May 5, 2015

Review + Giveaway: The Jottery by Andy Selsberg

The Jottery: Thought Experiments for Everyday Philosophers and Part-Time Geniuses
Author: Andy Selsberg
Release Date: May 5, 2015
Publisher: Perigee Books


In The Jottery, you'll find a series of prompts, suggestions, commands, and questions that are intended to cause neurons to fire and a spectrum of ideas to surface--possibly good, potentially useful, conceivably profitable, maybe illuminating, and hopefully amusing. There's also a chance you'll come up with nothing, and experience a beautiful "idea-lessness" that would be the envy of Zen monks everywhere. Also a win.

Think of this as The Book of Questions for creative types, from writers and artists, to idea gurus and daydreamers, perfect for writing classes, train rides, parties, meditation retreats, game nights, insomnia bouts, lulls in dates or low points in relationships, company brainstorming meetings, waiting rooms, therapy sessions, and more. The dozens of ingenious prompts include:

You create something called Soul Lotion. What are the best places to rub it? (Don’t limit your answer to human body parts.)

You're commissioned to design a bridge to nowhere. Briefly describe possible nowheres you might build it to.

Where did the fun go? Suggest four hyper-specific places. If you do manage to track the fun down and tie it to a chair, what do you do or do with it?

You're commissioned to write a pilot script for a post-apocalyptic sitcom. It’s based not on the next post-apocalyptic period, but the one after that, after a new civilization arises and collapses. What are seven things you do to celebrate this cool new job?

You design vending machines that sell things that are not physical objects. Like what? And for how much?

List twelve things you can have instead of “it all.”

List a handful of elevator tension-breakers, and a handful of elevator tension-makers.
The Jottery is a fun and unique book that's designed to get your brain thinking outside the box. It's literally full of page after page of writing prompts, suggestions, and questions that range from normal, everyday things to ones that you would have never thought of yourself in a million years. Some of the actual questions and prompts from the book are listed in the description in order to give the reader an idea of what awaits them between the pages. The term 'reader' doesn't really apply to this book, due to the lack of actual writing. In my opinion, a more accurate word would be 'participant' - you literally have to participate by answering all the questions and prompts - or the book becomes pointless. Why pick it up in the first place if you're not ready to answer some off the wall questions? 

The book definitely gets the reader thinking on a variety of levels and topics. As I mentioned above, the questions you find in the book are ones that seem to come out of nowhere. They're so random that there's no way you have a prepared 'go-to' answer - you have to actually do some serious creative thinking on the spot in order to complete the prompt. Since this is a novelty book, it will appeal to a very large audience. It makes a great gift, along with being a fun book to take out on a rainy day or to help get your mind going before a project. I really enjoyed reading through the content of the book, and I'm intrigued by what my mind will come up with when I get to sit down and properly experience the book by answering the questions and prompts. Very highly recommended for readers of all kinds and ages - for anyone who wants to liven up their day and get their creative juices flowing!

Andy Selsberg is a former staff writer for the Onion, and his writing has appeared in the New York Times, GQ, the Village Voice, Salon, the Oxford American, and the Believer, among other publications. He is the author of You Are Good at Things and Dear Old Love. (Photo taken from author's Twitter page.)

Author Links:
Giveaway: (2) Paperback copies of The Jottery - Open to US only!

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