The Internet isn't all cat videos. There's also Felicia Day -- violinist, filmmaker, Internet entrepreneur, compulsive gamer, hoagie specialist, and former lonely homeschooled girl who overcame her isolated childhood to become the ruler of a new world... or at least semi-influential in the world of Internet Geeks and Goodreads book clubs. After growing up in the south where she was "homeschooled for hippie reasons", Felicia moved to Hollywood to pursue her dream of becoming an actress and was immediately typecast as a crazy cat-lady secretary. But Felicia's misadventures in Hollywood led her to produce her own web series, own her own production company, and become an Internet star. Felicia's short-ish life and her rags-to-riches rise to Internet fame launched her career as one of the most influential creators in new media. Now Felicia's strange world is filled with thoughts on creativity, video games, and a dash of mild feminist activism -- just like her memoir. Felicia's story demonstrates that everyone should embrace what makes them different and be brave enough to share it with the world, because anything is possible now -- even for a digital misfit.
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I became of fan of hers through the stepping stone of seeing her play
That said, I feel that Felicia put more of herself into The Guild than she did in this book. She holds her readers at arms length (she informs us early on that she's a lady, and that she would not be writing about the first time she had sex, for example). There are many things she glosses over in her book, such as a frequent mention of her boyfriend, yet he is never referred to by name, and we never even get any details of how they met, etc. She also talks about her struggles with her mental health, but she doesn't explore it with any real depth. Admitting her problems does feel like enough, though. Since she maintains a playful voice throughout the book, I would feel that if she took a turn toward darkness, it would change the entire tone of the book. I admire her for discussing her mental health here, and I also respect her privacy. Just because she's a celebrity does not mean she owes us every gritty detail. She does give us a lot of honesty, though, with a heaping dose of Felicia Day quirkiness, when she never dismisses the toll on her health (mental and physical) from Internet and gaming addiction. In a roundabout way, she shows us the importance of unplugging and self-care. IF FELICIA DAY CAN DO IT, ANYONE CAN.
Her most vivid accounts are from her childhood. She was a precocious child, a home-schooled ("for hippie reasons"), musical prodigy, who because of the her freedom of being home-schooled, she managed to cobble together an amazing non-traditional education for herself -- but dealt with extreme isolation and loneliness as a result. This explains why she latched onto gaming and the Internet so strongly, and this isn't lost on her. She discusses her early days of gaming and forging friendships across the wires. I loved reading her accounts of dialing-up in those early Internet days, and how it seemed so incredibly advanced. I'm just a few years younger than Felicia and these descriptions brought back a lot of memories for me. That long time it took to connect to the internet, that horrible sound the phone made, keeping track of your minutes because you were charged by the hour, making sure no one picked up the other extension because it immediately disconnected you, ONLY HAVING ONE BROWSER TAB, etc. It might seem weird for us to think of the days of the Internet before social media, but Felicia even reminds us that the advent of these things is still pretty new (and she was an early adopter of practically every social media platform - she recalls an incident when she was caught "twittering" on stage at San Diego Comic-Con a few years back, and no one had any idea what she was talking about.)
One more thing I wanted to say is that I totally related to her chasing the elusive 4.0 in college, simply for bragging rights. But, unlike me, Felicia actually accomplished this. I graduated with a 3.9, Felicia, IMAGINE MY PAIN. I love how she constantly brought up her 4.0 achievement, and simultaneously acknowledged its uselessness -- particularly on acting auditions.
Now that I've babbled enough about my thoughts and you are now clear that I totally loved this book, I have to admit that I'm not sure if there's much of a reach for this book beyond already established fans. She even acknowledges in her opening chapter how, despite her established career, she is not an immediately recognizable celebrity. If I were to recommend it anyone who isn't already a Felicia fan, it would be to thirty-somethings who have nostalgia for the early days of the Internet, and for gamers ... but then, I'd have to wonder, why aren't you already a fan of Felicia's?
