Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Tremain's Book Corner: "Binge" by Tyler Oakley

Binge
Author: Tyler Oakley
Reviewed By: Tremain Jackson, South Branch Manager
Personal Rating: 4 Stars

Book Summary: Pop culture phenomenon, social rights advocate, and the most prominent LGBTQ+ voice on YouTube, Tyler Oakley brings you his first collection of witty, personal, and hilarious essays written in the voice that's earned him more than 10 million followers across social media. 

Personal Review: To be honest, prior to this book being released, I had never heard of Tyler Oakley before, although I thought it was an awesome name.  Then it hit the New York Times Hardcover Nonfiction bestseller lists for several weeks last year and I thought to myself, "hmm, let's learn a little bit more."  So I checked out the book, read it, loved it, and then went back to watch some of his YouTube videos as well as listen to his Psychobabble with Tyler Oakley & Korey Kuhl podcast.  

I will preface this review by stating that although I gave it a high rating, it will not be for everyone.  If you're not a fan of Oakley already, then it will be a true hit or miss read.  The writing style isn't the strongest in the world and it can read a little juvenile at times, but the author is writing his stories in his own vernacular, much like you would get through his videos and podcasts.  He's not dumbing it down or getting lost in the prose.  Sometimes that works and other times it doesn't, but for me, it worked.

Completely unwavering and unapologetic, Oakley shares his stories (by they silly, important or meaningful) with great levels of internal and external reflections of varying degrees from his rankings of the hotness of Disney Prince's to darker topics such as the intimidating nature of vulnerability with his experiences with an eating disorder and physical abuse.  Although he's seen his rise to fame through his own personal YouTube channel, he acknowledges how that platform has allowed him to bring awareness to various topics and help his audience members who may be struggling with similar issues.

That's what I found myself liking most about Oakley's book.  It could have been completely lighthearted and whimsical, or it could have been "down in the dumps" depressing, but instead, it offered a great combination of both sides.  Do you need to be a fan of his videos in order to be able to enjoy this book?  No, but it certainly will help.

At the end of the day, I found the book to be refreshing, engaging, hilarious, sometimes emotional, and very interesting.  It was even good enough for me to want to go on YouTube and "binge" watch some of his previous shows.

So if you're looking for a memoir of a different color, as Oakley's hair has probably been most of them already, then see about checking out a copy of his book at your library.  It's a quick read, will make you laugh, and reminds me of similar comical memoirs including Tina Fey's Bossypants and Jenny Lawson's Let's Pretend This Never Happened.

Plus, for those of you with access to some of the popular streaming sites out there, if you like this book, you might also want to look out for watching a feature length documentary he put out called Snervous...seriously worth a watch.

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