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How Not to Be a Boy

Narrated by: Robert Webb
Length: 8 hrs and 52 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (341 ratings)
Non-member price: $31.21
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Publisher's Summary

Rules for Being a Man:

  • Don't cry
  • Love sport
  • Play rough
  • Drink beer
  • Don't talk about feelings

But Robert Webb has been wondering for some time now: are those rules actually any use? To anyone?

Looking back over his life, from schoolboy crushes (on girls and boys) to discovering the power of making people laugh (in the Cambridge Footlights with David Mitchell), and from losing his beloved mother to becoming a husband and father, Robert Webb considers the absurd expectations boys and men have thrust upon them at every stage of life. Hilarious and heartbreaking, How Not to Be a Boy explores the relationships that made Robert who he is as a man, the lessons we learn as sons and daughters, and the understanding that sometimes you aren't the Luke Skywalker of your life - you're actually Darth Vader.

©2017 Robert Webb (P)2017 Audible, Ltd

Critic Reviews

"Quite simply brilliant. I (genuinely) cried. I (genuinely) laughed out loud. It's profound, touching, personal yet universal. I loved it." (JK Rowling)
"Takes us deftly from hilarity to heart-stopping hurt.... A truly great read." (Dawn French)
"A witty and honest coming-of-age story." (Ian Rankin)
"If you have ever loved, liked or known a man, please read this book." (Katy Brand)
"A brilliant, brave book." (Matt Lucas)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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5/5

Listened in one swoop, tbh I had never heard of this "bloke" and now I have a new personal hero (?)

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Very much recommended

Articulate, genuine, honest and flowing, this representation of a life was moving and I am very glad indeed that I listened.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Every person ever should read!

Wonderful insight into Rob stepping out of toxic masculinity and acknowledging how it shaped him

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Outstanding listen, devoured it with haste

Where does How Not to Be a Boy rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?
A great listen- I liked the fact this memoir had more of an angle to it, like comedy bio meets Caitlin Moran esk commentary on the patriarchy.

What was one of the most memorable moments of How Not to Be a Boy?
When he explains his family came up with a code word for the oncoming tide of gender nonsense that his daughter will get taught at school. His daughter asks if going to non-uniform day as spiderman and not a princess if she'll get laughed at and says "Shall I tell just them they’re laughing because of the trick that makes men sad and women get rubbish jobs?’ Out of the mouth of babes aye.

Any additional comments?
Listening to his charming voice for eight hours was no challenge!

Just to let you know, I work for Audible, but the views expressed in this review are 100% my own.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Absolutely adored this book

I loved Robert Webb before and I love him even more now. This book fills me with hope and optimism for men of the present and future. I would recommend this to everyone.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Fucking Brilliant.

I loved the openness and complete honesty. The hilarious third person conversations by Rob.
Everything about this book is brilliant.
Let your sons and daughters read this book.

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Wonderfully candid and generous

Robert Webb is completely open and candid, allowing his audience to bare witness to his strengths and many more weaknesses. His autobiographical storytelling is very approachable and generous in reliving his earlier years up to the present. In sharing his ups and downs he reflects beautifully on his experiences with gender bias, homophobia and demistifying male stereotypes. His humour certainly helps to keep the listener engaged too. Loved it thoroughly. Will listen again!

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Moving and funny

this was laugh out loud funny, but I didn’t expect it to be so moving. It gave me goose bumps, tears and a lot to think about. One of the best books I’ve ever consumed.

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Brutal, honest, warm & hilarious in equal measures

Absolutely stunning - hilarious, poignant, humbling, side-splitting, confronting, heartbreaking, brutally honest, did I mention hilarious??

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Great Book.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story. I would recommend it to anyone. Well done "Webby". Thanks.

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  • james slater
  • 05-09-2017

Brilliant read. Well worth the credit.

