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Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  58,009 ratings  ·  5,978 reviews
Who gave Jonathan Van Ness permission to be the radiant human he is today? No one, honey.

The truth is, it hasn’t always been gorgeous for this beacon of positivity and joy.

Before he stole our hearts as the grooming and self-care expert on Netflix’s hit show Queer Eye, Jonathan was growing up in a small Midwestern town that didn’t understand why he was so…over the top. From
Audiobook, 273 pages
Published September 24th 2019 by HarperAudio
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TurtleLiving I knew nothing about the author, have never seen any of his shows, and very much enjoyed this book. I listened to the audio version, which is read by …moreI knew nothing about the author, have never seen any of his shows, and very much enjoyed this book. I listened to the audio version, which is read by him, which may have helped.(less)
Brooklyn || The Wild Library I feel like this definitely depends on the reader's maturity, background, etc. I'd say 14+. JVN talks about some really intense topics (sexual abuse, …moreI feel like this definitely depends on the reader's maturity, background, etc. I'd say 14+. JVN talks about some really intense topics (sexual abuse, drugs, sex, rehab, death, disordered eating HIV, homophobia, sex work, trauma), but does so in a very honest way that isn't glorified. If the reader is younger, consider these things: Does the reader's maturity level allow for them to process and understand some of these topics? Does the reader have a support system (i.e. older friends or adults) who they can ask questions to or discuss the book's content with? Has the reader experienced any of these situations in their own life and could the reader thus be triggered? All of this being said, the book isn't ONLY about these intense aspects of JVN's life. It's also full of humour and triumph.(less)

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JVN is not a writer. They are a personality. I suspicioned this going into the memoir and feel even more sure of that now. Their voice does not translate to the page well: The tangents and analogies that I usually find engaging when they speak come across as tedious and clumsy here, likely because those tangents are not visually demarcated in any way (i.e. for the love of Michelle Kwan, just use fucking footnotes). They tell rather than show. They preach about the importance of vulnerability, bu ...more
I’ve decided to start not rating biographies and memoirs because, to me, I feel a bit wrong rating someone’s life and experiences which are wholly valid and important to them.

What I will say is that I love Queer Eye, and I love Jonathan’s effervescent personality. I think they are incredibly brave for telling their story, and the reasons for doing so are wonderful and informative. They are such an intelligent, wholesome human being who knows they have faults and flaws but is learning to embrace
Jan 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really appreciate hearing the stories of admirable people like Jonathan who have been through so much trauma and hardship and still come out of it fiercely positive and kind - not just to others but to themselves. The book is written in a conversational style that might be off-putting to people who aren’t familiar with JVN, but I think it helped show their personality if you have seen them from Queer Eye. Jonathan sheds light on the trauma that many LGBT+ people face, all the while reflecting ...more
Karin-Isabella O'Connor
Sep 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fabulous book. Honest, raw, funny and heartbreaking. This won't be the last time I read this book. I feel the need to watch the Queer Eye series from the beginning again now. Jonathan Van Ness is such a Beautiful Soul. ...more
Kevin (Irish Reader)
This made me cry with laughter and cry with sympathy all in the same chapter

CW: homophobia, sexual assault, depression, suicidal thoughts, death

I loved this biography so much! I’ve been a fan of Jonathan since season 1 of Queer Eye and I’ve always wanted to hear their story. This book lived up to my expectations and then some more. I didn’t expect to feel so seen and resonate with so many of the topics discussed in this book. It made me laugh, made me cry, all of the feels and I’m just so glad I
Dec 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
I don’t know, it just makes me happy that this guy exists. I have had a rough couple of years mental-health wise, and queer eye, and JVN in particular, have consistently brought happy tears and smiles. There is something about his energy that inspires me to be less of a misery-guts. Which is a good thing.

As for the book - well it is not exactly literary genius, but that is not the point. It is his voice, and certainly not polished by a ghost writer. Reading about all the brutal shit he has been
“because when you have this much personality, there’s a fear lurking just below the surface: if you knew all of me, you wouldn’t love me anymore. you would no longer want me as your new best friend.”

it’s always a good sign to me when i’m highlighting a lot of quotes while reading a book. and this memoir has so many things in it that resonated with me that my highlights and bookmarks on my e-reader are a real mess.

