My history with this book is long and storied. Mostly, I’ve been listening to the Nerdist podcast since it started and have loved every second of it. When Mr. Hardwick announced he was writing a book, I rejoiced. When he said it was a self-help thing, I ehhhhhh-ed. But I bought it in digital form and read through about half of the first part and then stopped.
Recently, however, I have had a bit of change of life, so I decided to pick this one up again. I think there are some times in this world when you find the thing you need at the exact point you need it, and this is mine. Let’s not get gushy, this book did not save my life or turn it around. I have done that, or at least started to. But this book did have some excellent advice and a striking parallel between Mr. Hardwick’s change and my own (30ish year old drunks realizing they need to get their shit together is not new, but when someone speaks your language... it resonates). I encourage you if you are feeling a little lost, seek this book out and at least give the digital free chapter a try or read through a bit in the bookstore. It’s fun and funny and well worth your time. I also want to say thank you personally to Mr. Hardwick for all the free laughs and advice that I did not pay for in a book.
The book is divided into three parts: Mind, Body and Time. In mind, Mr. Hardwick talks about prioritizing, focusing and obtaining your goals in life. In body, he goes into fitness and exercise. In time, he focuses on time management and finances. Pretty simple.
What I liked
This book is funny. As a professional comedian, Mr. Hardwick injects every bit of advice in the book with a brand of humor that is both irreverent and clever. While the jokes mostly take the form of asides so as not to diffuse the advice, they can lead to a snort or two as you read.
This is personal, but this book read like a friend who understands me giving me advice rather than a textbook spitting out noise about how my brain and body work. I know my life sucks, that’s why I came to this book. This book and the author knows my life sucks and that’s why I am here, too and offers and inspires me to get my shit together.
The advice in this book is giving with a feeling of kindness. Mr. Hardwick writes in a voice where you want to believe he genuinely feels like you should be a better you. This kindness is lacking in some of our more jaded “self-help” books. What I’m saying is this book would give you a lift if you ran out of gas. It might call you a “fuck stick” for not paying attention to the gauge, though.
What I didn’t like
The time portion seemed to be a bit rushed and almost unfinished. I feel the finance portion in particular seemed overlooked and forced with a couple of hand waves toward its general direction. As an important part of “getting your shit together” I think this section could have either been folded into the “mind” section or given more due.
Mr. Hardwick is not a “self help guru” nor an academic, so he should not be held to the standards of peer reviewed studies and the like, but I do feel this book at times leans more in the area of auto-biography than self-help. This is not a bad thing if the book were not classified as “personal growth” or wherever the bookstore clerk pointed me to. This book walks a line of classifications, and I would have liked to have seen its mission more defined. Study citations or at least anecdotes by other experts (rather than Tim Ferriss and Mr. Hardwick’s personal trainer) throughout would have given this book more weight.
This book would have benefited with a section on social interactions, or at least some helpful tips in that direction. The large majority of the text is devoted to increasing confidence in the mind and body and implies that this confidence will increase social interaction, but gives little in the way of explaining what to do once this interaction takes place. I am afraid this book will create an army of goal-oriented, healthy assholes is what I’m saying. Let us hope Mr. Hardwick’s own kindness (see “What I liked” above) rubs off on the poor nerds whom this book helps.
Who would like this?
People who need self help but don’t want to read about self help? Comedy fans that have found themselves lost and at a dead end? A bunch of librarians I might know that are starting their very own catalogs for their cat collections? I dunno, but as with any self-help book, don’t give this as a gift. Sends the wrong message.
Why was it banned?
I do not think this book has been challenged or banned in any library or school. Despite being a self-help book, though, parents might want to look out for strong language and adult imagery. Also, if your kid is too young for the “fuck” word, he/she should not be reading self help books.