You may be familiar with Felicia Day from her online show The Guild, or from Supernatural, Buffy, or Eureka. As she says in the Introduction, "As a redhead, I'm a sixth-lead specialist, and I practically invented the whole 'cute but offbeat hacker girl' trope on television. (Sorry. When I started doing it, it was fresh. I promise.)" (8). I had seen her on Supernatural, and was glad I did because I could hear her voice in my head as I read the book. Usually caps, bold, and other font features are jarring for me, but it made the memoir sound like she was just sitting down talking to me, and I didn't mind. I imagine it would also work really well in audio, though I would have missed the ridiculous photoshopped and/or captioned black and white photos sprinkled throughout the text. Felicia's experiences were really relatable, as I'm only a few years younger than her and also remember the change that was CompuServe/AOL and email and text-based webpages and forums. I was never a gamer, but I knew people who were (I dated a pretty big geek in high school), and I could definitely get that experience of realizing "hey, there are people out there kind of like me" (hello, LibraryThing and other people who read 100+ books a year). She comes across as really genuine, too, talking about addiction and struggles with depression and perfectionism. I could relate to the perfectionism. I had a 3.8 rather than a 4.0 in college, but it was a point of pride for me and I've only lately realized that... it doesn't matter in real life. At all. Anyway, yes, did I mention relatable? If you think you'd be interested, especially if you've seen any of the shows she's been in, definitely take a look.
This book makes it clear that Felicia Day was, and still is, just like everybody else. She has had and still deals with awkward moments in life, insecurities and emotional upheavals. Even depression and anxiety. And yet, she was still able to stay a nice person and accomplish a lot of awesome things. That's pretty inspiring and uplifting, if you ask me. It lets you know that you can do that, too, because here's someone just like you who did it herself and is still doing it.
This book was engaging and written without any lofty under or overtones, without any I'm-smarter-than-you wording (even when she talks about to college before the age of 18 and graduating with degrees in math and music and with a 4.0 GPA).
Reading this book is like meeting Felicia Day for coffee and having a conversation with her, listening to her telling you all of these things, instead of sitting quietly somewhere by yourself and reading about it.
Seriously, guys, I can't stress enough how much of a wonderful and fast read this is. And it's totally worth it. I got this book from the library, but I'm totally going to buy it from Amazon anyway, despite having already read it once, because I need this book on my shelf. And I anticipate being able to walk to the bookshelf it's on and pull it down to read some choice passages and pages, or even a choice chapter, when I need some encouragement, comfort, or motivation myself.
Please read this book!! Even if you don't know who Felicia Day is, or you only know in a casual sense that she's an actress that friend/relative of yours loves. IT'S TOTALLY WORTH IT.
It's very much a story about creativity, Makers and Making. We first find out the experiences that made Felicia Day, and then how those experiences led to The Guild.
On that journey, we find out about her
Everything outside this journey is pretty much excluded from the book. In particular, Felicia Day The Actress doesn't really appear, all of her acting takes place off the stage of the book. You won't find out anything about how she met and worked with Joss Whedon or Wil Wheaton, or what a day on the set of Buffy is like. Even for The Guild, you find out the experience of writing it and bringing it into being on the Internet, but nothing about acting in it or interacting with the other actors.
As the pieces assemble, there will be lots of things that are familiar to those who grew up interested in computers and somewhat outside the mainstream of the culture. And some things that are in a realm of extraordinary geekdom rarely attained.
You get a good idea of Felicia Day's drive to create and her experience of interacting with the world. You're invited along as she descends into World of Warcraft addiction and emerges to create The Guild. (I discovered it was much more of a shoestring-and-a-dream effort than I had realised.)
Felicia Day then very honestly and bravely brings the audience along as she loses herself, having a total mental breakdown under the pressures of continuing to create The Guild while launching and running her web video company Geek and Sundry.
The heart-felt description of her collapse and slow recovery adds considerable richness and poignancy to her life story.
The tone is very informal and I don't know how well it works just on the printed page. As read by Felicia Day in the audiobook, the experience is of a conversation about her life.
My one critique would be that the arc of the story basically concludes with the end of chapter 10 (The Deletion of Myself). While recognizing the significance of GamerGate, the material about it in chapter 11 felt stuck-on to the arc of Felicia's personal narrative - it would have been better as a separate piece elsewhere.
Whatever combination you may be of bookish, academic achiever, gamer, creator or anxious human being, you may enjoy spending some time being weird with Felicia Day in the pages of her memoir.
I don't know beans about gaming or YouTube shows – I picked this up because I enjoyed the
I've had this sitting on my shelf for a while, but then Audible had it on sale, so Felicia Day read it to me herself. And I think that was a good thing, but I'm not quite sure. Her “manic-pixie-geek-girl” persona is adorable, but also a little exhausting. Like hanging out with my sixteen year old daughter when she's had too much caffeine and is all fired up about the latest social injustice – I agree with her and am proud of her for caring so passionately, but a part of my brain keeps wondering if she's ever going to stop to take a breath.
Buffy? Uh huh.
Dollhouse? I think so.
