Title: Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened
Author: Allie Brosh
Rating: 3 stars
I am a huge fan of Hyperbole and a Half. So much so, in fact, that a friend of mine once made me a set of coasters based on the “This Is Why I’ll Never Be An Adult” post (which, if you didn't know, is also where the "[Verb] ALL the [nouns]!!" meme comes from). She’s so casual in her writing but at the same time, so skilled at storytelling that I don’t know how anyone could not enjoy her blog.
This is the first book I’ve ever bought that’s based on a blog. I’ve seen the FML book, the Stuff White People Like book, the NotAlways Right book—but I was never interested in buying them, because I mean, the websites are being constantly updated so what do I need a book for when I can read it online for free? But Allie of Hyperbole and a Half hasn’t been updating much in the past few years, due to bouts of depression, so both my fiancé and I get ridiculously excited when we see she’s added something new. While we knew the book had come out, though, we weren’t going to go out of our way to buy it.
Last weekend, we were in New York City to see Billy Joel (side note: BEST CONCERT EVER). The next day, we met up with a few friends to wander the city, and ended up at Strand Books, the biggest bookstore I have ever been in and a place I have literally had dreams about. (18 miles of books—wouldn’t YOU have dreams about it??) On our way to the cash register, our arms full of books, Andrew and I saw the Hyperbole and a Half book on a table and decided we might as well buy it.
I was a little skeptical about reading a book based on a blog—the styles are just so different! And I will say that the pictures-and-text format was definitely a little odd in a book when you’re so used to consuming it through a screen. Other than that, though, I definitely enjoyed the book. She put in a bunch of my favorite stories (I love the ones about her dogs) and the new material was good as well, if a little dark—a lot of it seemed to be about how terrible of a person she was, but how she was able to hide it from herself through a variety of coping mechanisms (one of which, no doubt, is drawing silly comics about how terrible of a person she is). But they were relatable in that everybody knows what it’s like to restrain oneself from saying what’s really on our minds, or to pat oneself on the back for the mere thought of doing something nice/heroic. Brosh’s example was that she wants to think she’d be the type of person to donate a kidney to a family member, but in reality, she would try to think of literally anything else she could do other than donating a kidney—just like the rest of us would.
In the end, I wouldn’t say the Hyperbole and a Half book was a bad purchase, but I don’t think my life would have been significantly impacted had we decided not to buy it. That’s not to say you shouldn’t, though, if you want to read some stories you haven’t seen online, and it’s always good to support people you feel deserve it (and I believe Brosh deserves all the support she can get, considering the light she’s been able to shed—in a humorous but also deadly serious way—on the issue of clinical depression). Also keep in mind that this book is 300+ pages long, but it took me probably only 2ish cumulative hours to read, due to all the pictures. Just don’t expect it to keep you occupied for very long, because it won’t. But you'll still have fun :)