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.
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.
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.
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.
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