Buffering: Book Review
Autobiography/Biography , YouTuber / November 11, 2016

Title: Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded Author: Hannah Hart Published: 2016 Genre: Autobiography, YouTuber Pages: 256 (hardback) Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded is an autobiographical work by the YouTube sensation Hannah Hart. If you do not know about Hannah Hart or her hit show My Drunk Kitchen, then please do yourself a favor by checking out her YouTube channel here. Buffering is deeply personal and oftentimes serious in tone. There a moments of comedy sprinkled throughout, but readers should expect a genuine, emotional journey through Hannah Hart’s most formative struggles and successes. First of all, I just want to say that I love the cover, the color scheme, and the general layout of the book. The pictures of artifacts from Hannah’s life and helpful footnotes of additional commentary from Hannah really personalize the experience. Hannah Hart knows how to connect with her audience. She finds creative ways to express very trying situations to her readers while maintaining an overall sense of optimism. The core struggle in the book is centered around her early life growing up in a home where her mother suffered from schizophrenia. Her childhood traumas reverberate throughout the book and ultimately lead to a confrontation with her mother’s illness in the final…

You’re Never Weird on the Internet (almost): Book Review
Autobiography/Biography , Comedy , YouTuber / October 31, 2016

Title: You’re Never Weird on the Internet (almost) Author: Felicia Day Published: 2015 Genre: Autobiography, Comedy, YouTuber Pages: 304 (paperback) You’re Never Weird on the Internet (almost) by Felicia Day, the actress and YouTube pioneer, is an autobiographical account that centers around comedy even in the face of some serious topics. For those who are not familiar with the informally dubbed “Queen of the Internet,” click these links to visit her Geek & Sundry and Felicia Day channels. Felicia Day’s first book is a funny, honest, and relatable account of growing up as a nerd (I empathized immediately) and building success from the very qualities that the “cool” (and ultimately foolish) kids once mocked. Felicia Day’s propensity for video games, books, and general geek culture is a central theme in her autobiography that allows her to immediately connect with her target audience. A great deal of her childhood (and homeschool curriculum, it would seem) was spent obsessing over PC games such as the classic Ultima. Felicia Day generally credits her homeschooling and corresponding lack of socialization as major reasons that she is “weird,” and she provides plenty of evidence! True to form, she presents several chapters about her childhood that include snapshots of her super secret diary and epic tales of playing way too much Math Blaster that sufficiently demonstrate…

You Deserve a Drink: Book Review
Autobiography/Biography , Comedy , YouTuber / October 29, 2016

Title: You Deserve a Drink Author: Mamrie Hart Published: 2015 Genre: Autobiography, Comedy, YouTuber Pages: 274 You Deserve a Drink by Mamrie Hart is a comedic, autobiographical account including many “boozy misadventures and tales of debauchery” that come straight from the creator of the popular YouTube channel of the same name. Mamrie Hart is so unique that my auto-correct is keen to decorate her name with red squiggles at every turn. Just like her name (that has now been added to my computer’s dictionary) her tales are nearly impossible to forget. You Deserve a Drink is one of the most honest memoirs that I have ever read. Mamrie does not shrink away from embarrassment. In fact, she generally takes advantage of her own discomfort, whether she is getting blackout drunk in New York or celebrating a bizarre, Americanized version of the Day of the Dead in Mexico, to turn her most awkward moments into self-deprecating comedy. I also appreciated her numerous pop culture references (which are part of the built in drinking game that Mamrie creates in the introduction) that range from the 1980’s to the early 2000’s. If you like TV, movie, and boy band references, then this book is especially for you! Mamrie spends a lot…

You are Special: Words of Wisdom for All Ages from a Beloved Neighbor: Book Review
Autobiography/Biography / October 15, 2016

You are Special: Words of Wisdom for All Ages from a Beloved Neighbor is a book of quotes that was written by the great Mister Fred Rogers.  As with many people my age, I grew up watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and learned invaluable lessons that have guided me throughout the years. Although this book was written in 1994, I think it is still a powerful source of encouragement and growth for readers today.   Growing up near Pittsburgh, I know Mister Rogers as our greatest local hero that ever lived. I even visited the studio where Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was filmed when I was very young. His show both entertained me and helped be through difficult times in my youth. You are Special reminded me that Mister Rogers’ wisdom is not just for children. The book is relatively slim at 171 pages (plus a short introduction), but it is packed with quotes that are divided into many different sections. The general topics of the quotes are divided into eleven sections including relationships, childhood, discipline, learning, difficult situations, growing in adulthood, and others. Some of Mister Rogers quotes are short and sweet, such as “You can’t really love someone else unless you really love yourself first,” while others are more like brief,…

The Moaning of Life: Book Review
Autobiography/Biography , Comedy , Travel / October 12, 2016

The Moaning of Life is the latest book by everyone’s favorite Idiot Abroad, Karl Pilkington.  First, I have to point out that the title continues to make me laugh no matter how many times I see it.  Combined with the excellent picture of Karl’s expression, the book’s cover is pure genius. Karl Pilkington is a friend of the British comedian Ricky Gervais’ who became famous in his own right after Gervais’ dragged Karl, I suspect unwillingly, into to some of his projects.  Karl’s pessimistic travel show, An Idiot Abroad, is probably his most well known work.  The show, and much of The Moaning of Life, features a reluctant Pilkington as he travels the world and manages to find fault with everything that he discovers along the way. The Moaning of Life is structured into different chapters based around some of life’s most important events and concepts including marriage, happiness, and death.  Karl, with his characteristically dry and at least partially serious style, manages to convey his musinga on these topics as he simultaneously recounts many of his travel stories.  The chapters feature conversations between Karl and the natives of exotic lands, as well as semi-applicable and interesting facts that Karl learned during the course of writing the book….

Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know: Book Review
Autobiography/Biography , Dogs , Science / October 12, 2016

Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know,  by Alexandra Horowitz, is a nonfiction book that investigates our most loyal companions from a unique perspective: the dog’s. Alexandra Horowitz constantly reminds the reader that we must look at the world through the dog’s eyes rather than our own if we are to truly understand them.  Her refocusing of our perspective leads to many surprising and fascinating discoveries about dogs that often run counter to conventional “wisdom.” Despite our natural disadvantage of being human, there is a lot that can be learned about canis familiaris when we avoid anthropomorphism (treating the dogs like they are little humans) when determining what a dog’s life is truly like. Horowitz really hits the nail on the head when she acknowledges that people tend to study dogs through human eyes rather than through dog eyes.  We ascribe their actions to human motives. When we throw out these preconceived notions biology, scientific observations, and even psychology become our guides in understanding the dog.  Horowitz makes use of her own research, as well others, to study the dog from many angles. Inside of a Dog thoroughly investigates how the sensory organs of the dog work: the eyes, ears,tongue, paw pads and whiskers, and especially…

Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story: Book Review
Autobiography/Biography / October 12, 2016

I am a huge fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Although I took issue with his portrayal of Conan the Barbarian in an earlier review for misrepresenting the character, the blame is really with the director rather than Schwarzenegger himself.  Schwarzenegger’s autobiography, Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story delves into every aspect of his life.  Body-building, acting, and his time as governor come to mind as the three primary stages of his story, but none completely excludes the other. It is no secret that Schwarzenegger is often lampooned for his trademark accent (the obligatory “get to the choppa” clip is linked at the bottom of this review).  Because of this, I want to point out that his writing is extremely thoughtful, intelligent, and easy to follow.  Schwarzenegger constantly reflects on his life choices (some of them are much better choices than others) and this sort of introspection leads to a plethora of wise observations about life and living.  Anyone who is tempted to view Schwarzenegger as a stereotypical oaf will be surprised by his depth of understanding and uncanny ability to set and reach his goals. Growing up in Austria, Schwarzenegger’s meteoric rise in the body building scene is no less amazing than his later domination of acting…

Grace’s Guide: The Art of Pretending to Be a Grown-Up: Book Review
Autobiography/Biography , Comedy , YouTuber / October 12, 2016

Grace’s Guide: The Art of Pretending to Be a Grown-Up marks Grace Helbig’s foray from the electronic world of YouTube to the physically printed page (unless you buy the eBook version).  Whether you are already Grace’s fan or are meeting her for the first time, get ready to learn more about her and life than you expected! Even though Grace generally delivers her comedy to the world via social media, I highly recommend that anyone who is interested in Grace’s Guide pick up a physical copy of the book.  I know that this may seem counter-intuitive, but actually venturing out to an IRL (just one of the many abbreviations I learned from Grace’s book) bookstore and purchasing the book (or ordering one online, if you insist on not leaving the house) is the only way to fully experience the book’s excellent presentation.  Grace is the master at conveying hilarious, and yet painfully relatable, awkwardness through her facial expressions and there are plenty of pictures that show off this impressive skill.  There are also fun worksheets at the end of every chapter such as “How to Ask Someone Out” that invite the reader to write directly in the book, so once again a physical copy is preferable.  Also,…

Selp-Helf: Book Review
Autobiography/Biography , Comedy , YouTuber / October 11, 2016

Selp-Helf by Miranda Sings is a satirical and hiliarious self help book written by the internet sensation Miranda Sings (Colleen Ballinger’s alter-ego). If you are unfamiliar with Miranda Sings, it is vitally important to watch some of her videos before reading this book. The character’s humor will probably not completely register with any uninitiated viewers/readers. Selp-Helf is written for all of Miranda Sings’ Mirfandas who already understand that she is a character and parody rather than an actual person. Selp-Helf is written for all of Miranda Sings’ Mirfandas who already understand that she is a character and parody rather than an actual person. Throughout the book, Miranda Sings rewards her readers with some of the best advice (in her bizarre mind) to help them with such important aspects of life as love, talent, “fashon,” “innernet,” and “life haks.”  Miranda’s characteristic narcissism and unique spelling choices bring the character to life in this written format.  Originally, I was concerned that the YouTube star would have trouble translating to a non-video format, but Miranda Sings fills the pages of Selp-Helf with the familiar quirks of her unique personality. As one would expect, Miranda’s advice is normally horrible and a little bit on the creepy side,…

John Adams: Book Review
Autobiography/Biography , History / October 10, 2016

John Adams by David McCullough follows the life and times of the second, and commonly forgotten, president of the United States.  It always struck me as bizarre that everyone tends to know about Washington and Jefferson, but that John Adams is generally only appreciated by history nerds like myself. Clearly, the man is no Millard Fillmore, but he does deserve more recognition than he often receives. McCullough’s writing style is fantastic.  The book, which is ample in length, seems to flow in such a way that I could easily read for long stretches at a time.  McCullough’s research is exemplary, and his insights into Adams’ character successfully humanize his subject.  McCullough does not fawn over Adams the way many biographers tend to do with their subjects.  He provides criticism where appropriate, but his overall tone is certainly positive. Without mentioning every incident in John Adams’ life, all of which make for engaging reading, one of the most fascinating incidents involves his legal defense of the perpetrators of the “Boston Massacre.”  Additionally, his role as a diplomat during the American Revolution is at times unintentionally humorous as he tries to come to terms with the French and watches Benjamin Franklin become an automatic…