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This book screamed "Buy me!" when I saw it at the Drawn & Quarterly booth at San Diego Comic Con 2009. It is that good!

With a brush in the right hand, and a pencil on the left, the multi-eyed monster on the back cover spoked, "Welcome to writing the unthinkable". That's the essence of this book created by Lynda Barry, putting vivid imagination onto paper.

What It Is is a scrapbook that's filled to the brim with sketches, coloured illustrations, collages, comics, autobiographical writing, random thoughts and even a bit on creative writing.

Every page is elaborately decorated, an exploration into the unknown realms of imagination. And every page is just fun to look at.

This book is creativity and self expression, great for flipping through when you're feeling random or looking for inspiration.

I'll give this book two thumbs (drawn with smiley faces) up.

By the way, What It Is won the 2009 Eisner award for Best Reality-Based Work, but I didn't know that when I bought it. It's also one of the top 100 books picked by Amazon editors for 2008.

There are more pictures of the book on my blog. Just visit my Amazon profile for the link.
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on 4 September 2013
This was totally and utterly brilliant! While I was reading it I was thinking of all the people I know who should read this. It was part memoir and part non-fiction. It was looking at ideas, memories, and imagination. How our memories are just as real as our imagination. How imagination works, how memory works, how we learn to distrust ourselves and worry about "being good" at something rather than just doing the things we enjoy. There was so much to the first part of this. SO many interesting ideas floating around and so much strength and empowerment from those ideas.

The second two sections were practical workbooks for getting writing. I'm not sure how much I would personally benefit from the methods she suggested. There were a couple things I disagreed with, one the idea that writing things by hand is by nature better than writing with a pen or pencil (something I find particularly difficult because of my dyslexia). Also her topics for choice for writing, cars, phone numbers weren't really that inspiring for me.

But the book itself was really lovely and one I think I will go back and read many times. The art in it is GORGEOUS. I'm definitely going to have to get other books by Lynda Barry.
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on 27 May 2014
I love this book, and have bought several copies for friends who have found it unique and inspiring. I especially love the beautiful art collage pages musing on life's questions. The comic pages in between telling the history of Lynda Barry's own experience and as a teacher are also very inspiring.
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on 8 February 2016
Gift for my wife who was very pleased
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on 10 July 2014
Fantastic creative work and storybook
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on 15 May 2013
More a comic or a play book than a guide. Don't go for it if looking for tips or structural hints.
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on 4 May 2016
great.
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