BOOK REVIEW: PANDORA SYKES – HOW DO WE KNOW WE’RE DOING IT RIGHT?

Today, it’s a book review of a brilliant new essay collection by Pandora Sykes, How Do We Know We’re Doing It Right? 

I love a good essay collection. I think they are my favourite type of books to read. And I really enjoyed this essay collection by journalist/broadcaster Pandora Sykes, How Do We Know We’re Doing it Right? What’s it about? Here’s the synopsis:

Modern life is full of choices. We’re told that happiness lies within and we can be whoever we want to be. But with endless possibility comes a feeling of restlessness; like we’re somehow failing to live our best life. What does doing it right even look like? And why do so many women feel like they’re getting it wrong?

From faster-than-fast fashion to millennial burnout, the explosion of wellness to the rise of cancel culture, Pandora Sykes interrogates the stories we’ve been sold and the ones we tell ourselves. Wide-ranging, thoughtful and witty, How Do We Know We’re Doing It Right? explores the anxieties and myths that consume our lives and the tools we use to muddle through.
So sit back and take a breath.

It’s time to stop worrying about the answers ­- and start delighting in the questions.

I love listening to Pandora’s observations and opinions on her podcast The High Low which she co-presents with Dolly Alderton and I was so excited to see her releasing her first essay collection. In the essay collection, she explores: fast fashion, wellness, burn out, celebrity culture, social media, binge-watching boxsets, among others.

These are subjects that she has talked a lot on the podcast and it’s lovely to see her expand on these ideas more. It’s the type of essay collection where you will turn page after page after page. The writing is sharp, analytical, observational as she explores these different issues of millennial life.

One of my favourite parts of the collection is where she talks about her love of reading and why she reads so much. She writes:

“… it is the only time when I feel that I am escaping the noise of the contemporary world. Not just the actual noise, but the anxious noise in my head. Reading is a crucial part of my mental health. I don’t want to say that it is ‘self-care’, as that almost trivialises it and makes it sound temporary. Rather, it is and has always been, an essential part of me. It is probably my defining characteristic. Me without reading is like me without food. I would wilt and become silent. I don’t read because it is ‘better’ than watching television. I read because I don’t know what else to do.”

I love that quote and it’s something that really connected with me as I feel the same way. This is a wonderful, wide-reaching, expanding collection of essays exploring and asking questions of modern life. If you loved Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino, I think you’d love this too.

Pandora also has a podcast called Doing It Right where she talks to a number of different people that explores different issues that are also in the book. I loved the episode with Joe Lycett and have a lot more to catch up on!

If you’re looking for some new non-fiction or an essay collection, this is a great read. I hope there’s more in the future.

Have you read How Do We Know We’re Doing It Right? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Thank you,

Corey.

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