Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened

by Allie Brosh

Paperback, 2013




Touchstone Books (2013), 369 pages


Collects autobiographical, illustrated essays and cartoons from the author's popular blog and related new material that humorously and candidly deals with her own idiosyncrasies and battles with depression.


(1642 ratings; 4.3)

Media reviews

Brosh has an odd way of looking at the world and an uncanny ability to write about her personal — and specific — circumstances so that those of us who are even more odd can identify. ... Think of Brosh as a visceral, brutally honest David Sedaris — with badly drawn images — and buy this
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It would be easy to dismiss Brosh as unnecessarily self-deprecating. But it seems that it’s the sheer intensity of her critical self-consciousness and conscious self-criticalness that people have connected with so deeply. By revealing the selfish grotesqueness of everyday humanity, the stories
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encourage us to become more reflexive of our inherent flaws, which can be both productive and humbling. And also, it would be nothing short of ironic to criticise Brosh for her almost complete lack of subtlety when the premise of the book is embedded right there in the title: it’s all about hyperbole.
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User reviews

LibraryThing member bragan
Allie Brosh's (now sadly very infrequently updated) blog Hyperbole and a Half is quite possibly the best thing on the entire internet. It may in fact justify the existence of the internet all by itself. If you doubt this fact, go read it right now, and you'll see what I mean. But I hope you've got
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nothing else to do today, because if you're anything like me, once you start reading it, you will not be able to stop until you have read the entire thing, and then you will be sad that there is no more, and will maybe start to consider going back to read the best bits again.

But in case you're unfamiliar with it and don't have a few hours to spare at the moment, and thus need a little more explanation: Hyperbole and a Half consists mainly of Allie relating hilarious and disturbing anecdotes from her childhood, talking about her dogs (one of which is mentally challenged and the other downright psychopathic) and pondering her own brain and the dysfunctional ways it tries (and often fails) to cope with everyday life. She does this using a combination of incredibly funny words and incredibly funny comic-like illustrations. Her drawing style is entirely unforgettable; her representation of herself is only about one step above a stick figure, and yet somehow it manages to be marvelously expressive. Also funny. Did I mention funny?

Most of the content in this book (although not all of it) is reprinted from the blog, so I'd already read it at least once, and some of it more than once. I still feel like I got my money's worth, though, as it's nice to have it in book form, and most of this stuff gets only the tiniest bit less amusing and engaging the third time you read it.

I'd also say that the entire book is worth it just for her two-part piece about what it's like to deal with depression, which is honest and insightful and extremely effective at explaining what that experience is like, and should be read by anyone who has ever known someone with depression. And, yes, even that somehow still manages to be funny. I can't resist quoting the one bit from that piece that has stuck with me the most ever since I first read it on the blog: "[T]rying to use willpower to overcome the apathetic sort of sadness that accompanies depression is like a person with no arms trying to punch themselves until their hands grow back. A fundamental component of the plan is missing and it isn't going to work." Reading that, I felt like I honestly understood something I never quite entirely got before, at the same time that I couldn't help smiling at the vividly wacky metaphor. And that sort of thing is why Hyperbole and a Half rocks, and why I couldn't not buy the book.
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LibraryThing member greeniezona
Like seemingly every other internet user who has ever experienced depression or failed at feigning adult responsibility, I wanted this book the second I knew Brosh was writing one. I forgot that I put it on my wishlist and very nearly bought it for myself a few weeks ago, but it's lucky that I
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didn't, because Penny bought for me for Christmas.

It turns out to largely be comics as they were originally published on her website, now in book form. Which is okay with me as, I think I've already established, I like having things from the internet in book form. Also, I've never gotten around to reading all of Brosh's archives, so I can't really tell you how much of this is original, just that a fair amount was familiar.

I would think that this would have a very similar audience to The Bloggess Jenny Lawson's Let's Pretend This Never Happened, as both walk that fine line between human and flat-out wrong/tragic/horror. Many times as I was reading, my laughter felt perilously close to crying.

