Showing posts with label biographies & memoirs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label biographies & memoirs. Show all posts

Sunday, November 13, 2016

[Review] Furiously Happy - Jenny Lawson: Mental Illness and Life-Affirmation

In FURIOUSLY HAPPY, Jenny Lawson tells anecdotes of her life. In the center of it all stands her life motto of being furiously, aggressively happy no matter what life throws at you.

What intrigued me: Felt like reading some Non-Fiction.

Loud and Eccentric

FURIOUSLY HAPPY is such a loud book that you're probably in danger of going deaf when reading it. It's quirky, eccentric and voice-y and definitely a book that will catch your attention and stay in your memory for quite a whilte. Lawson's narrative voice is sometimes off-trail, mostly shouting, and absolutely unique. And it's just too much for me personally.

It reads like some sort of strange diary without any sense of structure of coherence. Even after reading it I still don't know what this book is about, really.

You have to be in the mood for this type of writing, a type of train-of-thought esque narration.

Offensive humor?

The message of the book and the only thing that sort-of connects the very random chapters to each other is that they're all a mixture of anecdoctes that showcase the author's "crazy" (her words, not mine) behavior because of the multitude of mental illnesses she lives with. And I just don't like that. 

I can't get behind these self-degrading characterizations and as someone who has had experience with mental illness it actually quite offends me. I get that it's a memoir, at no point Lawson ever tries to make judgements about other people who live with mental illness. But at the end of the day it just rubs me the wrong way when she describes the way she reacts to anxiety-inducing situations as overreacting and ridiculous and calls herself insane.

That's just the humor of this book, this is all that FURIOUSLY HAPPY is about - making fun of your own illness to make peace with it. This isn't a negative thing, it's just soemthing that you have to get, that you have to understand and agree with. I don't. I didn't find FURIOUSLY HAPPY life-affirming in any way. I found it disregarding and quite ignorant, which again, is just my personal takeaway and not the author's fault or in any way an objective judgement of the book. You have to see for yourself if that type of humor resonates with you. 




Overall: Do I Recommend?

FURIOUSLY HAPPY isn't my kind of book. Random chapters, train-of-thought narration, belittling mental illness - it's not my thing. It felt quite pointless and absolutely not funny to me.

Additional Info

Published: 17th October 2016
Pages: 320
Publisher: Kailash
Genre: Adult / Non-Fiction / Biographies & Memoirs
ISBN: 978-3-424-63130-2

"In LET'S PRETEND THIS NEVER HAPPENED, Jenny Lawson baffled readers with stories about growing up the daughter of a taxidermist. In her new book, FURIOUSLY HAPPY, Jenny 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.

According to Jenny: "Some people might think that being 'furiously happy' is just an excuse to be stupid and irresponsible and invite a herd of kangaroos over to your house without telling your husband first because you suspect he would say no since he's never particularly liked kangaroos. And that would be ridiculous because no one would invite a herd of kangaroos into their house. Two is the limit. I speak from personal experience. My husband says that none is the new limit. I say he should have been clearer about that before I rented all those kangaroos."

"Most of my favorite people are dangerously fucked-up but you'd never guess because we've learned to bare it so honestly that it becomes the new normal. Like John Hughes wrote in The Breakfast Club, 'We're all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it.' Except go back and cross out the word 'hiding.'""(Source: Goodreads)

What's your favorite Non-Fiction read?

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Saturday, May 30, 2015

[Review] Mud, Sweat and Tears - Bear Grylls

I really expected something completely different when I first heard that Grylls is publishing an autobiography. I absolutely love all of his adventure TV series and I could binge watch them forever. He seems like an interesting person in the shows, that's why I wanted to read this book and was actually looking really forward to it.

Why Editing is Your Best Friend

You can skip the first six chapters. Grylls tells us about his family's history, unless you're into pointless accounts about deceased family members that don't have any impact on anything in the story. I wanted to read this book, because I thought it would be just like his TV shows, packed with anecdotes from his survival expeditions. Instead, it is a very boring family chronic in the early chapters, he literally tells us his entire life.

That's the danger of biographies, sometimes the person writing them doesn't even notice that things who are important to them aren't necessarily interesting for the reader. Grylls may have loved his grandfather to death, but I couldn't care less about how he met his wife or how his parents fell in love. I want to read about Grylls himself, I want action!