House? Saw that one, too.
Geek and Sundry? Subscribed.
Tabletop? A few times
Supernatural? (We haven't gotten to her arc yet)
The Guild? Wowzer!
Yeah, I'm a Felicia Day fan. Intelligent humor, artful awkwardness.
But is that her?
I was utterly thrilled to learn that someone I enjoy so much had a book out and immediately put in a reservation for it at my library and was first on the list for when it came in-- which gave me just enough time to begin to worry that I'd be disappointed by the book. That it would be as bad as some other celebrity memoirs that I've read. That I would cringe the next time I saw her on internet or television.
As they say down under, no worries mate!
Felicia's book is marvelous. Brutally honest, funny, informative. She plays the quirky geek girl often, but she is quirky. She is a geek and she is female, for real. Her upbringing was decidedly unconventional. I never would have guessed that she didn't graduate from high school, but managed to go to university, major in math and music/violin (4.0!) Her foray into acting and onto the internet fascinating. As for integrity, she's got it, and isn't afraid to speak about details many people keep hidden (struggles with her mental health), while keeping private details that many blather too freely (no kiss and tell name dropping, though she does tell that she kisses.) The voice in the book is open, direct, entertaining, able to poke fun at herself.
I came away with these impressions:
1. I'd recommend this book to fans and to girls coming up who probably fit the quirky geek girl mold. The road may not be easy, but it can be done. Stay the course.
2. This gal is a mensch. I'd have her over for martinis in a skinny minute.
3. I know jack squat about gaming.
4. Joss Whedon writes a kick ass forward.
5. You go, girl. Thank you for a great read.
Felicia Day's memoir is about her desultory education and her equally unplanned path to creative success. There's a lot of insight here about
There were a lot of moments in Felicia's young life that I recognized, despite not being home-schooled. A bizarre amount of moments. I don't game (and thank goodness for Felicia's description of her first steps into WoW and how hideously unfun it was), but I definitely remember finding the internet, and fandom, and HELLO, AWESOMENESS.
Reading her story was most enlightening. I don't want to got into spoilers here but I will just simply say that she's just as
So many celebrities seem less real and approachable, Felicia is not like that at all and this book really opens up her world to the rest of us.
I am still chuckling about the recital ad she talks about here, classic Felicia all the way!
So, if you've not figured it out yet, yes, I loved it!
You never realized how amazing she is as a person. Going from a lazy homeschool life to prodigy violinist to college degree. And then a Hollywood actress for no damn reason whatsoever. But it's not without drama. She's had to fight Internet addiction, low budget film-making, and the Gamergaters.
She's pretty much the pioneer for the message she's spreading -- embrace your weird. After reading it, I felt motivated to create things like her. To not listen to the humilitous voice that says "aw, gee, that's not good, I'm not a professional." I want to be her and not her at the same time. This is a MUST READ.
Now she's written a book about her experiences, this book. Starting with her youth and her learning process as a homeschool kid (but, from what she's written, it sounds like the best homeschooling experience ever), to her early adventures with the Internet and online gaming, to her practically crippling addiction to WoW and her eventual triumph over her inability to focus on her writing and the creation of the Guild, Felicia is completely open and honest about her life. She doesn't shy away from the hard times when she was falling apart due to her depression and anxiety, and even goes into the problems she had with Geek & Sundry due to the extreme stress and massive workload she had set for herself.
As someone who is currently in a similar position, fighting to actually write something and get numerous ideas off the ground, I am so grateful to Felicia and this book for showing me an example of someone who did eventually make a breakthrough and get things done to come out on the other side of it with huge success. Seriously, I want to write her a long e-mail singing her praises for what she has written and shared here. I feel like I'm not alone with my issues and that it is possible to work around them.
So, thank you Felicia, and congrats on this excellent book. I wish you continued success in whatever you do.
And if you are a creative interested in stories of other creatives, a Felicia Day fan, or a geek interested in stories of other geeks; definitely pick up this book. It's so worth it.
Geek is a relative term. Felicia Day as a math graduate in Hollywood is certainly geekier than traditional Hollywood actresses. Still, she used MS Paint to design the logo of her YouTube web series. No computer geek would ever do that! Then again, if one looks at how computers are used in movies and TV, Hollywood is one of the holdouts ("enhance! enhance!"). Felicia Day's biography thus is better read as an account of a successful internet entrepreneur.
