How to Fail: Everything I’ve Ever Learned from Things Going Wrong

Narrated by: Elizabeth Day
Length: 10 hrs and 2 mins
4.4 out of 5 stars (24 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Inspired by her hugely popular podcast, How To Fail, is Elizabeth Day’s brilliantly funny, painfully honest and insightful celebration of things going wrong.

This is an audiobook for anyone who has ever failed. Which means it’s an audiobook for everyone. 

If I have learned one thing from this shockingly beautiful venture called life, it is this: failure has taught me lessons I would never otherwise have understood. I have evolved more as a result of things going wrong than when everything seemed to be going right. Out of crisis has come clarity, and sometimes even catharsis.

Part memoir, part manifesto, and including chapters on dating, work, sport, babies, families, anger and friendship, it is based on the simple premise that understanding why we fail ultimately makes us stronger. It's an audiobook about learning from our mistakes and about not being afraid.

Uplifting, inspiring and rich in stories from Elizabeth’s own life, How to Fail reveals that failure is not what defines us; rather it is how we respond to it that shapes us as individuals.

Because learning how to fail is actually learning how to succeed better. And everyone needs a bit of that.

©2018 Elizabeth Day (P)2018 HarperCollins Publishers

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What listeners say about How to Fail: Everything I’ve Ever Learned from Things Going Wrong

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  • dot_stockport
  • 07-31-19

Based on partial listen - couldn't finish.

There are a lot of good reviews for this book so you may love it - but it didn't float my boat; in fact, I floated off to sleep and when I woke up and tried again I just couldn't be bothered. I couldn't be bothered to engage with a story in which a basically privileged girl doesn't fit in at school until she got to go to a school that suited her better (what most of us would have given to be able to get out of a sh*tty school situation) or slightly failed a single exam (just one? poor you) or a single driving test (but only on one tiny thing? that's practically humble bragging). I couldn't be bothered to make sense of the muddle of 'everything I (and some people who I interviewed) took away from a not great experience good or bad', and try to make sense of it. I don't see a philosophy here over and above a woolly 'learn from your mistakes'. Now, it may be that it all comes together somehow at the end - but the first hour or two didn't give me enough hope that there was any structure or any clear thinking to carry on.I am aware that the author has argued that people try to deny her her voice, I'm not I'm just saying shut up. Just saying that from my perspective there's nothing to see here.

62 people found this helpful

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  • Professor Pat Tissington
  • 05-25-20

Huge humble bragging

I loved the premise of this book but the content is nothing like the title. The story is actually how someone has done pretty well in a highly competitive environment. I wouldn't want to take anything away from her achievements, but this did nothing to help me work through my failures (which are very real). In fact it made me feel rather useless. I guess it's fairly well written which, given the author's background you would hope. And perhaps if you were more charitably inclined towards the author, then maybe it would be enjoyable. Someone I know and admire very much liked the book. But I'm afraid I found it insufferable.

21 people found this helpful

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  • Natalie Start
  • 05-21-19

The kindest book I’ve read for ages.

I loved this. It’s like someone had borrowed all my thoughts and was talking them all back to me. So familiar and so reassuring. Thank you lovely Elizabeth Day!

9 people found this helpful

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  • SK
  • 04-17-19

To treasure and share

This was a brilliant read/listen. Not only because there was such beautiful honesty, pathos and humour but because I felt like I’d had a night out with a loving but honest friend who wants the best for me. Respect Elizabeth Day!

9 people found this helpful

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  • Miss L Henderson
  • 04-24-19

Elizabeth Day - a philosopher of our modern world

I love Elizabeth Day and have read all of her books to date and listened with joy to the “How Not To Fail” podcast. Elizabeth has a refreshing honesty and describes matters in a very down to earth and matter of fact way. In a world teeming with superficiality, it is refreshing to have some good old fashioned realness. She is also a brilliant writer (all of her books are brilliant) and has a genius way of describing situations in a witty and relatable way. I would highly recommend this book, and everything else Elizabeth does!

8 people found this helpful

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  • Ian Primmer
  • 04-13-19

A great read whilst you go through a breakup!

This book allowed me to grieve the loss of my greatest love so far, amazing!

7 people found this helpful

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  • Rachel Wood
  • 04-01-19

Quietly wonderful

The book is as great as I’d hoped it would be from listening to the podcast. Especially lovely hearing it in the author’s own voice. Her stories of failure and how she makes meaning of them were a tonic

7 people found this helpful

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  • Norma McElroy
  • 03-29-19

Loved it

Following in from Elizabeth Day’s own interview on her podcast I couldn’t wait for this book to come out. It did not disappoint. An incredibly moving and inspiring read.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 12-30-19

Fine but predictable

It is an encouraging and truthful story of failures, albeit, as Ms Day herself put it, as told by a white middle class privileged female whose ‘failures’ could pale in comparison to others struggles. I appreciated the honesty and integrity of the intention of the book and it is incredibly well read and engaging. However my cynicism withheld me from loving the story itself and I found it to be quite predictable.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-10-19

I want to be friends with Elizabeth Day!

A great book. And it’s okay to say miscarriage hurts. It’s private and painful. I cried and laughed. Talented beautiful writer. Thank you.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-29-20

Truthful and easy to read

The openness Elizabeth had in this book is incredibly rare. The book was about her experiences from childhood to her 40s as a woman. I highly recommend this book to others

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-14-19

Great Read

Didn't know what to expect as I had never listened to her podcast, however I really enjoyed the book. Interesting read and very relatable.