BOOK REVIEW: Furiously Happy – by Jenny Lawson

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Title: Furiously Happy
Author: Jenny Lawson
Genre: Non Fiction, Humor, Memoir
First published: September 22nd 2015
Finished reading: February 28th 2016
Pages: 329
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“Don’t make the same mistakes that everyone else makes. Make wonderful mistakes. Make the kind of mistakes that make people so shocked that they have no other choice but to be a little impressed.”

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I have been wanting to read more non fiction lately and this memoir by Jenny Lawson looked like an interesting choice. Now that I’ve read it I can say Furiously Happy is just that! If you want a good laugh, make sure to read this book. I never thought a book about mental ilness could be this funny… It truly is refreshing how Jenny Lawson openly tells us about how she tries to live with her mental ilness and I can see why her story can be inspiring to those who are in a similar situation. In this memoir funny moments are mixed with some more serious themes, but in such a way that it’s quite easy to keep reading. The pace slows down a bit in the middle (especially the part about her trip to Australia), but not enough for me to be really bothered by it. All in all it’s a really interesting and entertaining read if you are looking for something different. Just one last warning: reading it in public may cause people to look at you funny and think you lost you marbles because you might snort/giggle/laugh out loud manically while reading this book… Don’t say I didn’t warn you. 😉

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In this second memoir Jenny Lawson talks about her lifelong battle with mental illness. She decided that the best way to live with it all is to be furiously happy without limitations whenever she can. Even if that means kangaroos in her house, use her father’s taxidermist skills to have a stuffed raccoon at home, dress up her cats and other things that people might find odd. Her husband doesn’t always agree with her ideas, but it does lead to some very funny situations… Like she writes in her memoir:

“Most of my favorite people are dangerously fucked-up but you’d never guess because we’ve learned to bare it so honestly that it becomes the new normal. Like John Hughes wrote in The Breakfast Club, ‘We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it.’ Except go back and cross out the word ‘hiding.'”

Jenny Lawson shows that there can always be found a way to learn to live with mental illness and to improve quality of life. Each person is unique and has to find their own way, but being ‘furiously happy’ has helped many people during the last few years.

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First of all, I really like the way Furiously Happy is written. It doesn’t happen often that I find myself laughing out loud while I’m reading a book, but this memoir is an exception. Jenny Lawson isn’t afraid to admit the ugly and embarrassing details, and this is part of the reason why this memoir works so well. Honest, hilarious, refreshing, entertaining… If you are looking for a new way to see mental ilness, Furiously Happy is definitely recommended.

BOOK REVIEW: A Dirty Job – by Christopher Moore

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Title: A Dirty Job
Author: Christopher Moore
Genre: Humor, Fiction, Comedy
First published: March 21st 2006
Finished reading: June 6th 2014
Pages: 384
Rating 2

“Mr. Fresh looked up. “The book says if we don’t do our jobs everything could go dark, become like the Underworld. I don’t know what the Underworld is like, Mr. Asher, but I’ve caught some of the road show from there a couple of times, and I’m not interested in finding out. How ’bout you?”

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How I’ve struggled trying to make myself finish A Dirty Job… I’m not even sure how I’ve made it until the end, although I have to admit the story became better during the second half of the book. I just couldn’t get into writing style Christopher Moore chose to tell his story and it was impossible for me to symphatize with the flat and sometimes highly annoying characters. Especially the main character Charlie I just wanted to smack in the face real bad and tell him to get over himself. Which if you think about it is strange since he just lost his wife and now has to raise their newborn child by himself; enough reasons for symphathy you would say. In general I had serious problems with this book and I myself wouldn’t touch A Dirty Job again. Although I’ve heard others really enjoying this book. I guess it’s one of those reads that can go either way…

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To get an idea what the book is about, here follows a short summary without revealing too much of the supposedly hilarious plot and characters. The story starts describing our main character Charlie Asher; a Beta male, owner of a secondhand store and above all quite neurotic. He completely loses it when his wife dies and sees a tall, dark guy in her room just before. He thinks the strange man in mint green had something to do with the death of his wife, but nobody believes him. Soon strange things start to happen. Objects in his shop are starting to glow with a red light, and people seem to drop death around him. Only later he realizes he was recruited to be the new helper of Death. As the book says: ‘it’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it’.

Things become stranger and stranger when he discovers that there are ‘monsters’ living in the sewers, creatures from the underworld waiting to take over the world above and feeding on the souls Charlie has to collect. The tall dark guy turns out to be another Death helper called Minty Fresh, and explains a thing or two about the job Charlie was failing to do correctly until then. The underworld grows stronger when they can get their claws on the souls, so it is the job of the so-called Death Merchants to save the souls of the dead and dying and thereby prevent an underworld invasion which would destroy the world as they know. Various people screw up anyway and soon Charlie has to prepare himself for an epic battle with the creatures of the underworld. Soon they are fighting for the right to be Above, and to find out who is the real Luminatus…

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I know A Dirty Job was ment as a book with dark humor and  that Moore is described as an ‘American writer of absurdist fiction’. Still, the mention of a tall, dark guy with big guns called Minty Fresh and a little girl killing around with the word kitty just couldn’t make me laugh. (Although I have to admit it does sound funny when you see it without the actual context.) The way he described the two widows Mrs Ling and Mrs. Korjev was highly stereotypical. I guess Moore wanted them to sound funny (and maybe the use of ‘like bear’ was a little), but I felt that he was generalizing the Asian and Russian immigrants way more than he should have. And we’re not even talking about criticizing other religions… I know for a fact a lot of people won’t agree with me and say this is actually a great read and incredibly funny. Who knows, maybe me and this book just weren’t ment to be?