nonfiction book review: Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton
If you enjoyed books like No One Asked For This by Cazzie David, Everything I Know is likely to be a good fit. It doesn't have the anxiety or the sarcasm, but the eclectic mix of essays sprinkled in with other interestingly formatted ways of telling personal stories endures. Alderton chooses to focus pretty squarely on love to bind these essays together. Mostly romantic but also friendships and love that ends in actual loss. There's dashes of familial love. There's also byproducts of love. Stories about self confidence, battling eating disorders, and having the eternal crisis of what it both means to grow up and grow old.
The book has an interesting format where there aren't chapters or labeled parts, but there are longer essays that introduce a chapter or era in Dolly's life followed by a few vignettes related to the subject and then a list or a recipe or both. These lists and recipes actually ended up being some of my favorite parts of the book. They showcased her humor and wit quite well. The longer essays were also well written, but they might have benefitted from being broken up into smaller essays that were more concise. Sometimes, I would get a bit tired or lost within them and could've used the boost of finishing an essay.
This does make a great companion read with Dolly's recent novel Ghost, which came out following this memoir. In many ways, it feels like a fictionalized version of these stories, but it's also a continuation of many of the themes introduced here. While Everything I Know About Love continues up to age 30 and includes hints of dealing with friends moving on to babies and weddings and super tight friendship bonds taking a back seat, Ghost fully delves into this transitional time of life and what it feels like to be "left behind" by friends whose lives move in different directions or progress down a more obviously linear path than your own. I think they're great to read together.
While I wasn't head over heels for this book, I totally get the hype, and I do find myself wanting to read more of Dolly's writing. Her latest book, Dear Dolly, is all over my Instagram explore page (and not even just this bookstagram account but my personal Instagram), and I'm looking forward to reading it when it comes out in March. I've placed my library request already.