Book review: Blank, by Giles Paley-Phillips and Jim Daly

Blank by Giles Paley-Phillips and Jim Daly

The premise of the book is why it’s fine to fail and how to pick yourself up again afterwards. 

I needed a book like this after 2020, when I became so unwell that I moved back in with my parents. 

Want to know what a nervous breakdown is like? You know when you’re really drunk at a party and the next day your friends remind you of all the daft things you did but you don’t remember? 

Well, my nervous breakdown was like that, only it was worse because it lasted months and I’m still remembering daft things now. This book is a nice antidote.

Star studded cast

Giles and Jim run a podcast and work in media, and dozens of well-known and well-liked people have contributed their own stories of failures and embarrassments. Yes, it’s an embarrassment of failures, that’s the collective term.

Green MP Caroline Lucas, footy leg-end Gary Linekar, comedians Dawn French and Sarah Millican, dictionary corner’s Susie Dent, in fact everyone I admire, has contributed their sad but ultimately redeeming tales of failure and imposter syndrome. But why would they feel like imposters? It turns out even successful people feel this way. 

Giles and Jim share their own losses too, including bereavement, redundancy and dying on stage as a comic. They’re here to tell you, it’s not that bad, so don’t worry. I can tell you, after the 2020 I’ve had, this book is like medicine, it should be on the NHS.

Spreading kindness

Giles has a big following on Twitter and uses the platform to raise awareness of good causes and encourages his followers to follow each other and be nice to each other, like a supervising parent. I’ve gained a few followers off the back of his efforts, and so far, no bad apples.

Although if you can’t spot the nutter in the room, doesn’t that mean it’s you?

I digress. 


Giles and Jim are sympathetic to those who fail and experience loss, and grief, which can happen following redundancy and relationships ending as well as bereavement. Giles is a sympathetic writer, and the words on the pages in this book come from a place of compassion and empathy. It’s a perfect rainy day read, speaking metaphorically.

Further reading

There is a selection of further resources at the back of the book for whatever ails you; everything from social anxiety to public failure. This book is an empathetic meditation on difficult times, but ultimately, in my opinion, difficult times are what maketh the man.

I bet Rudyard Kipling would say so too.

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From tiny acorns mighty oaks grow.

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