August 10, 2013

Non-Fiction: It is like fiction, only less fiction-y.

Hello again my blog reading friends! I have two more book recommendations for you, this time of the Non-Fiction variety (scroll down to the next post for my Fiction advisory). These are a bit long I know, but hey this is my blog and I have a lot to say! If you want to start with small, 140 character doses, just scroll down until you see the authors' twitter handles and go check them out that way. Okay, here we go . . .

1. Let's Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson aka The Bloggess

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The first thing you need to know about this book is that it is hilarious. At more than one point while I was reading it I found myself laughing out loud. Or, if I was reading it in a public place, trying not to laugh out loud.

Have you ever seen someone trying to stifle their laughter and failing while reading a book and you have no idea why? Basically I looked like a crazy person. So if you don't want to look like a crazy person in public places maybe you shouldn't read this book, but honestly it is totally worth it and if the people who see you have also read this book, they will understand.

The second thing you need to know is that there is quite a bit of profanity and topics that some people may find inappropriate or offensive. I know at this point it might seem like I am actually trying to talk you out of reading this book, but I assure you I am not. I just want to ensure that I make these things clear at the start so that someone doesn't blindly take my recommendation and then after reading it accuse me of having offended their delicate sensibilities and/or of being bad at readers' advisory.

I would say that this book is funny, witty, and irreverent, but you could probably read any review by an actual professional to find those things out. What I do want to mention is that the reason this book is so good, aside from being hilarious, is that it does address very serious and sometimes uncomfortable topics, but it does it in way that makes them approachable. The author is very open about her struggle with depression and other problems, and she doesn't avoid writing about them. However, she also isn't all doom and gloom, so you are not scared away by the seriousness of the issues. If you read this book (and her blog) you will find an honest, funny, and refreshing approach to sensitive subjects. I think that this will be meaningful both to people who suffer from some of the same problems and need a bit of hope, and people who are trying to understand what people they know might be going through.

This book is basically a compilation of stories from the author's life. Sometimes it is hard to believe that all those crazy things happened to one person, but I guess that is why it is a "Mostly True Memoir." This book will have you laughing, crying (if you cry easily at books like I do), and feeling very connected to the author by the end. Also, don't be surprised if after reading this book you find yourself oddly drawn to taxidermy, when before you never had any interest in it or even thought it was creepy. That is not a joke. This book will affect you in surprising and wonderful ways.
If you want to get a taste of what it might be like first, a sort of try before you buy situation, head on over to Jenny Lawson's blog The Bloggess or follow her on twitter at @TheBloggess. Her blog posts are much shorter than a book and will give you a good idea of her writing style, how often she uses swear words, and how generally awesome she is.

2.  The Nerdist Way: How to reach the next level (in real life) by Chris Hardwick 

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I learned of this book because I am regular listener of the Nerdist Podcast, an awesome show about all things pop-culture, nerd, geek, etc. The main host Chris Hardwick is a very likable guy that has essentially built a nerd empire. Back in the day he was on MTV reality shows (Singled Out anyone?) and now he is the emperor of all things nerd and has his fingers in some very big pies (just last year Nerdist Industries partnered with Legendary Pictures, a major production company). Chris has been through a lot which he talks about in the book: alcoholism, anxiety, and all the things that go along with having an overactive "nerd brain." Somehow, through all of this and his rise to power he has managed to stay fairly humble and seems like a genuinely nice guy.

So, back to the book. The point of all that back story is that it wasn't always an easy road for Chris Hardwick and he certainly did not get to where he is overnight. All the life lessons that he had to learn the hard way, you get to benefit from in this book. I wouldn't exactly label this as a self-help book, but it is in that same realm. Along with stories, Chris offers up advice on being mentally and physically healthy and happy, and reaching your goals whatever they may be. He isn't a doctor and he isn't saying that this book will solve all your problems, he is simply explaining what worked for him and how you might apply it to your own life.

There are three sections: Mind, Body, and Time, which offer suggestions and exercises for improving and achieving your goals in those three areas. Not every single thing was relevant to me and I am sure it won't be for you, but this book is worth the read as there are bound to be at least a couple of things that apply. And if you are perfect and don't need any useful tips in any areas of your life, you still should read this book. It is humorous and entertaining and you might learn something despite yourself. Self-help stigma aside, it is a straight up fun read.
You can follow Chris Hardwick on twitter at @nerdist and listen to the Nerdist Podcast on itunes or the Nerdist website. The website also has a ton of other amazing content so go check it out!

*Note: I am in no way compensated for promoting these books or people, nor do I know them personally. I just think they are awesome and want to share them with the world!

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