Jenny Lawson

‘Furiously Happy’ by Jenny Lawson #throwbackthursday #bookreview #bloggesstribe

Renee at It’s Book Talk began this meme to share old favourites and recommendations, and I discovered it through Between the Lines.

This is one of the books I mentioned on my post about mental health yesterday – and I recommend it to everyone!

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Waterstones   Amazon.co.uk

In Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Jenny Lawson regaled readers with uproarious stories of her bizarre childhood. In her new book, Furiously Happy, she explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. And terrible ideas are what Jenny does best.

As Jenny says: ‘You can’t experience pain without also experiencing the baffling and ridiculous moments of being fiercely, unapologetically, intensely and (above all) furiously happy.’ It’s a philosophy that has – quite literally – saved her life.

Jenny’s first book, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, was ostensibly about family, but deep down it was about celebrating your own weirdness. Furiously Happy is a book about mental illness, but under the surface it’s about embracing joy in fantastic and outrageous ways. And who doesn’t need a bit more of that?

I’m a huge fan of Jenny Lawson’s blog ‘The Bloggess’ which has had me laughing and crying on many occasions. I also adored her first book ‘Let’s Pretend This Never Happened’, so I was so excited to read her second book.

Jenny is breathtakingly and beautifully honest about her mental health issues. She has crippling depression and anxiety, and, on top of this, also has to contend with problems with her physical health.  I’ve read a lot of books about these issues, but never have I read an author as inspiring, as honest and open and as terribly, horribly funny as Jenny Lawson.

This book focuses more on mental illness than the first book, but is no less hilarious for that. Jenny writes about her struggles with disarming honesty, the effects it has had on her life, her career and her family. She clearly adores her family,  but they don’t escape her unusual sense of humour. The arguments she has with husband Victor are a highlight of the book, as Jenny often goes off on a tangent that Victor finds increasingly difficult and frustrating to follow. But her love for him and his for her is touchingly shown when she tells him his life would be easier without her.

“It might be easier,” he replies. “But it wouldn’t be better.”

A brief run through of some of the chapter titles tells you most of what you need to know about this book:

‘George Washington’s Dildo’

‘LOOK AT THIS GIRAFFE’

‘Death by Swans Is Not as Glamorous as You’d Expect’

and

‘Cat Lamination’

are a few of my particular favourites.

While the book is very, very funny, it’s also very, very emotional to read, at least it was for me. Jenny’s mental health issues mean that she often can’t function, that she hides in hotel rooms when she’s supposed to be promoting her work, that she often feels like a failure because she can’t cope with the things other mothers seem to excel at, like PTA meetings. But she’s determined that when she feels fine, that when she can face life, that she will really live, that she will be ‘furiously happy’. She understands that there’s a flip side to the extreme emotions that depression brings – that she has the ability to also experience extreme joy, and she’s determined that she will have a storeroom of memories for those dark times, filled with moments

‘of tightrope walking, snorkelling in long-forgotten caves, and running barefoot through cemeteries with a red ball gown trailing behind me.’

As she says, it’s not just about saving her life, it’s about making her life.

Despite great breakthroughs in recent years, mental illness still carries a stigma. But sufferers are no more to blame for their illness than people with cancer, or MS or anything. Jenny’s writing humanises mental illness. She isn’t ashamed, and neither should anyone else be. The epilogue, ‘Deep in the Trenches’ made me cry. It’s the most touching, insightful, compassionate and beautiful piece of writing I’ve ever read about living with mental illness, or helping someone you love to live and to live fully.

And I’ll always be grateful for the very clever, but characteristically quirky, ‘spoons’ analogy. I read this part of the book at exactly the right time, and it really helped with a situation where someone I love really didn’t have enough spoons. Read it – you’ll get it, and it might help you too.

I love this book, and if I could give it more stars I would. Yes, it’s incredibly funny, but it also says something extremely important. If you have mental health issues, or care for someone who does, please, please read this.

