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10/21/2014 08:27 am ET Updated Oct 21, 2014

A Beautifully Illustrated Comic That Might Make You Rethink Self-Help Books

Yumi Sakujawa

Yumi Sakugawa has used her spare, sweet and lightly melancholic illustrations to address a number of uniquely contemporary phenomena, like platonic crushes in the social media era. Of her first book, I Think I'm in Friend Love With You, she said in an interview with The Huffington Post: "In some ways being able to connect with other people on the Internet is like accessing a new dimension or a new world that is not yours. The Internet and outer space, I think, are closely related themes when I make my stories."

Similar themes -- the personal interwoven with the universal -- are at play in her latest collection of comics, Your Illustrated Guide to Being One With the Universe. On one page a contemplative girl lies atop a bed of pillowy mountains, daydreaming while gazing inside of a fishbowl. Another features a scrawl of would-be canned advice -- "How can we possibly feel oneness with the universe if we aren't creating any space to really listen to what the universe is trying to tell us?" -- across an inharmonious clutter of ink splatters, stars and thought bubbles. Sakugawa's style is so evocative that it's likely to make its reader forget any reservations he or she has about the mantras packaged within it.

Your Illustrated Guide to Being One With the Universe is, as its title implies, partly a self-help book. But her suggestion that her readers "calm the murky waves" of their minds seems like truer guidance when accompanied by a subtle, monochromatic sketch of a pond than, say, a handy five-step plan for de-cluttering.

Read an excerpt of Sakugawa book below. For further reading, check out her badass tribute to her Asian-American role model, Claudia Kishi from the Baby-Sitters Club.

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