I'm probably an ideal reader for this book, as I am broken in many similar ways to Brosh, making her rants and stories seem familiar and relatable, but not broken as badly as Brosh, so I can also have the relief of thinking, "Oh, thank God! I'm not as bad off as that!"

Quick read. Hilarious. Feel the need to go stalk Allie Brosh and give her a hug.
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LibraryThing member foggidawn
This book will be most appreciated by those who have already discovered Brosh's blog of the same name. The essays range from light humor (mostly related to Brosh's childhood and/or her dogs) to more introspective (but often still funny) pieces, many of which really hit home for me. About half of
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the book is new material, with the other half being some of the blog's greatest hits. The chapter about motivation was my favorite of the new material, though a reprint from the blog, "Dogs Don't Understand Basic Concepts Like Moving," is still the funniest to me, and the pieces on depression (also reprints from the blog) are probably her best writing. In short, if you really can't get enough of the blog, read the book -- but if you don't see what's so funny about the blog, then this will probably leave you cold, as well.
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LibraryThing member lorannen
I've been reading Allie Brosh's Hyperbole and a Half for a number of years now, so I was very excited when I heard she'd be making a book of it. I find Brosh's work equal parts absurd and profound. In one of her new pieces in the book, in which she finds a letter from her 10-year-old self to her
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25-year-old self, instructing the latter to "Please write back," and she does, which is novel and hilarious. Each story is a tiny snippet of her life, at some point or another. I find a lot of her stories incredibly relatable--particularly in terms of depression, and how one's own perception of one's identity works. It's brilliant. I'd estimate the book features at least 50% new material, which you won't find on the blog, and it's well worth the price and read. I couldn't put it down.
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LibraryThing member lisa875
I love this kind of humor but didn't think I would get through the whole book until I got to the first section on depression (the stories about the dogs carried me through before that). If you know anyone who suffers from depression, this book and Allie Brosh's description of depression is
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priceless for helping the rest of us understand that we just don't understand. Yes, when you put things in cartoon form, I get it faster. The last section of the book is disturbing which is why there are so many reviews referring to the author as still being very depressed but it is still tremendously helpful to understanding depression. If you have a physical illness you can't really do anything or help anyone but if you have to, you will do something to relieve your own distress. You'll go get that migraine medicine or get to the doctor or hospital or whatever you need to do. When you have depression, you can't really do anything or help anyone except that you might find, as we all do, that helping people makes you feel better. So the author seems to believe that since she helps other people to help herself, she is a bad person. She's not. It's just the best she can do at that time. But this is the sort of crap depression does to your mind. It's so important to try to understand if you know anyone who suffers from it and I do. I appreciate this book so much. You helped me Allie Brosh, whether you did it for yourself or not, you helped and I am grateful.
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LibraryThing member JLSmither
Because I live under a middle-aged rock, I didn’t know about the Hyperbole and a Half blog until I heard Allie Brosh speaking on Fresh Air (NPR? I know, right?). The interview focused mostly on her struggles with depression, which is why I originally added this to my reading list. And then I read
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it, and holy cow, I cracked up.

It’s not often my husband turns to me while I’m reading in bed and tells me to quiet down. But with *every single chapter* of Hyperbole and a Half, that’s what he did because I was laughing so much. I just loved every story Brosh told and the way she told it. I could relate to more stories than I care to admit to, especially the Simple Dog and Helper Dog stories… I have a similar dog myself.

The text of Hyperbole and a Half is good—it’s conversational and personal, and it gets the reader engaged in the story. But the art is what sets this book apart from all others. With just a few simple lines, Brosh conveys exactly what her crudely drawn characters are feeling—panic, mischievousness, exasperation, even depression. Each one hits spot on.

The real sad part about all of this is that Brosh doesn’t seem to be updating her website since the around the time the book was released; October 2013 is the last post. Maybe she’s working on another book? Let’s hope so!
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LibraryThing member ForeverMasterless
Me and my girlfriend have been big fans of Allie's blog for quite a while now. After she stopped updating to start working on her book, we kind of forgot about her blog and stopped checking it. Then one day we stepped into a bookstore and there it was on the shelf. A real thing. She finally, really
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did it.

