For the sake of full disclosure, I have to tell you that I am a huge fan of the FXX series It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. I have all the season on DVD and often play an episode in the morning when I’m getting ready for the day. Could this create a bias? Of course, but that bias could work against something as much as it works for something. So, when I recently received a copy ofThe 7 Secrets of Awakening the Highly Effective Four-Hour Giant, Today which is based on the television series I had to wonder: would this book live up to the standard I hold for Sunny or would it be an insult to one of my most beloved shows? Luckily, it turns out that it is the former of the two. This book was an absolute blast to read.
So, what is The 7 Secrets of Awakening the Highly Effective Four-Hour Giant, Today? It’s a faux self-help book written by “The Gang” from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia from the perspective of those characters. Essentially, it has five sections (Relationships, Financial Success and Career, Fashion and Personal Grooming, Health and Diet, and Survival Skills) with short essays in each section that relate, however loosely, to the topic. You may have noticed there are five topics listed but the number seven is in the title of the book. This is explained early in the book as being cause by people having an irrational love of the number seven and five chapters is a lot easier to write. It’s little moments like that that get peppered throughout that make it so enjoyable.
Early on we learn the general premise of writing the book, which is one of The Gang gets a publishing deal when a drunk HarperCollins publisher strikes one in the bar. Now Harper Collins is stuck and the gang has gotten their advance so the book must get finished. The gang scrambles to talk intelligently (in their minds) about a variety of topics such as how terrible other people’s children are, the acceptable uses of blackface or whiteface, and why Mac (one of The Gang) will soon rule the world due to a genetic mutation. There is a quiz at the end of each section and several recipes throughout (like if you want to make homemade cheese or want to eat raccoon for example. No, seriously, those are in there). And towards the end they even admit to having nothing to say and that they are trying to fill the pages (but the material is still great).
For those that are fans of the show: the writings are perfectly in line with each character writing a section. This is one of the biggest strengths of the show and transfers well to the book. As such, the writing is very easy to understand and it makes for a quick read. While the book comes in at about 230 pages none of the essays seem to exceed 3 pages so it also makes for a great pick-up/sit-down read. That is, if for some unsaid reason you need to read something for a few minutes and then walk away, this book is great for that. Conversely, it’s just as fun to read chapters all at once. Some of the essays even intersect so it’s fun to catch those moments.
Now, one thing I must say is that the book does contain a lot of references to events and characters that came from the television series. If you are familiar with the show you get a little extra out of those but if you’re not they are still perfectly understandable. How might I know this? Because as I was reading this book on a plane I asked the person sitting next to me (whom I know) that I knew had never seen the show to read some of it and he laughed out loud on several occasions. It’s a pretty solid book even without understanding the history of the characters.
Overall, it’s a fun book. There is some material that some individuals might find offensive (see the above section where one of the essays is about wearing blackface), but if you like irreverent humor and don’t get offended easily you would really enjoy this book. It’s a fun read and will have you chuckling out loud on several occasions. It’s a must-read for fans of the show, but just as fun for the uninitiated.
The 7 Secrets of Awakening the Highly Effective Four-Hour Giant, Today is available in paperback from Dey Street Books or on Kindle from HarperCollins Books.
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