Book Review: Unf*ckology, by Amy Alkon

Audiobook Review: Unf*ckology: A Field Guide to Living with Guts and Confidence, by Amy Alkon

A well-researched guide to self-improvement through behavioural science and evolutionary psychology instead of mystical belief. There’s also a lot of comedy and swearing.


There’s a lot of self-help information out there and, while belief in mystical powers may provide some comfort, it’s behavioural science that helps us understand and implement change. Belief in the universe or astrology may prompt us to adopt the changes needed in our life, but it’s understanding our motivations that can usually lead to making sustainable differences.

Unf*ckology professes to be a science-help guide rather than a self-help book in order to separate itself from the mystical gurus that cash in on our desire for self-improvement. It also takes the proven technique of comedy to teach and to motivate you to “get off your arse and do what behavioural science tells you to do”.

This book is a goldmine of information and ideas and, if you prefer to listen than to read, the audiobook version is presented by narrator Carrington MacDuffie in a highly enjoyable, laugh-out-loud adventure of discovery. Carrington delivers author Amy Alkon’s text with all the sarcasm, gruffness, enthusiasm and wit that it deserves. She’s a delight to listen to, while Alkon’s text is both fascinating and educational.

Alkon is opinionated and not afraid to express it, but she does so after personal experience or investigation. She keeps everything based on fact, not belief, which gives her ideas gravitas despite her potty mouth and finely-tuned sense of humour.

She breaks down the differences between feelings and emotions, and the physiological effect they can have on the body, and vis versa. She examines the importance of rituals, religious or otherwise, and the need to acknowledge both physical and social pain: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will also hurt me.”

Most fascinating is the lengths she delves into evolutionary psychology to consider why our emotional and physical reactions to the world around us mirror those from when we were still cave dwellers. It makes a lot sense in respect to our fight-or-flight reactions, the impact of social exclusion on our wellbeing, and our need to be liked.

Later in the book Alkon delves into the main differences between confidence, which is action-driven (I can do this because I’ve had experience) and self-esteem, which is an emotional response to our perception of what other people think of us.

Cognitive reappraisal, understanding & mastering will-power, mimicry, and the act of just doing are but a few of the many practical tips Alkon delivers to help implement change in your life.

Unf*ckology is r-evolutionary. Having read a lot of self-improvement guides over the years, which often seem to rehash the same information, Alkon has finally provided new research and ideas that I’ve not been privy to before. It’s one of the better books I’ve read in the self-improvement genre. It achieves that through its scientific foundation, the breadth of topics covered, and Alkon’s comedic delivery. It was released in February 2018 through Pan Macmillan.

The unabridged audiobook of Unf*ckology: A Field Guide to Living with Guts and Confidence was released by Brilliance Audio in January 2018. It runs for approximately 8 hours and 14 minutes and is available through Audible Australia.

Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Twitter: @StrtegicRetweet

Rating out of 10:  10

Distributed by: Pan Macmillan (printed book) and Audible Australia (audiobook)
Released: February 2018
RRP: $23.99 paperback, $20.49 audiobook (or by Audible subscription)

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