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 #77: Everyday Sexism

Laura Bates, Everyday Sexism, 2014, 384p

This book has been on my radar since I started following Bates’ Twitter account of the same name. This was around the time I became an angry lady (see How To Be a Woman for more deets about my anger).

I’m a young (ish) gal who takes transit, works with the public, and is an avid pedestrian. I am sick and tired of hearing comments about my body, sexuality or my marital status. I am done with people questioning my knowledge because of my so-called lady brain. Obviously I can’t troubleshoot your device because I have a vagina. (PS. This is my job and I don’t use my labia to type. Pffft).

It continues to blow my mind how rampant sexism STILL IS. It’s 2016! The stats and testimonials in Bates’ book will leave you feeling sad, angry, and disgusted with society.

This book is great. The Twitter account is also fantastic (Check it here: Everyday Sexism).

 

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 #72: The Autistic Brain

Temple Grandin, The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum, (2013), 206p

This was a book club pick. Would I have ever picked this up on my own? No way, no how. Did I learn a few things? You betcha.

Grandin weaves her personal experiences and thought processes with current scientific studies and discoveries to paint a picture of how autistic brains work. She touches on, amongst many things, the sensory sensitivities and stigma faced by those with autism.

What I found very humbling was Grandin’s acknowledgement (with her vast knowledge and expertise) that she too makes assumptions based on her persona experiences and feelings. She assumed that because, as an autistic, she felt/said/thought things in one way that every other person with autism did too. I also love that she is first in line for any new technological  advancement to learn more about the disorder.

I’ll admit I was quite ignorant about autism before reading this book and feel slightly less ignorant after completing it. Interesting read that I never would have picked up unless I was forced to. My job is really tough, guys. 🙂

 

 

Book #55: The Condo Bible for Canadians

Dan S. Barnabic, The Condo Bible for Canadians: Everything you Must Know Before and After Buying a Condo, (2013), 198p

I am a perpetual knowledge seeker. People may think that I wildly and boldly make crazy. rash decisions. While it may appear that way, it’s truly not the case. I spend hours and days and weeks painstakingly obsessing and researching things before I truly commit to them. I have dubbed this my “one track mind” phase.

So, when I brought up the idea to my partner of MAYBE buying a condo, it wasn’t thought up at that exact moment. It was thought up years ago. I’ve been secretly gathering knowledge on condos, real estate, mortgages, etc. for quite a long time.

When it is officially brought to the forefront, then I bring out the big guns. The books. Like this one.

When I make a decision –  like buying a condo, getting a dog, teaching myself how to paint, investing in RRSPs, managing my anxiety – I always turn to my best friends: good old fashioned books. I painstakingly search my library catalog and Good Reads and Amazon and Pinterest and Google for the best sources, then I request like 20 books, and narrow it down to like 3 to peruse.

I’m sad that this particular book was one of the ones I decided to peruse. Barnabic starts off with his Ten Commandments of Condo Buying, which I found informative and useful. Then, he proceeds to essentially beat you over the head with all of the reasons why no one should buy a condo, how condos suck the money out of you, and why you should just save for the rest of your life to buy a house, because why the HELL would you want to buy a condo?!?

I realize that I am incredibly optimistic. I enjoy that about myself. But Barnabic is a big old grouch pot. Realistically, living in an urban center, buying a house is not feasible for my partner and I because we would be stuck out in suburbia, it would take me 3 hours to get any where by transit, and we would still have a huge house and yard to upkeep. I LOVE living centrally in the city, within walking distance to some of my favourite places. I am willing to give up a backyard for quick transit options.

What I was hoping for with this book was both sides of the condo owning coin, not a cautionary tale about how condos are essentially hell.

2015 Reading Challenge: a non-fiction book

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 #50: Down and Out in Paris and London

George Orwell, Down and Out in Paris and London, (1933), 230p

After my last blog where I essentially ranted about book clubs and how they stifle your reading choices – I have to say I lucked out this time.

Back on December 30, 2013 (yes I have the exact date – I added it to a library list :)) a patron and I got to talking about books. I typically chat people’s ears off, but is both a strength and a flaw of mine – some people hate me, some people love me. We were talking about classic books. He mentioned how rad Down and Out was. So I added it to my list. And it has sat there every since.

Until the fateful day where my book club picked it as a choice. All of the woots.

Down and Out in Paris and London is apparently an autobiographical tale of Orwell’s time living amongst the downtrodden in, you guessed it, Paris and London. He worked as a plongeur in deplorable conditions, lived off scraps and cigarette butts, and slept amid bugs of all sorts. By living alongside the tramps, he meets some interesting folks.

So, I adored this book. I have only read the big Orwellian novels – 1984 and Animal Farm. To me, this was a simpler, basic read. I loved his down-to-earth tone and descriptions. It came across as a diary entry or a conversation with a pal over coffee. To be honest, I can see far too many similarities between then and now. Poverty is clearly still around. The way we treat our downtrodden is so similar that it breaks my heart.

So my book club hit a home-run with this pick.

2015 Reading Challenge: A book at the bottom of your to-read list