Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

Furiously Happy by Jenny LawsonFuriously Happy by Jenny Lawson
Published by Pan Macmillan on September 24, 2015
Genres: Biography & Memoir, General, Humor, Personal Memoirs
Length: 8 hours, 20 minutes
Source: I purchased a copy of this book.
IndieBoundBarnes & Noble

In Let's Pretend This Never Happened, Jenny Lawson regaled readers with uproarious stories of her bizarre childhood. In her new book, Furiously Happy, she explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. And terrible ideas are what Jenny does best. As Jenny says: 'You can't experience pain without also experiencing the baffling and ridiculous moments of being fiercely, unapologetically, intensely and (above all) furiously happy.' It's a philosophy that has - quite literally - saved her life. Jenny's first book, Let's Pretend This Never Happened, was ostensibly about family, but deep down it was about celebrating your own weirdness. Furiously Happy is a book about mental illness, but under the surface it's about embracing joy in fantastic and outrageous ways. And who doesn't need a bit more of that?

Meh. Furiously Happy annoyed me, but overall I think “it was okay” (hence the two stars on Goodreads).

Maybe my biggest mistake was listening to the audiobook. Lawson narrates her own book, and so much of the time, she speaks in uptalk. You know, when everything sounds like it ends in a question mark? Then there were awkwardly inserted swear words? Which came across like someone trying too hard to sound cool? And edgy? And funny?

It wasn’t funny, though. The humor fell completely flat. And Lawson has so many outrageous stories that, delivered in this annoying inflection, I couldn’t help but wonder if the stories were true (or at least naturally occurring). Was I being given “The Bloggess” the brand—the schtick—or was this the real Jenny Lawson?

But, she grabbed me in the intro when she explained the title of the book as it relates to depression and anxiety. That was good stuff. So I forged on. Lawson made important points regarding the shame associated with taking medication for mental illnesses, and the ridiculous reasoning we tend to use on ourselves and others.

Halfway through, though, I simply couldn’t take the uptalk anymore, and I couldn’t understand why she was talking about the things she was talking about. So I skipped ahead to mental health chapters. Those were good, but they didn’t make up enough of the memoir, not by a long shot. Most of the stories felt completely random and contrived. I’ve read her blog for years, so I thought I was used to her writing style and sense of humor…maybe the audiobook was a poor choice.

Have you read Furiously Happy? What did you think? Do you notice when people speak in uptalk?


  • Melanie Page

    OMG the whole upspeak thing drives me FLIPPIN NUTS. I’ve heard a few segments on NPR about it. Grown women aren’t being take seriously because they are, in some cultural way, learning to use upspeak….and BABY VOICES. Many women are now seeking out speech therapists to get rid of this annoying, awful trend. It’s one thing to have a voice that not everyone appreciates, but it’s an entirely different thing to subconsciously LEARN to speak like “an idiot.” I say idiot because babe talk sounds immature, and upspeak sounds unsure, like the speaker has no clue what she’s talking about. What’s weird is that my parents, for about 5 years, have been complaining about waitress’s voices. I wanted them to “get over it,” or whatever the issues is, but then I learned that what they’re hearing is new and a real thing.

    Also, I was going to ask if you know they author. You keep calling her Jenny, so i wondered if you guys were friends! Aren’t you both Texans? I know that not everyone in Texas knows each other, but it could happen!

    • Oh, the part where it says “Jenny” is the publisher’s description of the book (maybe on mobile that’s not an obviously separate section, I’ll have to look). But no, I don’t know her. I’m in Florida, and a Navy brat with no connection to Texas except that my spouse was born there. 😉

      And yeah, I think once you notice uptalk, you ALWAYS hear it. It’s so grating! Her actual voice was lovely, clear, very well-spoken except for that, but that’s a huge flaw for me. I couldn’t bear 8 hours of it!

      • Melanie Page

        Wait, do you write reviews for a Texas newspaper or something? I swear you had some connection to Texas! LoL! Too many bloggy friends 🙂

  • Okay, note to self…do NOT try this one on audiobook – ha! I’d considered adding it to my library hold list (I borrow most of my audiobooks from the library), but haven’t done it yet because I wasn’t sure I’d be able to tolerate it while I’m running. You’ve just saved me, Monika, thank you! 🙂

  • Jennine G.

    Heard this one wasn’t as good as her first. Will make sure to get an ebook or physical copy. Fingers crossed that helps it be more than “okay.” It’s hard to make me literally laugh out loud, most things just make me grin, and her first book made me laugh out loud!

  • Uptalk is very annoying! I don’t think I could stand to listen to an entire audiobook like that. I’m also not a fan on contrived personal stories (memoirs are challenging for me). Thanks for the warning.

  • I haven’t finished the book, but I’m with you so far. It feels like the mental health aspects were sold short in the name of wacky humor.

    As for uptalk, there is a lot of controversy about female vocalization these days- uptalk, vocal fry, baby voice. It seems to me to be very generational bc try as I might it is VERY difficult for me to take women who speak that way seriously. And yet, the claim is, it’s real not affected. I listened to an entire podcast about it.

  • I’ve not gone the audiobook route … and maybe that’s a good thing? Too bad as the cover of this makes me smile!

  • I’ve read the blog a few times, long ago and thought the content was funny. I was curious about this book, but I think maybe I should rather read her first.