Binge by Tyler Oakley – Book Review

Scott McMullon

Lover of literature, film and music living in Essex (no jokes please!). 'We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars' - Oscar Wilde

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The digital age has seen the birth of a whole new breed of celebrity. These online wonders, created by services such as YouTube or Vine, have managed to rack up millions of fans and followers and help change them into household names that continue to endure even years later.

One such star is the incomparable Tyler Oakley, an LGBT activist and professional ‘fan-girl’ who has attracted well over seven million followers since first hitting YouTube in 2007. After eight years, Oakley has released his first book, Binge, a heartfelt, intimate and illuminating biography which shows the young internet star in a whole new light.

Binge is set up with each chapter dealing with a particular subject that Oakley explores with an unexpected and disarming level of grace. Going back and forth in time, the writer tells a candid story which is at times shockingly revealing.

All of this is done with Oakley’s signature speech mannerisms, giving the illusion that Oakley is directly addressing the reader, which is a very nice touch, and will undoubtedly resonate with fans of the YouTuber.

This particular structure lends itself very well to exploring Oakley’s life as it leads directly from one area to the next without necessarily being restricted to time and setting. This loose approach is a refreshing change and the wide range of subjects keep the story interesting and fresh throughout.

Oakley covers something of an eclectic collection of subject matter, ranging from the expected, the unexpected and then the downright unusual. Once again this is done with a signature sense of style which any fan of Oakley’s will be familiar with after watching his videos or even listening to his podcast.

Oakley also dives deep into some of his own personal traumas and past mistakes. Indeed, it helps provide context to the name of his book, Binge, while also showing how Oakley thinks. Some of the stories might be a little more bare-faced than some people might expect, but once again this is balanced out by other more inspiring and intimate ones which are a must-read.

As an out-and-proud gay man, Oakley has a no-holds-barred approach to talking about his own sexuality, which is very refreshing, especially for a gay audience. A great deal of Oakley’s story about his emerging sexuality is one which is very familiar to anyone who has gone through a similar struggle but done with a rare eloquence.

It is clear the first time author wanted to deal with the subject with a great deal of sensitivity, wanting to keep it near and dear to his own heart while also making it work for readers from all walks of life as well. It was a bold move and if this is the kind of quality we can expect from Oakley as an author, then we can look forward to seeing more literary endeavours from him in the future.

Looking at Binge as a whole, we have a book which manages to be a great read for fans as well as being a very good book for those readers who may not already be initiated into the Tyler Oakley fan collective. It is a story of a young man who is just like us, who lived a life online but was able to turn what started off as a hobby and then became a career.

Visiting the highs and lows of his life, the reader learns that while he currently lives something of a charmed life, this was not always the case. His life has been one long journey and in committing his story to the page in this way he has revealed himself to his audience in a whole new, tender way which will be a worthy addition to anyone’s bookshelf. In short, not a story you will want to miss out on.

Binge is available from Amazon and iBooks.

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