Book Review

Review For The Book: Been There. Done That. Try This! An Aspie’s Guide to Life on Earth

Written by James Phillip Wood

Firstly I would like to note for the record I am no professional when it comes to reviewing books and this is the first book I have ever reviewed. I am merely a 24 year old man who is currently struggling a lot with aspergers syndrome. My life has been a severe struggle and over the past 18 months I have been involved with mental health services at the highest of levels. My opinions are primarily coming from being diagnosed as  an autistic adult and how I feel this book would potentially help those in similar situation. With all that said I hope my review will potentially give insight to similar autistic people and the people that support them.

So I find this book to generally be a rather interesting read and I think that its format has both strengths and weaknesses. The fundamental aspect of the book I feel is the ranking of the difficulties people with aspergers syndrome struggle with and this is a very insightful list of some issues that people may not generically relate to autism. Right at the start it is laid out for all to see with rankings of the issues that cause most stress and also the percent of people with autism living with those said issues. Although some of the issues are assumed and generic in autism such as anxiety, sensory issues, making friends and so on there are also some less generic issues such as Personal management issues, “Faking It” and Emotional availability.

I suppose the next factor when we’re looking at format about this book is the way they actually use a variety of people to give their explanations of how all of these issues effect them. This for me is where the book begins to split my interests and opinions, on the face of it I can see that it is a nice idea for a variety of people with aspergers to write about how they deal with anxiety, or depression etc but the problem I find is that this is not a fair mixture of people. I see all of these people as people who have gotten through the autistic or mental health struggle and are now succeeding in life. This therefore gives a rather clichéd and honestly boring perspective as they are often just saying the same old boring stuff over and over again. For example “I exercise to make my brain feel better” or “I eat really healthy” or “I make sure my sleep is perfect”. For me I think that all of these things are -obvious- in ones recovery but not at all possible when the deep and dark tendrils of depression are suffocating you. So as someone who is struggling significantly with a depression reading about how If I ran for an hour a day I would feel better is a sort of boring and generic response that I am not looking for. The problem of course is that because it is a mixture of people you would expect an interest mix of testimonials but each and every one says the same old thing. This therefore translates to me as the authors of this book should of gotten a much more diverse and interesting group of people and preferably people who are still struggling significantly. And when I say significantly I do not mean to be discredit those people who were involved with writing this book as I am sure they have had their struggles but I am looking for the opinions of people who are actually currently suicidal, or sectioned under the mental health act, self harming themselves, living on the streets, addicted to drugs etc. I just want there to be more vigour in these testimonials and not this constant blabber about how eating an orange and running will change your life. Sure it’s all proven but for the sceptics out there, myself included, this is just another boring piece of irrelevant advice that makes you doubt the writers relevance to you as someone who has just been diagnosed with a condition that has most likely crippled their life.


Now then, apologies for the some overzealous description of my distaste for that part of the format for the book but I just couldn’t help myself. Another point that I want to make about this book is about the pictures in the middle of it, for me these pictures are pretty much useless and are not needed whatsoever. They are by definition art and but of course art is a very subjective subject. I am unsure why the writers of this book thought it appropriate to add such a subjective element to a book that should be aiming to be a help to autistic people and those supporting autism. I feel that these pictures are a gimmick and have no place in such a book, they tend to annoy me with their awkward interpretations of emotions. And whilst some people may find relevance or even enjoy the pictures I feel that there will be an amount of people who have no time for them whatsoever.

The next fundamental thing about this book for me is the conclusion type ending to each issue in where the primary author explains a few things, I do actually find that part rather helpful and the writers seems to be knowledgeable about the topics that are discussed. Thus leading me to believe that as a source of knowledge this book is a very good representation of that, it has a lot of “aspie” knowledge buried deep within its pages and I feel that is the most positive part about this book. For this book is not unique or truly special, the information in general is generic and accessible from a variety of other formats, be it the internet or other books. They are not writing about ground breaking information here, but it is a nice collection of information all in one place so I suppose for someone, most especially an adult being diagnosed with autism for the first time this is a book worthy of at least flicking through, if not reading entirely as there are many pieces of information they would find useful to know about. Obviously when it comes to autism the biggest thing I have noticed is that it is an extremely personal and unique condition and each person whilst having some things in common are often lovely unique individuals and so their interpretation of this book could be entirely different to mine. I do not want to fly the flag for adults diagnosed with autism my opinions are exactly that and should be appreciated as such.

In conclusion I feel that this book is a good addition to any autistic persons library and should most likely be suggested to be read upon first diagnosis, I feel that people who have knowingly had autism for some time would not find this book all that helpful as the information is not new or revolutionary in any sense, but for those people who are new to the world of autism it is a good collection of information and issues. With that being said, the rather small collection of people when it comes to writing this book, in the sense that they are seemingly all successful people now with a job and so on, make the book rather clichéd in many an area and I feel that it would of been much more beneficial with a more diverse selection of autistic people. Most especially those at severe crisis or in very poor living conditions.

If I were to give this book a number out of ten, I suppose I would give it a solid 7/10 for newly diagnosed people and around a 5/10 for people who have been diagnosed for some time. Many thanks for reading and apologies if I offended anyone in writing this, It’s never my intention to hurt but sometimes my social clumsiness can hurt without my knowledge. If this review has helped then please feel free to pass it on to other autistic people and if you found this review to be terrible then but of course never speak of it again.

Many thanks for reading,



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2 comments on “Book Review
  1. Linda buchan says:

    A helpful and balanced review

  2. Luke Beardon says:

    I do so love an honest review! Very well written – and I totally agree, accounts from individuals at all stages of mental health would be very useful indeed.

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