If you’re a child of the 80s, you most likely remember the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books fondly. Created by Edward Packard, these stories are written in the second person and allow the reader to become the protagonist by making decisions about what happens next. The reader is given at least two options to turn to different pages and see what their fate holds. Selling more than $250 million copies between 1979 and 1998, the “Choose Your Own Adventure” series was extremely popular and I’m not surprised – I loved those books as a kid. When I was 10 years old I thought the concept was brilliant and at 31 years old I still do. Before the Internet and iPads, those books provided the first interactive experience for young readers.
So now here we are in 2015 and I’m reading another “Choose Your Own Adventure” book – except this one is for adults! Knowing that I’m a fan of pop culture biographies, my thoughtful significant other gifted me Neil Patrick’s new book for Valentine’s Day and I can’t put it down. Like all the best biographies and autobiographies I’ve read, Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography is written to sound like the subject talks. I can literally hear NPH’s voice as I read about the various chapters of his life including the Doogie years, what it’s like to act on stage for live audiences, his Harold & Kumar “comeback,” his time spent on the LA club scene with 90s fools like Stephen Dorff, a hilarious incident with Scott Caan, meeting the man who would become his husband, playing a charming womanizer on How I Met Your Mother and gigs like hosting the Emmys.
When the NPH book first hit the stands I remember reading a review and laughing about that fact that he used the “Choose Your Own Adventure” format. But I didn’t rush out to buy the book because I wasn’t sure if I’d like an adult version of the stories I enjoyed so much as a kid. I remember thinking that creativity was definitely in his corner and writing an autobiography in this format was definitely ballsy enough to get my attention. But sometimes gimmicks like these work, and are then characterized as innovative, while other times they are simply gimmicks that end up on the discount rack never to be discussed again.
I’m glad NHP pulled this off because, like Tina Fey’s Bossypants, this book has me literally laughing out loud while I read. People around me must think I’m nuts – or they are curious about what NPH said that was so funny. In addition to the Scott Caan anecdote, one of my favorites is when his husband make handwritten notes throughout the chapter that describes when they first met. The two of them possess as similar sense of humor that is clever, refreshing and fun. As an overall statement, I enjoyed that although NPH describes his loving parents, brother and Albuquerque upbringing, he never gets too indulgent concerning his rise to fame. He never goes overboard but still tells an enthralling story. When he talks about how acting is his craft and something he can’t live without I believe him. He’s been a recognizable face since age 16 and now, at 41 years old, he is arguably in his prime. In fact I just checked my PO box and guess whose face is on the cover of Entertainment Weekly? I’ll give you two guesses but you’ll only need one.
Since you’re reading this online you can’t turn to a page so instead:
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If you are going to buy Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography as a result of reading this post, click on the comments section and tell me which part of my review made you want to buy his book.
If you’ve already read the NPH book, click on the comments section and tell me what you liked or disliked about it.