Reviewing What it Takes to be Badass

Title: Badass: A Hard Earned Guide to Living the Life with Style and (the Right) Attitude
Author: Shannen Doherty
Publisher: Random House 2010
Pages: 256
ISBN-13 978030759152
List Price: $25.99

As a general rule, I am highly skeptical of books written by celebrities. Ms. Doherty’s expertise is not in the field of psychology or any other subject that would lead me to believe that she would be qualified to write a book. The only references she makes are of those in her own life, friends, family, colleagues and other celebrities. This is not a book based on what we traditionally think of as scholarly research.

Even if it was, would readers really listen to the advice of some Ph.D. on how to be badass? What would the good doctor know about what makes a true badass? It takes real life experience to gain that type of knowledge. I think Ms. Doherty’s got it.

When I picked up this Badass, I had no clue who Shannen Doherty was. I didn’t watch 90210 growing up or follow the tabloids in the 90’s. I was solely attracted to the title because I want to be badass, a kick-ass force to be reckoned with. Apparently, I was misinformed of what being badass really means. Ms. Doherty quickly makes the distinction between bad girl and badass.

Ms. Doherty re-defines badass in a way I never considered. She uses her experiences as a measure of what not to do, without lecturing or preaching. Her writing style is easygoing and conversational. She motivated me to define my goals, stop procrastinating, and get things done. What Ms. Doherty’s writing style lacks in wit and creative ingenuity, she makes up in her ability to inspire. She has outlined all right traits, like confidence, integrity, and authenticity, that make a woman a badass.

I enjoyed the Top 10 Badass lists, nature photographs and quoteable phrases. I didn’t even mind the scrapbooky, personal pictures throughout the book. Her photos do a great job in adding an eclectic, unexpected variety. However, Ms. Doherty’s fans may be more appreciative. The overall layout and style was fantastic.

The book lost my attention in the sections on home decorating and party planning. I understand that Ms. Doherty wants to emphasize authenticity in the badass’s sense of style at home, but I did not find anything about this section particularly riveting. Furthermore, the party planning section (and recipes) did not really seem to fit at all. Party planning does not have anything with my personal development as a badass.

I would have appreciated more beauty and personal style tips. Especially how to develop your own sense of badass style. She uses arbitrary categories like preppy, bohemian, chic, ghetto fabulous, rock star, etc., to define style types. She suggests that “The beauty of categorizing your type is that it makes life simple.” While this may be fine and true for some people, I prefer not to categorize myself into any one of these categories.

I also did not expect badass vacation locales, but I understand her reason for including them. She emphasizes stepping off the beaten path: “don’t hitch your wagon to something just because it’s trendy.” And I agree, that’s what makes a true badass.

Ultimately, I would have appreciated stronger writing. Nonetheless, Ms. Doherty understands what it takes to be badass and does a great job conveying that to readers.


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