Review: Am I Doing This Right?

Am I Doing This Right? Life Lessons from the Encyclopedia Bri-Tanya by Tanya Hennessy
Published by Allen & Unwin on 13 June 2018
Pages: 260
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
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An honest, hilarious, and incredibly relatable A-Z guide to adulting from one of Australia’s most loved entertainers and radio presenters. 

Tanya Hennessy can’t tell the time on an analogue clock, was once employed as a stilt-walker and still sleeps with Morris, her childhood teddy bear, so naturally, she is the most qualified person to write a guidebook for growing up. 

AM I DOING THIS RIGHT? is an encyclopedia of life lessons that Tanya has learned so that you don’t have to. From A is for Awkward, to B is for Bodies, right through to V is for Viral and Z is for, well, ZZZZ, Tanya has compiled an entire alphabet full of hilarious, horrible, humbling and happy experiences that will make you laugh, cry and ultimately leave you feeling less alone in this complicated world.

This book wasn’t what I was expecting it to be. In hindsight, that was my own fault for not reading the blurb (I enjoy the digital content that Tanya creates, and just bought the book without looking into it any further). I prefer books that follow a traditional structure (i.e., that have a beginning, middle and end), whereas this is a collection of anecdotes.

I really enjoy Tanya’s voice. Much like Em Rusciano, she writes the way she talks, so it’s really easy to read in her voice. Tanya did a great job of capturing the highs and lows of her career — it was actually really harrowing to read the online bullying she received for… taking over from a popular radio duo in Canberra? Reading how isolated she felt, reading how someone had started a hate page for her after she spoke up on RUOK? Day, reading how she wished she could crash her car so she wouldn’t have to be in this world anymore — it was really distressing, and I appreciated Tanya’s honesty. I’ve never paid attention to the other side of public life; I’ve never thought about the vitriol that people in Tanya’s position must receive (and honestly, Tanya’s comments just bolstered my opinion that the Internet is where human decency goes to die). I also loved the parts where Tanya talked about having imposter syndrome and anxiety, which I think a lot of people — particularly women — can relate to.

However, there were a lot of anecdotes in this book that felt familiar — whether there were similar jokes making the rounds on the Internet, Tanya had already done a video about a similar topic or talked about the topic on the radio (the most obvious one that comes to mind is Tanya’s story about Googling ‘women on top’ while at work, thinking that she’d get high-powered business women and not… pornography), and I think this stuck out to me more given how short the sections were. The format of the book also felt like… the book version of her videos (I hope that makes sense), in that there’d be bits that’d be like ‘a new friend says this in this situation, but an old friend would say that.’ I’m just not sure how well it worked as a written format. There were also sections I thought dragged on a little too long (namely, the section on kids), and I found myself skimming them.

Nevertheless, this book is a good reminder as to why I love Tanya’s content in the first place: it’s funny. Like, laugh-out-loud funny, something I very rarely do while reading. Nothing is off-limits. She is quite happy to poke fun at herself, talk about embarrassing incidents, or reveal the incredibly rude-but-hilarious comments small children make about her in the name of comedy. The bulk of this book is light and funny, and it is a very quick read — I read it in about four hours.

This is a fun, fluffy book that covers the highs and lows of Tanya’s personal and professional life that I’m sure her fans will devour. Her voice and and comedic style are as original as ever.


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