Published by Portfoliio on May 6, 2014
Genres/Lists: Career, Memoir, Non-Fiction
Length: 4 hrs, 44 mins
Read synopsis on Goodreads
Buy the book: Amazon/Audible (this post includes affiliate links)
One of the great things about reading all of the time is that I typically pick up books I like. I know where to look for recommendations (such as Sarah’s Bookshelves) and have a few favorite genres, including inspirational memoirs by women who have made it big in their careers. That’s why I was excited to pick up #GirlBoss by Sophia Amoruso. It has all the makings of a great book. After all, it’s the rags-to-riches success story of the brains behind NastyGal.com and because I loved You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero and they are similar in topic, I went in with high hopes.
Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy the book. At all. I can understand why the book is popular because Amoruso is a woman who went from thieving and dumpster-diving to becoming a multimillionaire in a few short years, but I had a hard time connecting her past with her present. There are others who loved this book, including Andi over at Estella’s Revenge, so I recommend you check her review out before taking my word for it.
My main issue with this book is that Amoruso seems to lack any sense of gratitude. She spends more time talking about all of the things she did than recognize the contributing factors that helped her along the way. Her attitude is very “of course these things happened to me because I’m awesome” and there’s little to no recognition of the people who helped her become the success that she is today. I’m not the only person to think this – Jezebel and The Guardian have weighed in on the subject, as well (which I may or may not have read back in 2014 – I honestly can’t remember). That’s not to say she hasn’t achieved a lot – she certainly has – but no (wo)man is an island and I find it hard to believe she did it all on her own. There were, to be fair, a few times where she gave a shoutout to some great employees but she quickly pivoted back to the fact that she hired them than the fact that they did any work. The praise was glossed over and while that makes sense because it’s her memoir, it was part of a larger theme. Of course, it’s possible that this was the tone that I picked up from the narrator and that I would have read it differently had I read it in print, but I can’t go back and change that now.
More than that, I was turned off by her life advice. For example, she advises the reader to “be humble and never forget where you come from,” which makes sense because she used to be a serial thief and has clearly changed her ways. But it seems that she has forgotten where she comes from. She spent a lot of time talking about her inability to keep a job for more than two weeks and needing time to find what she liked to do but then quickly pointed out that she’d never hire someone who interned for a few years. Why? Because they clearly didn’t know how to work hard at something. I don’t have any qualms with her hiring choices, per se, but she didn’t even acknowledge that there was some conflicting information there. After all, if she became a success and needed time to figure out what she wanted to do, isn’t it possible that they did, too? It doesn’t mean she has to hire them, but understanding the two were related would have been nice.
Neither of these things, however, bothered me as much as how she started her company. She tells the reader to “never take anything for granted,” but her entire business was built upon deceit and taking things for granted. The first item she sold was stolen, she built her first following on MySpace using a program that was in violation of their Terms of Service, and she launched her site after being kicked off of eBay for something similar. These actions may not have been illegal but they are certainly unethical and I wasn’t too keen on taking advice from someone who became a success by cheating the system. Honestly, I knew this going into the book but based on other reviews I was expecting some sort of redemptive story but I was wrong, wrong, wrong.
That’s not to say it was all bad. There were some good parts and I particularly enjoyed her discussions about her past. I found her to be much more honest and insightful when talking about what and why she did things in the past than when she discussed present day. But in the end, I was unable to separate the current Sophia from the old Sophia. She seemed quite smug about her beginnings, which made taking any advice difficult because, frankly, I don’t want to become successful by cheating and stealing. That’s great for her – and more power to her for sticking up for what she believes in – but it tainted the entire book for me.
In the end, I felt like I was at a party with that drunk guy boasting about all of the horrible things he’s done in life and how he got away with it because he’s rich. If you’re looking for a great rags-to-riches, inspirational, empowering book, read You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero, instead.