Book Review: Comedian Mastermind – The Best Of FatCyclist.com

I sometimes wonder what it would be like to compile my blog posts into a book.  At the very least, I would have a permanent hardcopy record of months of writing.  This might be important should the internet crash after the computers become sentient and take over the planet.

Apparently, I am not the first person to think of this as Elden Nelson (aka “Fat Cyclist”) has actually done it.  His book, Comedian Mastermind: The Best of Fatcyclist.com, is a collection of his earliest blog posts from 2005-2007.  I’m not sure why Nelson chose 2007 as a cutoff date for material.  It’s probably nothing more complicated than he had enough posts for a book at that point (be ready for the sequels!).

For those who don’t know Fatty, he’s probably the most famous cycling blogger in the world.  How famous?  Google “fat cyclist” and watch what happens.  Check the urls, images, and videos.  The dude is everywhere and so are people who have joined “Team Fatty”.  Although he claims to be fat because he once “soared” all the way up to almost 200 pounds (ha!), this is probably the least compelling thing about his blog.  He is better known for his hilarious writing style and his inspirational efforts to raise money for programs which support cancer victims and those who care for them.  Nelson lost his first wife to cancer and his earlier writings are peppered with references to her fight against the disease (to this day, the Fat Cyclist  motto is, “Fighting like Susan”).

Although Nelson is a great writer, I wasn’t sure I would enjoy a string of seven-year old blog posts.  Fortunately, Nelson doesn’t do this.  Instead he organizes his posts into themes, including topics any of his readers would recognize, such as Fake News, Open Letters, Epic Rides, Practical Guidance From an Expert, How To Do Very Important Things, and Tour de Lance.  He also sprinkles many footnotes into his posts, wherein he comments on what he was originally writing, either to provide more (humorous) background, or remark on how insane/prescient/ridiculous he was “back then.”

The footnotes and the topical sections make the book a far more interesting read.  The posts are all relatively short and can be taken in small chunks (placing the book in your bathroom would make perfect sense).  Some of my favorite posts were How to be a Middle-Aged Cyclist, How to Fall Down, An Open Letter to Triathletes, and I am A Changed Man (Parts I and II).  As is to be expected with Fatty, almost all of the book is hilarious.

Nelson hails from Utah and although he enjoys both mountain and road biking, his first love was mountain biking and most of his stories involve trail rides.  It is a testament to Nelson’s entertaining style of writing that this author – who does not ride mountain bikes and has no great desire to do so – finds the book to be compelling, humorous, and inspirational.  Just like the blog.

So swing by FatCyclist.com and order the book (if there are any left).  You’ll laugh out loud and will be inspired.  On the off-chance you don’t like it, you can still feel good knowing that you helped somebody with their battle against cancer, and there’s a lot to be said for that.

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17 thoughts on “Book Review: Comedian Mastermind – The Best Of FatCyclist.com

  1. Off to get the book now – sounds brilliant!
    Here’s a thought. Put your old posts together as an ebook – I’ve done that with my blog. It’s up for free on Smashwords and it’s doing well – a good way to get more visitors to your site.

    • Interesting – thanks for the tip! That certainly seems simple enough, doesn’t it? 🙂 Now I have to decide if I want to do a decent job of editing, ala Nelson, or just cram every post in the book in sequential order.

  2. Clive and Stever – seriously, if I can produce an ebook, anybody can! I’m not really high-tech at all but it’s a very simple process, especially for Smashwords, and I coped with it. I did a blog article here about turning a backlist title into an ebook, but substitute blog for backlist title and the procedure is pretty much the same. http://www.booksarecool.com/2011/how-to-turn-your-backlist-title-into-an-ebook/
    Free ebooks really are great publicity. I live in hope of actually making money from my writing one day 🙂

  3. Good review. I’ll admit that I never really ‘get’ Fatty. I read him on occasion, respect him as writer and admire his charity work, but I cannot get into the blog. Maybe because I never started at the beginning and therefore am lacking context. Maybe I’ll grab this for an airplane trip someday.

    I had been thinking of putting my blog into a book. Steph’s idea is a good one and I might explore. Maybe something to tackle for another rainy day when I have more time.

    • I wouldn’t bother with the book if the blog doesn’t appeal to you. The book has the same feel and I doubt you’ll get through it. But if you’re going to experiment, you might as well do so with this book as the proceeds are going to charity!

      • Wow, I cannot believe I dogged Fatty and then he made an appearance in the thread. 🙂
        I think it’s more of a lack of exposure and I will check out the book. I almost did the 100 miles of nowhere once. Might try it this year.

    • Fatty!!!

      Wow. I have now officially made “The Big Time” as a blog author. I shall let anyone who cares to listen know that I regularly correspond with an internationally famous cyclist/author/philanthropist and I will thank you in advance for not correcting them should they approach you.

      All kidding aside, THANK YOU for what you have done for cancer relief and for writing an extremely entertaining blog in the process. Oh yeah, the book is great too! 😉

    • Thanks for stopping by, Tes. You are correct, of course. I was writing from memory and I guess that section didn’t resonate with me as much as some others. This is no way should reflect on Fatty’s prose, but rather on the fact I am desperately trying to lose weight and tend to gloss over recipes for the world’s best mashed potatoes and desserts that take all day to prepare!

  4. Enjoyed your review of the ” Fatty Book ” ! Today i came across the first of Fatty’s posts that are being written on ” Susan’s Fight “!

    Incorporated your ” Cluster map ” into my blogs , hope you decide to add links .

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