The Hidden Power of F*ing Up – A Review
Well, in case you missed it the Try Guys have written a book. Yes, those loveable oafs of the internet, best known for trying on women’s underwear and oiling up each other’s butts, are authors. New York Times ‘Bestselling‘ authors, I might add.
The book itself is hardly a surprise and offers an endearing insight into their ‘Failosophy’. The fundamental idea that by trying something new, even knowing that you are going to fail, you can actually succeed.
But first, a brief bit of background…
Keith, Ned, Zach, and Eugene are four former Buzzfeed video creators now collectively known as ‘The Try Guys’. It all started with finding four poor suckers in the office willing to wear women’s underwear on the internet. As the only four willing to be mostly naked in front of their colleagues, the unlikely quartet was formed.
Since then, and after a few very successful years at BuzzFeed, the four left to start their own independent entertainment company, giving them complete control over the videos and content they were producing, and allowing them room to flex their creative and entrepreneurial wings…
Okay, so four guys famous for oiling up each other’s naked butts split from a major company so they could make even crazier videos about, well, whatever they wanted really. And now they’ve written a book… that sounds… interesting?
Yeah, except it IS interesting. The basic premise behind the book is nothing new – it is essentially a self-help book that tricks you into not realizing it is a self-help book by wrapping it up around four video creators and their problems. But the issues the guys deal with Health, Self Expression/Confidence, Work, Relationships, and Family, are things that most of us deal with at some point in our lives.
I purchased the ebook version for convenience’s sake. Which, when you are reading it on a small device like a kindle, doesn’t always center up the cute little cartoons and photos the way it should. Despite everything being organized into five neat and easy to understand categories, there are extra tidbits throughout the book that, while super fun/funny/informative, disrupt a little bit from the flow of the story because of the formatting glitches in the ebook version. I am sure that in the coffee table-sized print of the book, these sections are easy to flip back and forth to and probably arranged to the side or in neat little colored boxes. But in the ebook format, the only things to separate them from the main text when you flip between pages are an easy to miss header and a slightly different font. If you leave off in the middle of one sentence and then cut to a ‘History of F*cking Up’ excerpt on the next page, it can be very disorienting for the flow of the story.
All four authors contributed to the book in their own unique voices, signified by a cartoon version of their head floating above the beginning of their section. And you can definitely hear the distinct voices in the way these four different people write (I suspect Zach had a strong hand in the beginning and end of the book, as it is more in line with his distinct writing style). But with two heads with glasses and one with eyes so wide it only looks like he’s wearing glasses, the only one that is easy to pick out at first is Eugene. You get used to it soon enough so it’s not too off-putting, just confusing at first. The distinct writing styles help a lot in clearing that up. Once you read something written by Eugene, you never mix him up with one of the other Try Guys again.
Eugene’s sections are dark, introspective, intelligent, self-deprecating, and just straight up a higher level. Some of the things he talks about are painful in a way that, without a shared experience, can be off-putting, but are genuine to the point of being shatteringly honest. Zach is a seasoned storyteller, and all of his sections resonate strongly with the ‘narrator’ style voice that he uses in his own videos. A hopeless romantic, he crafts words in a way that is introspective but still true to a narrative. Ned, well, Ned writes the way you’d imagine an introspective sleep-deprived soccer dad would write. There aren’t any unnecessary metaphors or flowery use of language, but he does tell you how the challenges set before him made him re-examine certain aspects of his life. Keith, ironically, seems to be the most straight forward author’s voice in the group. Maybe it’s because of the nature of his section, but Keith conveys necessary information, groans occasionally about it, and then provides follow up information. It might be one of the most useful sections in the book, but it is certainly not the most engaging to read (that would be Eugene’s).
The book, at it’s most basic, is a self-help book. The Try Guys, in all their endearing, goofy, wonderful ways, explain the ‘Failosophy’ of Trying. The idea or concept that, if you try to accomplish something, even knowing that you will fail but put your whole effort into it regardless, then you will have learned something in the process. The idea that, in and of itself, the effort can be its own reward. With dozens of examples, including individual challenges put to each and every one of the guys (some harder than others) to reinforce the concept, it really hits home.
So – should you buy this book…
Short Answer – YES.
It’s a simple read (except for some of Eugene’s sections – had to google a word once or twice), straight forward without being preachy (for the most part) and the back and forth between the four authors keep things interesting and, occasionally, hilarious. I would advise against jumping sections. The main philosophy stays the same and the problems explored are not your own, so looking for specific solutions kind of defeats the point of the book.
The hardcover version is only $17, which is under the $20 magic threshold for me with books. Given that the ebook version is $12.99 and thse odd displaced pictures, I’d say go for the coffee table version. Unless you have pre-teens, in which case DO NOT PUT ON COFFEE TABLE.
There is a reason they went ahead and put the first F*ck in the title.
You can also check out Eve Daniels, author of The Nerdy Nanny books, on YouTube where she gives writing and academic advice as well as updating you on all of her latest and upcoming projects.