There have only been a handful of times that I’ve wanted to be friends with the author of a book I’ve read, but Jenny Lawson is one of them. So is Jane Austen, so she’s in good company. Strong, witty women will always find their way into my heart and Lawson has done just that with Furiously Happy.
May was Mental Health Awareness month, so I challenged myself to pick up a book that would put me in the shoes of someone who experiences the world differently to me. Challenge is probably the wrong word because it wasn’t a struggle to read Furiously Happy, it was more difficult pulling myself away.
In a collection of essays, Lawson has captured a spectrum of colours I didn’t know existed. Why haven’t I been had midnight raccoon rodeos or walked in the outback dressed as a kangaroo? Probably because I’m not as cool as Jenny Lawson, but it’s partly down to her philosophy of being furiously happy. For Lawson, being furiously happy is a counter-balance to depression and anxiety. It’s about taking the moments that seem good and transforming them into moments that are amazing. Sometimes that means she gets sent three dead cats in the mail, or gets chased by swans. Sometimes it means hiding taxidermy animals in the bed. Other times it means taking a step back and taking things a day at a time.
It’s hard not to find Jenny Lawson endearing. Reading her essay collection is like having a direct line to her inner thoughts. There is no filter between book and brain, and there shouldn’t be. Occasionally that means she makes up her own words, but where would we be if no one had smashed together breakfast and lunch? Hungry and alone in the middle of the morning probably.
Some of my favourite parts were her arguments with her husband Victor. There back and forth quips made me laugh out loud. I also loved ‘Things My Father Taught Me’ which is a list of all the things she’s learnt from her father. All I can say is: any man who takes a donkey into a bar is a friend of mine.
This has sort of devolved into all the reasons I love this book but here are the reason why you should:
- It offers practical advice on how to be productive when you wake up before your arms do
- It will instil you with a fearful respect of possums
- It will open your eyes to the whimsy of taxidermy
- It’s a book about the good and bad sides of mental illness, and all the grey areas in between.
- Even if you don’t have a mental illness, it will put things in perspective, encourage you to seize the moment, and listen when your mind needs to take a step back.
Reading this book was like having Jenny Lawson sat next to me, telling stories over a coffee. It was like taking time out to catch up with a friend. If she ever needs someone to help set up the next raccoon rodeo, she knows who to call.