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Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things Paperback – February 7, 2017
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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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--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
Praise for Jenny Lawson:
"We’re living in an era of bestselling books by female comedians… But Lawson’s book needs no lovable, familiar face on the front cover…She’s unapologetic, candid, outrageous, and the book reaches new levels of hilarity because of it." ―Entertainment Weekly (A)
“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
“You'll laugh, wince, writhe in discomfort, cry, then laugh again…But the two things you'll never do is doubt Jenny's brilliance or her fearlessness…She's changing the conversation one rented sloth at a time.” ―Brené Brown
“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
“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
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Her first book is a memoir of her bizarre childhood. It's presented in a comic manner and I suspect that many readers will be upset to learn that her life hasn't been non-stop laughs. Not that this one isn't wet-your-pants funny in parts, but Ms. Lawson's main goal here is to discuss her life-long battle with depression and she does so in a way that's peculiarly her own. (And sometimes just peculiar.) Mental illness is the Final Frontier of medicine and we still can't fully convinced ourselves that it's not "all in your head." Of course, it IS "all in your head" but that doesn't make it less debilitating or easier to treat. The societal costs of untreated or poorly treated mental illness in terms of suicide, unemployment or underemployment, incarceration, etc. has never been calculated. Maybe we just don't want to think about it.
This is an inside look at chronic depression from a woman who has struggled all of her life and will continue to do so. Barring a miracle cure, there are no happy endings for those with chronic depression. But there can be happy days and hours and minutes in between the misery and Jenny valiantly grabs every one of them and savors it. If you have ever suffered from depression or if you love someone who has, you should read this book.
I remember reading LET'S PRETEND and thinking that it must have been uncomfortable growing up with a father whose idea of parenting was waking his little daughters up and telling them that he had brought them a pet squirrel. The "pet" was road-kill that Dad had gutted and was using as a hand puppet. Not exactly the sort of childhood memory that makes it into the eulogy, right? But it turns out that having a taxidermist father has some advantages after all. When her stuffed road-kill raccoon suffers a Las Vegas-related accident, Pop was able to fashion new hands and feet for it. [Incidentally, road-kill isn't really a literary "theme" in these books. It's just something that Texas has a LOT of.]
This family has been given enough lemons to keep a lemonade stand going indefinitely. I admire this lady (and her wonderful husband!) more than I can say. She is a beacon of hope for those who live in the shadows. God bless her.
And I need to respond to reviews that were bitchy about the author's "luxury" of not being able to get out of bed, and what was perceived as name-dropping: Mental illness is not all created equal. I only say that because my FIRST impulse was to scold those idiots for judging a sick person by well-person rules, but then I thought that was mean. Maybe they are just less unwell. Personally, I've had days when I couldn't leave my cocoon, and there's nothing luxurious about it. It's hell. And hey, wow, a famous person knows some other famous people, who were so cool they helped her! That's name-dropping?
Maybe if you're healthy, or if you're in denial, or you're just a judgmental boob, this book won't be funny or work at all for you. I feel sorry for you, because Jenny (I feel like we're on a first-name basis now), is a kick-ass, genuine, smart, hilarious survivor you'd be blessed by if you had any sense.
But let’s start with the book. Furiously Happy is not nearly as funny as Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, but I will venture to say that it is infinitely more important. The essays in the book on mental health were so raw, so real, and so incredibly honest it was almost painful to hear her read them in the auditorium. While not as painful to read them on my own – they did have a sense of heartache surrounding them, more so when you consider that one in four Americans is affected by mental illness and there is still such shame and stigma surrounding it.
Furiously Happy starts out strong, but then as the chapters roll on it begins to fizzle out. Interspersed in the book are essays having little or nothing to do with mental illness that feel a bit forced in an attempt at levity, which admittedly, perhaps Furiously Happy needs to be bearable at all, so painful and honest are the essays concerning Lawson’s mental health.
So then there was the question and answer session and the book signing. Lawson’s presentation on stage was engaging and wonderful. The fans she attracts are… devoted, to say the least. Not that it can be blamed on Lawson, but many of the questions weren’t questions at all — they were long personal stories that I can’t imagine much of the audience cared about. However Lawson responded to each anecdote with poise and charm. Despite her anxiety issues, she is a complete pro. A memorable part of the evening was when her husband Victor called and she decided to take the call on speakerphone. Why yes I did take video of it…