This unrealized redefinition of her own role and the futile attempt to be a writer/actor and producer at the same time caused an internal burn-out and major depression whereas she still had to keep up external happy face to her fans (very Stephen Fry-esque). Fortunately, she seems to have managed to overcome it with a healthier work/life balance. The role of her boyfriend in this account is rather strange, as he is a near mystery who would barely get a line in the movie version. Her mother, brother and dog play vastly more important roles. And in times of need, the boyfriend didn't seem to be there to catch and help her (almost girlfriend from Canada-style).
For those already familiar with the Felicia Day origin story, there are a few new nuggets such that she and her mother were active Ross Perot supporters. Her acting career is not given much emphasis (apart from the first steps in Hollywood). Felicia Day has been at the forefront of the growing number of women internet and entertainment entrepreneurs. This book offers an interesting look behind the scenes of what happened so far.
I wasn’t ever a big player of wOw, not as big as Felicia. My addiction of choice was
She starts the book with her childhood as a homeschooled-hippie-violin-prodigy child that lived in Alabama then in Mississippi (yay for repressing the home state!) and moves on through her very young teen college years, and eventually to her LA years as an actress.
Through the book I feel that Felicia was saying, “Hey, this is who I was, this is who I am, and this is who I’m hoping to become.” She’s very open in this book- clearly explaining her anxieties and depression she struggled with and how she handled them (or didn’t handle them). I can’t explain how inspirational this book became after reading it all the way through! Sure, you can read books about “being yourself” and a load of other school poster quotes, but Felicia Day’s book is in her voice and speaking from her own experience as a geek, a girl, a gamer, and a person still trying to find her notch in society.
***On a side note, the ebook is just not enough and I regret not getting a hardback. I really need get a signed hardback copy of this. It makes my nerdy side want to be back in high school just so I can write a book report on her (though I do have to brag my report on George Lucas was stunning and well received).***
So, geek or not, Felicia Day’s memoir is hilarious and heartwarming and heartbreaking and, well, full of emotions that level up humans during their lifespans. Buy it, read it, then have a Felicia Day marathon!
Felicia both embraces her nerdiness and really opens up about her struggles with anxiety and depression. Her story really hit home for me personally, and I really admired her
I think Day is an amazing person, and such a great example of a kick ass woman, and this book really solidified that for me. I can't wait to see what comes next for her!
One thing I immediately noticed as I started reading was that this book is definitely written in Felicia's "voice." If you aren't familiar with her work (meaning the stuff that she scripts herself or has creative license with), that won't mean much to you but I found it a lot of fun to have the book really written in her voice. It made it feel that much more "real"...like she had just pulled up a chair and was telling me about her childhood and her experiences. As a side-note to be aware of...since it is in her voice, there is some vulgarity (aka - swearing). Not a ton, but if you've only seen her "prime time" TV acting, it might put you off a little bit...just be warned.
The book traces her life from young childhood up to present day in a mostly chronological manner. The tone is very sarcastic and funny which is an interesting balance especially in some of the more "tragic" parts of her life. Felicia's life isn't rife with huge tragedy (she's not a war orphan...she didn't have abusive parents...etc.) but she did have struggles like anybody. She was pushed and pulled by trials of life all through growing up. She was awkward socially and had trouble creating good friendships or fitting in with others. What is cool is the way she presents these (fairly normal) struggles of childhood in a realistic way. While her struggles and trials came about in ways that are pretty unique to her situation, they aren't so outlandish that they become entirely unrelatable. As such, the way she perseveres and pushes through her problems can provide good examples to other kids, teenagers or young adults dealing with their own struggles.
While she's not a "holocaust victim turned billionaire philanthropist" (sorry for the semi-flippant example), she is an example of having issues that might drag somebody down but balancing those problems with a positive and optimistic outlook on life. Essentially she decided not to let other people set limits for her. Instead, she took risks and just kept on pushing through the hard times trying to do something she believed in and something that she felt would make her happy. There were failures and struggles along the way but she kept on trying. She ignored the totally pessimistic nay-sayers but she did listen to the constructive criticism and suggestions from people so she could learn and grow. As the title suggests, she shrugged off the people calling her weird or telling her "that's not how it's done" and she pushed on to become what she wanted to be . She may not be a perfect role model for everybody but the story of how she overcame obstacles and achieved success is something that anybody can learn from. Her quirky, sarcastic, go-getter, try anything attitude is a lot of fun and her snarky voice makes for an entertaining read. Fans of Felicia will certainly like the book.
3.5 out of 5 stars
In all, I enjoyed reading about Felicia Day in her own words and with her own embarrassing pictures, mainly because I did not know a whole lot about her.