Book review: Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography by Neil Patrick Harris

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Tired of memoirs that only tell you what really happened?

Sick of deeply personal accounts written in the first person? Seeking an exciting, interactive read that puts the “u” back in “aUtobiography”? Then look no further than Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography! In this revolutionary, Joycean experiment in light celebrity narrative, actor/personality/carbon-based life-form Neil Patrick Harris lets you, the reader, live his life. You will be born in New Mexico. You will get your big break at an acting camp. You will get into a bizarre confrontation outside a nightclub with actor Scott Caan. Even better, at each critical juncture of your life, you will choose how to proceed. You will decide whether to try out for Doogie Howser, M.D. You will decide whether to spend years struggling with your sexuality. You will decide what kind of caviar you want to eat on board Elton John’s yacht.

Choose correctly and you’ll find fame, fortune, and true love. Choose incorrectly and you’ll find misery, heartbreak, and a hideous death by piranhas. All this, plus magic tricks, cocktail recipes, embarrassing pictures from your time as a child actor, and even a closing song. Yes, if you buy one book this year, congratulations on being above the American average, but make that book Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography!

When I think of Neil Patrick Harris, I think of Dr. Horrible. A little bit Doogie Howser, but to a lesser extent. Sometimes I think of his Halloween costumes or the award shows that he’s hosted. Rarely do I think of How I Met Your Mother, and I’m not really sure why. I’d just finished Felicia Day’s memoir when I decided to pick up Neil Patrick Harris’ Choose Your Own Autobiography. I’ve been on a bit of a nostalgia kick lately so I figured I’d just hop straight from Penny to Dr. Horrible himself.

When I read celebrity memoirs, I think it’s the most fun to listen to audiobooks narrated by the authors themselves. It makes it feel more personal and you get a lot more of the emotion behind the words than you would if you were just reading it. (Also, NPH has a really nice voice, so there’s that, too.) Let’s just say that listening to this was… an experience. It’s not the kind of book that’s read linearly, but somehow, it ended up making sense.

I feel like I do memoirs in waves. I can go for like a year and a half without reading any, but then I’ll read six in a month. This one is definitely the most unique in recent memory and is also up there in terms of quality. One thing that makes this particular book stand out (aside from the choose-your-own-adventure format) is that while we get a lot of details about NPH’s life, both childhood and more recently, both professionally and personally, it never seems scandalous or gimmicky. It honestly seems like he could be your friend recounting some great stories. Now I feel like binge-watching everything he’s ever made.

Final rating: ★★★★☆