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How To Be Champion By Sarah Millican (Review) @orionbooks #NonFictionNovember


Sent to me by Trapeze in exchange for an honest review.

Release Date: 05/10/17

Publisher: Trapeze

ISBN: 978-1409174301

Format: Hardback, 304pp

Genre: Non-Fiction/Memoir

Rating: 4/5

Summed up in a word: Tangential

First Impressions

I was introduced to Sarah Millican quite early on in my stand up comedy phase. Seeing her on programs such as Mock The Week and Live At The Apollo I was captivated by Sarah’s unique style of comedy and the way she views the world. That sense of pragmatical practicality and rational but care free attitude translated so well to the pages of her book and I am glad to have had the opportunity to read it. How To Be Champion is a great read that is part memoir, part self help guide and completely hilarious.

Book Synopsis


Part autobiography, part self help, part confession, part celebration of being a common-or-garden woman, part collection of synonyms for nunny, Sarah Millican’s debut book delves into her super normal life with daft stories, funny tales and proper advice on how to get past life’s blips – like being good at school but not good at friends, the excitement of IBS and how to blossom post divorce.

If you’ve ever worn glasses at the age of six, worn an off-the-shoulder gown with no confidence, been contacted by an old school bully, lived in your childhood bedroom in your thirties, been gloriously dumped in a Frankie and Benny’s, cried so much you felt great, been for a romantic walk with a dog, worn leggings two days in a row even though they smelt of wee from a distance, then this is YOUR BOOK. If you haven’t done those things but wish you had, THIS IS YOUR BOOK. If you just want to laugh on a train/sofa/toilet or under your desk at work, THIS IS YOUR BOOK.

My Review

Sarah Millican’s stand-up comedy is unique, unforgettable and infectiously hilarious. SM has managed to transfer that blunt, unyielding and excessively audacious attitude to the page incredibly well. SM has written an autobiography that serves as a semi-self help guide to make your own life a bit more ‘Champion’.

“I am all about the adjective. Champion means canny means pretty good means not bad means fair to middling means cracking on with life means nowt’s a bother. That’s what I want. To always be champion. I think it is important not to give the pressure of having to be amazing all the time.”

Sarah Millican is such a multidimensional individual, cool and calm at times but can easily become passionate, frustrated or giddy about the world around her, especially when it comes to cake. I have a lot appreciation for SM and her husband Gary Delaney (a hilariously but challenging comedian too). I really like what SM has done with How To Be Champion, it is an uproarious, true-to-life, thoughtful and forthright account of how to live to life for yourself and your own expectations.

Sarah Millican takes us through her life and what is was like to grow up in South Shields (N/E of England). Sarah has always had an old head on her shoulders and, though she worked hard to overcome her fear of performing, she has turned her worldly observations into a successful comedic career. Taking us through school, a series of jobs and her eventual progression into a job making people laugh. What I appreciated about the format is that SM doesn’t adhere to a classic chronological structure (though there is a vague sense of one).

SM is a huge fan of lists (managing to sum herself up in six points), and each chapter is mainly broken down into bullet points surrounding a wide variety of topics, whether it be her first husband, what she loved about school or how great it is to be a comedian. I thought this approach made the book much less predicable and a lot more fun. I also loved the little ‘tips’ section at the end of each chapter that SM included to help you make your own life a tad more champion. Sarah’s comedy is not your run-of-the-mill joke and laugh structure. A lot of her work is funny on many levels, her jokes are sub-textual, contextual and nail-on-the-head hilarious. I have to admit there are several jokes that I appreciate now but didn’t get them the first time round. SM is a comedian that likes to make her listeners use their noggins.

SM tackles a multitude of subjects from light hearted fun like food and nature to more heartfelt topics like love, depression and sexism. Sarah Millican has an infectious boundary busting attitude that forces you to listen and certainly makes you empathise, sympathise and understand. SM acknowledges and elaborates on quite a few gender issues that plague the media and women’s lives that need addressing. I appreciated SM’s openness and honesty when talking about how she has been targeted by the media on several occasions and how she has dealt with it directly. SM also touches on areas of our lives that may need work such as relationships, mental health, friendships and careers; how to approach them and what to do and/or avoid.

Unfortunately this brings me onto the only real issue I had with this book. Now, Sarah Millican hates children. She makes it extremely clear across several points sequestered into other chapters that she isn’t a kid person and they will never enter her life. That to me is fine, I know plenty of people who dislike kids for their own reasons. Put then we get the the chapter about kids and I found it a hard chapter to digest. Hidden away between the chapters detailing how great her job is and how much she loves/adores stationary is the textually unpleasant experience.

In the nine pages, SM elaborates on how much she hates kids and it is not a pleasant experience. As SM spits venom about how inconvenient, messy, inconsiderate and attention hogging children are, all humour and joviality goes out the window. She is deadly serious, made clear by repetition, and it is not enjoyable to read. It got too much for me when she uttered the phrase “To be fair, having a dog is very similar to having a child.” which was far too patronising, naive and embarrassing for my tastes. SM doesn’t really clarify, other than superficially, why she actually hates kids but it is made clear over the course of the entire book. I am glad I didn’t stop reading because I eventually got the bigger picture and was able to forget that particular episode and celebrate the spirit of the book.

Overall, the message of How To Be Champion is a great one. SM encourages us to put ourselves whole-heartedly into everything we do as it will definitely pay of in the future. SM has a brilliant unique way of observing the world and sharing her experiences and I am certainly glad I read the book. SM is both champion and a Champion, working hard to break the age-old image of women and create a more even playing field. SM writing is witty, wacky and superbly observant on many of the aspects of modern society that we endure day in day out.There are constrictions within these pages but we are all human and though we clash/fight, we are all in this together so have a laugh and eat some cake.

Pick up a copy of How To Be Champion here: Trapeze / Amazon UK / Goodreads

About Sarah Millican

Since winning the 2008 comedy Best Newcomer Award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for her debut solo show, Sarah Millican’s Not Nice, Sarah has firmly established herself as a household name, having been nominated three times for The British Comedy Awards People’s Choice: Queen of Comedy and winning the award in 2011.

Sarah’s debut DVD, Chatterbox Live!, was the biggest selling stand-up DVD by a female comedian of all time, shifting over 150,000 units in the first five weeks of release alone. Her latest title, Sarah Millican: Outsider, was released in November 2016 and went straight to number one in the sales chart upon release. A two time BAFTA nominee for The Sarah Millican Television Programme, Sarah’s other television credits include two appearances on The Royal Variety Performance and four appearances on flagship BBC stand-up show Live At The Apollo. As well as her live and TV work, Sarah is also the founder of Standard Issuemagazine for women. She lives with her husband Gary, dog Commander Tuvok and cats Chief Brody and Lieutenant Ripley.

You can follow Sarah Millican on:
Twitter: @SarahMillican75
Instagram: @thesarahmillican


3 thoughts on “How To Be Champion By Sarah Millican (Review) @orionbooks #NonFictionNovember

  1. Ah yes, the classic “A kid is a dog is a kid” line. Never in my life have I heard that one, without having my opinion of the person drop through the floor (at least temporarily). But I can overlook and forgive that flaw in people, and I suppose in books as well. Thanks for the heads-up! It sounds like a good read…perhaps I’d just skip over that chapter.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I really like her stand up, I think I would really enjoy her memoir. Sounds like she may have crossed a line about kids. I used to not really like kids, but now that I am a bit older I have changed. I still want to give this book a try and hopefully am able to look past that part. Great review.

    Liked by 1 person

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