29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
I generally don't read self-help books, but I picked this up because I am a fan of Chris Hardwick. Hardwick, who some may recognize as being one of the hosts of MTV's Singled Out way back in the 90s, spent much of his 20s partying, drinking, and generally ruining his life. What happened when he hit 30 is best expressed in his own words:
"Then, when I hit thirty, I began to look around at my life: I was consuming a baby elephant's weight in alcohol EVERY DAY. I lived in a [redacted] apartment near UCLA ... my place was always a mess, I had ruined my credit, and I had no real work prospects. I had become a thing I had always feared-the fat, drunk guy who used to be on television."
Hardwick quit drinking in 2003 and started trying to improve his life. Now he has multiple projects on the go, including a successful (and extremely entertaining) podcast, a new podcast network, and several TV gigs.
The secrets to Hardwick's success aren't anything new. Basically, he was able to harness his innate nature (his nerdiness, so to speak) and use it to his advantage. And that's what this book is about.
His techniques aren't going to appeal to everyone, but if you enjoy the quantitative over the qualitative, you may find some ideas here. In general, he is advocating identifying your goals and developing a way to track your progress in a visible way. He also talks a lot about how to deal with the generally obsessive "nerdist" brain, something which I could relate to. It's nice to know that you're not the only one who thinks the way you do. In the final section, he talks a lot about his diet and fitness, even providing a starter fitness plan that is modeled after what he has done with his trainer.
One thing you can't forget is that Hardwick is a comedian. The tone of the book is funny and descriptive, even during the more serious parts.
All-in-all, I enjoyed the book, even if I won't adopt some of the more time-consuming tracking techniques. However, there is one big ding against it. Hardwick spends a fair amount of time on the development of a "character tome" that is the heart of his goal-tracking technique. He sends readers to a web site for sample templates, but that website is not functional. We're now almost 3 months after the release of the book, and that's really not acceptable.
Good thing it's hard to be mad at Hardwick for long.
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 2011
I love self-help books. It is probably a disease. It is probably something I need 'help' for! Anyway, "The Nerdist Way" is probably one of the best self-help books I have ever read. First, you have to like comedians. Second, you probably should know just a touch about gamers. (All I know is what my students have told me!) After that, Chris Hardwick is a genius when it comes to 'reaching the next level'.
No one is going to believe this, but "The Nerdist Way" actually got rid of my GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder). DO NOT count on the same results yourself, but I am one of those people who just needs to be 'told the facts, Jack'. I needed some comedian nerd that I have never met to tell me that I had control over my own life and anxiety and could stop it COLD. Just so you know, I can talk myself out of the hick-ups and quit stuttering when I was a kid because my mother TOLD me to in a very stern voice!
Will it work for you? I have no idea. Is there some truth to writing down your goals, making charts to see them through, and enjoying the process of bettering yourself? Of course! This book is funny, down to earth, real life advise to all of us. I have never thought of myself as a nerd, but now I know I am. I embrace it. I love it. And because of that, I can make changes that will benefit me as a person. I also think my students could benefit from it because many of them don't need therapy, they just need to embrace who they are and put the effort they put into gaming toward the goals of their lives.
Buy it and enjoy it. It's cheap therapy. Ha!
36 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on November 1, 2011
I managed to get an early-ish copy of the book, and if you follow the author's podcast, the first thing you'll notice is that you'll feel like you have a wee Hardwick sitting on your shoulder talking in your ear. He's compiled much of the results of his experience from stardom, to wasteland, and back to resurrection, which is no small feat. And, if you enjoy Chris's humour, you'll enjoy the writing style immensely.
Personally, I got hooked from the first, where he asks you to gamify your life, since that's something we nerds enjoy, and can build off of. From then on, you see that's the theme of the book: take those traits which identify you as a nerd, and turn it around to crush your enemies! (or something a little less violent).
You definitely have to approach the book as something fun, and not taken so seriously like other self-help books. It's supposed to be fun, but I can see where people might find it corny if they don't know nerd-culture, or scoff at these types of books. If you push that aside, and see how the author wants you to change your inner-view, it becomes very enjoyable.
