Reviews: non-fiction e-books and audiobooks - on web culture, feelings, and restaurants from the inside

This week Felicia Day takes on the trolls, a waitress turned restaurant critic dishes some dirt, and a book about self-help that's not a be-happy manual

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 October, 2015, 9:00pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 October, 2015, 9:00pm


You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)
by Felicia Day
Touchstone (e-book)

Not all readers will have time for the gaming culture that made Felicia Day who and what she is. Others will be in awe of the American actor, writer and producer of comedy web series The Guild that loosely depicted her life as a gamer. Then there will be some who will find it interesting because there is much to learn from it. You’ll find out, for instance, what “gank” means. Day, a musician who was homeschooled, made “meaningful friendships” early in life by playing video games. Online, she discovered a group who shared her hobby, spoke her language and gave her a sense of community. Still, it was not all roses in the world of make believe. With Gamer Girls being scorned by, one would guess, Gamer Boys, Day says she developed tough troll armour. But nothing protected her from misogynists who posted her home address on Tumblr. How she found out speaks volumes of how things have changed. It was odd a close friend was calling her, she writes. “email/text/IM/Twitter/ Snapchat? Yes. Primitive old-school telephoning? Nope.”


Prick with a Fork
by Larissa Dubecki
Allen & Unwin (e-book)

This stretches the limits of books that go behind the scenes of interesting work. Written by Australian Larissa Dubecki, who made the transition from waitress to restaurant critic, it is a fond look at the industry, which has, she says, more than its fair share of miscreants, thieves and psychopaths. The stories serve to underscore the fact that no one makes a career of being a waiter and all who are unfortunate enough to have to serve others are just waiting for real life to begin. To be fair, some of the anecdotes are amusing because those who have been there will recognise the horror stories. And there are interesting tales, for example of how a diner complained about the lack of soap in the loo: she cosied up to the manager and put her index finger in his mouth before cooing about the missing soap. Readers who stick with the book will find that, like wine, it improves with time. If it succeeds then, like those in the hospitality business do, Dubecki should take all the credit. But if it’s the opposite, it would be best to “blame external forces”.


F*ck Feelings
by Michael I. Bennett and Sarah Bennett
Tantor Audio (audiobook)

Dr Michael Bennett and daughter Sarah do not mince with words in naming their book F*ck Feelings. But they’re not saying what you think they are. Their point is that people read self-help books or see psychiatrists because they want a cure for everything from weight problems to depression and relationship stresses. They stress, however, that there’s a chasm between what people expect from therapy and what they achieve. So this tell-it-like-it-is volume is about managing problems and identifying what you cannot change. The pair want you to “get to know your inner asshole”. Despite using profanity and taking a light-hearted approach, they seem truly to want to help their audience move from darkness to light. They present case studies, quick diagnoses and good-and-bad charts, offering positive and negative actions to take in certain situations. One humorous no-no: if your self-esteem is suffering, they say, a bad thing to do would be to tell your boss to go f*ck himself. One caveat: happiness is neither the goal nor the promise of this book.