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“I was taught that being myself was not only okay, but encouraged—and by being unapologetically yourself, you thrive and inspire others to thrive.”
“Pop culture phenomenon, social rights advocate, and the most prominent LGBTQ+ voice on YouTube, Tyler Oakley brings you his first collection of witty, personal, and hilarious essays written in the voice that’s earned him more than 10 million followers across social media.” (Summary from Goodreads)
Tyler Oakley posted his first YouTube video in 2007, never expecting much to come from it. He definitely never thought that one day he would amass a following of over eight million subscribers on YouTube. Tyler has taken the online world by storm with successes including interviews with Michelle Obama and One Direction (both of which each have a chapter in the book, and one of them really pulls at the ole heartstrings), a worldwide live tour, a chart-topping podcast Psychobabble and a documentary titled Snervous. It’s crazy to think that all this started because a boy decided to film videos in his living room and upload them to YouTube.
“Sometimes doing what’s right for your conscience is not always the most popular decision, but I can guarantee that in retrospect you won’t regret the choice you made.”
Binge is a collection of personal essays written about Tyler Oakley about the early years of his life. Some long before YouTube and others telling the real stories behind events that have happened since his Internet fame. The essays differ in length and subject matter, revealing the many facets that make up who Tyler is and was.
Each ‘chapter’ is its own story, based around a specific topic, and some were so much darker and heartbreaking than I would have expected. The ones that hit my heart the hardest, and caught me completely off-guard included the tale of Tyler coming out to his family and his father’s reaction of “I have enough money to fix that,” Tyler’s eating disorder and the body dysmorphia that he battled when he was younger. It really broke my heart reading about all of this. There is one ‘chapter’ that is only two pages long, just two, and those two pages pack such a swift kick to the gut. You really feel for him, he has overcome so much to be the person he is today, showing that we don’t have to let the demons win, that we can fight back, and we can win.
“No person, no matter how important society deems their relationship to you, has the right to denounce you for who you are.”
His pacing was brilliant, though it could be somewhat jarring at times. He would have an incredibly hilarious tale about childhood incontinence, and then follow it with something serious. You can go from laughing hysterically, to the laugh catching in your throat almost immediately at times. Which I guess was a way to add light and shade throughout the book, giving people time to breathe.
Binge is an incredible rollercoaster from start to finish; I laughed, I cried and severely cringed at some of Tyler’s exploits. I also empathised a lot with his experiences with depression and anxiety; I am currently battling those demons myself. I highly recommend this book, although having some background knowledge on Tyler’s personality might help with certain chapters. Some chapters are quite… out there. But, he has gone through a lot that others, especially teens, are currently going through. Eating disorders, bullying, coming at as something other than straight, he offers little bits of wisdom about he dealt with these experiences, and while his methods aren’t for everyone it just helps to know that you aren’t alone. But most of all he shows that we should all embrace our personal brand of weird, because it is who we are.
A paperback edition of Binge was released last year and is pictured below.