I haven't yet been able to follow all the advice given, but I do like what I've gotten through, and I enjoy the author's writing style, so I'd give this an initial 4 stars. It's aimed at the nerdset, and feel like it follows through.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on November 6, 2011
The Nerdist Way reads like the beloved podcast - insanely funny, informative, inspiring, and goofy. I raced through this book in one day and then promptly tossed it to my Nerd husband and said, "You need to read this. NOW." Hardwick truly understands the Nerdist brain and how to harness its energy for good. It is the kick-in-the-ass we all need, in order to be the people we've always wanted to be...
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on November 1, 2011
Although this is full of delightfully funny stories of Hardwick's bumpy path to web celebrity, the real gold is the simple and charming advice for dealing with the dilemmas of daily online life, from defusing haters to getting stuff done. The section on temper management is worth the price alone. Don't count to ten--buy it now ;-)
26 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on November 4, 2011
I enjoyed the excerpt I read on Wired and bought it on Nov 1. I'm only part way through it but am enjoying it pretty well so far. Fun writing style, although a little bloated (the excerpt is edited much more cleanly). I'm enjoying the geek pop culture references. The bit about how games give you the illusion of accomplishing something when you're not--that struck close to home. The self-help tips are the same tips you'd find in many other books ("write your goals down", "identify your strengths") but packaging them as a game design makes them more fun.
So, it's got padded writing and a prevalence of old ideas in new packages. The third reason I'm giving it only 3 stars is the same reason I'm reviewing it before I've finished reading: if in the first chapter, readers are directed to materials on a website, that site should be up and functional. I would recommend other readers not rush to buy this book. Until nerdistway.com is more than a splash page promoting where you can buy the book, it's like your copy has big blank squares in it labeled "coming soon! No, really! I mean it! Where are you going?"
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 19, 2011
Chris Hardwick is like the geeky big brother I never had, showing me where I'm headed in ten years if I keep thinking like I do. Not that I expect to be famous like him, but I hope to get to the point where I am consistently creating and publishing rather than just consuming geeky media. His advice was great reassurance that I'm on the right track, and his anecdotes made me feel better knowing that what I see as a personal burnout phase could have been so much worse.
The book is broken into three sections on taming your busy mind, taking care of your body, and time management. That technically makes it a self help book, but it is written by a standup comic/TV host so it doesn't sound like a self help book while you're reading it. Have you ever read a self help book that speculated as to whether the Doctor is of Chaotic Good or Neutral Good alignment? This is probably the first one to use the language of my generation's popular geek culture, and I'm glad I downloaded the Kindle version so I could digitally highlight and bookmark all the good bits into a browsable list.
The Mind section of the book explains how Hardwick thinks of his life like one long D&D game, complete with character tome to track his progress. Accountability and success tracking was something I've had trouble with, so his idea of making a table top roleplaying character sheet and hand drawn progress bars for your own real life To Do "quests" was a welcome piece of advice. I now keep a digital character tome on my iPad in an app called SketchpadHD that lets me both type and doodle notes.
I can't comment much on the Body section of the book as I have some personal health issues that make working out a more complicated issue than it is for most people. Hardwick presents some advice from his personal trainer plus descriptions of exercises from which Your Milage May Vary. I thought it was the weakest section of the book, but it DID inspire me to return to my yoga routine. And he makes a good point that consistency with a fitness habit is more important than how hard your workout is. Just stretching is better than no physical activity at all.
The Time [and money] Management section is not terribly new if you already read self help books, but it's all good advice and I thought Hardwick's story of how he got out of credit card debt was inspiring. And actually, the section about super villainy WAS new. I won't spoil it for you, but super villains are actually good role models in the right context.
