How to be Cool by Thomas Hodgkinson is a wry guide to the people and ideas that have defined cool.
Thomas explains his nine defining quality of cool in the small introduction. These qualities are style, rebellion, recklessness, rootlessness, promiscuity or celibacy, self-expression, flamboyance or austerity, taciturnity or eloquence and emotional self-control.
The book is a tongue in the cheek look at an eclectic mix of individuals whom he classifies as cool. Some of the people featured you will probably have heard of like Coco Chanel, Amelia Earhardt, Muhammad Ali and Jimi Hendrix. There is also less well-known people like Beau Brummell, DJ Kool Herc, Guy Debord and Biggie Smalls.
The second part of the book is devoted to subjects which offered the most insight into what cool is. This part includes fictional idols, nomads, the truth, affectlessness, parodies, places, heroes, villains, counter-examples, Eastern spirituality, accessories, maxims, guys who had it but blew it, on the road, drugs, crazy stuff, cool movies and the ride and the fall.
The third part of the book is called the real deal. It's Thomas' personal look at the twenty-five coolest things on the planet.
The book is well researched and full of interesting antidotes and a handful of laugh out loud quotes. There is a cool test hidden in the appendix of the book but sadly I'm only reasonably cool.
How to be cool might won't give you a script to keep up with the latest trends but it's an entertaining read of over a hundred essentials idols, ideals and more.
How to be cool is available in paperback and ebook from your favourite bookseller.
Published by Allen and Unwin.
About the author
Thomas W. Hodgkinson is the co-author of How to Sound Cultured and author of the novel Memoirs of a Stalker. He writes regularly for The Spectator and the Daily Mail, and is a contributing editor at The Week. He lives in North London.