‘‘If I could take what I’ve learned and make one menial job easier for you, or prevent you from having the kind of sex where you feel you must keep your sneakers on in case you want to run away during the act, then every misstep of mine was worthwhile.’’

TITLE: Not That Kind Of Girl

AUTHOR: Lena Durham

GENRE: Autobiography/Memoir

PUBLISHER: Fourth Estate Publishing


PAGES: 265

WARNING: Controversial content and many euphemisms!

This is a book I’m not embarrassed to say that I devoured!  It’s much shorter than the books I would normally read, which is a relief, but just as addictive. I took this book everywhere with me for the best part of a week or so, including on some insanely long train journeys. In doing so, I managed to get a couple of stares by curious commuters, I guess due to Lena’s controversial persona or maybe the neon pink cover. Either way the general public rather unusually took an interest in my choice of reading, unless this is something everyone does on trains!

The piece is a thought-provoking memoir that is contemporary in its approach, based more on thoughts and perceptions than actual events. The tone is both frank and light-hearted which make the text such a gripping read. Instead of being chronological, the chapters take place in relation to themes covering topics such as relationships, childhood and work.

“Despite being only twenty-eight, Lena has clearly done more than her fair share of living”

There is certainly a level of uniqueness within this memoir, as she wrote it at the age of twenty-eight, rather than at a more conventional senior age, which I think adds to the book’s vitality. Despite being only twenty-eight, Lena has clearly done more than her fair share of living which made the pace of this book fast and interesting. This being the case, her take on her own life is witty and unconventional, making it very relatable to readers and immensely popular.

This work has inspired both highly critical and highly celebratory reviews due to its controversial content and gritty tone, but I’m definitely a fan of it nonetheless. I have struggled in my many years as a devoted bookworm to read a book more honest, gritty and clever in its approach in connecting with readers.

“Dunham’s aims for the memoir are to advise and educate using her own life to inspire success in others, and she certainly does this”

Elements of her story had me laughing, crying and pondering moments of my own life that I took for granted. Dunham’s aims for the memoir are to advise and educate using her own life to inspire success in others, and she certainly does this! The text is both thought provoking and hilarious, a much needed break from the classic literature I’ve been reading for my course!

In some ways it plays the role of a guidebook to living in the twenty-first century and life through a feminist gaze. I look forward to reading anything else she publishes in the future.

“The honest tone and approach to these issues is refreshing”

The text also touches on many of the taboo issues that people want to read about, but that many writers are afraid to publish, including mental health, the struggles of modern dating and society’s obsession with body image. The honest tone and approach to these issues is refreshing, which makes Not That Kind of Girl a much needed change to the issues usually approached by books of this sort.

At less than 300 pages, this is a book that is recommended for everyone, feminist or not, as it is both immensely entertaining and provides food for thought.

Whether you love or hate Lena Durham due to her unconventional personality, and the fact she is a self-confessed ‘unreliable narrator’, this book is worth a read! Everyone can gain at least something from this. Even if it simply confirms beliefs you already have or changes them completely. Go on, get reading!


Lizzie Robinson

Image credit: Amy Wilcockson

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