Author: Jenny Lawson
Published: April 2012 by Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam, 336 pages
Date Read: April 2012
First Line: ”This book is totally true, except for the parts that aren’t.”
Genre/Rating: Memoir; 5/5 dead squirrel hand puppets
Review: Disclaimer – I went into this book knowing I was going to love it. I WAS BIASED.
Many years ago, when I was still an internet newbie, I read a grand total of three blogs. (Ha! Thinking of that number now makes me laugh. I am so blog-slutty now it’s INSANE.) One was Jenny’s blog at The Bloggess. Now, you probably all already read it and love it and so I’m preaching to the choir, here, but it made me laugh until I cried. At work. So of course I’d have to pretend I had allergies, or someone I love had died and I’d just gotten a very, very sad email about it, which explained the tears. Not the laughter, unless I was either hysterical or morbid, I suppose.
When I considered starting a blog of my own, I thought of Jenny’s blog, and thought, well, I can’t do THAT, who can, but I can be ME, I suppose, and see where that takes me. And honestly, I think a lot of us who write our personal crap on the internet for all to see got our inspiration from Jenny. She’s the goddess of bloggers, really.
The reason Jenny’s blog works, and the reason this book works, is twofold. One – she’s hilarious. She can take the smallest daily occurrence and turn it into the best adventure you’ve ever read. She gets into kooky scrapes and she curses like a sailor on leave and she has this off-the-wall sense of humor that just hits on every level. Also, her family is just off-kilter enough that they provide a lot of source material for additional hilarity. You want her to be your best friend, because you know that a trip to the store would end up being the best time you’ve ever had.
If it was just all funny all the time, it would work. Of course it would. She’s just that funny. But the reason we all love Jenny so much is that she’s really and truly real. She’s shared with her readers her fight with depression and her anxiety disorder and, by sharing these things, she’s made herself more than just a hilarious blogger. She’s made herself beloved. She could be any of us. It would be easy to hate her, you know? Because she’s so beloved. Because she’s so popular. People on the internet hate those who have more than they do so easily. But she’s shown all sides of herself – the good, the bad, the ugly – and she’s made herself impossible to hate. You celebrate with Jenny. You cheer with her when things go well; you mourn with her when things go poorly. She’s one of your people. She’s a geek and she’s dorky and she’s irrationally excited about things. She gives back, too. She cares about all of us. Because she’s one of us. And she’s beloved for it. Deservedly so.
As a regular reader of her blog, I was worried the book would be a rehash of things I’ve already read. Not that it would make me dislike it, or anything – I’d re-read Jenny’s posts any day – but I was hoping for new content. And I was not disappointed. There wasn’t much I’d read before. Maybe some of the content was older content I haven’t read, that was from her archives – I can’t say I’ve read everything she’s ever posted – but almost everything was new to me, which was wonderful.
And yes, the book was fantastic. I didn’t expect it to be otherwise. It was hysterical – at one point, I was laughing so hard at one of her stories I was reading while covering the front desk at my office I couldn’t answer the phone, and had to let it go to voice mail, which probably COULD have gotten me fired, and what a story that would have made! – and it was also touching. To the point of tears, actually, a couple of times. Jenny’s writing is absolute perfection for me.
So, yes. I recommend the book. My highest recommendation. Unless you hate laughing. Or cursing. Or memoirs. Or things that are well-written. Or reading a book written by someone who is just as flawed as you, no doubt, are yourself – and is just as beautiful and amazing as, again, you no doubt are, yourself. You know how some things don’t live up to the hype? This isn’t one of those things. It lives up to the hype. As much as anything can.