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Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's "Learned" Hardcover – September 30, 2014

3.5 out of 5 stars 1,526 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, October 2014: In an era where twenty-something women are told how to think, where to work, who to date, and what to wear, it’s refreshing that a voice has broken the mold to empower women to do one thing—be yourself, flaws and all. In Not That Kind of Girl, Lena Dunham takes readers on a voyage of self-discovery as she successfully navigates the often-perilous facets of womanhood, from dating and friendships to self-love and careers. Through her series of essays, Dunham shares what she’s learned on her path to self-awareness with a refreshing candor and raw honesty that emboldens readers. Her painfully-relatable stories of graduating from one-night stands with toxic men and dead-end jobs with no purpose, to loving relationships and a fulfilling career will leave you laughing, cringing, and sighing “me too.” Thoughtful, hilarious, and exquisitely-written, Dunham’s memoir is like reading your quirky big sister's diary. –Brittany Pirozzolo


“The gifted [Lena] Dunham not only writes with observant precision, but also brings a measure of perspective, nostalgia and an older person’s sort of wisdom to her portrait of her (not all that much) younger self and her world. . . . As acute and heartfelt as it is funny.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“It’s not Lena Dunham’s candor that makes me gasp. Rather, it’s her writing—which is full of surprises where you least expect them. A fine, subversive book.”—David Sedaris
“This book should be required reading for anyone who thinks they understand the experience of being a young woman in our culture. I thought I knew the author rather well, and I found many (not altogether welcome) surprises.”—Carroll Dunham
“Witty, illuminating, maddening, bracingly bleak . . . [Dunham] is a genuine artist, and a disturber of the order.”The Atlantic
“As [Lena] Dunham proves beyond a shadow of a doubt in Not That Kind of Girl, she’s not remotely at risk of offering up the same old sentimental tales we’ve read dozens of times. Dunham’s outer and inner worlds are so eccentric and distinct that every anecdote, every observation, every mundane moment of self-doubt actually feels valuable and revelatory.”The Los Angeles Review of Books
“We are forever in search of someone who will speak not only to us but for us. . . . Not That Kind of Girl is from that kind of girl: gutsy, audacious, willing to stand up and shout. And that is why Dunham is not only a voice who deserves to be heard but also one who will inspire other important voices to tell their stories too.”—Roxane Gay, Time
“I’m surprised by how successful this was. I couldn’t finish it.”—Laurie Simmons
“Always funny, sometimes wrenching, these essays are a testament to the creative wonder that is Lena Dunham.”—Judy Blume
“An offbeat and soulful declaration that Ms. Dunham can deliver on nearly any platform she chooses.”—Dwight Garner, The New York Times
“Very few women have become famous for being who they actually are, nuanced and imperfect. When honesty happens, it’s usually couched in self-ridicule or self-help. Dunham doesn’t apologize like that—she simply tells her story as if it might be interesting. The result is shocking and radical because it is utterly familiar. Not That Kind of Girl is hilarious, artful, and staggeringly intimate; I read it shivering with recognition.”—Miranda July
“Dunham’s writing is just as smart, honest, sophisticated, dangerous, luminous, and charming as her work on Girls. Reading her makes you glad to be in the world, and glad that she’s in it with you.”—George Saunders
“A lovely, touching, surprisingly sentimental portrait of a woman who, despite repeatedly baring her body and soul to audiences, remains a bit of an enigma: a young woman who sets the agenda, defies classification and seems utterly at home in her own skin.”Chicago Tribune
“A lot of us fear we don’t measure up beautywise and that we endure too much crummy treatment from men. On these topics, Dunham is funny, wise, and, yes, brave. . . . Among Dunham’s gifts to womankind is her frontline example that some asshole may call you undesirable or worse, and it won’t kill you. Your version matters more.”Elle
“[Not That Kind of Girl is] witty and wise and rife with the kind of pacing and comedic flourishes that characterize early Woody Allen books. . . . Dunham is an extraordinary talent, and her vision . . . is stunningly original.”—Meghan Daum, The New York Times Magazine
“There’s a lot of power in retelling your mistakes so people can see what’s funny about them—and so that you are in control. Dunham knows about this power, and she has harnessed it.”The Washington Post
“Dunham’s book is one of those rare examples when something hyped deserves its buzz. Those of us familiar with her wit and weirdness on HBO’s Girls will experience it in spades in these essays. . . . There are hilarious moments here—I cracked up on a crowded subway reading an essay about her childhood—and disturbing ones, too. But it’s always heartfelt and very real.”New York Post
“We are comforted, we are charmed, we leave more empowered than we came.”—NPR