I highly recommend this book to anyone geeky, anyone who likes to laugh, anyone burnt out on self help books, or anyone who has ever hated themselves even a little for just a moment. You need this book like you need a hug from the geeky big brother you never had.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 7, 2011
This is a great audio book, IF you know what you are getting. For realsies. If you don't know a tardis from a taunton, can't tell Louis CK from Patten Oswalt, have never rolled a 20 sided die in an RPG, or leveled up in World of Warcraft, this book might not be for you. But for a particular group of tech and pop culture savvy nerds (generally male), looking for help in the grown up world, this is the book that will try to show the way.
Chris uses his personal struggles, a gigabyte of humor and a gazillion pop culture references to illustrate how the time honored keys to success can be reframed for the hyper-connected who are used to instant gratification online. Goal setting and decision making hasn't changed much over the centuries, but if you look at time management from the perspective of an "Evil Genius" for example, it may resonate enough to make it a do-able IRL. You are your character in a giant LARP. Here you just need to you identify your abilities and start racking up experience points to get to the next level.
Chris narrates the book, and at warp speed, it might be difficult to catch all the references. Movie and comic book characters abound and shout outs to Ben Franklin, Charlie Rose, Oprah, Stephen Frye, the Kardashians, among many others, pepper the story. Everything from bits of the Lincoln-Douglas debate, to solipsism, to chess, make an appearance, as Chris shares how he overcame panic attacks, a serious back injury, a serious dependance on alcohol, a crappy credit rating and bad Asian chicken salads, in a way that says, you can absolutely do this too.
I can't imagine "reading" this book. The audio is the way to go, since it's so much like a comedy routine. There are links provided to items which must be diagrams in the book. And those circling the OCD island will certainly find them helpful. I don't see how this book can possibly have a long shelf like. Two years from now, it may be totally incomprehensible. But for the target audience, two years from now is another universe. It's about the now, and in more ways than one.
The Nerdist Way is profane, and not always PC. But it is Chris Hardwick at his best. A pink pill of happy. He's not paying me, but maybe he should.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 7, 2011
I have always been a skeptic of the self-help book genre as a whole, mostly because I could relate to the ubermensch who seem author those books. I mean how could I relate the life lessons of marathon running, Everest climbing, millionare, balls of concentrated charisma that seem to make up the bulk of self help authors. Well if you're a nerd, or associate yourself with nerd culture, this might be the book for you.
I think where Chris Hardwick succeeds is to emphasize on incremental change, rather than the grand claims of other self-help gurus. Its just about putting one foot in front of the other until you get where you're going.
As for his gamification system, its nice and simple and relatively easy to follow what he wants you to and extrapolate that for other parts of your life.
Now I do realize that the true test of a self help book is how it affects your life in the long term, and I obviously can't comment on that, as it's only been out a week. I can say that its a good read whether it changes you life or not, and contains some good, practical advice from someone who relates to you on your level.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 26, 2012
While I profess to being a lifelong nerd, I think by Hardwick's definition, we all are nerds at one time or another. Everyone has something about which they are passionate. But in this overly busy & distracting modern world it can be easy to forget about that passion. Hardwick has a plan to help us regain and focus our attention where it belongs--on that passion.
With so many other "self-help" books I always felt like I had to swallow the whole pill. If I didn't do the plan in it's totality, it wouldn't work & I'd be back where I started. I LOVE that Hardwick repeatedly emphasizes that you can do as little or as much of this plan as you need; or you can do it a bit at a time, so it doesn't become so overwhelming that you set yourself up for failure.
Yea, sure, he uses examples that particularly appeal to nerds for his sample motivation (gaining D & D-like experience points), but the idea translates to any reward system you'd care to use. If points don't do it for you, use quarters, sticks of gum, shoes, whatever. The idea is to get organized & motivated then stay organized & motivated. There are plenty of ideas to do so. The whole point is forward progress as a happier human being. Stop giving in to the distraction & overburdening, choose yourself first, find what you really want & do the work get it.
And here's an entertaining, kind & encouraging guide for the journey. (Loved it so much I got it in hardcover, Kindle and audio!) Why on earth would you not want that kind of partner by your side for this kind of work? Get it!