November 7, 2012

Review: Moranthology

Moranthology By Caitlin Moran
Available now from Harper Perennial (HarperCollins)
Review copy

MORANTHOLOGY is, rather logically, an anthology of columns by Caitlin Moran.  Moran wrote the bestselling HOW TO BE A WOMAN, but she's been well known in the U.K. for years because of her columns for The Times.  This collection of her favorites covers a variety of topics, including everyone's favorite BBC shows Downton Abbey and Sherlock.

My personal favorites were her ode to libraries and her interviews with famous musicians.  Moran grew up in a council house and was self taught, which gives especial force to her defense of libraries and their ability to making differences in a community and in people's lives.  As for the interviews, I don't think you can go wrong talking about Keith Richards, Paul McCartney, and Lady Gaga.  But Moran manages to write up the experiences in a way that feels fresh, different from the hundreds of articles written about those subjects every year.

I did mention Downton Abbey and Sherlock before, but I think I found her television columns the most tedious.  She writes with a genuine passion for the shows, but I've read more interesting insights into their appeal on the internet.  But most of the time Moran's voice is very appealing.  She has self deprecation down cold and does a good job of owning up to the flaws she reveals in her more personal pieces.  And it's simply hilarious when she admits to not actually knowing where 10 Downing Street is.

MORANTHOLOGY is a fun collection and I'm sure her American fans will enjoy the easy access to her best columns.  (British fans can enjoy owning a hard copy without paying for The Times, as well.)  For readers who aren't already fans, it might be best to start with HOW TO BE A WOMAN.  Moran's written on such a range of subjects that MORANTHOLOGY, despite its division into four themed sections, lacks cohesion.

The pop culture obsession of MORANTHOLOGY will appeal to teen readers, as will Moran's chatty, irreverent voice.  But some caution is advised if recommending this book to a younger reader as Moran uses a certain word that's pretty common in the Queen's English but extremely rude in American English.  It could be a good time to bring up differences in cultural norms.  Moran would probably appreciate it because she's all about the culture.

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