(but then again, what isn’t a mess in 2020?)

jonathan van ness is probab
The biography of Jonathan Van Ness of the Fab 5 of Queer Eye. I do love that show. Talk about feel good and making the world a better place, that show spreads the love and sparkles like no other. When I'm feeling down, I will put that show on and Jonathan is the sparkle fairy of the show. He is the secret of it's greatness. His super positive attitude and off the wall-totally-hilarious sayings that come out of his mouth are drop dead funny and make the show over the top fabulous. It's takes all ...more
Johann (jobis89)
"It’s not gonna be pretty, but it’s my truth, and if I don’t share it, I won’t be able to help others who are struggs to func."

In Over the Top, Jonathan Van Ness uncovers the pain and passion it took to end up becoming the model of self-care and acceptance that Jonathan is today.

Fans of Queer Eye will LOVE this one! There is so much more to JVN than meets the eye, and in this memoir he opens up about all of his parts. It's raw and unflinching, as he shows that even for an effervescent positive p
Jessica J.
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I do not read a lot of celebrity memoirs, but this one is a must for anyone who is a Queer Eye fan or, really, anyone who has gone through a trauma. The self-help aspects of this book are infused with actual therapeutic principles not just buzzwords and "cheer up" nonsense -- he actually brings up a lot of the stuff that I've talked about with my own therapist as I've been working to process my own long-simmering trauma.

Plus, he reads the audiobook himself and that is delightful. Not only does
Jan 05, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks, memoirs
Oh, what a sweet memoir this is. I'm a fan of the Netflix show "Queer Eye," and Jonathan Van Ness is one of my favorite people on it. JVN's memoir is filled with both funny and sad stories, all told with his signature flair and charm.

I listened to "Over the Top" on audio, read by JVN himself, and if you're a fan of his I highly recommend this performance. His energy is infectious, and he manages to write about his traumatic experiences with grace and humor. For example, before getting into one
R.K. Gold
Oct 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Listened to the audiobook on a road trip I highly recommend the audiobook since the author narrates it.

If you like a narrator who doesn’t hide their personality and is open to sharing the lowest and highest points of their life with a mixture of humor and a promise of optimism you’ll love this book.

To answer the question asked at the start of the book, would I love you if I knew everything you’ve been through—-YES!
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jonathan Van Ness has written the best of the Queer Eye books and it is SO GOOD 🙌 He’s the only one of the four who have books out now who didn’t use a ghost writer. I felt Karamo and Tan’s books were sanitized and felt fake, but Jonathan’s is overflowing with realness.

He speaks frankly about some seriously hard shit in his life, including being sexually assaulted as a child, bullying, dropping out of college, working as an escort, developing a sexual compulsivity, getting addicted to meth, losi
When it comes to JVN, I feel that my review should come with a disclaimer: If I knew everything about him, would I love him anyway? The answer is a resounding "YES!" He is a beautifully flawed human being who admits to his share of struggles and mistakes... who has endured some tremendously painful experiences and who, with grace, honesty, and vulnerability, has not only spoken candidly about these moments, but emerged from the trauma triumphant, ready to share his path towards healing, and ulti ...more
Pantelis Andreou
Jonathan Van Ness is life!
This book is life!
Genuinely funny, extremely heartfelt & heartbreaking at the same time!
For god’s love just read it! I hope one day to listen to the audiobook as well!
Keep slaying queen!!!
Katey Moore
I listened to the audiobook version of this book and it felt very much like Jonathan was reading a report. The style felt very forced. I love him to death, but it was not an easy book to listen to.

The book itself was also kind of confusing-- like 1/2 memoir, 1/4 self-help 1/4 advocacy. I am glad I read it because I LOVE JVN and I appreciate the look into his darkest secrets and I am glad to know more about being HIV positive and the stigma people are still dealing with in 2019.
Krystin | TheF**kingTwist
Book Blog | Bookstagram

|“You know those plants that are always trying to find the light? Maybe they were planted in a location that didn’t necessarily facilitate growth, but inexplicably they make a circuitous route to not only survive but bloom into a beautiful plant. That was me—my whole life.”

Filed Under: Human Radiance

Let’s take a break from doom, gloom, death and viruses to cloak ourselves in the bright and shining warmth that is Jonathan Van Ness. This isn’t what I usually read, but it fel
But like I learned in hair school: Fake it till you make it and make it look graceful.

I was unsure what to make of JVN and the revived Fab Five from Netflix’s reboot of Queer Eye when I watched it initially. My overwhelming fear in those first few episodes was that the producers would have to call in private security to extract the team from some Hicksville place that did not take too kindly to their particular brand of flamboyance – which, startlingly, seems even more over the top than the orig
4 Stars

Authentic, funny, and impressively packed to the brim with personal truths and brutal honesty, the always fabulous JVN lays it all bare in his first writing foray. 👏
Feb 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

“As scary as this can be I want you to know no matter how broken you feel, and how seemingly unlikely it is, we are never too broken to heal.”