Good job girl.

For those of you who don't know, Hyperbole and a Half is one of the funniest things to ever exist. Seriously. Some of the hardest laughter in my entire life was due to this woman's stories and absurd drawings (and maybe a little bit by my girlfriend's live readings, complete with a cute voice for Allie and funny noises for reaction shots and the dogs).

So why only four stars? Well, this is an expensive book. Makes sense. It's full color pages and ink is expensive. I get that. But the book only contains eighteen stories, and some of them, perhaps half, are recycled from Allie's blog, where you can read them for free, and where I had already read them ages ago. I felt like I didn't get my money's worth.

Not only that, but the stories she chose to recycle from the blog were, in my opinion, not the funniest stories she's ever written.

So, if you've never heard of Hyperbole and a Half, definitely pick this up. Allie is a comedic genius who deserves whatever money you can throw at her. But the stories don't stop just because you've hit the back cover. After finishing the book, be sure to head over to her blog. There's more stories to be had. Some of her best, in fact.
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LibraryThing member kenzen
Nice book.
LibraryThing member Watty
I guess it's possible that people might now come to Hyperbole and a Half with no prior knowledge of it; no warning of what they are about to encounter, and it might all be a bit... baffling, I suppose.

I found myself wondering how I would explain it to - for example - an elderly parent, who would
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enjoy the humour, but might be bemused by the way it all hangs together; disconcerted by the MS Paint -style illustrations and the slightly surreal take on daily life contained within.

And then I realised that any elderly parent (well, any elderly parent of mine - I am myself well on the way to elderly parenthood) would get exactly where this humour comes from, and there would be no need for bewilderment of confusion. It struck me as I read Brosh's exquisitely crafted tales of pet-induced mayhem and cake-based misadventure that I knew exactly what the reference point should be, but it's going to need another paragraph.

Allie Brosh is the reincarnation of James Thurber. I'm perfectly serious: her genial bemusement at the trials of daily life; the way all her stories ring true, no matter how absurd; the love of dogs; the faux-naive cartoon illustrations, and most of all - most importantly of all - the penetrating wisdom underlying the dark tales.

Allie's is a life we all recognise, and a life we - for the most part - are happy to look in on, rather than experience. It's impossible to avoid the fact that the centrepiece of this book is a two-part musing on a very serious depression. She makes it funny in unexpected ways, but she also opens a door on something which very few have ever been able to illustrate so vividly and so directly. Her metaphor for depression is to do with dead fish, and I cannot do it justice in a review; I urge you to read it for yourself. It will change the way you look at depression, and the rest of the book will change the way you look at the world in general.

It is not an exaggeration to call Allie Brosh a comic genius - what she does is so magnificently funny that it's easy to overlook everything else which is going on in her writing and drawing, but I go further: she's as brilliant a comic writer as Thurber was a hundred years ago.

And if you knew me, you'd recognise that for what it is - the very highest of praise.
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LibraryThing member NoelleGreene
Really, really funny.
LibraryThing member Judy_AA
I think I must be too old
LibraryThing member rivkat
Slight but entertaining—I have to admit I was expecting more, based on the thickness of the book, but it’s just really big print. Brosh’s previously published explanations of depression, and how the problem appears very different to non-depressed people who try to solve that different
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problem, remain as good as I remember them when I read them for the first time. And the dogs are still hilarious, as are Brosh’s letters to her younger selves.
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LibraryThing member benuathanasia
Hilarious and heartbreaking. I received this as a Christmas present from my mother (per my request). I inhaled it (my class may or may not have been assigned sustained silent reading so I could finish it). I then post-it noted several places and asked my mother to read it so she could understand me
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better. I don't know her feelings on it yet, but I'll update when she returns it...
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LibraryThing member loveofreading
Hyperbole and a Half is the funniest book I have read in a very long time. It is exactly my type of slightly immature, slightly sarcastic, and very witty humour and I identified a lot with Brosh's hilarious narrative voice. The book is essentially a memoir, told in a mix of small textual paragraphs
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and graphic novel-style. It discusses real life events that happened in Brosh's life, such as the struggles of training and living with her dogs, struggling with depression, familiar childhood antics and stories like getting dental surgery, the world-ending desire for cake, being lost in the woods, and so, so much more. As a human being, you will be able to appreciate and relate to what Brosh is saying and drawing.

