Review: The Descent of Man by Grayson Perry

book review of The Descent of Man by Grayson Perry

I picked this book up because it was recommended by some of my favorite BookTubers and I will tell you shortly why I think that was not the best thing for me to do.

Let’s see first what got me excited about this book. First of all, it is non-fiction and my aim is to read more of those. Second, it is short, which is always a bonus point as I tend to lean towards reading heftier books. Thirdly, this is a book about gender, feminism, but particularly masculinity and the role of men in modern society. Since I like to read about feminism I thought this would be a great addition to my Feminism TBR.

So as you see, there were many points in favor of this book and I was pretty excited to read it. I liked the idea of men exploring their masculinity and that the role of men in today’s society is an antiquated one, one in need of revision. I liked the idea that men, in order to keep up with the changes and the ever-evolving and increasing role of women in all aspects of society, need to change and adapt. I love the ideas of this book a lot.

Now let’s see why it wasn’t such a great idea…

Firstly, this book should be read by those who know who Grayson Perry is. I didn’t. He is a British artist, known for many things in the UK, like his exhibitions, TV programs and books. Knowing him through any of these topics would make this book more enjoyable as it would put it into a context you might be able to relate to.

He puts a lot of his personal experiences into this book. So if you are a fan of his, this book will be for you.

Secondly, (take one) read this book if you live in the UK and you want to explore the subject of masculinity. I am not saying this is a revolutionary book on this subject. I found it a bit repetitive and I was already familiar with most of the topics mentioned. So (take two), read his book if you are completely unfamiliar with the subject of men’s role in society. Or if you want a closer look at the role of men in British society.

Thirdly, as I mentioned above, this book was inspired by Grayson Perry’s life and is taking its examples from his surroundings, the UK. For me, coming from Eastern Europe and living in Denmark, this book didn’t hold as much value. For once, it was too negative and its examples were too British. I can relate to the examples, to a certain degree they are a bit ‘universal’, but I would have liked for him to explore the topic from other perspectives too. For example, masculinity in Scandinavia is completely different and the society, in general, is much more feministic. I am aware that this might not have been the scope of this book but I felt it a bit one-sided.

Overall, I don’t think this book was a complete waste of time. But it is definitely a book for those who know of the author or who live in the UK.

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