Book: Furiously Happy – Author: Jenny Lawson
Genre: Non-Fiction, Humor, Mental Illness, Memoir
Description from Goodreads:
In LET’S PRETEND THIS NEVER HAPPENED, Jenny Lawson baffled readers with stories about growing up the daughter of a taxidermist. In her new book, FURIOUSLY HAPPY, Jenny 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.
According to Jenny: “Some people might think that being ‘furiously happy’ is just an excuse to be stupid and irresponsible and invite a herd of kangaroos over to your house without telling your husband first because you suspect he would say no since he’s never particularly liked kangaroos. And that would be ridiculous because no one would invite a herd of kangaroos into their house. Two is the limit. I speak from personal experience. My husband says that none is the new limit. I say he should have been clearer about that before I rented all those kangaroos.”
“Most of my favorite people are dangerously fucked-up but you’d never guess because we’ve learned to bare it so honestly that it becomes the new normal. Like John Hughes wrote in The Breakfast Club, ‘We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it.’ Except go back and cross out the word ‘hiding.'”
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?
There is NO way I’m going to do this book justice, but I wanted to review it in case that might entice you to read it, even if it doesn’t seem like your normal choice for a book.
Jenny Lawson is one of the funniest writers I’ve ever come across. I stumbled across her previous book, ‘Let’s Pretend This Never Happened’, in the library a couple years ago and was intrigued enough by the tiny mouse Hamlet on the cover to pick it up. I LOVED it. Since then, I’ve been anxiously awaiting the arrival of her second book and the wait was not in vain.
This book is HILARIOUS. I literally laughed through the entire thing, which is amazing when you consider the context of some of the chapters. The text jumps from quirky taxidermy, to anxiety-induced terror, to hugging koalas dressed as a koala, to serious depression, to insignificant arguments about being attacked by swans. The pace never really stalls on one topic for too long, which allows the author to explain the serious stuff with poignancy, but also keeps the reader from falling too far down the rabbit hole and gives the overall impression of a light-hearted, but meaningful read.
I will say, if you are looking for a serious book about mental illness, this is not the book for you. There ARE chapters about it, but as I said above, the author jumps about and never focuses on one thing for too long. I personally loved that, as the discussions made me feel connected to the author (especially considering my own anxiety issues), but didn’t force me to delve so deep that I felt miserable.
Making the reader feel miserable is completely the opposite of what this book is trying to do. Trying to make readers who don’t have these issues completely understand all the intricate details of the illnesses isn’t what the book is trying to do. What the author IS trying to do is give the readers who don’t have issues a small glimpse of what those mental issues can do to someone, while still providing them a fun read, and to let the readers who do have issues know that they aren’t alone and that they should focus on the Happy Times, because they WILL come around again.
And that’s the main message of this book: Be Furiously Happy. Pack as much happy as you can into those moments of clarity. Not only does it make living more fun, but once the storm hits again, you can remember the Happy Times and know that they will return, if you can just keep yourself afloat long enough.
I don’t want to go into too much detail on the Happy Times the author talks about in her life, because that takes all the fun out of reading it. AND YOU SHOULD READ IT. RIGHT NOW. The only thing I’ll leave you with is the picture on the inside of the cover with the confirmation that it DOES happen in the book…Raccoon Cat Rodeo anyone? 😉
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened – Jenny Lawson
Hyperbole & a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, and Other Things That Happened – Allie Brosh