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Why We Can’t Sleep meets Furiously Happy in this hilarious, heartfelt memoir about one woman’s midlife obsession with Benedict Cumberbatch, and the liberating power of reclaiming our passions as we age, whatever they may be.
Tabitha Carvan was a new mother, at home with two young children, when she fell for the actor Benedict Cumberbatch. You know the guy: strange name, alien face, made Sherlock so sexy that it became one of the most streamed shows in the world? The force of her fixation took everyone—especially Carvan herself—by surprise. But what she slowly realized was that her preoccupation was not about Benedict Cumberbatch at all, as dashing as he might be. It was about finally feeling passionate about something, anything, again at a point in her life when she had lost touch with her own identity and sense of self.
In This Is Not a Book About Benedict Cumberbatch, Carvan explores what happens to women's desires after we leave adolescence…and why the space in our lives for pure, unadulterated joy is squeezed ever smaller as we age. She shines a light onto the hidden corners of fandom, from the passion of the online communities to the profound real-world connections forged between Cumberbatch devotees. But more importantly, she asks: what happens if we simply decide to follow our interests like we used to—unabashedly, audaciously, shamelessly? After all, Carvan realizes, there’s true, untapped power in finding your “thing” (even if that thing happens to be a British-born Marvel superhero) and loving it like your life depends on it.
About the Author
Tabitha Carvan has written for publications such as The New York Post, Australian Geographic, Overland, Offbeat Home, The Outline, AsiaLIFE, and MamaMia, focusing on issues of identity, family, and pop culture. This Is Not a Book About Benedict Cumberbatch is her first book.
One of Good Housekeeping’s 20 New Books to Add to Your Summer 2022 Reading List One of PureWow’s 20 Best Beach Reads of Summer 2022 One of 425 Magazine’s Best Books of 2022 One of MPR News’s Best Books of 2022
“Part memoir, part self-help, this one will empower you to rediscover your own obsessions. And yes, Google image search the Sherlock actor, too." –Good Housekeeping
“The title alone inspires a smile, but the book itself is hilarious, and wise…[Carvan’s] story is really about the joy that comes with rediscovering and indulging youthful passions and pleasures.” –AARP
“Winningly effervescent…[The book] seems written in the blush of first love, an aria of joyous discovery at the shedding of an obsolete inhibition…To read This Is Not a Book About Benedict Cumberbatch is to follow Carvan on a path to overcoming her shame and reveling in the sheer frivolity of her love for the Sherlock star alongside the women [who] share it with her. Once she does, she proclaims, ‘it felt so good—you would not believe how good!—that I didn’t mind if it made me the biggest weirdo in the world.’ She almost makes you feel as good as that when she gets there.” —Slate
“The real subject of [this] wonderfully fresh [take] on fandom is the unabashed, self-aware embrace of joy…[Carvan] considers the way we treat women who feel deeply: ‘When a lot of women love anything, that’s all we need to know about it.’ Subversively important stuff.” –Chicago Tribune
“To describe the book merely as ‘funny’ is a disservice to the author because [the] reader starts to appreciate that what Carvan is attempting to reconcile is a woman’s place and growth in the world. . . I hope I am always a reader who can appreciate a book like this one.” –Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star
“A surprise midlife obsession with British actor Benedict Cumberbatch provides the occasion for musings on passion, aging, and identity in this spirited debut…Carvan’s self-aware approach wrings the absurdity out of her story to hilarious effect while touching on the realities of motherhood and fandom: “It’s not just about what we love, but how that love figures in our lives, and how it makes us feel.” The result is a weird-in-the-best-way account of self-discovery that brims with humor and insight.” –Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Quoting Brené Brown, Mary Oliver, and Gail Sheehy and referencing her own lifelong, complicated relationship with fandom, Carvan's loving but unapologetic manifesto is one to carry proudly on your next sojourn into the melee of backstage autograph seekers.” –Booklist, starred review
“Caravan is a talented writer who is able to weave together words in a way that lifts you up, makes you embrace who you are, and grabs a hold of your soul, reminding you that life is worth living and not existing through. She reminds you that joy is not a dirty word, it’s something that we should take in as easily as the air we breathe…Introspective and poignant…Written with such humor, strength, and delight.” –Fangirlish
“[A] clever and charming debut…Carvan’s candid revelations about the ways in which passion, bias, identity and motherhood intersect are hard-won and insightful, not to mention humorous…She makes an excellent case for taking time to figure out what you like and embracing the delight it brings—no shame allowed…[A] funny, thought-provoking memoir.” –BookPage, starred review
“This year’s most hilarious self-help book.” –Daily Mail
“This quasi memoir, quasi personal growth book by Tabitha Carvan is hysterical, charming and features—as the title implies—a great deal about actor Benedict Cumberbatch. But it also explores why we should all just love what we love—especially women, who find that their particular obsessions are often ridiculed by culture at large.” —MPR News
“[A] funny, honest memoir about shame and loving the things we love…[Carvan] explores her thoughts on finding a new passion, why we feel embarrassed about loving some things, and how we need to break out of our shame and grab on to the things we enjoy for dear life.” –BookRiot
“Remember that feeling you had as a kid, when you loved things wholeheartedly, boldly, and loudly? If you feel a sense that there is something missing from your life, some gap between who you are on the inside and who you are on the outside, then this is the book for you.” –Eve Rodsky, author of Find Your Unicorn Space and Fair Play
"This really isn't a book about Benedict Cumberbatch. It's about so, so much more: Losing yourself and finding yourself, oppression and emancipation; sadness and joy. Tabitha Carvan's memoir will make you think and make you cackle. It's the most delightful book I've read in a long time." –Melinda Wenner Moyer, author of How to Raise Kids Who Aren't Assholes