Book review: Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

4/5 stars.

This book is basically one big trigger warning (which I believe she even mentions herself at some point), but an important one for me: dead cats. Rest assured, there’s nothing about killing them or that sort of thing, and Jenny definitely seems to be an animal lover, but at the same time she is also totally comfortable with getting dead cats in the mail. I skipped most of that chapter because my soul started hurting. I just find it hard to fathom that a seemingly compassionate person and cat owner, albeit with a penchant for taxidermy, can just sit around and casually discuss what to do with a bunch of dead cats. *shakes head*

So, Jenny Lawson is a very strange and sometimes seemingly callous woman, but mostly she’s hilarious and even sweet. Her thoughts seem very erratic and sometimes beyond absurd. But there’s also something very recognisable about her thought process, which is what makes it so funny.

For instance, when reading it it makes total sense that an argument that wasn’t really an argument to begin with turns into yelling about George Washington’s dildo.

What never really made sense to me throughout the book though is her marriage. I know the whole thing about opposites attract of course, but they just seem too.. Opposite. It just doesn’t seem like Victor gets her at all (and vice versa, I guess, but the book is written from Jenny’s perspective). I would think that support and understanding are quite important when you have all of the many, many issues that Jenny struggles with. But I guess she exaggerates for humorous effect.

And  it’s not like J and I are always two peas in a pod either. I’m very “floaty”, while he’s very grounded, and that generally works for us. For instance, a while ago I sent him a long, rambling message about the importance of music and how it’s life, and passion and basically the second coming and how I recently had a dream about the significance of music. All of which was a roundabout way of saying that I wanted to have my guitar fixed. His response? “OK.” In some ways this perfectly encapsulates our relationship. And I guess, if I wanted to write funny stories about us I would probably also focus on our differences.

The humour does get a little old, or maybe too silly at some point. Like Jenny deliberately misunderstanding someone (for instance when discussing a chapter of the book with a friend the friend says she should take out her vagina, obviously meaning she should take out the part of the chapter where she mentions her vagina, not literally take it out – which to me becomes a bit of a forced joke), and the spell-check bit also becomes a bit old hat after a while. Yes, when you make up words (and sometimes type real ones), the spell-checker will sometimes suggest wrong and funny things as alternatives. This is funny once, maybe twice. But I did find myself laughing out loud almost as frequently during the second half of the book, so all in all I have no complaints there.

Overall I find Jenny’s stories inspiring. She manages to be very real about some very personal things relating to anxiety and depression. And she goes out there and lives her life, furiously happy, whenever she can. Whenever she’s not having one of those weeks where she cannot manage to get out of bed. She has made me realise that I too need to go out there and be furiously happy. I need to try and fill my life with experiences and happiness where I can find it, to fill up my memory bank of good stuff, so the hard stuff gets a tiny bit easier to struggle through.


Also a small side note: something seems to be wrong with the footnotes in the Kindle edition of this book, as they all seem to end with the name of an upcoming chapter. At first I thought Jenny was just being a little extra weird by ending a totally unrelated anecdote with “LOOK AT THIS GIRAFFE”, but then (after waaay too long) I spotted a pattern. Maybe there’s a hidden meaning here, but I think it’s probably an error.


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