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Brilliant, Brilliant, Brilliant Brilliant Brilliant

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  920 ratings  ·  85 reviews
By the popular Vice contributor, a collection of full-throated appreciations, elaborate theories, and unflinching recollections

Joel Golby's writing for Vice and The Guardian, with its wry observation and naked self-reflection, has brought him a wide and devoted following. Now, in his first book, he presents a blistering collection of new and newly expanded
Paperback, 304 pages
Published March 5th 2019 by Anchor Books
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Average rating 3.72  · 
Rating details
 ·  920 ratings  ·  85 reviews

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Feb 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2019
Okay so this essay collection is a bit of a mixed bag, but Joel Golby is very, very, very funnylike, ludicrously funnywith a voice that's sharp and strong and snarky and delightful. He's also a very specific kind of 30-something white dude, which comes out in ways that are sometimes delightfully fun and sometimes eye-rollingly awful. He's a Vice writer, so I mean, that should tell you most of what you need to know.

In the better of these essays, Joel is the kind of writer whom you just want to
Chaunceton Bird
Apr 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Generally hilarious. With this wonderful collection of essays, Captain Golby rams the Titanic of polite society into the iceberg of taboo. His frank crudeness and naked honesty, paired with his British wit and knack for nihilism, will keep you laughing and entertained throughout. Definitely recommend this one to people who keep it real. Definitely don't recommend this one to people who eat dinner with more than one fork.
Jan 24, 2019 rated it did not like it
The low rating I am giving this book is partly my fault. I should've read some of Golby's articles on Vice before requesting this, that way I would have quickly found out that I likely would not get along with the tone of the writing in this collection.

But the tone was only part of the problem - often the subject matter was puerile (I'm thinking specifically of the essay where Golby talks about *that* thing Marilyn Manson is supposed to have had ribs removed to be able to do, and how he spent a
Jul 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
At long last, a non-fiction book described as "achingly funny" and which actually is. This was laugh-out-loud brilliant (x5), with pinprick bouts of melancholy that just made this book an all-around wholesome, nutritious, full breakfast of a reading experience.

Have to confess I skimmed a bit during the very long, very exhaustive pretend-Ted talk about which of the Rocky movies is the Ultimate Rocky Movie, but an essay on the particular brand of masculinity represented by Pitbull? An
Tom Fish
Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm trying to be blunter with my star ratings which is why this is a 2. In previous years I'd have settled for a polite but unenthusiastic 3.

I just didn't really find a lot of this interesting. It's mostly about Joel Golby, which since I'd never heard of him before reading it wasn't what I was expecting. Most of the essays are about nothing much really, and the really personal ones I just found a bit bleak.

Weirdly, the author and I grew up in the same town and went to the same schools. He
Jan 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Joel Golby makes me howl with laughter and splutter my tea out - he manages to make an essay about a camel festival both interesting and brimming with brilliant wit. LOVE
Adam Woods
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
I have this theory about books and theatre. For some reason, my theory goes, people find things funny in a book or on the stage that otherwise they wouldnt. Like somehow expectations are so much lower in these formats, that any idle witticism is met like one of John Mulaneys funnier bits.

Well, this book is funny. But really truly funny. Not book funny. Funny funny.

Golby is above all honest - his stories are real, his language relatable and his tone exactly what it should be in this shit-show we
Joshua Boyd
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I hate Joel Golby cause he made me write my first Goodreads review.
I hate Joel Golby because his writing is so good I get disappointed in my own.
I hate Joel Golby because he made me have a Big Think about drinking.

I hope he writes a load more books.
Duncan Vicat-Brown
Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-goats
Obviously I can't be subjective, but it's fucking great, and opens up the Millennial conversation beyond the affluent middle class, and uh, really fucked me up a few times! I've now bought an eye mask and a very specific beard trimmer. I am maybe too suggestible.
Erik Nygren
Apr 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Joel Golby has been doing the lord's work in Vice UK with his London Rental Opportunity Of The Week series for a few years now. Giving me a healthy way of channeling my frustrations against Londons rental market and its blazer wearing extortionists. Hes a really funny writer, and as a same generation, same city resident I find the stuff he writes about often relatable.

This book is a collection of essays, that is a bit broader than just hating on rental agencies/landlords (but dont worry, a huge
Robyn Jefferson
Dec 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, essays
"How do you think Pitbull fucks? I think Pitbull fucks like a snake spliced with a wolf. Pitbull fucks like a Ferrari driving up a skyscraper. Pitbull fucks like a double espresso poured into a fire. Pitbull fucks like a Gatling gun hanging out of a police helicopter. Pitbull has never ever had to Google 'what toner is best for oily skin?'" stellar
This book is very honest, and often powerful and moving, and sometimes funny, but I didnt like it very much. Golby is an affable narrator, and hes extremely disciplined when it comes to structure, but hes a little sloppy with word choice. The major problem, though, is that this book wasnt written with me as the target audience. It does give me a glimpse into a world very different from my own, but its not a world I particularly want to spend time in. ...more
Jan 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Pretty dang funny, written in that millinieal internet-savvy pop-culture-snarky manner that I love. A few essays I felt the need to immediately share (the dinner party one stands out to me). And a few I was eager to finish up.
Harry McDonald
Coal-black humour runs through this collection of essays, on everything from being an orphan at 25, the various ways you might fantasise about killing your landlord, to the virtues of Rocky IV. Really compelling and really well-written. And I actually cackled OUT LOUD. That NEVER HAPPENS.
Mar 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
You should read his articles in the Guardian. If you like them, which I do, you will enjoy this book, which I did. The book feels like hanging out with the guy who wrote them, as it is that. He writes for vice magazine, which for ME would be a dealbreaker, but it is only very rarely vice magazine esque.
Declan Cochran
Feb 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
im glad our generation finally has its own (british) chuck klosterman
Feb 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Finally, a book that precisely captures what it is like to be a 30 year old white millennial male in The Current Year.

