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How Not to Be a Boy

Narrated by: Robert Webb
Length: 8 hrs and 52 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (5,635 ratings)

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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 members say

Average customer ratings

Overall

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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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.

35 people found this helpful

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Ok...

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

6 people found this helpful

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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.

19 people found this helpful

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  • JC
  • 09-11-17

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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    4 out of 5 stars
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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.

8 people found this helpful

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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!

25 people found this helpful

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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!

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

editing awful

book could be brilliant but it was impossible to listen to because of poor editing!

4 people found this helpful

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Not Bad

No too bad. I quite like him as an actor on TV.
But I found his biography to be a bit too much centred on his youth
and not enough on his progress to fame.
Also the use of the "F" word got very boring.
I'm not a prude but sometimes its unecessary.

6 people found this helpful

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Boringly average

I loved the peep show series however this barely covers anything about the channel 4 programme whatsoever. You have to really like Robert to like this book and I found towards the end my dislike for the author. Nothing against him or his views it was just a bit full on. I wouldn’t recommend this audiobook and the extra bonus content at the end was the worst thing I have ever listened to on Audible.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Mark B
  • 29-10-17

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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  • james slater
  • 05-09-17

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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  • Bethanie Jensen
  • 04-09-17

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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  • Jessica
  • 25-09-18

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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  • Tobias Middlemarch
  • 04-09-17

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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  • Brandon
  • 30-08-17

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.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Joanie at Bayside
  • 03-12-19

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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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-04-19

Interesting read

A candid look at his life and his shortcomings and how he tried not to be his father, but found himself repeating the same template in his own relationships far too often. He could talk the talk, but fell so short so often and he is very honest about this.
Enjoyed the read.

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  • Adam Knarr
  • 07-03-19

great listen

Funny, touching, relatable and delivered in that beautiful voice. Mr. Webb didn't spare himself at all. Kudos

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  • John
  • 26-12-18

Robert Webb is wonderful.

I have enjoyed Robert Webb's work, but this is his best work yet. His book is at once very personal and still very universal. His narration that extra warmth to his writing and I would recommend this book to anyone.