“How To Be A Person” is funny, fresh and honest
Published: Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 23:10
When I started reading “How To Be A Person,” a new advice book written by the staff of Seattle alternative newspaper, The Stranger, I was expecting it to be like any other advice book, especially because I was tricked by its subtitle, “The Stranger’s guide to college, sex, intoxicants, tacos, and life itself.”
Seeing “college” in the title immediately brought to mind the dozens of worthless college “advice” books given to new high school graduates every year. All of them repeat the same information year after year, with most of them use outdated or wrong material that trips up most freshmen at least once. I find them horrendous. So I was jaded as I was about to begin the first chapter, “What No One Else Will Tell You About College.” I thought it was about to parrot the same information I’d heard ten times over.
But I was caught off-guard when I found the book was frequently hilarious. It’s sarcastic and snarky, but it never makes fun of the reader. Sure, some people might not get all of the references, but it’s clearly written by people willing to be much more honest about their college experiences than the average person. When the chapter ended with the final section that said those who drop out shouldn’t consider themselves failures and should instead figure out what they want to do, I was hooked. True honesty in an advice book? Astounding.
Other topics “How To Be A Person” provides useful information about include advice on different parts of the country, from the northeast to the southwest, a very large, very informal and very personal discussion about all aspects of sex, from “How To Get With A Girl/Boy If You Are A Boy/Girl” to more personal topics in an extended chapter of columnist Dan Savage’s “Savage Love” sex column. It’s got information on all kinds of sex and sexuality, from trying new things in the bedroom to coming out to parents or family.
“How To Be A Person” has a lot of salient advice for the college and post-college population, from proper drinking advice and realistic advice about drugs to balancing a budget (in the guise of looking at the advice the Bible gives) and doing laundry. It’s all realistic and sometimes quite poignant; the passages on “What No One Else Will Tell You About Heartbreak and Death” sum up the latter topic in two paragraphs, but they’re two of the most clear-cut and truthful sentences I’ve ever read.
To me, it seems that “How To Be A Person” is vital reading for anyone college-aged who needs a jumpstart in their lives. It’s a fast read, and it’s snappy and frequently laugh-out-loud hilarious. At the very least, it’s one of the most realistic advice books on the market for today’s 20-somethings.