DO NOT READ THIS BOOK IN PUBLIC IF YOU HAVE ANYTHING AGAINST GRINNING AND/OR LAUGHING LIKE AN IDIOT WHILE READING. This is NOT a Go Transit Quiet Zone-type of book. You will laugh. You WILL love everything about this book. You have been warned.

If you, like me, slightly live under a rock, you will vaguely recognize the drawings from many Internet memes. The book partly draws content from the original blog by Allie Brosh called Hyperbole and a Half. There's plenty of new content, though, so if you are less embarrassing than myself, there is still much to love about this book.

I didn't know what to expect with this book--but it certainly wasn't to read about a book that was so down-to-earth, so relatable, and so entertaining that I now plan to happily harassing every person I know to read it. Now. Stop all reading plans and go buy this book. Thank you.

Allie Brosh is hilarious. She is the voice of reason as we question our motives in our most ridiculous or terrible moments. Why DID we repeatedly just not pay that bill or return that movie?

She is the friend we wish we had, making us laugh, making us cry, and making us appreciate the world for the good and the bad. She explores the dark and embarrassing corners of our own minds through her expressive drawings and her honest words.

I read this book in one sitting, but the chapters make it great to read it in chunks or return to our favourite stories again and again. The book is aimed at young adults--there is content that is inappropriate for younger readers (ie. swearing, serious subjects like depression, etc). It reads better for a young adult audience anyway--someone who is young, but has experienced enough of life to know just how bullshit the world can be. Fortunately, Allie Brosh has turned that bullshit into a brilliant book that will leave you smiling. All. Day. Long.

Five stars. Hell, six stars. This book is going on my favourites list!
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LibraryThing member Codonnelly
If you have not yet heard of Allie Brosh and her web-comics, I am just going to assume you have lived under a rock for your entire life. I kid, I kid (or do I?). In any case, you can make it up to me by picking up her book Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms,
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Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened. Phew, that’s a mouthful.

Warning: Do not be fooled by the cartoonish cover page. While Brosh’s drawings look rudimentary and her writing seems simplistic, you’ll be surprised by how often her images and text punch you repeatedly in the feels. While her book is a humorous re-telling of events in her life from childhood to the present day, she does not shy away from tackling the heavy subjects, such as her struggle with depression. In fact, she is often at her best when she analyzes the darker side of her emotions.

The short chapters present various scenes in Brosh’s life. They are not ordered chronologically, which fits the haphazard nature of her musings. Besides her hilarious representation of herself, the reader also meets the acquaintance of her mother, her boyfriend, and her two dogs (lovingly named ‘the simple dog’ and ‘the helper dog’). Her relationships are presented in an exaggerated, but realistic manner. She never describes anyone as perfect, but when she focuses on their faults it is always from a place of love.

While each chapter has its own merit and contributes to the compilation, a few chapters stand out. The most entertaining sections include her dogs. She humanizes them quite a bit, which emphasizes their quirks and faults in an interesting and amusing way. Conversely, the most poignant chapters are by far “Depression Part One” and “Depression Part Two.” As someone who also suffers from depression, Brosh’s extremely personal examination of how it has affected her life and how she has slowly but surely learned how to manage it, both shocked and inspired me. I may have cried a bit too. But let’s just keep that between you and me.

Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half provides an incredibly personal portrayal of the trials and tribulations of coming of age in the world today. Brosh emphasizes well that life is a process, no-one is perfect, and identity is a constantly changing thing. She will not beat you over the head with philosophy either. In fact, you’ll probably be tricked into it by humor. You will leave this book with a spring in your step, a smile on your face, and a deeper understanding of yourself, quirks and all. Oh, and a better understanding of the true nature of geese (you’ll see what I mean).
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LibraryThing member Kaethe
Brosh is kind of amazing. Reading the cake story, or the story of either dog, or the goose, causes uncontrollable laughter (I had read some of these when they were posted online). But it's not just humor. Because the posts on depression are devastating: you feel gutted, right along with her. Even
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where her experience is nothing whatsoever like mine (which is most of the time), the way she examines both the experience and what was going through her mind at the time, makes it so vivid, so concrete, you end up feeling as if you lived through it too.

