Beloved artist Worry Lines shares a sweetly funny and deeply relatable illustrated story about hope, worry, and chocolate chip cookies.
Worry Lines has captured hearts around the world by posting daily drawings on Instagram. In this book, Worry Lines interweaves these fan-favorites into an entirely new story about the making of the book itself. Charting the creative process from its anxiety-riddled beginning to its (hopefully) hopeful end, This Book Is for You is a charming and honest portrait of worry.
“…when so many people are isolated, lonely and having a tough time, I’m happy to know that these drawings can go some way towards making people feel even just a tiny bit better.”
I don’t think anyone needs me to remind them that the last twenty months or so have been challenging on levels many of us have never experienced before, certainly not in North America. The pandemic and ensuing lockdowns forced us to isolate in ways incongruous to us as social animals, solitary confinement is a tool of castigation for a good reason. And for those who struggle, pandemic or not, isolation is an all-too-common result of feeling the world outside your door isn’t a place where you necessarily feel safe, secure, and cared for. This has been compounded with an unending daily litany of a society where most people are simply falling further and further behind.
But we’re jumping slightly ahead, because if you’re like me, up until recently I had never heard of Worry Lines, I may have seen some of their drawings in passing but thought nothing of it. This is no way meant as a criticism, Worry Lines as an idea, is a very successful artistic endeavor with a substantial following online, with over 700k followers on Instagram. The effect is clear, people like what Worry Lines represents, and that has now manifested itself in a new book with the befitting title, This Book Is for You: I Hope You Find It Mildly Uplifting.
While perhaps simplistic in nature artistically speaking, the messaging is clear, precise, and airtight. It’s uncomplicated by design I’d imagine with the characters being presented as anthropomorphic blobs essentially. But similar to Huda Fahmy’s genius, don’t mistake these drawings for unsophisticated, because they are anything but, and you’d be a fool to dismiss this before digging in. As the nameless genius behind Worry Lines says, “I’m very interested in communicating ideas as simply and as efficiently as possible, so there is definitely intentionality there. I find that using icons rather than detailed drawings can just minimize the amount of data a reader has to process, and allow them to get more quickly to the idea behind the drawing, if that makes sense. It lends the work an accessibility that’s important to me.”
And when you do start to dig in, you’ll quickly realize how accessible it is and that there’s nothing furtive going on here, there’s no subliminal messaging, Worry Lines isn’t a charlatan. It’s an honest and forthright approach that is equal parts humility and understanding, and the end result is quite wonderful.
As for myself, I’m usually averse to self-help monkeyshines, too cynical I suppose, and there are just too many assholes like Jordan Peterson in the market. But Worry Lines isn’t that, it sets itself apart in a sea of besserwisser’s and contemptuous purveyors of unsolicited advice, and I think the single biggest way it achieves this is that it’s not performative, or do as I say, not as I do. It’s relatable in that when this unnamed narrator struggles, we struggle along with them, because, and here’s the big hook…we are them. Shit, we even make an appearance in the book! But again, we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves here.
The surprising aspect of this book is the storytelling that’s going on, yes, the book has a plot, and it has characters. This is very smart on their part because it prevents the book from finding a pulpit, something most self-help books tend to do. And let’s face it, nobody wants to be talked down to, told what to do, or lectured on the mistakes they may have made in life. Yes, this book has a very strong, and very smart, “If you’re like me…” slant. Speaking to the meta-approach the book takes, “I also wanted readers to feel seen by the book, and to acknowledge their important role, so I tried to incorporate them as well. Altogether, that ended up creating a meta narrative that tickled my brain in a nice way, while also creating a frame in which to insert some of my pre-existing drawings.”
As for the story, we see our unnamed narrator on the cusp of a book deal, and yes, spoiler alert; it’s the book you’re holding. The Narrator has two clingy companions, Hope and Worry, both fighting for dominance, and neither one having seen Star Wars, doesn’t fully understand the importance of balance. Just when the weight of having to write a book hits the Narrator, Hope suddenly (predictably?) disappears, leaving only Worry, who finds themselves with no antagonist. The Narrator of course understands the importance of both, so they set out to find Hope, while not only trying to write a book, but fending off attacks from Worry, who spews demoralizing gems such as, “If you don’t try, you can’t fail.”
With the table set, the book takes off, juggling two things. First, Story Lines does their thing, their shtick, the one that made them noteworthy and the thing they do best. You’re inundated with page, after page, after page, of colors and shapes, all meant to temper the delivery of a particularly pointed message. Second, with the search for Hope (yes, it’s on the nose) underway, and Worry beginning to ask more profound and pseudo-existential questions, the Narrator’s message becomes more focused, as they themselves begin to find calmness and stability, and as they go, we go.
So, by the time you reach the end of this substantial book, hopefully a couple of things have occurred. In effect, you should feel pretty great about where our three characters end up after all is said and done, and while they haven’t figured out the answers to the universe, they have discovered more than a few things about themselves. And, with 61% of the adult population experiencing loneliness, and 31% experiencing some kind of anxiety disorder, it strikes me that there’s never a bad time to release a book that looks to help with exactly those two things. How much stock you put into these types of books will vary from person to person, that goes without saying. But, for me, it certainly helps when the person delivering the message does so with a fair amount of humility and grace, Worry Lines does just that.
So, what’s the bottom line?
On the back cover of this heavy, full-colored hardback edition, you’ll find a short but effective list, un-complicating a rather large spectrum of conditions and feelings we all experience as we make our way through life.
This book is for you if you are:
- A brave worrier (BW)
- An absolute legend (AL)
- Anywhere from mildly concerned about something (MCAS) to deeply anxious about everything (DAAE)
I suspect most, if not all, of the population can identify or relate to at least one of these three states of being. For myself, I’ve never been accused of #1 or #2, but I go for daily laps in #3’s swimming pool. Point being, and what Worry Lines does so well, is break down any misconceptions that regardless of your situation, there’s someone out there who can relate in some way. We all know people who get anxious, who get stressed, who get down, and whether we like to admit it or not, we do to. And if you leave this book with anything, it’s that not only is it okay to feel a relative sense of unease, but that you’ve got company.
And listen, on a platform such as Instagram, that, spoiler alert, is owned by Facebook and spends an incredible amount of time and money telling you how you should feel, act, and think, it’s nice to see the platform being used for good, something Worry Lines understands, “I’m heartened by the community that has grown around Worry Lines. It’s a group of wonderful, anxious, potato-loving, self-criticizing people who I think feel reflected and mildly uplifted by the work. Making the work makes me feel less alone with my anxiety, and I hope it does the same for the readers too.”
Couldn’t have said it better myself!
The Book Is For You: I Hope Your Find It Mildly Uplifting is out now, click HERE to order a copy today!
About the Author:
Worry Lines has captured hearts around the world with sweetly funny, deceptively simple, and instantly relatable daily drawings shared on Instagram at @worry__lines. The drawings have been described as ‘tender’, ‘wobbly’ and ‘oddly comforting’. Worry Lines has been lucky enough to do drawings for people all over the world including Netflix Queue Magazine (USA), Scribit The Drawing Robot (Italy), AWW Magazine (Singapore), The Stranger Seattle (USA), Harvard University’s Project Zero (USA), Dedicated Brand (Sweden), Oh Magazine (UK) and has exciting projects in the works in South Korea, the UK and the USA.
*All images reprinted from THIS BOOK IS FOR YOU by Worry Lines. Copyright © 2021 by Worry Lines. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.