Published by Crown Archetype on October 14, 2014
Source: Blogging for Books
Tired of memoirs that only tell you what really happened?
Sick of deeply personal accounts written in the first person? Seeking an exciting, interactive read that puts the “u” back in “aUtobiography”? Then look no further than Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography! In this revolutionary, Joycean experiment in light celebrity narrative, actor/personality/carbon-based life-form Neil Patrick Harris lets you, the reader, live his life. You will be born in New Mexico. You will get your big break at an acting camp. You will get into a bizarre confrontation outside a nightclub with actor Scott Caan. Even better, at each critical juncture of your life, you will choose how to proceed. You will decide whether to try out for Doogie Howser, M.D. You will decide whether to spend years struggling with your sexuality. You will decide what kind of caviar you want to eat on board Elton John’s yacht.
Choose correctly and you’ll find fame, fortune, and true love. Choose incorrectly and you’ll find misery, heartbreak, and a hideous death by piranhas. All this, plus magic tricks, cocktail recipes, embarrassing pictures from your time as a child actor, and even a closing song. Yes, if you buy one book this year, congratulations on being above the American average, but make that book Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography!
I’ll admit it – I’m a sucker for the celebrity memoir. I even have a separate space on my bookshelves where I keep celebrity books because it makes me laugh to see my pop culture obsession physically stacked in one place. That being said, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t expect much out of the celebrity memoir in terms of quality writing. I’m excited to share my thoughts on Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography, as NPH proved that not all celebrity books are created equal.
Of course, Choose Your Own Autobiography is written in its classic style, allowing readers to control the story’s order by choosing to which pages they turn at the end of each chapter. This allows the book to be read in a variety of ways, making each reader’s experience different. I chose to read the book chronologically from cover to cover, and while that may be breaking the rules a bit, I found that my reading experience was still logical and enjoyable. Thus, no matter how you choose to live NPH’s life, the book is organized so that your adventure is always a great one.
Similarly, NPH’s writing voice is extremely well done (and I say that recognizing he’s not the only person credited as author). His writing is witty, and I was laughing at his cleverly inserted one-liners throughout the entirety of the book. He mixed fact with fiction so seamlessly that sometimes I couldn’t even differentiate between the two. At the same time, NPH shared a great deal about his life, including many intimate moments. Despite not following his career closely before, I feel like I know him personally after reading his book.
Moreover, I have a few minor critiques. While the experimental writing style works well for the majority of the book, there is one lone chapter that fell flat for me. Choose Your Own Autobiography is written in the second person, placing the reader into the role of NPH. However, one chapter is written in How I Met Your Mother style, with NPH speaking in the first person to his children Gideon and Harper. I can appreciate how he’s using the familiar trope in the book, but I felt like the switch in perspective was unnecessary and detracted from the otherwise uniform writing.
Finally, Choose Your Own Adventure needs more page numbers! The entire premise of this book is allowing the reader to flip to the pages of her choice to continue the story, but each new chapter of the book does not contain a page number. Many chapters are only a couple pages long, so there can be a few pages in a row without a page number. That makes flipping to the correct page number a bit annoying and time-consuming, and takes away from the enjoyment of reading when one has to stop and find the proper page before continuing. If this book is printed again, I highly recommend the publisher include a page number on each and every page.
Those small critiques aside, I truly enjoyed Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography. It is a fun and thoughtful read, and great whether you’re a huge NPH fan or simply looking to learn a bit more about him. Plus, the book includes recipes, magic tricks, and even a chunk of photos in the middle. It truly has something for everyone.
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