Friday, September 15, 2017

Nonfiction: You Are Here by Jenny Lawson

This is not Jenny Lawson's first rodeo, but this is the first chance I have gotten to pick up one of her books. Instead of going for either Furiously Happy or Let's Pretend This Never Happened, I decided to read You Are Here: An Owner's Manual for Dangerous Minds. After reading the description, I decided I would save this book for my trip to Europe, which would involve a stay in both Prague and Vienna, with a train trip in between. It seemed like the perfect book to relieve travel jitters, and I was right. 

Genre, Themes, History: I decided to place this book under the nonfiction heading, but I have seen it placed under self-help, as well as graphic novel, though that one may be a bit of a stretch. What Lawson has done here is create a book that is half narrative, half drawings and doodles that you can color in yourself. The sheets are even perforated to allow for easier coloring. Also, if you just want to take a few pages with you and not the entire book, tearing them out is naturally the way to go. But good luck picking which pages to take. Many of the drawings may be similar, but none of them are the same. The drawings, or doodles as Lawson refers to them, are a result of her efforts to do something productive with her mind and her hands when what she wants to do is freak out. After sharing a few of them online and receiving some positive feedback, she decided to make a book of them that is humorous, while also serious and helpful, and will provide hours of entertainment long after the actual words have been read. 

My Verdict: This is indeed the perfect book to take to the airport while knowing full well that it will be over 12 hours before you will be anywhere you will be comfortable again. And while I started reading it in the JFK airport, I did not start coloring pages until the train ride to Vienna, which proved to be an ideal setting for such an activity. The text is both funny and encouraging, and the drawings are creative and beautiful, even without any color added to them. As Lawson says a few times throughout the book, it really is whatever the reader wants to make it. Even outside of the coloring sheets, there are a few places where the reader can add in their own stories, secrets, and memories. It is certainly different, but it is also certainly awesome. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys humorous nonfiction, even if you are not all that into adult coloring books. Practically anyone can find some enjoyment in the pages of this book.

Favorite Doodle: Page 48 was the first one I decided to color. It is a drawing of the tail end of a whale above the surface of the water, with a small human figure in a boat near it. The text in the water reads, "She always felt far too afraid for adventures,but that was okay, because misadventure was her true calling." It felt fitting as I was traveling in Europe alone, and had just managed to find my train to Vienna from Prague. It was by no means my first time traveling by myself, but I am afraid every time, though I always push forward.

Recommended Reading: There is no other book like this in my collection. So I will recommend either comic collection by Sarah Andersen: Adulthood Is a Myth, or Big Mushy Happy Lump

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