Thursday, August 16, 2018
Books

Review: Andy Boyle’s ‘Adulthood for Beginners’ offers funny, laid-back advice

Bro, Andy Boyle wants to help you. Boyle’s book, Adulthood for Beginners: All the Life Secrets Nobody Bothered to Tell You, is notably laid back for a self-help book. It’s less like a hyper, rah-rah life coach and more like a pal offering you a few quiet tips over pizza — which probably makes it more likely to appeal to its target demo, twentysomethings still unsure about just how to be a grownup.

That’s territory Boyle has just navigated himself. He’s a journalist (including a stint at the then-St. Petersburg Times) and website developer who has segued into standup comedy and, with Adulthood for Beginners, a kind of comedy self-help book.

In 2015, he writes in the book’s introduction, he wrote a blog post "detailing what I learned not drinking for two years. And in a tale as old as time, it went crazy viral. (The same thing happened to Jane Austen.)" He had already written a first draft of an advice book, and the viral post led to a book contract.

The subject of that blog post, by the way, doesn’t dominate the book; it’s not an anti-alcohol sermon. That’s one more thing Boyle is laid back about; not drinking worked for him — he lost 75 pounds and saved enough on booze to make a down payment on a condo — but he’s not on a crusade to get everyone on the wagon.

As he notes, "Because of this blog post I became mildly famous for not doing a thing. Soon I hope to become even more famous for not dating a Kardashian, not dropping a hot mix tape, and not going to the Moon."

His advice has a much wider range, although it’s based in something he introduces early in the chapter "The A------ Test." (If you’re touchy about coarse language, this is not your advice book.) It’s a jokey version of the Golden Rule, in which Boyle advises readers to treat others as they’d like to be treated themselves — and to be nicer to themselves, while they’re at it.

Boyle’s tips are big on empathy and respect, for everyone from your parents to your waiters and bartenders — hey, he even respects Nickelback fans — although he’s forthright about when to say no, whether it’s to a slobby roommate or a creepy date. Take the page with one question at the top: "Should I get back with my ex?" Below that, in giant letters, "NO."

One engaging aspect of Boyle’s advice is that he breaks things down into manageable parts instead of big, sweeping, and therefore less achievable, changes. He also zeroes in on contemporary issues like how to present yourself on social media, how to negotiate other people’s gender identity and how to reconcile yourself to not looking like Brad Pitt in Fight Club.

His self-deprecating humor, though, is what pulls it all together, as in this "pro tip" in the section about job interviews: "One time, during a newspaper job interview, I thought I’d prove I was a good reporter by telling the interviewer how much she’d paid for her house. Don’t do this."

Contact Colette Bancroft at [email protected] or (727) 893-8435. Follow @colettemb.

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