Alternating between furiously funny and fascinatingly introspective, this book had me laughing out loud and blinking back tears.
Bought and finished in one day and left me wanting more.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Mark B
  • 29-10-2017

Smart. Funny. Brilliant. Honest. Groundbreaking.

I didn’t know who Robert Webb was. I’m from across the pond, so have not had the pleasure of watching his brand of comedy. The title and description intrigued me, so I pre-ordered the audio book impulsively.

Best decision I could have made. The book is part memoir, part slice of British culture, part research paper.

I loved this audiobook. I’m still thinking about it. This man is someone I want to learn more about. I’m a fan.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Bethanie Jensen
  • 04-09-2017

Oh god. SOOOOO good!

It's been a long time since I read a book that was entertaining, enlightening, poignant, and a million other complementary adjectives. I am laughing and welling up in equal measure. I have to say, it is very brave of him to include so much personal info from his teenage years. You have to get this book. You will NOT regret it!

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Tobias Middlemarch
  • 04-09-2017

Thank You Robert.

I love your story very much, and it helps to hear from someone who's undergone trauma similar to mine. Thanks for sharing it.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Brandon
  • 30-08-2017

Some Girls Wander By Mistake

Agree or disagree with his positions as laid out in the book, what is provided is an interesting look inside Robert Webb's head. One's experiences and life help provide an excellent insight into their views and, if you ever wondered what drove the man, Robert gives you a road map to his. That is a core strength to the book if you want to understand him better.

The weakness of this book is that it gets lost somewhere along the way. You will be moving along this memoir and then the soapbox comes out of nowhere. It's his book and it is his right to wedge it in out of nowhere, but it comes off as forced and ruins the flow. The last few chapters are a perfect example of this. Great memoir segment and then BAMMM "Hello, I am Robert Webb and let me explain again to you that I am a feminist ally." No problem with him saying it, just a matter of flow.

The again, you have to take all of this with a grain of salt. It comes from the point of view of a person who can play the bass line to "A Forest" by The Cure.

7 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-04-2019

Interesting read

A candid look at his life and his shortcomings and how he tried not to be his father, but found himself repeating the same template in his own relationships far too often. He could talk the talk, but fell so short so often and he is very honest about this.
Enjoyed the read.

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  • Adam Knarr
  • 07-03-2019

great listen

Funny, touching, relatable and delivered in that beautiful voice. Mr. Webb didn't spare himself at all. Kudos

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  • John
  • 26-12-2018

Robert Webb is wonderful.

I have enjoyed Robert Webb's work, but this is his best work yet. His book is at once very personal and still very universal. His narration that extra warmth to his writing and I would recommend this book to anyone.

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  • Jessica
  • 25-09-2018

An autobiography through the lens of gender

It isn’t often that men write about gender without sounding pompous, but Robert Webb manages it skillfully. It’s a frank discussion of toxic masculinity, grief and the growing pains of life. I’m impressed by how much Rob reveals of himself, the good, the bad, and the cringe worthy teenage journal entries. I’m so glad I picked this one out for a listen.

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  • mary kyler
  • 06-09-2018

Very good listen

Listened the whole way through without stopping. Will suggest to me sons that they read or listen to this book for it’s thoughts on gender definition

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  • sarah
  • 02-09-2017

Captivating charming sad redemptive

Great performance - really special having the book read by the author as it feels like a book just written for me.

As a child of 70/80's really lived and loved all the cultural references.
I had no idea of the books subject but do captivated listened in 2 marathon sessions while gardening....satisfying listen and very tidy garden thanks for enjoyable day.

27 of 29 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
  • jakki
  • 25-11-2017

editing awful

book could be brilliant but it was impossible to listen to because of poor editing!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr. Benjamin Frain
  • 22-11-2017

Self indulgent

I've always enjoyed Robert Webb's work but I'm saddened to say I was left incredibly disappointed by this.

At times it was toe-curlingly embarrassing, and not because of the related anecdotes but because of the excessive self indulgence. The personal tragedy is beyond question but the criticism levelled at his father seems over the top given what we are told about him.

