Furiously Happy

Furiously Happy, A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson

You should read this book.*

If you, or anyone you know battles anxiety or depression, or if you’ve had more than your fair share of “is it just me?” moments, you should read this book. If you’re just trying to understand what some people, diagnosed with anxiety or depression go through, you should read this book. If you’re not a fan of possums, but a fan of Funyuns, you should read this book. Everyone should read this book.** Not only because I (and fellow library staff who highly recommended it) say so, but there’s this, from author Jenny Lawson’s blog, “The Bloggess”...

”FURIOUSLY HAPPY IS A #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER. I BLAME YOU FOR THIS. YOU SHOULD ORDER ONE FOR EVERYONE IN YOUR FAMILY SO THAT THEY BETTER UNDERSTAND YOU. OR SO EVERYONE THINKS YOU’RE VERY SANE AND LOGICAL BY COMPARISON.”

Although you don’t have to “order” the book because you can just borrow a copy (or multiple copies for everyone in your family!) from our library, I do recommend that you follow the author’s command, and start reading it today.

The author’s summary, from “The Bloggess”...

”For most of my life I’ve battled depression, anxiety and a host of other disorders, but I wrote this book less as a manual on how-to-survive-mental-illness and more of a compendium on how-to-thrive-in-spite-of-your-brain-being-a-real-bastard. Some of it is very serious and some of it is very funny, but I hope you’ll find that all of it is honest, baffling and relatable in ways that may make you question your own sanity.

Some people have called this my ‘magnum opus’. I don’t know what that means but it sounds very 80’s, and I like Magnum and Opus so I’m taking it as a compliment. To clarify, there are no mustachioed detectives or cartoon penguins in this book but there are other things, such as:

The time I lost both my arms in a sleeping accident.

The neighborhood swans that tried to eat me.

The day Australia refused to let me get Chlamydia even though I was wearing a protective koala costume.

Advice on how to survive the zombie apocalypse, the airport, and the zombie apocalypse at the airport.

Completely inappropriate things I’ve blurted out to fill awkward silences at my psychiatrist’s office.

But in all of these odd stories – the darkly serious and the strangely baffling – I go back to a simple truth I learned from The Breakfast Club. ‘We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it.’ I agree completely. Except go back and scratch out the word ‘hiding’.

Be bizarre. Be weird. Be proud of the uniquely beautiful way that you are broken.

Be furiously happy.”

Leave it to the author to provide a great summary, right? Also, from the book jacket (which always gives a fine description, doesn’t it?), there’s this:

“In Furiously Happy, #1 New York Times bestselling author Jenny Lawson explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea.

But terrible ideas are what Jenny does best.

As Jenny says, ‘Some people might think that being ‘furiously happy’ is just an excuse to be stupid and irresponsible and invite a herd of kangaroos over to your house without telling your husband first because you suspect he would say no since he’s never particularly liked kangaroos. And that would be ridiculous because no one would invite a herd of kangaroos into their house. Two is the limit, I speak from personal experience. My husband says that ‘none’ is the new limit. I say he should have been clearer about that before I rented all those kangaroos.

Furiously Happy is a book about embracing everything that makes us who we are - the beautiful and the flawed - and then using it to find joy in fantastic and outrageous ways. Because, as Jenny’s mom says, ‘Maybe ‘crazy’ isn’t so bad after all.’ Sometimes crazy is just right.”

From the start, reading this book felt like having a conversation with a good, although quite unique, friend. Jenny Lawson’s “Note from the Author” at the start of the book was both amusing and heartbreaking, but absolutely made me want to keep reading. The language is raw and candid, the subject matter sometimes made me squirm, but I found beautiful sentiments and laugh out loud humor that made me want to keep reading “just one more chapter” long in to the night.

Some personal favorites: when writing about both of her arms falling asleep, “I laid my head down on the rug in defeat as the pain of pins and needles flooded my arms, and wondered how often this sort of s##t happened to Hemingway.”; the entire chapter titled “Death By Swans is Not as Glamorous as You’d Expect”; and the following passage from the chapter titled “It’s All in How You Look at It (The Book of Nelda)”;

“When I look at my life I see high-water marks of happiness and I see the lower places where I had to convince myself that suicide wasn’t an answer. And in between I see my life. I see that the sadness and tragedy in my life made the euphoria and delicious ecstacy that much more sweet. I see that stretching out my soul to feel every inch of horrible depression gave me more room to grow and enjoy the beauty of life that others might not ever appreciate. I see that there is dust in the air that will eventually settle onto the floor to be swept out the door as a nuisance, but before that, for one brilliant moment I see the dust motes catch sunlight and sparkle and dance like stardust. I see the beginning and the end of all things. I see my life. It is beautifully ugly and tarnished in just the right way. It sparkles with debris. There is wonder and joy in the simplest of things. My mother was right.

It’s all in the way you look at it.”

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*Unless you find curse words upsetting, because this book is chock full of them.

**Unless you find taxidermy unsettling, because there is plenty of that in this book, too.

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