Monday, 21 December 2015

Furiously Happy - Jenny Lawson

I only just remembered that I completely forgot to post a review for this book when I finished it last month! Normally I'm quite good, but I must have been pretty distracted at that point.

Furiously Happy is the second of Jenny Lawson's memoirs. The first, Let's Pretend This Never Happened, is more of your usual autobiography, i.e. an account of the author's life to date, although Jenny Lawson's life is far from average and much of it reads more like a surreal comedy than an autobiography.

Furiously Happy is more of a selection of anecdotes, vaguely arranged by theme. Lawson manages to make her experiences with mental illness hilarious, bizarre and often very touching at the same time. From travelling Australia in a kangaroo onesie to being chased down the road by swans (thinking about it, many of the stories are animal-related in some way, shape or form), Lawson's stories are unexpected and very original.

Of course the core theme of the book is at heart very serious. I'm sure everyone out there has times when they feel depressed, slightly unhinged or just plain wrong, even those who aren't diagnosed with any kind of mental illness, and Lawson's central message behind all of this is that you aren't alone in this.

This is a very candid, warm and open account of her own experiences, which is very funny in itself and behind the humour holds a complex and comforting message to the reader.

Next up: Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Bonus review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

As my other books at the moment are a bit on the long, heavy side, I took some time out to read Gone Girl to break things up a bit.

Nick and Amy Dunne, a recently out-of-work couple from New York, have moved to Nick's much smaller hometown of North Carthage, Missouri, where Nick opens a bar with his twin sister Go. One day he returns home to find his wife unexpectedly missing, and his life is suddenly invaded by police investigations and harassing media.

The story is told in chapters that alternate between Nick's present-day experiences and diary entries written by Amy, and through these a picture builds up of the couple's turbulent relationship beneath their appearance of public normality. Both are flawed individuals with moments (or more than moments) of narrative in which they are unlikable but at the same time very relatable, and the alternating accounts of events by Nick and Amy build up and then strip away layers of deception and conflict.

While I wouldn't necessarily have chosen this novel myself from the blurb (it came recommended and lent by someone at work), it was actually a fascinating and gripping read, and highly original and unexpected.

Gone Girl is definitely worth reading, even if, like me, you prefer more of a plot-based story – trust me, you won't be disappointed.

Next up: Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset

Friday, 11 December 2015


This week's Booking Through Thursday is:

I’m guessing most of you like reading (or why would you be here), how do you feel about audio books? 

For me, “reading” means using my eyes, not my ears. As much as I acknowledge their usefulness while doing chores or using your hands, I only ever use audiobooks for the rare long drive–listening, no matter how pleasant, is not READING, yet people persist in telling me they like to read and that audio books are their favorites. Am I the only one to feel that’s just not the same thing?

I feel the same. I've tried to listen to audiobooks, on journeys for instance or when given a free one by Amazon, but for me it just isn't the same relaxing experience as reading. You can't let your mind wander in the middle of a paragraph without having to try and desperately rewind and figure out where you left off, and the story moves either too slowly or too quickly, never at the right pace. It's a similarly soulless experience to Kindles, except with the added disadvantage of needing to pause or rewind every time you get interrupted or distracted.

I completely acknowledge that they're useful, for driving or while doing other things, but for me they lack that feeling of connecting and of shared understanding that makes a book worth reading.