Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson
by Jen Muller
I am guilty of sometimes judging and buying books based on their covers; this book was product of an impulsive buy. I saw the happy raccoon on the cover and purchased it. I immediately regretted the rash decision I made. However after reading the description and some the reviews online, I decided to give it a shot.
This book was funny, sad, thought provoking, and inspiring. This book both made me laugh out loud on the train into work and cry on way home. This book made me weary of reading books during my commute.
In Furiously Happy, Lawson explores mental illness. She takes the reader through her life with her husband, friends, and family; and what struck me most were her relationships with the people around her. It was nice to read a non-fiction book about mental illness that didn’t make feel hopeless for the author.
Though Lawson’s writing was unique and read more like a blog than prose, it worked well in this case. When discussing the irrationality of depression or anxiety sometime linear chapters are less productive. Her writing styles placed me in her mind and lead me through her life. This style made her humor funnier and her melancholy more effective.
My favorite part of the book is when Lawson tells the reader about her conversations with her husband. Their dynamic is drastically different, but even in print I could feel the chemistry and genuine feelings they have for each other. For example, one chapter explains how she and her husband have different ways of using their free time. Where he would use his free time organize stuff, start a new business, or do something productive, she would rather sleep or watch Doctor Who. So he gives her four ideas of what she could do with her free time: open an art gallery, open a comic book store, open a restaurant, or something that doesn’t involve ferrets (the ferrets was a bit of a joke about an earlier chapter that I don’t want to ruin the surprise for if any of you decide to read this book). One of Lawson’s ideas was to “adopt a stray cat and name it the President. Set it up with a Twitter account. Sell pardons from my cat that you can buy for whenever you forget your wife’s birthday or for when you accidentally let too many ferrets loose in a store. Like, ‘I know you’re still mad at me but I do have a pardon from the president. That’s gotta count for something.’
The most unexpected part of this book was the taxidermy. It turned out the happy raccoon on the cover was a raccoon she bought two of online for the overly joyous look on his face. Taxidermy was something she shared with her father, and apparently it wasn’t unusual for the headless giraffes to appear throughout Lawson’s life. The inclusion taxidermy in this book was so funny and so unexpected I couldn’t help but laugh out loud, which prompted people to stare at me on the train into work.
As stated in previous reviews, I don’t usually enjoy non-fiction or autobiographies, but this book was so beyond what I was expecting and was so perfectly flawed, that I will recommend and re-read this book for many years to come.