Do-It-Yourself Guide to Fighting the Big Motherfuckin’ Sad, The: By Adam Gnade, 60 pgs. By Adrian Salas

As summarized in the title, this is basically a compact guidebook to dealing with depression and/or general malaise. Much of Gnade’s advice is often laid out in succinct, easily digestible, seven point lists. Advice ranges from do what you love, don’t listen to critics, don’t let failure hold you back, lean on friends, read a lot, don’t commit suicide, and be nice to people. Sometimes the writing veers dangerously close to “dance like no one’s watching” inspirational-mug territory, and a couple times a line of advice seemed less like a hard-earned truism and more like half-thought filler included to push a list to the magic number seven. One of these head scratchers was: “The confident ones give us the worst and most lifeless bullshit.”

There is a short section in the book covering the subtle differences of anti-depressants and the author’s struggle to responsibly wean himself off of them. The weighing of the pros and cons of life with or without medication was nuanced in a way that felt very refreshing. It would have been nice to have a few more passages like that peppered throughout. Plus, being haunted by George W. Bush throwing footballs made for one of the more sinisterly mundane bad trips I can recall reading about. Overall, most of the advice is positive stuff I can get behind. The book never dips over into overbearing or pushing some kind of questionable ideological or religious agenda, so that right there puts Gnade’s booklet head and shoulders above a lot of self-help material. If one has thirty minutes and is in need of a pep talk, spending the time with this book may be what the doctor ordered. –Adrian Salas (Pioneers Press, 100 E Kansas Ave, #248 Lansing, KS 66043, pioneerspress.com)