I loved it. I suggested to the girls that they read the cake and dog stories, and both of them gobbled up the thing like their first chocolate rabbits: the evidence was all over their faces. Amazing stuff, and I can't think of anyone who's writing (let alone illustration style) is remotely similar.

Side note: the book is published on high-quality paper, which is good for the illustrations, but it means the thing is about four times heavier than most books the same size. Just a head's-up to go electronic if this is an issue.

Library copy. Oh, yeah, I talked the librarian into it, too.
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LibraryThing member labfs39
Allie Brosh started a blog in 2009 instead of studying for her physics final. It became a smashing success, and the book, a compilation of her blog posts as well as some new stories, was published in 2013. The book begins with letters she exchanges with her childhood self and gives snapshots of
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various points in her life. Mostly they are very funny: getting lost with her mom and little sister in the woods, a goose coming into her house and chasing her and her boyfriend, her life with two wacko dogs. But in 2011 she posted a blog about the severe depression she was experiencing, and then in 2013, when she returned to public life, she posted a second. The two posts were very moving and have been lauded by psychologists and others as a very good depiction of depression. The book ends with a couple of chapters on identity.

The artwork is very crude, almost stick-figures, but the expressions and postures convey a wealth of emotions. The book itself has stiff, glossy pages that made it a pleasure to hold. Can't wait to read her second book, which was published at the end of 2020.
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LibraryThing member JBD1
Some very amusing sections here, particularly those about dogs. I belly-laughed more than once while reading!
LibraryThing member bookworm12
I love Brosh's work and her pieces about her dogs never fail to make me laugh out loud. The book is a quick read and is full of unexpected insights. She writes candidly about her struggle with depression, but still manages to make it entertaining in her own oddball style.
LibraryThing member Monkeypats
This book made me laugh out loud so hard that at times I literally had trouble seeing the words on the page. It was totally relatable, yet hilarious. Also, I read it in one night, so that's a bonus. I would highly recommend it!
LibraryThing member akblanchard
I've never read Allie Brosh's blog, but I noticed that there was an outpouring of joy expressed in the blogosphere when she returned to blogging after a months-long hiatus. She has a large number of very loyal and dedicated fans. So when the book derived from her blog, Hyperbole and a Half came my
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way, I thought I'd find out: who is this woman who has succeeded in making so many people care about her?

The book Hyperbole and a Half contains episodes from Brosh's life as both a child and adult, heavily illustrated with primitive-looking, but expressive artwork created, I've heard, with Microsoft Paint. Some topics are humorous, like Brosh's childhood relationship to hot-pepper sauce, and others are more serious, such as detailed explorations of Brosh's bouts with depression.

All in all, I found the collection uneven; it is at its best when Brosh relates incidents from her childhood, but, not being a dog owner, I got a little tired of her dogs. It also lacks any semblance of narrative coherence. I think readers who are already fans of Brosh's, open, exaggerated, outsider-art style will appreciate this book the most.
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LibraryThing member ftong
The drawings Allie Brush uses to illustrate her stories are the real highlight for me. Crude, evocative, and sometimes so beautiful I want to cry.
LibraryThing member avanders
Hilarious and somehow heartening. I think the Party was my favorite chapter (of course, tales in depression is also excellent)
LibraryThing member Brainannex
Allie Brosh is a funny gal. There's an honesty to this work that is refreshing. And I just about peed myself reading about her dogs.
LibraryThing member Citizenjoyce
This graphic book contains both hilarious descriptions of crazy dogs and detailed descriptions of depression. Amazing to find both in the same book. Allie Brosh is an insightful author who I hope survives to write more.


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

369 p.; 5.5 inches


1451666179 / 9781451666175
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