You're Never Weird On the Internet (Almost), by Felicia Day (pub. 2015)
Amazon; B&N; Goodreads; official website; Simon & Schuster
This is a memoir by actor/writer/creator/producer Felicia Day, of whom I am a huge fan. Seriously, she's one of the few people in the world who I'd be so starstruck if I ever met her, I'd be like, We're not worthy! (Of course, since I'm just one person, and not royalty, I suppose I'd have to get a friend to go with me and genuflect together. Which probably wouldn't be too hard, because I think most of my friends love her work as much as I do.) The point is... I was super psyched when I found out she was writing a book. Actually... long before I ever heard that, I hoped she would, someday, I just never imagined it would be a memoir. I thought maybe a comedic fantasy novel, or something. (And I still hope she does that, someday.) Anyway, one of the reasons I've always loved her work is because of how much she (and many of the characters she plays) remind me of myself. Mainly that means I relate to her because of social anxiety, but I also think we have a (somewhat) similar sense of humor, as well as a lot of the same geeky interests. I've just always greatly admired her talent and all her accomplishments, and she just makes the world (particularly the internet) a better place. And she gives hope to lots of people like me, whether it's hope that we can succeed in our own artistic endeavors, or just hope that we can find a way to fit in, in a world that often makes fitting in seem almost impossible. And reading her book, these thoughts only intensified.
(Deep breath.) I'm not sure quite what to say about the book. I rarely read nonfiction, much less biographies or autobiographies (or "memoirs," though I have no idea how that differs from an autobiography). I already mentioned how starstruck I'd be if I ever met Felicia, and I honestly don't think I can overemphasize what a thoroughly dizzying mix of excitement and terror such a meeting would induce in me. (Which, incidentally, is something I know she would understand, because of the chapter where she talked about her own experiences meeting celebrities.) The weird thing is, reading this book, as much fun as it was, was in a way almost (well, not almost, but in a much milder-yet-similar way) as scary for me as actually meeting her would be. And the thought of writing a review of the book... gah. It's one thing to write a review of a story someone made up, but this... is kind of like trying to review a person's actual life. Which I am definitely not qualified to do. In any event... I thought I should work on my review a little bit after reading each chapter. Of course I didn't end up doing that; I waited until I'd finished the book. And now I fear that I may have forgotten some specific things I might have wanted to say about each chapter. I'm not sure how much there really is to say, anyway, because I'm used to explaining plots, in my reviews, and memoirs don't exactly have plots. (Even so, I kind of don't want to spoil anything about the book.) But I did want to mention how much I can or can't relate to her experiences. Most of them, I can't specifically relate to; my own life has been much different from hers. And while I've always been told I'm smart, I've certainly never been a prodigy. (Felicia is crazy good at math and violin.) But her writing style is always fun to read (which will come as a shock to none of her fans). She's incredibly funny and makes it easy to empathize with her, even if you have little or nothing in common with her. (And as I said, I definitely have some things in common with her, in spite of our very different life experiences.)
So... Felicia talks about her childhood, being home schooled and whatnot. And about how she got into online gaming, as a teenager, and how she became addicted to it. (I've never really been a gamer, but I can at least relate to becoming addicted to the internet, even if that didn't happen to me until later... and not to the same degree as Felicia.) And she talks about going to college at 16. And how she became a struggling actress. And how she finally created her incredibly popular web series, The Guild, with some help from a few friends. (I identify so hard with how much of a struggle it was to write the show. It definitely seems like her experience was a lot worse than my own struggles with writing, but still... I get it.) And she talks about becoming "situationally recognizable." And how she created her production company, Geek & Sundry. And about struggles with anxiety and depression, and a serious health scare, and... stuff. (Again, seems a lot worse than my own experiences, but I still totally relate.) And of course there's a chapter about GamerGate. (The chapter before that was emotionally draining enough, so I definitely wasn't going to read the GamerGate chapter immediately after, and I wouldn't recommend anyone else does, either.) But in spite of all the horrible people on the internet, there are also lots of wonderful and amazing people. Felicia's pretty great at understanding that, and on top of how inspirational she is as an artist, she's equally inspirational as- dare I say it?- an optimist. Or, you know, like, an anti-cynic. Or something. I don't know, but I can say this: I often need to remind myself that there are good people in the world (both online and IRL), and Felicia is one of the people whose existence makes me feel like it's maybe worth not giving up on the human race, just yet. And it's people like her who make me want to be the kind of person who makes others feel the same way. Anyway, the point is that the book ends on a positive note.
So, yeah, this review probably doesn't do the book justice. Of course I loved it, because as I said at the outset, I was already a huge fan of Felicia's. But I do think that even people who have never heard of her would likely enjoy the book, and probably want to seek out her other work, so they could become a fan, too. And um... I apologize if I'm forgetting to say anything important, but... I'm gonna shut up, before I just start rambling (any more than I already have).