5 stars

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‘Furiously Happy’ by Jenny Lawson #TuesdayBookBlog #BookReview

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Amazon.co.uk   Amazon.com

For fans of David Sedaris, Tina Fey and Caitlin Moran comes the new book from Jenny Lawson, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Let’s Pretend This Never Happened…

In Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Jenny Lawson regaled readers with uproarious stories of her bizarre childhood. In her new book, Furiously Happy, she explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. And terrible ideas are what Jenny does best.

As Jenny says: ‘You can’t experience pain without also experiencing the baffling and ridiculous moments of being fiercely, unapologetically, intensely and (above all) furiously happy.’ It’s a philosophy that has – quite literally – saved her life.

Jenny’s first book, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, was ostensibly about family, but deep down it was about celebrating your own weirdness. Furiously Happy is a book about mental illness, but under the surface it’s about embracing joy in fantastic and outrageous ways. And who doesn’t need a bit more of that?

I’m a huge fan of Jenny Lawson’s blog ‘The Bloggess’ which has had me laughing and crying on many occasions. I also adored her first book ‘Let’s Pretend This Never Happened’, so I was so excited to read her second book.

Jenny is breathtakingly and beautifully honest about her mental health issues. She has crippling depression and anxiety, and , on top of this, also has to contend with problems with her physical health. As someone with OCD and as the mother of a (now adult) son with generalised anxiety disorder and OCD, I’ve read a lot of books about these issues, but never have I read an author as inspiring, as honest and open and as terribly, horribly funny as Jenny Lawson.

This book focuses more on mental illness than the first book, but is no less hilarious for that. Jenny writes about her struggles with disarming honesty, the effects it has had on her life, her career and her family. She clearly adores her family,  but they don’t escape her unusual sense of humour. The arguments she has with husband Victor are a highlight of the book, as Jenny often goes off on a tangent that Victor finds increasingly difficult and frustrating to follow. But her love for him and his for her is touchingly shown when she tells him his life would be easier without her.

“It might be easier,” he replies. “But it wouldn’t be better.”

A brief run through of some of the chapter titles tells you most of what you need to know about this book:

‘George Washington’s Dildo’

‘LOOK AT THIS GIRAFFE’

‘Death by Swans Is Not as Glamorous as You’d Expect’

and

‘Cat Lamination’

are a few of my particular favourites.

While the book is very, very funny, it’s also very, very emotional to read, at least it was for me. Jenny’s mental health issues mean that she often can’t function, that she hides in hotel rooms when she’s supposed to be promoting her work, that she often feels like a failure because she can’t cope with the things other mothers seem to excel at, like PTA meetings. But she’s determined that when she feels fine, that when she can face life, that she will really live, that she will be ‘furiously happy’. She understands that there’s a flip side to the extreme emotions that depression brings – that she has the ability to also experience extreme joy, and she’s determined that she will have a storeroom of memories for those dark times, filled with moments

‘of tightrope walking, snorkelling in long-forgotten caves, and running barefoot through cemeteries with a red ball gown trailing behind me.’

As she says, it’s not just about saving her life, it’s about making her life.

Despite great breakthroughs in recent years, mental illness still carries a stigma. But sufferers are no more to blame for their illness than people with cancer, or MS or anything. Jenny’s writing humanises mental illness. She isn’t ashamed, and neither should anyone else be. The epilogue, ‘Deep in the Trenches’ made me cry. It’s the most touching, insightful, compassionate and beautiful piece of writing I’ve ever read about living with mental illness, or helping someone you love to live and to live fully.

And I’ll always be grateful for the very clever, but characteristically quirky, ‘spoons’ analogy. I read this part of the book at exactly the right time, and it really helped with a situation where someone I love really didn’t have enough spoons. Read it – you’ll get it, and it might help you too.

I love this book, and if I could give it more stars I would. Yes, it’s incredibly funny, but it also says something extremely important. If you have mental health issues, or care for someone who does, please, please read this.

5 stars

My A-Z of Books #IAmReading #wwwblogs

Bookshelf-2

I first saw on the lovely Shelley Wilson’s blog, although the idea originally came from the Perpetual Page Turner. As my Wednesday posts have been rather ‘ranty’ of late, I thought it was time for something a bit more positive!