Joel is a great writer, managing to deftly switch from tragedy to farce in the same sentence. Insightful and relevant, but most importantly entertaining. Probably not recommended for prudes.
Apr 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I particularly liked the part about killing landlords.
Jan 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book made me laugh so hard so many times but was also bittersweet, thoughtful and a wonderful interpretation of modern life as a young person.
Mar 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: humor, essays
A book that delivers on its title. The essay about both of your parents being dead will slay you.
Feb 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
How did the book make me feel (think)?

I cant deny falling out of my seat, filled with laughter. Indubitably |Brilliant, Brilliant, Brilliant Brilliant Brilliant| had that sort of cathartic effect. (Last sentence first time I used indubitably I didnt believe it to be a word it is indubitably).

My dads drinking injuries were always so extremethe golf ball, the time he fell face-first down some train-station stops and shattered his nose and his camera, that time his liver failed, and he diedso
Mar 20, 2020 rated it it was ok
I really thought I was going to like a bunch of essays written by Golby and then I saw that caitlin Moran and russell brand had commentary printed on the dust jacket and I was like oh no but then I saw sharon horgan and was like oh ok and then (and this is properly on me) realised he writes for vice and that probably set the tone for me reading this and thinking like even a self-aware reasonably woke lad is still a lad and I found it hard to muster much enthusiasm from there on in. He is the ...more
Peter Knox
These are the exact type of books I used to seek out (or would find me?) and would read all the time a decade ago when I just moved to NYC and the brutally honest humorous first person creative nonfiction personal essay memoir collection was emerging into book format from the blog world.

Now in 2019/20, were well past peak perspective introspective but theres still many new voices telling their stories. Here is a pretty young self deprecating British lad with a column at

The very short
Aug 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
I've never read any of Golby's essays before (although Wikipedia tells me he is one of Vice's most-read staff writers), and I was pleasantly surprised. Of course, as is true with almost all collections-of-things, I liked some of the stories better than others - notably the essays on camels, Monopoly, dinner parties, and landlords. I laughed out loud at all of thoseGolby has a funny, relatable, conversational way of writing that just makes you burst out a short giggle here and there.

But, some of
Oct 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read this book in three months. That's usually what it takes to read Brothers Karamasov. But I lived it more for it. Joel Golby is so unique. I marveled at the existance of most of the sentences in this book of his. I found myself laughing out loud and feeling a strong urge to show this sentence to someone. Someone had to see it too, and I had to see their reaction.

I want to be Joel Golby, and to write like him. I feel like I got to know him, and though he speaks so lowly of himself (most of
Claire M.
Feb 08, 2020 rated it it was ok
Man, this kid can write. I just wish he had more to say.

The collection kicks off with the best essay: a reflection on losing his parents at a young age. It's funny, thoughtful, and vulnerable--and nothing else in this collection really comes close. The style reminded me of a quote from Brideshead Revisited: " is like a little sphere of soapsud drifting off the end of an old clay pipe, anywhere, full of rainbow light for a second and then -- phut! vanished with nothing left at all,
Kate Schwarz
Nov 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobooks, essays
This collection of essays was really about nothing big and important at all. Yet I loved it--more essays than others, sure, but Golby's wit and clever sentence writing and rambling story telling made me laugh out loud several times. There were several poignant lessons within the essays, though Golby wasn't trying to knock the reader over the head with lessons and wisdom.

This appreciation of British humor makes me wonder if I was a Brit in a former life?? Whatever the case, I hope there are more
Jul 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
3.5 stars rounding up to 4. The preface is SO TRULY HILARIOUS except then the essays are good in their own way but not nearly as hilarious. Lots of great one-liners (and "Ribs," "Ribs" is very very good) and fully enjoyable and read-aloudable the whole way through, but doesn't quite live up to the hilarity of the preface.

"If you slapped me in the face with a properly dressed American pancake, in my opinion, it should be hefty enough to leave a bruise."
Sep 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, humor, essays
I had never heard of Golby before & am definitely not his target audience but I still mostly enjoyed this book of essays. As usual for me with essays, I read it in little bits & pieces rather than straight through - not sure I would have enjoyed it that much otherwise. When he was funny he could be quite good, other times he seemed to need to over explain things which got a little tedious, but overall a decent book
Jun 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Two great books in a row? A miracle.

This was hilariously heartwarming, nostalgic and heart breaking all in one. The essays varied in topic -from landlords to camels to death- and they're all so well done I cannot truly pick a favorite. ( But if I had to- The Landlord essay. It was pulled from the inner depths of my own mind)

Definitely suggest picking this up if you're looking for a good laugh or brief moment of reflection.
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