Woman has been published in 28 countries and won the British Book Awards’ Book of the Year 2011. Her first novel, How to Build a Girl, is now a major feature film. Find out more at her website www.caitlinmoran.co.uk 

Caitlin Moran said: “I wrote How To Be A Woman because I felt that feminism is such a beautiful, brilliant, urgent and necessary invention that it should not be hidden away in academic debates, or in books which most women and men found dull, and unreadable. Having a Quick Reads edition of it, therefore, makes me happier than I can begin to describe – everyone deserves to have the concept of female equality in a book they can turn to as a chatty friend, on hand to help them through the often bewildering ass-hattery of Being A Woman. There’s no such thing as a book being too quick, too easy, or too fun. A book is a treat – a delicious pudding for your brain. I’m so happy Quick Reads have allowed me to pour extra cream and cherries on How To Be A Woman.”

For 15 years the Quick Reads campaign has been invaluable to support the one in three adults who do not regularly read for pleasure and the one in six who find reading difficult. Over the past 15 years, these £1 short stories from best-selling authors have helped millions of people – from emergent readers to those with little time or who have fallen out of the reading habit – benefit from discovering the transformative power of reading.

To mark the 15th anniversary, for every book bought from publication now until 31 July 2021, another copy will be gifted to help someone discover the joy of reading. ‘Buy one, gift one’ will see thousands of free books given to organisations across the UK to reach less confident readers and those with limited access to books – bring the joy and transformative benefits of reading to new audiences.

 

The 15th anniversary quick reads include the following titles:

OYINKAN BRAITHWAITE: The Baby is Mine (Atlantic)

LOUISE CANDLISH: The Skylight (Simon & Schuster)

KATIE FFORDE: Saving the Day (Arrow)

PETER JAMES: Wish You Were Dead (Macmillan)

CAITLIN MORAN: How to Be a Woman, abridged (Ebury)

KHURRUM RAHMAN: The Motive (HQ)

www.readingagency.org.uk 

One in six adults in the UK – approximately 9 million people – find reading difficult, and one in three people do not regularly read for pleasure. Quick Reads, which celebrates its 15th anniversary this year, plays a vital role in addressing these shocking statistics by inspiring emergent readers, as well as those with little time or who have fallen out of the reading habit, with entertaining and accessible writing from the very best contemporary authors.

This year’s short books include:

  • a dark domestic thriller from British Book Award winner Louise Candlish (The Skylight), who thanks reading for setting her on the right path when she was ‘young and adrift’
  • an uplifting romance by the much-loved Katie Fforde (Saving the Day), who never thought she would be able to be an author because of her struggle with dyslexia
  • the holiday from hell for Detective Roy Grace courtesy of long-time literacy campaigner and crime fiction maestro Peter James (Wish You Were Dead)
  • a specially abridged version of the feminist manifesto (How to Be a Woman) by Caitlin Moran: ‘everyone deserves to have the concept of female equality in a book they can turn to as a chatty friend.’
  • an introduction to Khurrum Rahman’s dope dealer Javid Qasim (The Motive), who previously found the idea of reading a book overwhelming and so started reading late in life, to find ‘joy, comfort and an escape’ 
  • Oyinkan Braithwaite’s follow-up to her Booker nominated debut sensation My Sister, the Serial Killer – a family drama set in lockdown Lagos (The Baby is Mine)

Over 5 million Quick Reads have been distributed since the life-changing programme launched in 2006. From 2020 – 2022, the initiative is supported by a philanthropic gift from bestselling author Jojo Moyes. This year, for every book bought until 31 July 2021, another copy will be gifted to help someone discover the joy of reading. ‘Buy one, gift one’ will see thousands of free books given to organisations across the UK to reach less confident readers and those with limited access to books – bring the joy and transformative benefits of reading to new audiences.

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