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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 listeners say about How Not to Be a Boy

Average Customer Ratings
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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.

5 people found this helpful

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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 people found this helpful

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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!

6 people found this helpful

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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.

2 people found this helpful

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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 people found this helpful

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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.

11 people found this helpful

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A great read

Having watch Mitchel and Webb and enjoyed their talent and work I read one of David Mitchell’s books and wanted to read one by Rob Webb. He is a talented story teller. His story reveals how he came to be who he is. He is honest, funny and shares the difficult experiences that influenced his craft.

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Deep, funny, open, and touching

I found Robert through Peep Show during a 2017 trip to London via Netflix UK. Bought his books as a thank you for Peep Show and it didn’t take long to become immersed and forget that this was the guy who played Jez. Incredibly well written in all respects. Very insightful and thoughtful. Highly recommend to anyone who simply likes a good book.

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Smart, Funny, and Relevant

I've never heard of Robert Webb before now, but I'll definitely be sure to check him out after listening to this riveting memoir.
A good part of Webb's story mirrors my own, with the philandering father who drank too much and often got violent. This is the basis for a journey through Webb's early years with relevant lessons throughout about how society raises boys to act a certain way, repress their feelings, etc. It's topical but never feels too preachy. It's interesting to note that a lot of the issues he touches on are not uniquely British (or American in my case)
Being written by a comedian it's got quite a bit of humor but also a lot of heart. My only comments are some of the very British references were lost on me and sometimes he talks a bit too fast, or sounds too much like he's "reading" (IMHO the best audible autobiographies are those that make you feel like the person is next to you on a long car ride, telling you personally about their life).

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Worthwhile....

It took me a while to warm up to this story but, in the end, I found it worth the time. At first, I felt that it was so deeply a British experience that I was missing a lot of the references and wouldn't be able to relate. But as I settled into the character, I began to really enjoy it and it had a great mix of humor and warmth.

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  • Scott Howells
  • 12-27-17

Ok...

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

10 people found this helpful

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  • sarah
  • 09-02-17

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.

42 people found this helpful

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  • Mr. Benjamin Frain
  • 11-22-17

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.

27 people found this helpful

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  • P. J. Bell
  • 11-24-17

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.

10 people found this helpful

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  • JC
  • 11-09-17

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 :-(

18 people found this helpful

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  • Joshua Read
  • 04-04-19

Don't buy this if your looking for comedy.

I'm sorry rob
It just wasn't funny
I don't mind or care about anyone else's masculinity or feminility. Be who ever you want to be live and let live. In this you just seem to chuck your preachy views down everyone's throat. Not what I expected. Still I am a massive fan of peep show and your other sketches. Maybe you show leave out the gender studies in your next book.

8 people found this helpful

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  • mike shirley
  • 08-25-20

NOT VERY GOOD

I am sure Robert has a good autobiography to tell, unfortunately this wasn't it. We learned he is a bit of a dick, and a preachy one at that. He can be occasionally funny on the tele though to be fair.

3 people found this helpful

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  • M. G. Barker
  • 02-06-19

Irritating, disjointed and disappointing!

Not for me! Having found Robert Webb amusing and entertaining in his sketches and interviews, I had high hopes for this, but by chapter 3, I had to give up - what a shame!

3 people found this helpful

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  • Miss
  • 08-30-17

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!

26 people found this helpful

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  • tungeler
  • 12-04-17

Tedious

Struggled through too much of this. Boring and pointless. Author comes across as very unlikeable.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Maddy
  • 11-29-17

5/5

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

3 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-28-17

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 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-03-21

Great story, just a bit gender-politics-wank-heavy

This book doesn't need to frame itself as an exploration of gender politics. The stories are enough. I was left with the feeling that he is a pretentious twat, who says he used to be a twat and wants to think he's changed, but hasn't, knows it and doesn't like himself much. It's like Russian dolls - snobby knobhead inside a snobby knobhead inside a snobby etc etc. Best bit was the poem reading as an Audible extra.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Nicole
  • 02-03-19

Every person ever should read!

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

1 person found this helpful

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  • Kai1
  • 09-14-17

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 person found this helpful

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  • Isobel
  • 09-24-17

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 people found this helpful

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  • Steph
  • 01-24-21

Intelligent book

Robert Webb is an articulate and interesting person who is much more than "just" a comedian. I love his outlook on life, the self, and gender. Fantastically articulate and a great read.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-11-19

Brilliant, honest and all so familiar

Loved this. Couldn’t stop listening and have since recommended to many friends and family.
Great performance from Robert.
Tears of laughter and some genuine tears.
What a way to call out toxic masculinity!
Recommended read to All demographics.

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  • Marius Nel
  • 06-27-19

Sensible, sensitive, funny feminism for real men

I have, as a straight male, fallen in love with Robert Webb and I'm not afraid to say so. Anymore. This is a beautiful book purely for the masterful handling of the range of emotion he deals with, but also for the way he boldly confronts a past that many, if not most, men have had to deal with.

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  • Mithril Mayhem
  • 05-20-19

Brilliant!

I absolutely loved this book. A wonderfully honest and reflective memoir, which had me laughing out loud and got me odd looks from strangers. I love his take on 'the trick', the interwoven theme of acknowledging and somewhat overcoming harmful gender norms and expectations, is really well done.
I highly recommend this book!