- Title: The Nerdist Way: How to Reach the Next Level
- Author: Chris Hardwick
- Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 03/31/2015
A friend of mine recommended this book to me, and I eventually bought a copy and read it. I did get stuck in the book a few places, putting it down for weeks at a time, but I also finally finished reading it. As self-help books go, it’s probably better than most, though it still boils down to, “My life was a mess, I fixed it, and you can too.” Though the reality is, for most people, often much more complicated.
The style of the book is conversational, chatty, and non-formal. There’s plenty of capital letters, swearing, insults, – in short, it’s very much the way you might expect a conversation with comedian and pop-culture guru Chris Hardwick to be. On the other hand, though, the book is painfully, painfully honest.
Some of the most honest parts of the book were in areas that I don’t have experience with and to which, I personally, found it very hard to relate. Namely, Mr. Hardwick’s struggle with alcoholism and paralyzing fears and anxiety. I’m not an alcoholic – though I was raised by two adult children of alcoholics (who constantly warned me of the dangers of becoming an alcoholic – though they smartly didn’t out and out forbid drinking once I was of age). Anyway, I’m a person who can have one cocktail or beer when out to dinner with friends – and that’s it. I see absolutely no point in getting blind drunk. Still, reading about someone else’s struggle did stir empathy in me – not the “oh, I feel so sorry for you,” type – but just simple human understanding. I’m not one of those people who doubt alcoholism is a disease, or who blame alcoholics for their condition, either. It’s just not been part of my experience. Still, reading about Mr. Hardwick’s experience gave me better understanding of what it’s like.
The second major struggle, Chris Hardwick, talks about is anxiety. His descriptions of the physical and psychological symptoms of his anxiety issues were frank, honest, and most importantly – understandable. I found myself reading about his anxiety and thinking both, “doesn’t apply to me I’m not afraid to fly”, and “Oh, so that’s what it’s like for people who are afraid to fly.” And, I must, shamefully, admit, I’ve never given much credence to people I know personally who have overwhelming fears that rule their life so much that the fear prevents them from living. I tend to see most “fears” as a challenge or a new experience – and, as such, something to look forward to. It was humbling and instructive to read something from the other point of view that was actually understandable to me. And, again, I was able to gain empathy.
The Nerdist Way uses gamification as it’s rubric for positive, personal change. Gamfication is exactly what it sounds like – turning something into a game, so it doesn’t seem like work and isn’t overwhelming. Hardwick’s gamification strategy comes from Character-Based Role-Playing Games, such as D & D, and video games in general – and the video games were something Hardwick had actually given up on as an addiction. This may work extremely well for fans of RPGs and video games. It’s definitely an attempt to speak “Nerd” language. And I could understand his system, as well as the psychology behind it. Also, Chris Hardwick is genuinely interested in RPG’s, gaming, and similar “Nerd” topics.
The book is also split in to three parts: the first introduces Chris Hardwick (from his own point-of-view in first person) and his past, problems, how he met challenges, and how he overcame them; the second talks about physical health – good eating, exercise; the third talks time and money management. The section on health and exercise was probably the best and most helpful for me personally – but others who read the book might find other areas more helpful. The section on time and money management I found interesting. I was baffled by some of Mr. Hardwick’s admissions on his problems with money management. (My reaction was “of course you should be using Quicken – I used it for years, but isn’t Intuit now out of business?”) There were some great hints for dealing with issues on your credit report though.
Overall, I’d recommend this book as a good starting point. However, if it doesn’t work for you – remember the “best system” is often one you design yourself.