Neil Turner's Blog

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Listening to books, part III

It’s been six months since I last wrote about listening to audiobooks. In that time, I’ve listened to seven more books, and today I’m going to write about five of them.


Sara Pascoe’s book Animal (Amazon link) is part-autobiography, part-anthropoloCover of Sara Pascoe's Animalgical look at the female body. It’s not a textbook – whilst Pascoe has clearly researched it thoroughly, it’s written with appropriate humour. Pascoe is, after all, a stand-up comedian.

More academic readers, especially those with an anthropology background, might take issue with some of Pascoe’s work, but I found it very enlightening. Reading… sorry, listening to it shortly after the birth of my daughter was timely, as it covers childbirth, and why human offspring are born so helpless when compared to other animals.

It can be a difficult read/listen at times, but I would heartily recommend it to everyone – not just to women, but to men and anyone who doesn’t fall into those two categories.

The Actual One

Cover of Isy Sutie - The Actual OneYou will, by now, have noticed a trend – that I listen to a lot of memoirs by female stand-up comedians, and The Actual One by Isy Sutie (Amazon link) is yet another. Sutie, as well as doing stand-up, is probably best known for her role as the character Dobby in the Mitchell and Webb sitcom Peep Show.

The book’s title refers to Sutie’s search for the ‘actual one’ – the one person that she wants to spend the rest of her life with – but at the same time refusing to grow up whilst her friends get married and have kids.

Sutie reads her book well and it’s a charming story, but I didn’t enjoy this book as much as others.


Cover of Shrill by Lindy WestLindy West isn’t a stand-up comedian, but she is a feminist and her book Shrill (Amazon link) is a memoir about being a loud woman who isn’t afraid to take up space in society. Or, at least, not now – she wasn’t always like that and she discusses her upbringing in the book, as well as her career as a journalist.

It’s a good book, although not such a good audiobook. West is a great writer but I think her delivery could be better; I put this down to having listened to several previous books read by those who perform on stage.

The Girl with the Lower-back Tattoo

Cover of Amy Shumer's The Girl with the Lower-back TattooContinuing with American feminists, I listened to Amy Schumer’s book The Girl with the Lower-back Tattoo (Amazon link) next.

I haven’t really followed Schumer’s career, but this book was recommended to me. It charts Schumer’s life, from being born into a wealthy family that lost almost everything, to living paycheck to paycheck in New York to becoming the household name that she is today.

I really enjoyed it. Schumer sounds like the sort of person I would love to be friends with – a definite guest at my imaginary celebrity dinner party, along with Felicia Day and others. Again, there are difficult sections that deal with non-consensual sex and abuse, and Schumer talks candidly about the shooting at a cinema in Lafeyette, Louisiana where her film Trainwreck was showing at the time. Schumer reads the book well and I heartily recommend it.

Bad Science

Cover of Bad Science by Dr Ben GoldcareI bought Dr Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science (Amazon link) last summer, when it was on offer on Audible but before I’d re-subscribed. It’s a long book – about twice the length of most of the other books that I’ve mentioned today – and it’s not autobiographical. Shock horror!

I’ve followed Dr Goldacre’s work ever since he was a columnist in the Guardian, writing a column of the same name. A number of the topics that he wrote about in his column crop up again in this book, with whole chapters on Gillian McKeith, Andrew Wakefield, various nutritionists and the media. Whilst it is about science, it’s an accessible read, and I say this as a relative layperson. You’ll even learn about how to spot bogus or overstated science stories in the media, such as the ‘most depressing day of the year’ story that seems to re-appear every January.

Dr Goldacre doesn’t read the audiobook himself – instead, it is read by voice actor Rupert Farley, who delivers a good performance.

Up next

I’m currently listening to From Frazzled to Fabulous (Amazon link), the spin-off book to the popular ‘Man Who Has It All’ Twitter and Facebook page. Imagine a self-help book for women, telling them in a patronising way how to be successful whilst managing a family, but gender-flipped. It’s a comparatively short book, and was offered for free on Audible recently.

After that, I’ll be listening to:

Plus there are a couple of other feminist titles on my wishlist. Tomorrow, or whenever I get around to it, I’ll write about the two other books that I’ve listened to recently.

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