Book By My Bedside: How Do We Know We’re Doing It Right? // Pandora Sykes


Title: How Do We Know We’re Doing It Right?

Author: Pandora Sykes

What I Think So Far: From wellness to fast fashion to social media personas, the essays of Pandora Sykes’ new book, How Do We Know We’re Doing It Right? reflect on issues and anxieties relating to modern life. As a fan of both essay collections (often preferring them to works of fiction) and The High Low, Sykes’ podcast with fellow journalist, Dolly Alderton, buying it was a no-brainer for me.

We’re often told as millennials that modern life is full of choices and we can be whoever we want to be. But, with an abundance of choice comes a feeling of uncertainty. Are we living our best lives? Are we making the right choices? And, if we are, why does it always feel like we’re getting it wrong? How Do We Know We’re Doing It Right? explores such anxieties in a witty and considered manner. However, while the content is certainly relatable, I haven’t found myself devouring it at the same rate as I did for similar works.

As a middle class woman in her mid twenties, the essays are entirely relevant. Sykes offers funny and sweet anecdotes throughout her writing that add a nice human touch to the topics she discusses. But, while it’s a perfectly fine set of essays, as of yet, I haven’t found myself connecting to it on a personal level like I did within the first few pages of Marina Keegan’s posthumous work, The Opposite of Loneliness or getting excited like I did reading Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman. Perhaps it’s because the book’s insights are more often paraphrasing the words of others than offering something new. In fact, Sykes makes so many references to other people’s work that it reads almost like an academic essay in places, albeit one on far more interesting topics than the syntax of Old English like those of my bachelor’s degree.

Would I Recommend It? Overall, probably. If you’re a fan of Sykes and/or modern cultural criticism, it’s a pretty entertaining read. The concept of the book is great; its execution, less so. However, what it somewhat lacks in being personable or particularly new and exciting, it certainly makes up for it in its relevance to the millennial woman. And, it’s always nice to be reminded that you’re not alone in your anxieties, especially given the pandemic-related isolation we’ve all faced as of late.

Rating: 6.5/10

Words by Bec Oakes

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