Felicia Day has been on my radar since I saw her in Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. I know, she was doing wonderful geeky stuff before then and as a fellow nerd, I am sad to say that I had been missing out. Then I won a copy of her memoir, read it (and loved it), and went on to watch The Guild, which is also pretty darn good.
Even if you haven’t seen any of Day’s works, perhaps you don’t consider yourself a nerd or geek, this book is still fascinating. Her childhood was anything but traditional. Skipping out on regular schooling for years at a time seems a bit mind-boggling in this day and age (but also proves the point that public schooling might not be as necessary as we all tell ourselves). Day entered college well before her 18th birthday and received dual degrees in violin and mathematics. Yep. Nerd power.
And that’s just the first quarter of the book. Day goes on to chat with the reader, and I say ‘chat’ because it really does feel like I was sitting down and having impromptu tea with a friend while reading this book, about her life after college. She had a long-held aspiration to become an actor so off to Hollywood she went. Things did not go as planned, but I love how she is so candid about her then-naivete and how she overcame it, albeit with a few set backs here and there, some of them a bit humiliating. Then came her little brainchild, The Guild. It took time to build a fan base, and plenty of friends giving up time, energy, and fake plants to see the internet series rise to fame and glory, but it did. Throughout this section of the book, I really came to admire how this series was such a team effort.
Day also speaks quite honestly about her anxiety and how that affected every aspect of her life for a time. I applaud her for being so direct about her personal experience. Our society has a habit of turning a blind eye to mental and emotional health issues instead of giving them the respect we do other illnesses such as diabetes or asthma. Day chronicling her own steps from recognition to daily maintenance shows how folks can manage their anxiety and still be successful.
The book has plenty of gaming references since Day herself is a gamer and has been much of her life. I really enjoyed these parts. Now I mostly grew up in New Mexico, so for the longest time we didn’t have the bandwidth at all for on-line gaming, so I didn’t connect as much with that part of Day’s life as with other aspects. Still, I grew up with Atari and in college I found PC games, and with my boyfriend-turned-husband, I found Nintendo and X-box. So I got much of what Day references in her book. Also, that personal history makes The Guildsuch a delight to watch.
Towards the end, Day talks about that section of gamers who are offended by female gamers in general and female gamers who have an opinion about gaming in specific. As happens far too often in this little niche of modern culture, the trolls pile on and make on-line life (and sometimes real life) miserable. She could have easily left this section out and it would still have been a most entertaining read. However, she chose to have it printed and I’m sure it riled some of the trolls up. Considering the personal threats that she had received previously, including this section in the book called for more than a little courage.
All told, it’s an excellent read that captures several touchstones of what it is to be part of the geek/nerd/gamer community. Day tosses in bits of her humor and the random photo from her childhood here and there. She avoids massive name dropping, only adding a few references to other famous people when it directly affects the story she’s telling. Her candor shines through, making this a uniquely entertaining and touching memoir.
I won a copy of this book from the publisher.