How to Be a Bawse: A Guide to Conquering Life by Lilly Singh

(Forgive me cleaning out my 2019 book reviews, half of which I had written and never posted.)

Read for the March theme (Non-Fiction) of the 2019 ONTD Reading Challenge | How to Be a Bawse on Goodreads

This book was not for me. Lilly Singh is someone I’ve seen through the videos of other youtubers and always seemed awesome. I loved her energy and upbeat attitude. Unfortunately that didn’t translate to loving her book. As someone who once spent actual money on a (used) copy of Kimora Lee Simmons’ Fabulosity, I am no stranger to a word-inventing, motivational self-help book. 

However, having watched none of her individual videos, the tone of the book may have been a little lost on me. I’m not familiar with her usual style, but having read a little bit of other youtubers books, I am familiar with the casual, conversational style that tends to be used, bringing a bit of the video style into the book…and it doesn’t always translate well. (I’m honestly wondering if the editors ask them to do this, knowing their typical audiences.) I’m sure the audiobook, narrated by Singh herself, is closer to what she seemed to be going for – something friendly and intimate, inviting her fans into her world. I probably should have chosen to go that route, but I’ve always had a hard time with audiobooks. My mind wanders. 

It’s funny, because I appreciate a lot of the messages that Singh includes in her book – like the need to control your reaction and attitude when you cannot control a situation or refusing to beat yourself up over a mistake, but instead, using it as a learning opportunity. It’s so basic, yes, but it’s solid advice. Someone picking the book up, wanting to hear it from IISuperwomanII is not going to be mad about that. While these points are delivered are in clear, explicit language, they’re also shown through belabored metaphors. They are not ill-fitting comparisons, but they go on for pages, saying the same thing 12 different ways. I can see how, in a visual medium, this might go over better, if something is acted out or animated, or even just spoken straight to the camera as the point is driven home over and over, you can vary the expression. And honestly, when you need to self-motivate, sometimes it does help to be beat over the head a bit with your goals, just to see them really clearly in front of you. But I didn’t need the beating and it just exhausted me to read that way. I 100% get (now) that this book was aimed for a high-school or younger audience and I should have known that before I picked it up.

I did like the few glimpses into Singh’s life, particularly her writing about mental health. It wasn’t presented as juicy gossip to learn about her and she keeps it mostly surface-level, but it was worth mentioning all the same. Especially for someone who has to self-motivate and run her own business, she wrote well about the obstacles that her mental health can throw at her and how she worked (and continues to work) to get past those challenges.

I still like Lilly Singh just as much as I did when I picked up the book, even though I can’t say I enjoyed the book itself. I think she’s interesting and has a lot to say. I am way more interested in her video output now, more than if she writes another book.

Recommend?: Only if you already like the author and if you pick up a physical copy. The e-book formatting was bizarre and annoying.

To Watch: I’ll definitely check out her late night show