Book 21 – How Not to Grow Up

Book – How Not to Grow Up
Author – Richard Herring
Year – 2010
Genre – Autobiography/Comedy/Travel (probably where Waterstones would put it)
Pages – 315
Bought for me by Ellie Beaumont

Ellie bought me this as a birthday present due to the fact that despite getting increasingly older, I don’t appear to be growing up at all.  In itself, it would be a great present, but what made it even better was the fact that it is actually a book about a comedian that I like a lot – Richard Herring.

Herring is probably most famous for being half of a nineties double act with my actual favourite stand up of all time – Stewart Lee.  Lee has had by far the greater success since then – although the fact that a forty something comedian is still touring regularly without being a household name is pretty impressive – but Herring has him beaten in the book stakes.  I have recently also started Stewart Lee’s autobiography, and have found it surprisingly hard going, yet Herring’s is pretty effortless in the main.

This stems down, at least in part, to the fact that it is not actually an autobiography.  It is one of those books – like those of Danny Wallace and Dave Gorman – which booksellers seem to have been unable to come up with a suitable section for, and thus label as ‘travel’ books, despite the vast majority of them not having anything to do with travel.  Instead, they follow a challenge or theme that is followed in the book a little like a stand up routine follows a structure, with plenty of meandering away from the point in the name of humour.

This particular book follows Herring as he approaches, and then passes, his fortieth birthday.  Having spent the first forty years of his life being childish and immature and sleeping with anyone who will allow him to, he starts to wonder if he should really be growing up a bit now and getting on with the business of being an actual adult human.  All in all, the book is very well dealt with and incredibly funny in places.  His self deprecating style just about cancels out the fact that he is moaning about a lifestyle that most would kill for, and the only real problems come when he starts to philosophise about something that is at a tangent to the story of the book.  I would rather hear his anecdotes about being beaten up by a university lecturer, or a girl who popped to the loo whilst they were sleeping together, only to spend half an hour in there playing Zelda on his DS, than four pages on why blue shoes make you a possible bad wife.  These bits are duller, but don’t stem the flow of the book too much and so can be glossed over somewhat.

If you like books by Wallace or Gorman, then this is definitely a book that is worth a look, and equally, if you are a bit of a stand up fan, then this will also probably be for you.  However, if you don’t like reading some pretty risque stuff, or are not a fan of penis jokes, then you can be forgiven for giving it a miss.  However, you will be the one missing out.


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