Review: Failosophy by Elizabeth Day

Blurb: Most failures can teach us something meaningful about ourselves if we choose to listen. In Failosophy Elizabeth Day brings together all the lessons she has learned, from conversations with the guests on her award-winning How to Fail podcast, from stories shared with her by readers and listeners, and from her own life, and distils them into seven principles of failure. Practical, reassuring and inspirational, these principles offer a guide through life’s rough patches. From failed exams to romantic break-ups, from career setbacks to confidence crises, from navigating anxiety to surviving loss, Failosophy recognises, and celebrates, the fact that failure connects us all. It is what makes us human. With insights from Malcolm Gladwell, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Lemn Sissay, Frankie Bridge, Nigel Slater, Emeli Sande, Alain de Botton, Mabel, Fearne Cotton, Meera Syal, Dame Kelly Holmes, Andrew Scott and many, many more, Failosophy is the essential handbook for turning failure into success.


Title: Failosophy

Author: Elizabeth Day

Publisher: Harper Collins

Genre: Non-Fiction, Essays, Self -Help



Life is full of failures. All that matters is what we choose to do with them. Elizabeth Day knows this and so condensed everything that she learned from her How to Fail podcast into seven, easy to follow, principles to help and inspire others to use their failures in a positive way.

This book is another one that was a definite contender for my big-sister style self-help book list! These are books that offer some sort of life advice with a friendly, funny and honest tone. Failosophy fits into that perfectly – seven easy to understand principles that help you to look at failure in a more constructive way with personal stories from some of the most successful people we know. These principles are as follows:

#1 Failure just is.

#2 You are not your worst thoughts.

#3 Almost everyone feels they’ve failed at their twenties.

#4 Break ups are not a tragedy.

#5 Failure is data acquisition.

#6 There is no such thing as a future you.

#7 Being open about our vulnerabilities is the source of true strength.

Now, these principles may seem obvious to some, but if you’re someone who finds yourself obsessing over your everyday failures, this book is particularly helpful. This book is all about learning from things that we’d typically see as ‘bad’ – break ups, life goals that haven’t been reached yet, not getting a job etc. – and turning them into positives. What can you learn from it? Is it a blessing in disguise to guide you to a new path? Is it a lesson in just not being so hard on yourself? Day writes with honesty, in a plaintive way that’s relatable to us as readers, using anecdotes from people we see as successful (sporting heroes, business tycoons and actors, for example) to drive home the point that failure happens to everyone but it doesn’t have to define you. This book is written for everyone, from the successful CEO that doesn’t have a family of their own to the twenty-something university graduate who doesn’t know what to do next. This message of not letting what we perceive as failure to define our whole lives is something that I think many people could benefit from hearing.

As for what I disliked, there truly wasn’t anything of note. The only reason for my slightly reduced rating was that I preferred Elizabeth Day’s first book, How to Fail, more. It’s longer and much more personal which I really appreciated! In comparison, while this book is brilliant for a quick read and a little confidence top up, How to Fail is the one that really helped me to change my way of thinking about failure.

Overall, I’d definitely recommend this book (and Elizabeth Day’s other book) to anyone who, like me, struggles with the idea of failure and is looking for a way to take a different approach to it.


Rating: 4/5

Recommend?: Yes

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

You can always find me over on Twitter if youโ€™d like to discuss this book (or any others that Iโ€™ve featured) in more detail ๐Ÿ˜Œ


3 thoughts on “Review: Failosophy by Elizabeth Day

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