Parsnips, Buttered: How to win at modern life, one email at a time by Joe Lycett | Book Review

Book Review | Rating – 4/5 | Genre – Nonfiction / Biography

I’ve always been a fan of Joe Lycett, from his comedy tours to his downright bizarre instagram posts. It was a couple years ago that I go his book as a Christmas present from my mother. I’m not sure why I hadn’t picked up sooner, but spending more time on a train to and from London, now seemed like the best time to remind myself why I enjoy Joe Lycett.


Life is hard. We are a bombarded generation: Facebook, billboards, Twitter, Instagram, taxes, newspapers, watches monitoring our sleep, apps that read our pulse, terrorism. There’s such an onslaught to the senses these days it’s a marvel any of us manage to get out of bed. I love bed.

While we are overwhelmed and confused by the miasmic cloud of information, there are those that seek to take advantage: there are parking fines, hate Tweets, Nigerian email scams and Christmas newsletters from old school friends about their ugly kids. And just as we’re getting round to doing something about it, we’re distracted again.


I, Joe Lycett, comedian, wordsmith, and professional complainer, am here to help. During my short life of doing largely nothing I’ve discovered solutions to many of life’s problems, which I impart to you, dear Reader. Containing a centurion of complaint letters to unsuspecting celebrities, companies and anyone brave enough to clog up my phone, as well as illustrations, one-liners , jokes and life hacks, this little gem offers you a collection of tips and advice* for all manner of modern woe
. (check it out here)


What did I think?

It was pretty obvious from the first page that this was a book written by Joe Lycett, his usual dry, sarcastic humour shone through, making his usual stories just as funny to read as they are to hear. The comedy value of the book made reading all the more enjoyable, especially as I’ve always had issues getting into non-fiction books.

What made the book a constant joy to read was Lycett’s never-ending honesty. Even at the moments where he was legally abliged to keep out certain aspects of the stories he was telling, you could quite easily understand what he was on about, hearing the sarcastic tone as he talked around the obvious.

I will say that the one disappointment of the book was that there were so many stories that he has told so many times before. Yes, this will be because they’re his most recognisable jokes and what made him as famous as he is, however, it then felt like it wasn’t anything new. Not all was lost though, as there were some stories or additions to recognisable stories to make the experience fun.

Reasons to read Parsnips, Buttered: How to win at modern life, one email at a time

  • Constantly hilarious: sounds pretty obvious from a comedian’s book, but this was just full of hilarious stories that had me chuckling on the train. There was something about his writing style, that made reading his jokes almost as funny as hearing them live on stage.
  • Short and sweet: This was one of those rare moments where I managed to get through the book quite quickly, yet I still felt satisfied once I got to the end. It was just the right length to keep me engaged without being disappointed I got there as quick as I did.

At the end of the day…

I very much enjoyed reading this book. Having not seen a lot of Joe Lycett’s stand-up in a while, it was nice being able to re-live it through this book. Each story reminded me of his more famous moments on stage, keeping his dry, sarcastic humour alive. Yes, i’m one of those people who was laughing aloud at some of the stories.

Like I said before, this is one of those books that very much relies on what people already know of the comedian, with a number of the stories featuring heavily in his stand-up gig. However, there was some freshness with little additions here and there that made the book unique.

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