Book Review: Little Black Book by Otegha Uwagba

The Little Black Book next to a cup of cappuccino“This Sunday Times Bestseller whose subtitle is “A toolkit for working women” was an interesting book I did not intend to read, and only picked up because I don’t like to enter shops “just to have a look”. I know the time that goes into running one, and how the livelihood of the people working there depends on sales and so while I was bored waiting for my aunt to do exactly that in every vintage shop in Brick Lane (if you own one and are reading this, I apologise for your time she wasted), I wandered into the Brick Lane Bookshop and, not finding anything on the list of things I wanted to buy, I bought this book that was there by the till.

I did not realise that the book was targeted at women in the creative industries and therefore covered anything from being employed to being self-employed and different women from different walks of life, and it turned out to be more relevant to me than I had anticipated. I don’t agree with everything it suggests (I am not and never will be an early bird, I cannot just train myself to be one, in fact I begin to suspect I suffer from a Cicardian Rhythm Disorder), but it helped to be more confident in my own ways, as I saw other women who’ve been there and struggled with the same things. The chapter on public speaking was particularly insightful, as that’s an area that is not my forte, and the same goes for the one on networking, but I’ve got a few golden tips about productivity and overcoming creative blocks that I hadn’t thought of before. The chapters on money were a welcome subject, as I have been guilty of undervaluing my work in monetary terms, and it was great and very timely to read about the important of rest (which has been a theme for the year). I knew some of the truths shared by Otegha Uwagba, but to read them espoused by a best-selling author gave me the kick in the teeth that I needed: this wasn’t a lazy person who didn’t achieve anything in life, if anything it was someone who achieved a great deal more than the examples of work ethics I had growing up. I also appreciated how much emphasis the author and the women interviewed put on learning new skills, as I just can’t seem to cope without having something I’m studying.

The final chapter, which listed resources, contained a lot of valuable information that I didn’t know about, among some known ones that it was nice to see recommended, and that chapter alone was, for me, worth the cost of the book, which, at a mere £5, is just over the price of a small fancy Starbucks latte (my mental wellbeing and waistline are rather happy that I have chosen to spend that money on this book rather than a caffeinated sugar bomb). It’s likely to be a book that I will go back to over and over again when I need a friend and mentor to give me a piece of advice. It seems to be written that way rather than as a book that you can read in one sitting and forget about it, although at 115 pages in roughly A6 dimensions it can be read quite swiftly. The size makes it also ideal to carry in your work bag to always have the knowledge at hand as you go about your day. If you haven’t read it yet and are looking for a good start to 2019 it’s worth getting it as a cheeky Christmas present to yourself.

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