I’m a firm believer that you have to be in the right frame of mind to read a book. If your head is in the wrong place you won’t be paying attention, let alone be able to buy in to the premise or your role as a reader. While I have suffered from this problem quite a bit in the past, I’d never really thought about the ‘frame of mind’ as being more than just a short-term end-of-the-day type feeling. But, as with most things, this all changed when I had Tigger and I became far more sensitive to the types of books that were suitable to my longer-term frame of mind, what I needed to hear and what to avoid.
By the start of last summer I was well and truly on the way to making the big life decision to leave my HR job and start something new and mine – what is now Handmade by Holchester. With equal amounts of excitement and fear I was really apprehensive about what was ahead and no matter how much your family and friends show faith in you, dealing with that fear is tricky. Totally by chance one day my mummy friend Jemma (who happens to write wonderfully over at Celery and Cupcakes) posted a picture of her little boy ‘reading’ Sophia Amoruso’s #Girlboss and after a throwaway comment about how I’d wondered what it was like the next day Jemma put it in my hand and encouraged me to read it.
I should say that at this point that books of this genre aren’t my usual bag, although that is an unfair quick judgement given that this book doesn’t easily fit into a genre (as Amazon’s categorisation proves). I like a good historical novel, one full of social and cultural commentary and preferably with an artistic lean to it. I also quite like the chick-lit books that you can read with your eyes half closed and sink in to for a while. But I was about to start out on something big and needed a kick of positivity.
Now I’ve deliberately waited around 6 months to review this book, so while some of the details and quotes you might get from a straight-away review won’t feature I wanted to see what stuck as I figured that would be the best test. And right now I’m still feeling as positive about the book as I did when I finished it. The mix of biography and personal experience with analysis about what she took from those experiences was really useful, and while Amoruso does write with a slight air of accomplishment and satisfaction, she has every right too and you certainly can’t hold that against her. There are some sweeping generalisations in the book, like ‘Be Yourself’ and ‘Work hard to get the rewards’, but I didn’t find that necessarily a bad thing. I didn’t pick up the book expecting a manual on how to start a business or for it to be full of revelations about the business world and how to survive in it.
And although the book didn’t challenge my pre-conceptions it did serve to prove that common-sense is a good thing, and listening to it pays off. The biggest take-away from this book for me was that you have to put in the hard work, and grind that stone longer and harder than your competitors, and then you can enjoy the rewards. Amoruso doesn’t pretend it’s all sunshine and flowers, nor does she say that following your gut means you always make the right decision, but her own ‘journey’ has shown that if you trust your gut long-term and stick to your principled guns then it should work out. Should.
And while I know I said this wouldn’t be a detail and quote sort of review, there were phrases in this book that made me do a very rare thing – I typed them into Notes on my phone. Obviously I couldn’t make marks in Jemma’s book and I thought they were worth remembering! Sophia Amoruso’s sense of herself really does radiate from the book and as I was searching for what my new ‘mumtrepreneur’ identity would be like, this stood out:
I don’t think things are black and white. But I don’t think they’re grey either. They’re the colours I make them as only I’m responsible for framing what my ‘success’ and ‘failures’ are.
As I said earlier no revelations in this book but it was just what I needed to read last summer and I did find it a genuinely fun and interesting read.