Author you’ve read the most books from.

Either Hilary Mantel or Stephen King – which is a bit of a contrast now I come to think of it! Although they are both exceptional story tellers. I’ve also read a lot of books by Terry Tyler – her novels are pure ‘get away from it all’ reads, perfect for a holiday and a rare quiet Sunday afternoon.

Best sequel ever.

‘Bring Up the Bodies’ the sequel to ‘Wolf Hall’. Hilary Mantel again.

She’s an amazing writer, and I was lucky enough to see her being interviewed once. She’s incredibly intelligent and charming.

 

Hilary.jpg

Me and Hilary!

Currently reading.

‘Last Exit to Brooklyn’ by Hubert Selby Jr. I’m trying to complete the David Bowie reading challenge and there are so many books on the list that I’ve always wanted to read. So far this is … interesting! last-exit

Drink of choice while reading.

A mug of very strong coffee if I’m lucky enough to be having a lie in and am reading in bed on a Sunday morning. Or a very large glass of red wine if it’s past 6pm. Oh alright, past 5pm.

coffee

E-Reader of physical book?

Both. I was very resistant to eBooks but then once I realised I could takes hundreds of books on holiday with me without exceeding the baggage allowance I was sold.

Fictional character you probably would have actually dated in high school.

There was definitely no one like Heathcliff in my Basingstoke comprehensive.

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No one looked anything like this at Brighton Hill Community school!

Glad you gave this book a chance.

‘Beltane’ by Alys West, for Rosie’s Book Review Team. I’m not keen on fantasy, but thought I’d give this a go, mainly because it’s set in Glastonbury, a place I’ve enjoyed visiting in the past. It’s a really good book, very well-written and lovely for a bit of escapism.

Hidden gem book.

‘The Meadow’ – James Galvin.

While Galvin certainly isn’t an unknown, I had never read any of his work until this appeared on my required reading list for my Masters in Creative Writing. I duly bought it and read it and it was then removed from the course! But I didn’t mind because it is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read.


meadow

Important moment in your reading life.

Reading ‘Wuthering Heights’ for the first time. I know it sounds clichéd but it really made me realise just how powerful fiction can be. And that you don’t have to write what you know.

Also reading with my children when they were small – just wonderful times.

Just finished reading.

‘Flesh’ by Dylan J. Morgan for Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team. It’s in the vein of Stephen King and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I do like a good bit of horror!

Kind of books you won’t read.

Religious. Sweet romance. Westerns (unless it’s Larry McMurtry’s ‘Lonesome Dove’). Not too keen on fantasy or sci-fi either unless it’s extremely well-written. And please keep ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ well away from me. I much prefer this version:

50 grey

Longest book you’ve read.

War and Peace’. I still show off about it. It is absolutely a masterpiece though.

Major book hangover.

A Thousand Splendid Suns’ by Khaled Hosseini. I read it in one sitting when I was in bed with flu and sobbed and sobbed when I finished it. Just completely and utterly heart-breaking. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

a-thousand-splendid-suns

Number of bookcases you own.

Two. With many more books piled up everywhere and stashed in the loft.

One book you’ve read multiple times.

Wuthering Heights

Preferred place to read.

In bed if it’s cold, in the garden on the rare occasion when it isn’t. Or preferably by a pool in France!

Quote that inspires you/give you all the feels from a book you’ve read.

It’s not exactly inspirational in the usual sense, but it is just such a masterful opening to a novel:

 Putney, 1500

“So now get up.”

Felled, dazed, silent, he has fallen; knocked full length on the cobbles of the yard. His head turns sideways; his eyes are turned toward the gate, as if someone might arrive to help him out. One blow, properly placed, could kill him now.

Blood from the gash on his head – which was his father’s first effort – is trickling across his face. Add to this, his left eye is blinded; but if he squints sideways, with his right eye he can see that the stitching of his father’s boot is unravelling. The twine has sprung clear of the leather, and a hard knot in it as caught his eyebrow and opened up another cut.

