Review: How to Fail by Elizabeth Day

Blurb: Inspired by the award-winning podcast, How to Fail is a book for anyone who has ever failed. Which means it’s a book for everyone. Part memoir, part manifesto, 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. It’s a book that is uplifting, frank, funny and poignant. With chapters on dating, work, babies, anger, success and friendship, it is based on the simple premise that understanding why we fail ultimately makes us stronger. Because learning how to fail is actually learning how to success better. And everyone needs a bit of that.

Title: How to Fail

Author: Elizabeth Day

Publisher: 4th Estate, an imprint of HarperCollins

Genre: Non-Fiction, Essays, Memoir


If you’re after a book that offers some comfort for when things go wrong, you’ll most definitely find that here!

I picked up this book when I was going through a time, as I’m sure we all do, where I felt that whatever I did wasn’t quite good enough. Whether it was not being where I wanted career-wise or my recent (and slightly disastrous) forays into online dating, I felt like a bit of a failure. I’d never listened to the podcast that this book stems from (and you don’t need to to get something wonderful from this book!) so wasn’t sure what to expect but I was definitely not disappointed! Drawing on her own experiences, and adding some recognisable voices, Day sends us the message that strength can come from failure and that self compassion is irreplaceable.

There are several chapters that cover everything from careers to relationships to motherhood, so there’s something for everyone no matter their concerns. This means that there’s also something for people of every age. Personal stand outs for me were chapters on relationships and How to Fail at your Twenties – they’re a wonderful reminder that not everyone will have the same experiences but there’s nothing stopping us from learning from the plights of others to live our own lives to the fullest.

This book would be perfect for fans of Dolly Alderton and Nora Ephron as they all share the same warm yet frank tone that gives the impression of confiding in the comfort of a friend. I really appreciate that in a ‘self-help’ book as it makes it much easier for me to connect with the writing and take on the advice that’s offered.

As for what I disliked, there wasn’t much of note! I would say that there are some chapters that I think I would have benefitted more from if I was older/had experienced more of life. However, there’s nothing stopping me from keeping ahold of it to dip back into whenever I need to so I wouldn’t say that this is a negative!

Overall, I’d recommend this book to anyone who needs a little bit of a pick me up, or just a reminder that when things go wrong, it isn’t the end of the world!

Rating: 4.5/5

Recommend?: Yes

Have you read this book? Or maybe you’ve read something similar? What did you think? I’d love to know!

You can always find me over on Instagram and Twitter if you’d like to discuss this book (or any others that I’ve featured) in more detail 😌

7 thoughts on “Review: How to Fail by Elizabeth Day

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