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31 July 2018

The book you need to read in your 20s (and no, I didn’t write it)


In a sudden twist, this is the first time I have ever written a solitary blog post dedicated to one book.

As a girl (a woman?) who has kept a book in her bag since buying her first handbag, the lack of book reviews is not because I have nothing to write about. In fact, I’ve read some incredible books over the last twenty-three years, which deserve endless attention.

But no book has quite caught me the way Dolly Alderton’s “Everything I Know About Love did.

I didn’t accidentally pick up the book one day, I didn’t stumble across it in a bookshop, in fact I happen to have been an avid reader of Dolly since finding her The Sunday Times Style column.

The Sunday Times happens to be a luxury you cannot afford in your university years, which may be why, during the years I was away studying, my mum took it upon herself to remove each and every Style magazine from their weekly edition of The Sunday Times.

I would come home after weeks away at university to find up to 12 magazines spread in a pile on my bed, ready for me to devour over the upcoming holiday.

Yet despite this, I didn’t manage pick up Dolly Alderton’s book, until my friend recommended it to me.

Currently being in Australia, I woke up to a message at 4am from my ex-housemate, yet forever-friend Charlotte, who had written:

“Have you read Dolly Alderton's book? 1. You would love it. 2. I can imagine you writing a similar book one day. Lots of love to you as always.” 

And, well, after that message I couldn’t possibly neglect reading it any longer.

Despite its name, Everything I Need to Know About Love happens to be about so much more than love, although obviously, it’s a recurring theme.

It’s about friendship and loss and mental health, it’s about drugs and drink and partying a bit too hard, it’s a homage to growing up and finding yourself and being so lost you think that may never happen.

Written entirely in first person, the book is a memoir of Alderton herself, commencing with laugh-out-loud relatability when she recounts "Everything I knew about love, as a teenager".

"It's important to have a LOT of sex, with a LOT of people... but probably no more than 10."

The book continues in vague, sort-of-chronological order. Detailing the lessons learnt and the ups and downs of life as Alderton navigates her late teens and early twenties.

Maybe it was the chapter on losing a friend to cancer, maybe it was the chapter about her best friend falling in love and feeling left behind or maybe it was the recurrence of bad dates and the recipe for an easy-yet-sophisticated salmon dish I’ve now bookmarked.

Whatever it was, this book absolutely sung to me.

It's eye-opening and relatable and makes you realise that however isolated you may think your feelings are, the chances are everyone else is feeling the same way.

Whether you grew up on the beach in Cornwall, or in inner London, there is something so quintessentially British about the way Alderton talks about her teenage years and her obsession with MSN and dial-up connection in a way which only this generation - our generation - will ever be able to fully understand.

With Instagram feeds full of #bodyinspo and #mindfulness, Everything I Know About Love is an unapologetic, raw tribute to being a woman.

If you're looking for tips to land the perfect man, this isn't the book for you. But if you're looking for a laugh-out-loud,  intimate book with relatability and life lessons on each page, you may find it can change your life.

We could all learn something from Dolly Alderton, but ironically, you will probably find you'll learn more about yourself, than love.

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