This is most definitely one of my new favourite books. I do not know how I avoided reading it for so long, but if you are in your late teens or anywhere in your twenties you MUST read this book. After summer term at university (at home) this was the first book I devoured, I couldn’t put it down. Award-winning journalist, Dolly Alderton’s autobiography Everything I Know About Love is funny, reflective and above all unbelievably honest. From her teenage years to the age of thirty, Dolly (the book is so candid I feel we are on a first name basis) explores her relationship with the concept of love, delving into her romantic relationships, heart-warming friendships and her journey of learning the art of self-love.
“I just wanted to be happy and everyone knows when your thinner, you’re happier….at every turn, society was rewarding me for my self-inflicted torture.”
Granted this book will probably resonate mostly with young adult females so doesn’t have a universal audience, but as a twenty-year-old girl myself this book was incredibly relatable. From the societal pressures of body image, the fear of losing friends to future-husbands and the inevitable passing of time and nostalgia, Dolly covers it all. She expresses her feelings with such honest clarity and confesses to everything that the majority of us are probably too scared to say.
“a woman always slots into a man’s life better than he slots into hers.”
Admitting her sadness at best friend Farly’s engagement may at first seem selfish and jealous, however the fear that “everything will change” and she is being left behind is understandable. As I mentioned, I am only twenty so at the moment none of friends are running off into the sunset to be happily wed, but the book really did make me acknowledge that as you grow up you cannot avoid the fact that friendships will change. School and university actually make friendships pretty straightforward, everyone is doing the same thing at the same stage of life, yet once that ends there is no structure for everyone to follow. There isn’t a standardised time when you should move out of your parents, or progress your career, or get married, or not get married – it is all circumstantial. Dolly expresses brilliantly how confusing this can be, and how hard it is not to critically analyse your own failings based on other’s successes.
“’Is this really all life is?’ … ‘Tottenham Court Road and Ordering Shit Off Amazon’”
Navigating your twenties is the first time you navigate life yourself, without parents or school, and Dolly captures the reality of this beautifully. Her journey throughout the book is wonderful to read as she learns to accept that whilst life may be mundane it is a “blissful mundanity” and a true privilege to live it.
Bordering on a self-help book, Dolly’s autobiography is a fantastic read that depicts the priceless value of friendship and that whilst we all want to ‘grow up’, you never stop learning. I am only on the cusp of what Dolly discusses, so I think it would be really interesting to revisit this book at thirty and see how my relationship with it changes.
Dolly’s debut novel Ghosts is due to be released in mid-October.