Book of the week: Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson
This “funny book about horrible things” tackles mental illness
CliffsNotes: Bestselling and wickedly funny American author Jenny Lawson (aka The Bloggess) tackles mental illness with her sophomore book, and a collection of essays. She describes herself as “a high-functioning depressive with anxiety disorder and mild-self harm issues,” even if the title of the book made you think otherwise. Lawson goes from laugh-out-loud funny to startlingly dark in her attempt to be “TO BE FURIOUSLY HAPPY, OUT OF SHEER SPITE”. (PS: It’s also Neil Gaiman-approved.)
Get a taste: Where Lawson introduces you to a laundry list of her issues.
“According to the many shrinks I’ve seen in the last two decades I am a high-functioning depressive with severe anxiety disorder, moderate clinical depression, and mild self-harm issues that stem from an impulse-control disorder. I have avoidant personality disorder (which is like social anxiety disorder on speed) and occasional depersonalization disorder (which makes me feel utterly detached from reality, but in less of a “this LSD is awesome” kind of a way and more of a “I wonder what my face is doing right now” and “It sure would be nice to feel emotions again” sort of thing). I have rheumatoid arthritis and auto-immune issues. And, sprinkled in like paprika over a mentally unbalanced deviled egg, are things like mild OCD and trichotillomania—the urge to pull one’s hair out— which is always nice to end on, because whenever people hear the word “mania” they automatically back oﬀ and give you more room on crowded airplanes. Probably because you’re not supposed to talk about having manias when you’re on a crowded airplane. This is one of the reasons why my husband, Victor, hates to fly with me. The other reason is I often fly with taxidermied creatures as anxiety service animals. Basically we don’t travel a lot together because he doesn’t understand awesomeness.”
Author 101: Lawson made #1 on the New York Times bestselling list, with her refreshingly honest debut, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir. (That’s where we meet her kooky family from Texas.) For more helpings of her sardonic wit you can visit The Bloggess, which is full of random yet uniquely interesting slices from her day: “I just looked up 20th anniversary wedding gifts and the suggested gifts were “a mug” or “a trip to china”, which seems pretty disparate.” Or that time she weighed in on Facebook’s new algorithms, suggesting they invest in new labels, such as:
- Angry about a satirical news item that I think is real.
- Obligatory prayers to whatever crisis is going on because I feel helpless and it’s the only thing I can do.
- Actual action items that can help whatever crisis is going on but will probably not make your newsfeed because I’m not as popular as other people you’re following who are just offering obligatory prayers.
Similar reads: The Gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee, Bossypants by Tina Fey, Dress Your Family In Corduroy And Denim by David Sedaris.
Furiously Happy (Pan Macmillan) is out now