Henry James Garrett, This Book Will Make You Kinder a must read in 2020

Sarah Buchmann

This Book Will Make You Kinder is Garrett’s first book. 
Photo: @henryjgarrett via Instagram

I’m a big fan of morals, ethics and just about any kind of philosophy regarding how to be a better person. So when one of the cartoonists I follow on Instagram announced that he would be releasing a book this past February, I preordered it immediately. 

Henry James Garrett (HJG), @henryjgarrett on Instagram and Twitter (formerly @drawingsofdogs), released the book last week and I was beyond ecstatic to see it finally arrive in my mailbox. 

This Book Will Make You Kinder is a chaptered philosophical journey through what truly makes human beings kind, accompanied by cute little cartoons drawn by HJG. 

If you’re someone who’s looking for a good reference on how to be a decent person, this is definitely the book to read. 

The book does come with a trigger warning at the beginning, so be prepared to read about sensitive topics such as sexual assault and rape, homophobia, mental illness, racism, classism and others.

HJG breaks down ethics and empathy into seven basic chapters – this handbook is, of course, not comprehensive, but it’s definitely a good introduction to moral philosophy. 

HJG started his journey off as an anxious PhD student, and his goal “was to become a professor who wrote papers so compelling that they left the academic sphere and convinced everyone to be more moral” (as stated in the introduction of the book). 

He ended up leaving school and began focusing on his drawings – these cartoons might be rather simple in visual style, but they satirize modern day problems in society as told by the animal world. 

Garrett’s comics are known to tackle many major political and social issues with simplistic drawings. 
Photo: @henryjgarrett via Instagram

One of my favorites is a drawing of two birds, with one saying “Yes, some birds do it, and some bees do it, but no one owes it to you.” One of the less subtle cartoons, but it makes a pretty good and basic statement on consensual sex. 

Another great (and blunt) example is a duck saying, “A gay duck and a straight duck walk into a bar… they have a great time. Ducks never developed homophobia.” 

Part of HJG’s genius comes from the fact that he says what seem to be obvious things about humanity and how to treat others, but problems like homophobia and rape culture still exist. 

We might have a social philosophy that phobias and rape culture are inherently bad and IWU makes sure that students on campus know the stance the university takes, but when it comes down to actually dealing with these problems in a real life situation, neither society nor IWU responds in a healthy way. 

“Racism, homophobia and victim blaming and shaming are still rampant in nearly every community – which is why this book is even more necessary in 2020.”

HJG is from the United Kingdom, but still makes his stance on American politics abundantly clear on his social media. 

With the impending doom of the upcoming election, HJG has spoken his mind on the current administration and where they falter when it comes to protecting the basic rights of minorities. 

So this book is really written for the people who probably won’t actually read it (republicans, racists, homophobes, a**holes, etc.), which is a total bummer, but for those of us who are willing to work on self-improvement and bettering our communities, I would recommend HJG’s book and following him on social media. He’s one of the sweetest people and always takes the time to interact with his fans. 

The book already has rave reviews and endorsements from celebrities – novelist Matt Haig and actress Jameela Jamil have commented on how it can greatly impact others who read it and follow HJG’s work. I, for one, will be re-reading over winter break and will probably lend it to some family members. 

With the mess that 2020 has been, the most we can do as a society is to work on ourselves and make the world a better place. This Book Will Make You Kinder lives up to its title, and will help brighten the community around us.