“Touching, at times profound, and deeply funny . . . Dunham is expert at combining despair and humor.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Most of us live our lives desperately trying to conceal the anguishing gap between our polished, aspirational, representational selves and our real, human, deeply flawed selves. Dunham lives hers in that gap, welcomes the rest of the world into it with boundless openheartedness, and writes about it with the kind of profound self-awareness and self-compassion that invite us to inhabit our own gaps and maybe even embrace them a little bit more, anguish over them a little bit less.”—Maria Popova, Brain Pickings
“Reading this book is a pleasure. . . . [These essays] exude brilliance and insight well beyond Dunham’s twenty-eight years.”The Philadelphia Inquirer

Product Details

  • Series: Not That Kind of Girl "A young woman tells you what she's learned"
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (September 30, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081299499X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812994995
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,526 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,313 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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Before reading this book, I thought Lena Dunham could do no wrong. I love all three seasons of Girls, I've bought magazines I'd never previously read simply because she graced their covers, and I've read all of her online essays. This book is, however, too much Lena. While there are flashes of brilliance in the book, like the essays on the hard-to-define rape she suffered, the teacher who tried to sexually abuse her, and the struggles she's had with being taken seriously by male execs in Hollywood, the majority of the book is filled with musings about her life that are simply boring. I get that Lena believes that standing up and telling your story is the bravest thing anyone can do, but your story has to be interesting in order to be worthy of being published. That's where this book has gone wrong--the publisher clearly thought that anything written by Lena would be lapped up by readers. With each individual essay, her editors clearly didn't step back and ask, 'Is this really worth publishing?'. If they had, the book would be about two-thirds shorter.
The title is also misleading, as Lena does not appear to have learned very much, or rather, she doesn't take much interest in imparting her knowledge to her readers. This book has primarily taught me that Lena Dunham is excruciatingly self-obsessed and lacking virtually any self-awareness. She appears to believe that her musings on virtually anything are nothing short of brilliant, no matter how dull and irrelevant the subject matter. The reprinting of several pages of her food diary is perhaps the best illustration of this --a verbatim regurgitation of what she ate for about a week while she was allegedly on a 'diet' (it's really just a pretty standard day's eating for most people) is supposed to communicate what exactly?
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This book was a disappointment. I waited anxiously to read it, being a woman in my 20s as well and a fan of Girls. I am well aware that Dunham is not the same person as her character, Hannah. What I did not know is that she is actually worse. I hesitate to criticize this book because I agree completely with Dunham that female memoirs are so important and must be published. However, I feel that she has written a piece that could very well turn many men and women off of reading the genre entirely. The chapter where she lists food in particular, is absolutely mundane. She is both aware of her surroundings and yet completely unaware in a way that is so confusing. Sometimes her prose is beautifully observant, but it often it feels very contrived--as if she is trying as hard as she possibly can to pack as much kitschy character into each sentence. A roommate who moved out to explore "farm to fork cooking and lesbianism" is one of the many examples of this. The book is easily readable once you realize how Dunham is structuring her storytelling (seemingly unrelated paragraphs do eventually come together if you hang in there). But rather than being funny, her self-absorption and self-analysis become exhausting, like the friend that you have coffee with who never shuts up long enough so you can tell her how your day was. I balk at anyone who would say that this is the voice of the millennial generation. This is one view, which should be valued for what it is, but it is certainly not representative of the whole.
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I confess I had never heard of Lena Dunham before now; her book was recommended to me as a 'hilarious collection of personal essays' by someone who knows I love that kind of writing. So I went into this expecting great things from the writing itself, as well as great stories from someone who publishers apparently felt had something to say.

Where do you even start to describe the appalling narcissism that is this book? I realize that memoir, by its very nature, requires a fair amount of navel-gazing. But this is so self indulgent, so arrogant in its assumption that anyone could possibly care about such meaningless insights as 'dieting is hard -- here, look at what I ate for a couple of weeks' that it's hard to feel sorry for the author even when she's telling us something more substantive and painful, like 'I didn't realize I was raped because I was so drunk and high I stupidly took a guy I hated home with me rather than admit that I thought he was someone else.'

After a couple dozen pages, I became curious about this author, about why she was such a 'big deal' that she could get away with writing such garbage. And I saw that she had made her mark in television and a couple of films. Won a few awards. Did so at a young age.

And...? Nope. That's it. At the ripe old age of 28 she had 'learned' enough and accomplished enough that readers would certainly be wowed by admissions that she checked out her little sister's vagina while they were playing, or that she routinely abused drugs and alcohol and felt no shame about sleeping with anyone and everyone.

My advice, young Lena? Don't write another word about yourself for twenty-eight more years. Grow up. Think about other people as something besides bit players in The Lena Show.
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