Laugh With Me as We Try to ‘Be Everything at Once’

Books Entertainment Reviews
Image: Chronicle Books

I’m one of those people who always has too many projects going. Focusing on one category of work or leisure makes me feel like I’m neglecting all of my other interests. It’s tricky to juggle them all, but having so many works-in-progress means that there’s always something fresh to work on; if I don’t feel creative in one way, I can be creative in another.

So it’s not surprising that a book entitled Be Everything at Once: Tales of a Cartoonist Lady Person would jump out at me. The book was sent to me unsolicited, but I knew, right away, that I’d want to read it.

I’d never heard of artist and author Dami Lee before. Apparently she’s gotten quite a following with her WebToons comic As Per Usual but, as per usual, I’m a bit behind the times. I’m glad I’ve found Dami, though. I’ve come to get a lot of out reading relatable comics. Though our backgrounds are completely different, her story and experience spoke to me right away. I’m not the only one who wants to be ALL THE THINGS!

About Dami Lee

Born in Seoul, Korea, and thrice an immigrant to the United States, Dami combines her two cultures in her style, humor, and substance. The book is in English and gives a glimpse into her experience acclimating and re-acclimating to this country. And she consumes a lot of snacks.

About the Book

Dami starts each section with an introduction of prose. And she is hilarious. She may be a cartoonist, but I’d happily read any prose she decided to write as well (hint, hint). Following the introductory pages are the comics. Most pages include a four-panel comic with a title and serve as stand-alone concepts. But, put together in sequence, they tell her story of coming to the United States with her family as a little girl, and then figuring out life here. Then moving back to Korea. Then moving back to the United States. Then, moving back to Korea after college, and finally back to the U.S. in her mid-20s, where she is settled. For now?

She talks about the journey from being a new immigrant to becoming settled in the U.S. and then returning to Korea and finally figuring out that you don’t have to choose among cultures or among parts of yourself. You can be everything at once.

The book then moves on to how Dami got into cartooning, her relationship with social media and the internet, fashion, dating, and life in general. Next comes comics relating to her current life in New York City. And snacks. She spends the last section of the book giving valuable advice that’s applicable to everyone, like “get some rest” and “you can do anything you set your mind to.” But it’s all told in her own, amusing way.

I laughed out loud so, so many times while reading this book. And that isn’t an easy feat. I’m regularly amused by things, but for me to laugh so loud as to disturb others’ work (we all work/school at home) is saying something. And the laughs kept coming. There were slightly fewer LOLs out of me as the book went on, but it continued to be enjoyable, fun, and quirky. I’ll be quickly pressing this book into the hands of people I know and forcing them to read it.

Why You Should Buy This Book

If it isn’t already obvious why you should buy and read Be Everything At Once, here are a few more reasons. In case I didn’t already mention it, the book is so, so funny. Plus, you learn a bit about what it’s like to acclimate to United States-ian culture, especially as a child. And, most importantly, you learn to stop taking yourself too seriously. Reading this book gives you a great kick in the pants to just take it easy on yourself. Just be you. Embrace it. Embrace you.

Be Everything At Once comes out today. Buy it, read it, and then re-read it. Then share it. You’ll find something (or many things) in it which make you feel good about your own life experience. And you’ll end up laughing at yourself and along with the comic. Then you’ll grab some snacks.

Note: I was sent a copy of the book for review purposes, but the decision to review it was solely my own, as are my myriad opinions.

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