The Bloggess

‘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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‘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