This is the start of a new series on my blog called Not Your Regular Paperback *party poppers* I’ve been thinking of starting this since last year (couldn’t resist sorry not sorry). My aim with this series is to challenge myself to read books I usually wouldn’t pick up. In particular, I am going to focus on reading books in different formats, and to broaden and challenge my scope of what I consider to be a ‘regular book’. Who decides what’s regular anyway?
I haven’t read many Youtuber books (does John Green count?) It always kind of seemed like they were just writing for the sake of it, because they had an audience. But I like dodie’s style and the content she creates on Youtube, and so had high hopes when I saw that Ebury were publishing her book Secrets for the Mad.
The book itself is beautiful. It’s hardback and has that scratchy sort of texture that’s really satisfying to run your fingers across. The illustrations on the cover and throughout are by Benjamin Phillips and fit so well with the themes of the book and dodie’s style. I liked the interspersing of pictures and old writings from teenage dodie, as well as guest writers and little trinkets of memories.
The topics she discusses are hard but important to talk about openly, especially when they deal with sensitive subjects such as manipulative relationships, depression, and depersonalisation. The whole book feels extremely honest and is definitely appreciated and refreshing in a world in which how another person lives can be so easily misinterpreted because of social media.
Lyrics from her songs are sprinkled throughout and fit in with the chapters she is writing about. I’m not gonna lie, I tend to skip over them, because they didn’t seem to add much, and plus, I already knew the lyrics. I think this could have been done better, maybe if the lyrics were annotated with thoughts from writing or little comments. I’m current reading Hamilton: the Revolution and the entire musical is annotated with Lin Manuel Miranda’s thoughts from writing, to silly comments, to the meaning behind the words. I know this is on a different scale, but it did demonstrate how including song lyrics in writing could be done really well. I did like the illustrations at the end of each song, however.
“It would be good if you could pour all your efforts into being the best person you can be for the people who do know you, not the coolest person for the ones who don’t, but you will learn these lessons messily; and sometimes that’s the best way”
I also liked that it was split into Obsessions, Confessions, and Life Lessons. However, the topics moved on so fast that it threw you around from one end to the next, with no time to rest, breathe, and process anything. I guess this could be portraying how mumbly jumbly your brain can be sometimes. And it did allow you to put it down and pick it up again easily, as the chapters didn’t connect on a chronological level. However, I personally didn’t like this style, as it made for a bit of a haphazard read, although I could see how a younger reader may be attracted to this style of writing.
Overall, whilst I personally think the structure is a bit all over the place, the issues talked about are important for young people to read about, and dodie writes with ease and a refreshing honesty about suffering with mental health issues.
*this post contains book depository affiliate links
Not Your Regular Paperback is a blog series started by Jaz Damen (whatsyourfutureplan) to challenge yourself to read books you usually wouldn’t pick up, whether that be a different format, different authors, or a different genre. You can find a list of all the books discussed in this series here.