Ultimately, Robert just came off far more dislikable than the opinion I held of him. And the ultiimate failing was that he spent so long telling us that he ended up 'like his father' drinking and smoking his way through his childrens early years but then offers no insight into how he actually turned it around.

Many of my colleagues loved this book. It wasn't for me.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • JC
  • 09-11-2017

Awful audio quality

The book is great, love the way and how it is told, but that does not forgive the appalling audio quality. I am listening on android device, latest version installed and the app is the latest update. I have tried both the normal quality and the best available, both are like listening to a poor quality radio programme on LW :-(

12 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • Trebor
  • 16-12-2017

Not Bad

No too bad. I quite like him as an actor on TV.
But I found his biography to be a bit too much centred on his youth
and not enough on his progress to fame.
Also the use of the "F" word got very boring.
I'm not a prude but sometimes its unecessary.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • P. J. Bell
  • 24-11-2017

Honest

So I just finished “how not to be a boy” by Robert Webb which was a goodish book. Funny touching and left you thinking the main character (Robert Webb) was not a great person which is very honest in a novel.

However the pod cast attached to the end of the audible version made me burst out laughing in public place a few times in a row so would recommend the audible version/extended version.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Miss
  • 30-08-2017

Completely brilliant. Very funny and very poignant

Would you consider the audio edition of How Not to Be a Boy to be better than the print version?

This is brilliantly narrated by Webb himself, and you get SO much from autobiographies narrated by the author. When the author happens to be Robert Webb, you get a gold-standard, addictive audiobook that you'll immediately try to make everyone else on the planet listen to as well. He delivers the funnies to perfection, but his economy on the more emotional and poignant passages is almost unbearably moving. I feel like cheering and clapping.

What did you like best about this story?

It's completely satisfying if you're a fan of Robert Webb as a comedian, or just like amusing books in general. It's VERY funny throughout and the humour is smart and stylish. But there are passages and observations that are described so movingly by the author, the emotion will pin you to the spot.

Which character – as performed by Robert Webb – was your favourite?

The way the author commits all the members of his family to the page is just lovely, flawed and human though they are. But it's the author/narrator himself who you really root for. I have so much respect for the way he's laid himself bare in writing this book, and am hugely impressed by his wit. I was a fan before, but now I'm die-hard.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

YES and then I'd go back to the beginning and start again, in the same sitting.

Any additional comments?

It's achingly brilliant, I can't recommend it highly enough!

20 of 27 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr Andrew M Winder
  • 02-09-2017

More, more and more please...

What a great listen, very entertaining and funny. Thank you for making me laugh and enlightening me on many of your experiences; great stuff Mr Webb.

9 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Scott Howells
  • 27-12-2017

Ok...

Not a bad listen. Some genuinely funny and heartfelt anecdotes but it was a little on the boring side.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Ian Webster
  • 07-11-2017

Ranty, ideological yet thought provoking

I felt forewarned by the promotional appearances by the author that this would indeed use the cultural filter of gender-politics when I started listening and the book lived up to that very much. It was well-performed and I feel like his intentions were realised. I didn't leave this book liking Robert Webb any more than I went into it, since he is by his own admission a deeply flawed person. I did, however, leave this book knowing more about a moderate leftist perspective on gender politics.

There were certainly points on which I agreed, such as the oft-overlooked issues that men in society face when growing up although I did not agree on his definition of "Patriarchy" simply because I've never heard 2 feminists agree on a definition. The word tends to be defined and redefined based on the intention of the user. So as a persuasive document, this book didn't quite hit the mark, however I feel I must mention that it has given me pause.

As for the performance, Robert Webb is fantastic as narrator and really brought the story to light. I wonder if this would have been a much, much better book had the gender politics been made more subtle and implicit rather than how the narrative segues into explicit stating of his political ideology. It might have made this an easier listen and made the listener/reader reach their own conclusion.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful