Review: How to Ruin Everything by George Watsky

Watsky_How to Ruin Everything.jpg

Published: Plume, 2016

Genre: Nonfiction, essays

My rating: 2/5 stars

In this brutally honest and humorous debut, musician and artist George Watsky chronicles the small triumphs over humiliation that make life bearable and how he has come to accept defeat as necessary to personal progress. The essays in How to Ruin Everything range from the absurd (how he became an international ivory smuggler) to the comical (his middle-school rap battle dominance) to the revelatory (his experiences with epilepsy), yet all are delivered with the type of linguistic dexterity and self-awareness that has won Watsky more than 765,000 YouTube subscribers. Alternately ribald and emotionally resonant, How to Ruin Everything announces a versatile writer with a promising career ahead.” (Goodreads)

Whenever I go to a big, fancy bookstore, I like to pick up one book I’ve never heard of before. I tend to go into bookstores and pick up a dozen titles I’ve seen on Tumblr, and have lost the experience of accidentally discovering a new book. When I went to Strand for the first time last October, this was my random book of choice. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a disappointment.

This will be a rather short review because I don’t have much to say about this book, honestly. It just wasn’t for me. I’m a big fan of creative non-fiction, memoirs, and personal essays, and I thought this would give me some hilarious tales and be a quick read, but I had to drag myself through it.

This book was difficult to get through. I found the majority of it boring, and it took such a long time to get through. There were a few redeeming moments that were smart or funny or interesting to read about, but the boring or slow moments certainly outweighed those for me, unfortunately. From the title and description, I definitely thought I’d be laughing more, or at least be a bit more entertain but that just wasn’t the case.

One thing that really turned me off with this book was that I couldn’t really find a reason why I was reading it. Why was Watsky telling me these stories? Why did they matter to me? Why should I care? When I read memoirs or personal narratives – or even fiction, for that matter – I generally expect to get something out of it. If it’s not resonating with me,  if it doesn’t mean something why am I bothering to read it? That’s how I felt reading this. Why are you telling me about your drunken adventures in foreign countries or the time you smuggled something across the Canadian/American border? It might just be me – maybe other people found something to resonate with reading these stories. I didn’t, though, and I was left feeling like I had wasted my time. I spend a lot of time reading creative nonfiction and personal essays and personally, I don’t feel that this was a very strong collection of them.

On another note, it seems that, from other reviews, this book might be more enjoyable if you’re a fan of Watsky’s poetry or music. As I said, I picked this up at random, and know little about Watsky that didn’t come from this book. That being said, it would have most likely resonated with me more if I was familiar with his other work.

Recommend for fans of: . . . Watsky.

Buy the book: Amazon, Book Depository, Thriftbooks

Thanks for reading!
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