A buoyant young YouTube celebrity’s experiences and outlook spawn 240 pages of uplift.
It’s all hung on a 100-point (!) program for awesomeness that begins with “Put down your phone” and ends with “Start writing on a page and then lose track of…” (and is helpfully repeated at the end of the book as a checklist). This patchwork assemblage of slogans, photos, recipes, instructions, side projects, short interviews with dozens of activists, and banter with co-author/producer/brother-in-law Montague boogies along as energetically as its (now) 11-year-old frontman. The irrepressible Novak was propelled to viral fame by the 2012 video “Pep Talk” (included in transcription, with new cartoon illustrations). He lights up his subsequent encounters with fellow celebrities from President Barack Obama and Beyoncé to Justin Timberlake and Timberlake’s grandma—as well as such bright if less-visible luminaries as the founders of a beauty pageant for special needs participants and “Make a Stand,” a lemonade-based anti–child-slavery initiative. Blending generalities with specific actions, the life advice runs to upbeat witticisms like “Don’t sweat the small stuff. Life is short and deodorant is expensive”; “Don’t be in a party. Be a party”; “High five your dentist”; and “Practice the art of the unexpected burrito.” It’s organizationally overwhelming, with a design aesthetic that seems to spurn consistency across more than four pages.
Light as air, sneakily earnest, chock-full of worthy silliness: “Be like cheese (or bacon) and make everything you touch better.” (Self-help. 9-13)