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Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things Hardcover – September 22, 2015
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The Amazon Book Review
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An Amazon Best Book of September 2015: Jenny Lawson follows up her marvelous debut Let’s Pretend This Never Happened with her determination to be furiously happy: she will seize the strangest and most glorious moments of her life while she stares down her depression, severe anxiety, avoidant personality disorder, and much more—and dares it to stop her. Furiously Happy is not only a battle cry but a delirious seesaw of a memoir. One moment you swoop upward as Lawson relates her attempts to hold a koala in Australia while wearing a koala costume and explains her quirky love for taxidermied animals (who must be dead from natural causes only), and you’re giggling like a three-year-old. Then your stomach drops like an artillery shell when Lawson exposes the dark side of her mental illnesses: trying not to cut herself and holing up in her bedroom for days on end. The ups and downs make this a difficult book to read all in one go. However, Lawson uses both her hilarious and heartbreaking episodes to camouflage so many life lessons and biting observations. (A poignant example: when cancer victims don’t respond to medication, no one blames the cancer victim; people with mental illness don’t get the same respect.) This is a book you’ll want to savor. Whether or not you too suffer from depression, you’ll turn the last page fired up by Lawson’s conviction that you can be furiously happy no matter what life hurls at you.--Adrian Liang
“Jenny made me laugh so hard I feared for my safety! I think that's how she was able to get past my defenses and make me feel more okay about myself.” ―Allie Brosh, author of Hyperbole and a Half
“You'll laugh, wince, writhe in discomfort, cry, then laugh again. You might even feel the need to buy a raccoon. But the two things you'll never do is doubt Jenny's brilliance or her fearlessness when it comes to having honest discussions about mental illness, shame, and the power of human resilience. She's changing the conversation one rented sloth at a time.” ―Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW, author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller, Daring Greatly
“I freaked strangers out by snort-laughing on the subway and in restaurants. I can't stop talking about this book to friends. I'll shut up now and let you resume your life but buy this book. It's AMAZING.” ―Paul Fischer, author of A Kim Jong-Il Production
“The Bloggess writes stuff that actually is laugh-out-loud, but you know that really you shouldn't be laughing and probably you'll go to hell for laughing, so maybe you shouldn't read it. That would be safer and wiser.” ―Neil Gaiman
“Even when I was funny, I wasn't this funny.” ―Augusten Burroughs, author of Running with Scissors and This Is How
“Lawson's self-deprecating humor is not only gaspingly funny and wonderfully inappropriate; it allows her to speak...in a real and raw way.” ―O, The Oprah Magazine
“[Lawson] writes with a rambling irreverence that makes you wish she were your best friend.” ―Entertainment Weekly
“Take one part David Sedaris and two parts Chelsea Handler and you'll have some inkling of the cockeyed humor of Jenny Lawson...[She] flaunts the sort of fearless comedic chops that will make you spurt Diet Coke through your nose.” ―Parade
Top Customer Reviews
It would have been completely understandable if she had caved to expectations and written another light-hearted collection of anecdotes. But Jenny is her own person and uniquely connected and attuned to her online audience so this book is a departure. In her latest book she shares quite openly the struggles she faces with various forms and degrees of mental illness and the world will be a better place for her stories. Anyone who struggles with their own demons will feel like someone finally "gets" them and that they've come home and found their tribe. Anyone who has a loved one facing similar struggles will gain a greater understanding of the pain and heartache experienced by those of us with brains wired in a slightly different way. This book is still a pee-your-pants belly laugh read--yet a treatise on understanding and living with mental illness in a world that is very slowly becoming more tolerant of those with beautiful minds.
Being too depressed to get out of bed is probably somewhat easier for a successful blogger/author who doesn't have a 9-5 job to go to each day. Being completely unmotivated to clean one's house due to depression is likely not that big of a problem for someone who casually mentions their maid service. Feelings of failure and loneliness/alienation maybe do not affect someone as sharply when they have a best-selling book under their belt and can text Neil Gaiman for advice when troubled. Hiding from the UPS man to avoid human contact seems like a breeze compared to forcing one's self to get up each day, drag into work, and interact with coworkers when all a person wants to do is become a hermit. Buying a house in an exclusive gated community to avoid a celebrity stalker doesn't garner much pity from someone as ordinary as myself.
I am sure the author's life contains its own set of challenges and stresses that are especially hard to battle while suffering from mental illness, and I likely am too judgemental to think that she has it easier than the average person. Perhaps I should try to view this book in a more positive light, seeing it as an inspirational message of how someone can overcome their difficulties and succeed in life in spite of depression and anxiety. However, I feel that the author humble-bragged and name-dropped a bit too much for me feel any sense of kinship or connection to a fellow sufferer of mental illness.
Also, I enjoy Jenny Lawson's blog and was very much looking forward to the book.
I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as I had hoped.
The book has funny moments and occasionally touches on some big, valuable ideas. However, I really couldn't get past the author's relationship with her husband Victor. At least in this telling, it comes off like a father and child relationship with lots of foot stamping and childish attention seeking on her part. Having mental health problems does not preclude one from all responsibility; if you're well enough to be in a relationship, you should strive to be a partner in that relationship to the best of your abilities.
A few examples:
-Your husband should not have to lock his office door to have a business-related conference call without the interruption of his wife dancing taxidermy animals around behind him on the web cam for attention.
-If you have insomnia issues, you should find ways to cope with them while respecting the sleep needs of your child (!) and spouse. They should not be woken at 3 am by the racket you make chasing the cats around to try to get funny Instagram photographs. (Mind you, this was not presented as a manic episode, but as "those sillies just don't get quirky, creative little me!")
-You might try appreciating the person who works long hours at a demanding job to support you and the child you share. The author repeatedly disses boring, old Victor for working while explaining how ludicrous it is of him to try to help her start a business. He -and her publisher who has some outlandish notion of a deadline - should come to realize that a creative spirit such as herself needs to spend her days playing and watching internet videos.
I listened to this on audiobook and found the tone even more off-putting than the text at times. The husband's every attempt to work, keep the house, or have any degree of normalcy in their life appears to makes him a killjoy fuddy-duddy to the author. Yet, it is apparently his job to come to her rescue time and time again. Page after page, there's not one ounce of gratitude or any inkling of understanding of his side of things.
I respect the author's struggles, I appreciate her humor, and I admire her honesty and willingness to put a personal story "out there" with the hopes of helping others. However, there is no illness - physical or mental - that should allow the adult bearer a free pass in regards to all personal responsibility. Living life to the fullest isn't just about joyously chasing one's own wild whims; it is also about loving and being loved, and being the best partner or parent we can for those to whom we are connected.