“So now get up!” Walter is roaring down at him, working out where to kick him next.

 (Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel)

And from ‘Wuthering Heights’:

“Oh, God! It is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!” 

Reading regret.

Being scared to read the classics when I was younger. I suppose I felt that they weren’t really for me, that they were something to read for an exam. Now I have less time to get through them all!

Series you started and need to finish.

I don’t really like reading a series. Too much commitment – too little time.

Three of your all-time favourite books.

A Place of Greater Safety (imho the best Hilary Mantel novel)

Wuthering Heights

To Kill a Mockingbird

(I’m going to cheat here though because I can’t possibly leave out Alice Walker’s completely wonderful ‘The Color Purple‘.)

Unapologetic fangirl book.

‘Life After Life’ by Kate Atkinson. I read this on holiday, lying in the sun buy the pool in France. It was completely and utterly absorbing. I can’t believe some of the reviews – it’s as if these people have read a different book.


life after life

Very excited for this release more than all others.

‘The Mirror and the Light’ – the sequel to ‘Bring Up the Bodies’ by Hilary Mantel.

Worst bookish habit.

Not really listening to anyone when I’m reading, just nodding and saying ‘mmm’ in a vague way, even when someone’s trying to tell me something important.

Dropping bookmarks in the bath.

X marks the spot: Start on the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book.

Another Bronte.  Charlotte this time and ‘Jane Eyre’. I’m not pretentious (honestly) it just so happens that I have all the classics that I own lined up on the bookshelf together.

Your latest purchase.

‘Furiously Happy’ by Jenny Lawson. She’s just absolutely brilliant, hilarious and really inspiring.

I read ‘Let’s Pretend This Never Happened’ recently and adored it. Can’t wait to start this one.

The lovely Jenny Lawson

You can read her blog here.

Zzzz-snatcher book (Las book that kept you up way too late).

‘Chasing the Scream’ by Johann Hari about the so-called war on drugs. Stunning and scary and should be compulsory reading. I hate the cliché but I really couldn’t put it down.

So there you have it, my A-Z of books.

 

 

‘Let’s Pretend This Never Happened’ by Jenny Lawson #BookReview #TuesdayBookBlog

Have you ever embarrassed yourself so badly you thought you’d never get over it?

Have you ever wished your family could be just like everyone else’s?

Have you ever been followed to school by your father’s herd of turkeys, mistaken a marriage proposal for an attempted murder or got your arm stuck inside a cow? OK, maybe that’s just Jenny Lawson . . .

The bestselling memoir from one of America’s most outlandishly hilarious writers.

jenny

Amazon.co.uk Amazon.com

I bought this after reading a review for Lawson’s second book ‘Furiously Happy’. I was intrigued by the review and started to follow Lawson’s blog ‘The Bloggess’ -which is quirky, weird and hilariously funny. Lawson suffers from OCD and generalised anxiety disorder, both mental health issues with which I have personal experience. I also noticed a testimonial on the cover from Caitlin Moran. I adore Caitlin Moran so knew that I had to read this.

The book tells the story of Lawson’s rather unconventional upbringing – I won’t spoil it but it involves all the usual horrors and embarrassments of growing up made a thousand times worse by taxidermy, unfortunate accidents involving dead animals, an incredibly embarrassing father with a penchant for bringing home anything he finds alive or dead by the roadside, anxiety attacks and a memorable occasion involving an arm and a cow’s vagina.

It is, and I hate this term, genuinely laugh out loud funny in parts. But while Lawson is hilarious, she is also self-aware. The book goes on to detail Lawson’s relationship with the long-suffering Victor, their marriage and their attempts at conceiving. Lawson manages to avoid sentimentality and her honesty is refreshing. One minute you’re laughing out loud at the notes she leaves on the fridge threatening to poison Victor because he’s left a towel on the floor, the next you’re crying with her (and it really feels as though you’re with her) as she suffers another setback.

She’s real, she’s human and she’s a fabulous writer.

This book is for everyone who isn’t normal (and isn’t that most of us to some extent?).

Embrace your weirdness – and do read this book.

5 stars