First published in 2015
My rating: 5 out of 5
Image from Goodreads
The Short Of It:
This book was awesome and it has an ecstatically happy taxidermied raccoon on the front. You can't go wrong.
The Long Of It:
I picked up Jenny Lawson's first book, "Let's Pretend This Never Happened," back in 2012 and I still say it's the funniest book I've ever read. Jenny had a lot to live up to with her second memoir, but she did not disappoint.
"Let's Pretend" was full of hilarious and bizarre anecdotes about Jenny's childhood in rural west Texas, meeting her husband, and having their daughter. It had a few poignant moments, but mostly it was just really freakin' funny.
"Furiously Happy" is written with the same relatable voice, self-deprecating humor, laugh-out-loud moments and wacky stories (like wearing a koala suit to take a picture with a koala in Australia and "midnight cat rodeos" featuring Rocky the raccoon and some very patient cats), but it has a lot more meaning than its predecessor because it deals with mental illness -- what it's like to have it, and the stigma and misconceptions surrounding it.
Jenny suffers from severe depression and anxiety, complicated by other physical and mental health issues, and this book is about the "furiously happy" philosophy that Jenny uses to cope with her illness -- and even to twist it in a way that it enhances her life and fosters beautiful moments that she would otherwise not experience.
One of Jenny's main messages, which applies to each and every one of us, is that one person's happinesses, joys and victories are not another's -- and that's how it should be. It's ok to be you -- whoever you are, whatever drives you, and whatever flaws you have. I particularly liked this quote:
"You learn to appreciate the fat that what drives you is very different from what you're told should make you happy. You learn that it's okay to prefer your personal idea of heaven (live-tweeting zombie movies from under a blanket of kittens) rather than someone else's idea that fame/fortune/parties are the pinnacle we should all reach for. And there's something surprisingly freeing about that."
And this one, which I wrote down in my quote notebook for when my social anxiety tries to get the best of me:
"Sometimes you have to force yourself to leave your house even though every introverted bone in your body wants to secede and make you into a human jellyfish. But I pushed through. And it was amazing. And horrifying. And back to amazing. And weird. And baffling. And fantastic."
Jenny's book should be required reading for everyone. If you battle mental illness, this book will reassure you that you are most definitely not alone. And if you don't, you'll still see some of yourself in Jenny. And "Furiously Happy" will give you so much insight on what it's like to live with depression and anxiety. I know that I've come away from it with much more compassion and understanding for the people I've met who suffer from a mental illness.
"Furiously Happy" is a a supremely personal, honest, soul-laid-bare book full of insight, all wrapped up in a very funny bow. If you haven't read anything by Lawson yet, you're missing out!