Book Review: Can Everyone Please Calm Down? A Guide to 21st Century Sexuality by Mae Martin

We are only eight days into the month but, somehow, I’ve managed to read my September TBR. I finished People Like Her by Ellery Lloyd yesterday and, without even giving myself time to process, I started my next read.

I hardly ever read non-fiction but, after starting the month by reading a genre I don’t usually read (thriller), I thought I might as well give it a go. Long story short, I’m glad I did.


Hello, I’m Mae Martin, a Canadian comedian with an encyclopaedic knowledge of Harry Potter trivia. Aside from this, though, if there’s one area that I’m 100% anecdotally and personally qualified to tackle, it’s sexuality. If there is a ‘sexuality spectrum’, then I’ve probably existed at every point on it at some stage in my life. This book is my attempt to demystify sexuality by narrating my own, often humiliating adventures in sex, dating, gender identity, etc. and to get everyone to Just. Calm. Down. 

We’ll talk about the pros and cons of labels, and why history contains no stories of gay people living long, happy, successful lives. Also included: sexual fluidity, gay genes, Lady Gaga and bisexual monkeys. 

My dream is that we get to a point where we don’t even need to discuss sexuality at all. Where it’s a total non-issue, and everyone’s falling in love with everyone all over the place. Seeing as we’re not there yet, however, I think it is incredibly important to talk about it. Openly, and without embarrassment. I hope this book is a step in that direction. ENJOY.

My Thoughts

I’ll admit. I bought this book on Kindle because it was on the 99p deal so, due to the price (and the fact that I’d never heard of/seen this book before), I didn’t know what to expect.

I often worry that non-fiction is going to be heavy or a huge amount to process, making it less enjoyable. Luckily, this was not the case for Can Everyone Please Calm Down? This book was a mingling of fact, quotes, anecdotes and biographical detail.

This book was not daunting at all. Instead, it pointed out how much I didn’t know – due to the lack of education around sexuality (especially sexuality that didn’t “fit” around the beliefs of the Catholic primary and secondary schools I attended) – so it proved insightful and educational. I liked how Martin blended their own experiences with figures from history, culture and even famous people! It’s been the only history lesson in recent (well) history that hasn’t made me come home sobbing (if you know, you know).

As expected by a book from a comedian, this book is actually quite funny. Martin does take on quite serious stuff but, much like their stand up, this serious stuff is undercut by a sparkling, sarcastic sense of humour. It is in part an exploration into their history as well as that of others, so it’s a snapshot of bowl cuts, Spice Girl obsessions and the best parents ever (aside from my own, obviously).

Despite my initial apprehension about reading non-fiction, especially about an area I’m still — like a lot of people— learning about, I really enjoyed reading Can Everyone Please Calm Down? A Guide to 21st Century Sexuality. It was insightful, honest and littered with laugh out loud bits. Even though the book did come to the end, there wasn’t a complete sense of an ending, reflecting how there is still so much to learn.

You can follow Mae Martin on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

You can buy this book here.

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