Hey there, everyone! Welcome to another installment of Reading with Robin! As a librarian who loves to read, I also love to talk about books and connect other readers with books they can fall in love with. In these posts, I’m going to talk about what I’ve been reading, what I liked about the book, and who I’d recommend the book to next.
This entry’s book is: Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh!
If you were on the internet in the late 2000s, you were probably more than passingly familiar with Allie Brosh’s blog, Hyperbole & a Half, and the insanely funny, shockingly poignant, and sometimes heartbreaking stories that would be illustrated and told there. These cartoon epistles were a staple of my undergrad years at the University of Washington and I remember the ecstasy I felt when I learned that Brosh’s most famous work (along with new content) would be collected and sold in a book titled after her blog.
Hyperbole and a Half is perhaps best explained by appending the rest of it’s title: “Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things that Happened”. Part autobiographical memoir, part general observational humor, Brosh’s illustrated text covers a broad variety of topics and experiences that are at once particular (the story of a goose invading her house is a stand-out favorite of mine) and yet, somehow, universal.
I think what I liked best about this book is Brosh’s uncanny ability to boil down complex and sensitive topics like depression and mental health into relatable vignettes that don’t talk down to the audience or abuse the subject material. Her drawings are simple – crude, even. But that is part of their appeal. We’ve all felt alien or out of place, but Brosh let’s us know that it’s not just okay to feel that way, but that we should let our freak flags fly.
Fans of Allie Brosh’s original blog will definitely want to pick up this book and give it a read, but it’s appeal is far wider. If you enjoy reading work by writers like Sina Grace, Alan Alda, or David Sedaris, this might be the perfect book for you. If you enjoy watching television or films like The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Benny & Joon, or Inside Out, give this book a spin – it could be right up your alley!