YouTube Sensation Hannah Hart Gets Personal in Her New Memoir
Hannah Hart talks about her mother's schizophrenia among other delicate topics in her new book.
Robyn Von Swank
In her new memoir Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded, Hannah Hart writes: “I may not always have wanted to be famous, but I have always wanted to brighten someone’s day.” Hart rose to fame as the creator of the viral YouTube series My Drunk Kitchen — her funny, off-the-cuff style helped her achieve the unlikely feat of being noticed (to the tune of 2.5 million followers) amid a glut of online content.
Since she kicked off the video blog series in 2011, Hart has risen to prominence as a member of the new generation of digital content creators, entertainers changing the media landscape by circumventing normal channels to fame and directly engaging with fans and viewers. The very nature of online content creation necessitates a form of oversharing, and Hart's videos are frank and intimate enough to have made her a viral sensation within 48 hours of posting her first video.
Still, Hart has managed to keep many aspects of her life private, using the time to engage in what she describes as “buffering.”
“Buffering is the time you spend waiting for the pixels of your life to crystallize into a clearer picture: it’s a time of reflection, a time of pause, a time for regaining your composure or readjusting your course,” Hart writes in the book's intro. Here, she lets loose on all of the parts of her life, which she now deems “fully loaded.”
Hart departs from the lighthearted nature of her videos and Twitter feed, writing about her mother’s mental illness, coming to terms with her sexuality and overcoming a pattern of self-harm.
“The book is the story of my life up until this point. It was very important to me to be as thorough as possible. When you’re blessed with a public platform as I have, and have come by way of the journey I have come through, I feel a great sense of responsibility to be as upfront as possible,” Hart explains in an email interview.
Though Buffering may represent a shocking change in tone for many of her fans, she says the subject matter has made the experience of touring with the book a much more intimate affair with many fans opening up to her about their own struggles. Whether her current fans discover a different side of her or she garners some new fans from the book, she says she hopes readers “find comfort (or catharsis) in the pages.”
Hart was a literature major in college and has been a life-long journaler, so although the long format may be a big shift for her fans, Hart didn’t find writing a full-length book as big of a leap as you might think. Her vlogs are improvised, occasionally from notes she’s written in advance, but she did previously publish what she calls a “self-help parody cookbook” as a companion to My Drunk Kitchen. Still, buffering is different.
She says an effort to “shed some light on the gaping holes in our mental healthy system” is what drove her to write a memoir at a relatively young age. Hart speaks frankly of her mother’s struggles with schizophrenia and writes of her efforts to get her mother adequate care in the face of legislative limitations. It’s eye-opening for people who've never dealt with mental health issues and a candid, heartfelt plea for all of us, including the government, to be more considerate, compassionate and understanding.
Of course the book also features Hart's signature humor and sarcastic asides. It’s a book that champions self-love wrapped up in a dialogue of healthy tongue-in-cheek reflections on her own struggles to get there. Though moving away from her religious upbringing and accepting her sexual identity was a difficult journey, she manages to detail it with a significant amount of charm and wit. In her hands, it’s not merely a painful coming-out story, but a tale wrought with wistful humor — she respects the obstacles but doesn't shy away from poking fun at herself.
“I hope that people understand that ‘being positive’ is not an innate quality, but more of a learned instinct," Hart says. "I hope people give this book — and through it, themselves — a chance.”
Hannah Hart will be signing her memoir Buffering at the Barnes & Noble at The Grove on Mon., Oct. 24 at 7 p.m .
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