Saturday, April 23, 2016

Reviewing Books by YouTubers: Binge by Tyler Oakley


This summer I created a little reading challenge for myself. I'm going to read a bunch of books written by professional YouTubers. For the past few years, I've really really liked the YouTube platform. I like that the videos are shorter than T.V. episodes or movies, and I like the idea that anyone can do them. Obviously, I'm not the only one who feels this way because people have been able to make YouTube a career and have fanbases of millions of people. Cue the book deals.

Being the skeptic that I am, I was suspicious when all the big YouTubers started writing books. Clearly this is another way to make money, but I was curious if these books have any merit on their own. Since we'll never know if these books "would ever have existed without the lure of a huge cheque" (The Guardian), we are left to review them based only on what is published and not on how pure their original intentions were. So, I set out to see if books by YouTubers could stand up as books, without the huge internet backing.

The first book up for review is Binge by Tyler Oakley. 
My familiarity with the YouTuber: Not subscribed, but have seen a few of his videos. 


Form:
This book certainly wasn't a difficult read. It's set up in a collection of memoir-esque "essays" that cover different parts of Tyler's life.  I say "essays" because I felt they were more like him telling stories about his life. It's marketed as a collection of essays, but it felt very much like a written form of his videos. I just have a hard time calling it a personal essay, when it read more like a memoir.

In between the "essays", he includes some fun lists such as what he would do if he was Beyonce for a day. I liked how these segments broke up the book. He also has childhood photos that go with each section, which I really enjoyed.

Content: 
I prefaced this review by stating my familiarity with the YouTuber, because I want to recognize that I am probably not the target audience for this book. That being said, I did find Tyler's life-story interesting, because I hadn't really read anything like it before. What bothered me was that he seemed to feel the need to tell me the moral of every story he told. It made me feel like I was reading a book aimed at a preteen audience who wasn't capable of picking up on the theme. Since all the stories had the same general theme of being yourself, it came across as a bit preachy, since it was repeated so often. I think the book would have been much more poignant if Tyler had let the reader come to their own conclusions more often.

If this book was aimed at a younger audience then I would understand the moral explanations, but he very openly talks about sexual exploits throughout the book and uses colourful language, which makes it read as though it's an adult book. I just had a hard time reconciling those two elements.

Voice:
This is where this book really shines. Tyler Oakley has a brand of self-depreciating humor and a way of writing that makes it seem like you're talking to one of your girlfriends. His voice is likable and unapologetically himself. Even though the content wasn't always my "thing," I liked Tyler's colloquial tone.

Overall Impressions:
Binge was written in a colloquial tone, but it added to the flavor of the book, instead of feeling like a shortcut to writing the book. The book could have used one more edit to cut some of the moral connecting of the dots, but wasn't a bad read. Tyler's not exactly a subtle online personality, so why would his book be written that way? Even though the content wasn't always what I was interested in, I still like Tyler Oakley (and his infectious laugh) as a YouTuber.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars 

Have you read any YouTuber books? Any in particular I should review? Do you love YouTube as much as I do? Let me know what you think of this new series in the comment!

Reading: A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout
Listening: Alabama Shakes
Watching: WatchMojo Youtube videos

14 comments:

  1. I haven't read the book, but I've seen his video on Netflix where he goes on his tour. He's super funny and has a lovely personality, but I don't think that I could read this book. Glad you(kinda) enjoyed it though!

    Amy;
    Little Moon Elephant

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    1. I didn't know that he had a video on Netflix! I might have to watch it on a rainy day.

      Thanks for commenting!

      Delete
  2. I kind of want to try a youtuber's book...but at the same time I don't watch youtube. Like ever. XD So I'm not sure if there's a point for me?! hehh. (I do love the cover though. It's just so colourful, omg.)
    And I totally get what you mean about the tone vs content. I was reading a book the other day that had a REALLY simplistic tone and it was all really mild and I figured it was being wrongly marketed as YA and should've been MG. (All the characters weren't very mature-acting either.) And then the finale just explodes with with seriously heavy swearing. Like. Wut. (I mean, that's different to this, of course, but it's kind of confusing still.)
    Although I personally don't think there's anything wrong with writing a book with the intention to make money. ;D It doesn't always work out that way, of course, but I don't see it's different to any other sort of aristry career. XD

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Youtube is a great source of entertainment and oh-so-addicting. I've passed over way too many books in favor of a couple hours on Youtube.

      I find that the most common problem with books is that a) they're mis-marketed or b) the author forgets about their intended audience.

      Thanks for commenting!

      Delete
  3. I have read books by a YouTuber (Zoella) but only because they belonged to my sister. I didn't like any of them so I was glad that I didn't buy them.

    Do I love YouTube? Heck, yes! There's so much to watch:cooking, comedy, vlogs and many more! However I don't often watch big YouTubers except NigaHiga and Finebros because big YouTubers often make challenge videos.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I definetly want to get to Zoella's book, but I heard it was ghost-written so I'd be interested to check it out.

      I like the Finebros too!

      Thanks for stopping by:)

      Delete
  4. Ah, Tyler. XD I really enjoyed this review! I've always wondered what Youtuber books would be like to read, but never enough to actually peruse them. X) Can't wait for the next one! :D

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    1. Aww thanks! I'll let you know if there's one that's particularly amazing:)

      Delete
  5. OH MY GOSH, YES. What is it with all these youtubers writing books all of a sudden?

    I don't watch a LOT of youtube. I don't usually subscribe to them -- just check popular channel every month and pick and choose which videos I want to view.

    I really look forward to these reviews! :D Then I will know which ones are worthwhile reading.

    // katie grace
    a writer’s faith  

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    1. I'm glad that you find this series helpful! I used to just check on my favourite channels, but somewhere along the lines I got sucked into subscribing and I never looked back, haha.

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  6. I don't watch a whole lot of Tyler Oakley, but I like the guy. I haven't read the book, but I feel like I already understand what you mean!

    A lot of Youtubers are writing books these days, probably because they're becoming very influential. Can you maybe read and review Girl Online by Zoe Sugg (Zoella)?

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    1. I will totally be reading Girl Online by Zoella. I'm particularly interested in that one because it's fiction and not a memoir or non-fiction like many of the others.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  7. It is truly amazing how Youtube has opened up a whole new world for people to have their creativity noticed!

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  8. I do not watch a lot of Youtube but I do sort of enjoy incongruous story-telling, which you seemed to point out. I'd be very curious to skim this, so I'll see what I think too.

    ReplyDelete

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