Saturday, December 11, 2021

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson


The first time I read this book was about six years ago. Like the author, I also have anxiety and depression, although I have it better managed now than I did at the first time I read this. That awkwardness, that feeling of being out of control (whether real or perceived), and that deluge of worst-case-scenario/totally socially inappropriate thoughts all really resonated with me at the time, as did the humor she used to cope with and make light of her situation. FURIOUSLY HAPPY was the book I needed at the time that I read it and I still think that the author is super brave for speaking up about her experiences to others who might feel the same and are just aching to relate.

This second time around, I'm quite a bit older, so the wonky, zany humor didn't quite work for me as well as it did the first time around. I actually didn't read my status updates for this before beginning, so I thought it was funny how I highlighted some of the same passages as I did the first time (it just goes to show, the more we change, the more we stay the same). This is a pretty broad collection of essays and some of the formats worked better than others. I don't really like her "stand-up" or "joke book" bits where she tries to be funny by sharing random thoughts. Her strengths are in regaling her own past antics, like the scene where she thinks she has a nurse named "Labia" because she couldn't make out the scribbled "Latoya" of the nurse operating on her, or how she went to Australia equipped with a kangaroo and a koala onesie to pose with the aforementioned animals. I just thought that was so bizarre. Ditto her apparent love of taxidermied animals, and her idea to get rid of a cat fur problem by laminating her cats (LOL, what).

What I would love to see from this author is just a bound book of photo dumps with stories and captions. Her photos were some of the best parts of this book and I wish there were more of them. I know, I know, they raise the cost of publishing and make people less likely to buy a physical copy, but oh my god. Her photos are everything. And all I want is for Jenny to go on an adventure with her camera and regale us, as if we were there, of her delightful shenanigans.

I didn't enjoy this book quite as much as I did the first time but I'm still grateful for what it gave me when I read it as a young(er) woman. Also, I laughed so hard I nearly cried at the mental image of her chasing after her cat with a pair of scissors trying to cut off the bell dangling out of its butthole from the toy it ingested and then passed through. Poor cat. Poor Jenny. Poor scissors.

3 out of 5 stars

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