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I was super behind on my Goodreads reading challenge and it was stressing me out, so I did what any rule-bending bookworm in my position would do - I dug out all of my favorite novelty books and photography books that I hadn't yet gotten around to reading and spent a blissful couple of hours poring over them, laughing and smiling to myself. It was basically a perfect day.
Disclaimer: I'm not actually a dog person. I know someone who's a dog person and they were like, totally mind-blown by the fact that people might not like dogs. "Who doesn't like dogs?" they asked, highly skeptically. "Well, me," I thought, but did not say. I mean, it's not that I hate dogs. I just like cats more. I grew up with cats and find them cute and personable, and dogs are kind of slobbery and high maintenance and gross. There are some breeds that I find irresistibly cute (*cough* Shiba Inus *cough* Jack Russel Terriers *cough*) but I'm also not one of those people who's like "OMG DOGGOS!" But my point is that while some people are either dog or cat people, basically everyone is a puppy and/or kitten person.
How can you look at a baby animal and not think it is the cutest thing next to chibi-drawn Pikachu? You can't. And Seth Casteel, that brilliant evil genius, he knows this and decides to capitalize it in the best possible way: a series of photographs showing adorable, wide-eyed puppies submerged in water. My God, this was so cute. Some of them are clearly chasing after their toy, so their little puppy jaws are open wide, Jaws-style, at the lens. Others are clearly bewildered (and wet), wondering, "Why is this happening to meeee?" And others are clearly, "I dunno what is going on but I like it! Puppy smile! :D :D :D" I read the whole book twice, back to back, immediately after purchasing it. The photos are very good quality and of fairly high resolution, all the better to showcase the adorable puppy faces contained therein.
I'm giving it four stars and not five because after a while, it got kind of gimmicky (and they weren't kittens. I think I probably would have had to have added an extra half-star if they were kittens, because it is a fact of truthy truthiness that kittens can do no wrong - but also maybe not because I think seeing sad, soggy kittens in water would have made me frown). There is only the deep blue water and the puppies, and cute as they are, the premise wore a bit thin after a while. Still, it left me with a big grin on my face and I got to see puppies (:D) so I think 4 stars is fair.
I bought this book when I was in college and hipster/scene culture was at an all time high. I loved to sneer about hipsters, and I think that was probably because I was a hipster. I had about six flannel shirts in my closet and would make "pixel art" of 8-bit video game characters out of Post-It notes on my wall (and when I posted the pictures to Facebook, my parents yelled at me for wasting the Post-Its). I would go to record stores and buy CDs of 90s indie bands like Sixpence None the Richer and The Innocence Mission. I wore these thick-framed black glasses similar to the one that the dude on the cover of the book is wearing, and took "artistic" selfies in front of the poster of a Japanese woodblock printing I had in my dorm, or against the 8-bit video game Post-It art. I wouldn't go to a coffee store unless it was "independent."
I was, in other words, a basic AF hipster.
Reading this book is pretty hilarious because it's basically a retrospective ode to the early-to-mid 2000s. Some of the clothes in here are more emo than hipster, particularly the chunky side-swept bangs with the striped extensions. That's, like, classic emo/scene fashion. I was reading the reviews for this book and it looks like the biggest problem that people have with this book is that it not only isn't nice, it's also not PC. I would agree with that. A lot of the captions are definitely mean-spirited, and some border on ageist, racist, and homophobic. But then, a lot of humor toes the line of what's OK to say, and what it ultimately comes down to is intent. I don't think this guy who created this blog (and this book) is a bigot: I think he's a snarky dude who embraces the anonymity of the internet to make people laugh with his off-color brand of humor. Enough people liked it that he ended up getting a book deal (and in the intro to this book he seems as mystified about that as everyone else). I like it, because it captures the zeitgeist of the 2000s, including hipster, emo, and party/raunch culture. I may not agree with it personally, but it is an accurate reflection of my time in high school and college.
Also, that Beans guy at the end was kind of hilarious. He seems like such a great guy. People were posting unflattering pics of him dressed funny at concerts, and instead of getting offended, he was delighted when the creator of this book contacted him and asked him to do an exclusive photo shoot. Which he did. (I hope he got paid, or something, but maybe Beans is a pro-bono kinda dude who doesn't believe in selling out, in which case, rock on, Beans.)
In the meantime, I'm going to keep drinking my fancy cocktails with bitters, reading my hardbound copies of old classics salvaged from thrift stores, and listening to my OK Go and my Arcade Fire and my Rilo Kiley, while living it up in San Francisco, Hipster Capital of the West Coast (well, apart from Portland). You can laugh at us all you like, but we have artisinal salads, flourless vegan chocolate cake, and cute shoes with cats on them.