Book #80: Furiously Happy

Jenny Lawson, Furiously Happy, 2015, 329p

I adore Jenny Lawson. Her frank candidness about her mental health struggles is reassuring. It’s okay to not be okay. It’s to struggle and fall back down and cry and fail. The more people I see sharing and telling their stories make me feel less alone. Mental health disorders are isolating and exhausting. I am about two years post-diagnosis and I’m still pretty fucked up about it all.

I struggle with anxiety. My official diagnosis is Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which in a nutshell means I worry about everything everyday and always. Normal things –  like driving a car, going to the doctor’s, being late, and saying the wrong thing, – overwhelm and consume me. I lay awake at night and plan how I would get out of my house if there was a fire. I worry that my dog is unhappy. I think everyone hates me.  My relationships and friendships are affected. My overall health and well being are affected. It is not fun living in my head (or living with me).

We caught glimpses of this side of Lawson in Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. That book was FAR more hilarious than this one. This one had it’s moment, but for me it was more powerful, because the struggle is real.

Her advice to succeed at anything: Pretend You’re Good At It. I heed this advice. Everyday. I pretend I’m good at life. Not overwhelmed or anxious or drowning.

This book hit really close to home for me. Read it. Love it. Cry about it.

Book #74: Why Not Me?

Mindy Kaling, Why Not Me?, (2015), 228p

Mindy Kaling is my spirit animal. Sassy, witty, pop culture addict, and will never turn down food. Me to a tee. Ha!

I really, really liked Kaling’s previous book, Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me? So when I heard the she had done it again, I had to get my little paws on it.

Mindy regales us with tales we can relate to: losing friends, trying to lose weight while really changing nothing about our lives, and fangirling over celebrities. My favourite essay? Her quirky, nerdy, lovely tale of her friendship with Office alum, BJ Novak. Also a fave was her list of how her and her sitcom persona, Mindy Lahiri, are twins and enemies.

While not as crass as Chelsea Handler or as open about her head stuff as Jenny Lawson, I dig Mindy.

Like honestly, she needs to be my bestie, so then we can both proclaim ‘whoa’ at both hot guys AND hot pizza. Cause hot damn, I do love me some of both.

Book #53: Not That Kind of Girl

Lena Dunham, Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned”, (2014), 265p

I adore Girls. Honestly, it took me a while to get into the series – considering it was touted as the new Sex and the City which it is clearly not! But now I love it. I hate most of the characters, except for Adam and Shoshanna. Yet I am hooked. The season four finale made me cry my face off – a first for that show.

So of course I had to read Dunham’s book.

She regales us with essays told throughout her life – coming of age, becoming a sister, falling in love, falling out of love, sex, food, death. Nothing is off limits.

I have found that there are very mixed reviews about this one. Some absolutely HATE this book, some LOVE it. I think I fit somewhere in the middle. I appreciated Dunham’s honesty. She is a witty, honest writer. Did I have the same upbringing as her? Hells no. But that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate her prose. Her candidness about her mental health issues is encouraging. Yes, she is a privileged, white girl – but that doesn’t mean we have to discount her struggles or her story. If you hate her, then don’t read it. There are plenty of other books on the shelves.

It made me laugh. It made me cringe. It made me gush at her love for Jack.

2015 Reading Challenge: a book written by someone under 30

Book #47: Yes Please

Amy Poehler, Yes Please, (2014), 329p

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really, really, really like funny ladies. I love that there are so many wonderfully beautiful, hilarious, ballsy women out there for me to aspire to be. Amy Poehler is definitely on this list.

I will also be honest and say that I have never seen Parks and Rec. Yes, I’m horrible, and yes, I need to get on it. But that being said, I didn’t love this book any less BECAUSE I’m a failure at watching really funny television shows.

Poehler recounts her childhood, her first attempts at comedy, her love affair with Tina Fey, her marriage (and in turn, her divorce), and her life with kids. All this with hilarious pictures, guest cameos by the likes of Seth Meyers, and random colourful (in more ways than one!) quotes. It was cute and funny and exactly what I needed.

Wow. That was a short review. But seriously, don’t let the lack of words dissuade you. Read this book. But beware, it’s seriously heavier (physically) than you would think. That’s some high quality paper, Poehler.

2015 Reading Challenge: a memoir 🙂

Book #45: Shake Hands With the Devil

Romeo Dallaire, Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda, (2003), 562p

It has taken me twenty odd years of reading to be able to define why I read.

I read to escape.  I read to entertain myself, escape from reality, and maybe unwind a bit. So, reading dark and harrowing non-fiction tales grate on me. I don’t really read to inform myself or for historical reasons.

I think that is one of the reasons I have had such a hard time finishing this book for my book club meeting on Friday. It haunts me. It is not a book I look forward to picking up before bedtime, in fear of nightmares. Yes, these horrible things happened. And yes, we need to know what happened in hopes of NEVER repeating such atrocities. But this is not a feel good, bedtime read.

But I finished it.

I’m really not going to go into many details about it. It’s sad and heartbreaking, told through such intense academic language with countless names and military terminology. Thank goodness for the glossary at the back. I’m just going to sum this book up by saying that the world as a whole failed the Rwandan people. Badly. And are we really learning from our mistakes? Likely not.

Yes, this is a Debbie Downer post, but it was a Debbie Downer book. I was in a mental slump for nearly two weeks as I was reading this book. That’s how long it took me to read it because it was so content dense and I had to be careful when I read it.

2015 Reading Challenge: this could be classified as so many. But it shall be called “a book set in a different country”.

Book #37: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened

Jenny Lawson, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir), (2012), 318p

Never, ever, ever read this book on a plane. No, seriously. You will burst into obscene, hilarious laughter, then realize what you are doing, then try to stifle and choke back the laughter which makes you look and sound even more ridiculous.

That being said, please do read this book everywhere else. It’s seriously that good.

I had seen this book kicking around for quite a while, because honestly the cover is so freaking cute – how could I NOT notice it? I wanted a funny read for my trip home to see my family. This was a nice reminder that there are families even more dysfunctional than mine 🙂

Jenny Lawson had a typical childhood – if typical childhood’s consisted of incredible amounts of creepy taxidermy and bread bag shoes. Written about in a hilarious fashion.

Please read this book, if only for the bobcat-boyfriend story which is what made me choke on laughter 38,000ft in the air.

I seriously don’t want to give anything else away. Please read this book. And Caitlin Moran’s How to be a Woman too, if my previous blog post hadn’t already convinced you. Then we can chat about it and be best friends.

Happy reading –
Laurie 🙂

Did Not Finish #1: Running with Scissors

Augusten Burroughs, Running with Scissors, (2002), 304p — I made it to 181p

I tried. I really, really tried. But I just couldn’t do it.

This is a book club pick for my work book club. I had heard it was interesting, I knew it was dark, but I was not ready for this. It was too much.

Back to back chapters of poop and spit pushed me over the edge and left me gagging.

I gave up. Failed. Now I’m picking myself back up and moving onto the next book.

Happy reading –
Laurie 🙂