Rating: 4 out of 5
I’m calling this book review a “bonus,” because I’m a weird book blogger who has specific rules when it comes to counting a book toward my reading quota. Currently, I’m half-way through with my 20th and last book of 2014: Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld. However, technically I have read more than 20 books this year.
As I’ve noted on the “Books I’ve Read” page, I only list novels, novellas, memoirs, and short story collections. I don’t include individual short stories, poetry, or graphic novels because their text is so bite-size that it’s feels like cheating to count them.A whole book of an author’s short stories? Sure! One short story? Come on.
I also don’t review most non-fiction genres, such as academic texts, self-help, and any of the numerous guides to cooking, crafting, health/fitness, and travel. It just doesn’t make sense to uphold these books to the same standards I follow to review fiction, because I read non-fiction for the purposes of education, not entertainment.
The only genre that blurs the line between fiction and non-fiction is memoir, which I do review, because most that I read are written by comedians. It’s safe to assume that their anecdotes have been dramatized for our amusement. It seems conventional in the book blogosphere to make exceptions for these stories.
My point is that sometimes I read something that I don’t consider official, but I find it interesting enough to share it. Case in point: Allie Brosh’s 2013 graphic novel, Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things that Happened.
I have had this book on my TBR list ever since it was published, as it’s one of the top books recommended to me. I first fell in love with Brosh after discovering her comic on the misspelled word “alot:”
You’ll also recognize her work from the oh-so-popular “ALL THE THINGS!” meme:
Her childish illustrations combined with her insightful introspections make for hilarious stories. Just take a look at what awaits you in Hyperbole and a Half, the book which highlights her best work from her blog of the same name:
This is a book I wrote. Because I wrote it, I had to figure out what to put on the back cover to explain what it is. I tried to write a long, third-person summary that would imply how great the book is and also sound vaguely authoritative–like maybe someone who isn’t me wrote it–but I soon discovered that I’m not sneaky enough to pull it off convincingly. So I decided to just make a list of things that are in the book:
Stories about things that happened to me
Stories about things that happened to other people because of me
Eight billion dollars*
Stories about dogs
The secret to eternal happiness*
*These are lies. Perhaps I have underestimated my sneakiness!
If that blurb doesn’t convince you to read this book, I don’t know what will!
Brosh discusses her childhood obsession with cake, her deranged dog, and her addiction to procrastination with an abnormally heightened sense of self-awareness, which can either be extremely funny or uncomfortably painful, and oftentimes a bit of both.
Throughout her life, she has been plagued with anxiety and depression, and she reveals her struggles with finesse. Even if you haven’t experienced suicidal thoughts like she has, you find yourself relating to her, forming this bond of solidarity. Everyone has felt sad, lonely, and hopeless at times, and regardless of the severity of those feelings, Brosh becomes your spirit animal, the girl who just ‘gets it.’
So don’t be fooled by her crude drawings. Brosh’s ability to express deep and often disturbing emotions through her art is what makes this book so special. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll do both after discovering a tiny piece of corn underneath the refrigerator.
Favorite Quote: “On a fundamental level, I am someone who would throw sand at children. I know this because I have had to resist doing it, and that means that it’s what I would naturally be doing if I wasn’t resisting it.”