If you didn't know, I love Netflix's Queer Eye. The whole cast - Tan, Bobby, Antoni, Karamo, and Jonathan - are all wonderful, and I was ecstatic to hear Jonathan was writing his own book!

Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love is a memoir chronicling JVN's story from when they were a child growing up in a small mid-western town to their eventual s
Lilith Black Bee
Mar 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dnf
DNF at 50%

As much as I love Jonathan with all my heart, I had to DNF this simply because the audio doesn't work for me. It's not at all about him, it's my inability to listen to audiobooks. I have thought that listening to this one would be helpful, but no, now I know for sure that I can't listen to audiobooks... If there will be a printed version of it (from what I know just the audio was available on scribd) I will DEFINITELY pick it up because his story is amazing and heartbreaking and helped
If you like JVN, you'll like his memoir. There's a lot of important stuff packed in here, most of which is pretty out there now. It's JVN's voice through and through, so if you read it in print, you'll hear his inflections and appreciate how it translates.

My one quibble is less on JVN and more about how insidious fatphobia is, as there were a few times when the "jokes" leaned on body shape and size (there's a line about a "human soft serve" or something similar about the body of an intimate par
Oct 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars, rounded up.

After a really disappointing experience with Tan's book (I still love you Tan, I just struggled with your book - sorry!), I was so hesitant with this one. I didn't want anything to ruin the GORGEOUS view I have of JVN.

I am happy to report this did not at all disappoint. It's such an honest, vulnerable, well-written book, and I'm so glad he was brave enough to share his story. I think what is most remarkable about it is how relatable it is, even from the outset. I mean, asi
Nov 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2020
Listen. This was good.
Pam Faste aka Peejakers
JVN tells his story in a rambling, sometimes slightly uneven way, but I not only really enjoyed this, I got a lot out of it on a personal level, in a serious kind of way.

He is, of course, OTT AF in all the ways, what else? And irrepressibly loquacious, endearingly goofy, often hilarious, gloriously queer and nonbinary, and just, in every other way, unapologetically his own beautiful self.  And I appreciate the way he doesn't present a curated version of himself here, "the sweetheart of Queereye
Trigger warnings: sexual abuse of a child, drug addiction, sex addiction, cheating, bullying, homophobia, homophobic slurs, death of a grandparent, cancer, death of a step-parent, disordered eating, mental health.

First things first: if any of the above is triggering to you, be very careful going into this one. JVN is very frank in the things he did in his younger years and the impact it's had on his life. And he doesn't pull his punches in talking about the things he did.

Anyway. This book is v
Apr 16, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, adult
Is JVN the best writer? No, probably not. But did they tell their best story, Yes!
I love Queer Eye on Netflix and the Fab 5. I wouldn’t have known to listen to JVN’s memoir otherwise. So glad I did.
Oct 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
A truly remarkable memoir, especially from someone so young. A lot of wisdom and courage here we can all use as an example for how to be our most authentic selves.
Apr 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
Short, honest, funny, vulnerable. Makes me want to go watch Queer Eye, unsurprisingly. I definitely recommend the audiobook read by the author!
Jan 14, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
jonathan Van Ness is one fifth of the Fab Five from the brilliant TV show Queer Eye. On the show he's the loudest, the gayest & often the funniest of the team. So, would his autobiography give some insight into how he became the man he is today ?
It's a revealing story, as Van Ness is quite open about his time growing up in a small town & how his life changed when he moved away. Despite his openness he uses a lot of false names for people from his past & there are no phohographs of him at all. Ho
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Goodreads Choice ...: Over the Top - December 2020 2 53 Dec 08, 2020 04:15PM  
Play Book Tag: [Poll Ballot] Over the Top by Jonathan Van Ness 5 stars 1 8 Mar 24, 2020 10:39AM  
Read With Me!: Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love 1 2 Mar 02, 2020 06:06AM  
Fox Book Club: Best Memoir 1 42 Feb 07, 2020 02:34PM  
Fantasy Buddy Reads: Van Ness - Over the Top [Jan 1, 2020] 17 17 Jan 07, 2020 10:54AM  

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Jonathan Van Ness is a Critics' Choice Award winning, Emmy nominated television personality, podcaster, and hairstylist to the stars. He can be seen starring on Netflix's Emmy Award-winning reboot series "Queer Eye," where he shines as the show's groomer, hair guru and self-care advocate. In addition to "Queer Eye," Jonathan stars on the Emmy-nominated series "Gay of Thrones," (Funny or Die) a wit ...more

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