There's a reason most people don't decide to write and publish their autobiographies before they've reached a certain age: They simply don't have anything important or groundbreaking to tell in their thirties. Yes, Grylls has had his fair share of adventures and life-threatening experiences, but they're not the main focus of this novel. That would have been enough for a book, I just don't understand why Grylls decided to bore us with his childhood and teenage hood shenanigans for half of the book instead.

Childhood Stories and Boring Anecdotes

When Grylls finally begins to talk about himself, we are fobbed off with dozens and dozens of anecdotes from his childhood that aren't really interesting. It's like you're reading twenty short stories after another that have no correlation whatsoever. I wanted to read this book especially because the title suggests that it's solely about his experiences in the wild, had I been interested in him growing up and his life decisions, I wouldn't have chosen to read this particular book.

The structure makes it very difficult to read as well. The whole novel is parted into four main parts which have between 15 and 30 chapters each. When you add this up to a 480 page novel, obviously the chapters vary in length from one to five pages. The structure is a mess and makes it even more hard to go directionless through the entire novel. Maybe they should have added chapter headlines to at least guide the reader a little bit.



Overall: Do I Recommend?

If you're a fan of the TV shows like me and are craving an action-packed novel by our favorite survivalist with lots of wit and action, you're going to be disappointed. If you're interested in every single detail of Grylls' life and him as a person, this is the right book for you.

Additional Info

Published: May 11th 2015
Pages: 480
Genre: Adult / Non-Fiction / Biographies and Memoirs
ISBN: 978-3-492-30750-5

"Bear Grylls is a man who has always sought the ultimate in adventure. Growing up on the Isle of Wight, he was taught by his father to sail and climb at an early age. Inevitably, it wasn't long before Bear was leading out-of-bounds night-climbing missions at school.

As a teenager, he found identity and purpose through both mountaineering and martial arts, which led the young adventurer to the foothills of the mighty Himalaya and a grandmaster's karate training camp in Japan. On returning home, he embarked upon the notoriously gruelling selection course for the British Special Forces to join 21 SAS - a journey that was to push him to the very limits of physical and mental endurance.

Then, in a horrific free-fall parachuting accident in Africa, Bear broke his back in three places. It was touch and go whether he would ever walk again. However, only eighteen months later and defying doctors' expectations, Bear became one of the youngest ever climbers to scale Everest, aged only twenty-three. But this was just the beginning of his many extraordinary adventures . . .

Known and admired by millions - whether from his global adventure TV series, as a bestselling author, or as Chief Scout to the Scouting Association - Bear Grylls has survived where few would dare to go. Now, for the first time, Bear tells the story of his action-packed life. Gripping, moving and wildly exhilarating, Mud, Sweat and Tears is a must-read for adrenalin junkies and armchair adventurers alike. "

What's Your Favorite Autobiography?

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Monday, April 20, 2015

[Review] I Am Ozzy - Ozzy Osbourne

In I AM OZZY, Osbourne lets us in on every single detail of his life, including intoxicated adventures, drug escapades, terrible jobs and his struggle to becoming the person he is today. 
What intrigued me: I have been on a rockstar biography binge!

An Absolute Surprise

If you think about Ozzy Osbourne, the prince of darkness, lead singer of Black Sabbath, you're usually associating him with satanism, murder, drugs and a lot of hatred. This novel shows that he's absolutely not the person the media portrays him as. He's a sweet, sweet guy, who's maybe a little bit naive, but whose biggest flaw is that he doesn't care about what other people think.

It's hilarious to read about how the band members think about the associations with their name and how they all met each other. There is so much media misconception around his person that I'm just in awe.

Not Only for Fans

I'm not a die-hard fan of Black Sabbath and I got this novel in the first place because it was recommended to me. You don't have to be a fan of him to enjoy this, but beware: it's graphic. The life of a heavy metal musician is definitely not suitable for highly sensitive people. Osbourne worked in a slaughter house, has a really dark sense of humor and didn't always bring out the best in his friends. It's remarkable that he survived all of the insane things he tells us about in this book if you think about it.

The writing is a little bit slow. You have to consider though that this is not entertainment literature, this is the life of an actual person - it's absolutely surreal to me how one single human being could have possibly experienced that many absolutely ridiculously dangerous situations and lived to tell the tale. I'm not sure whether you can actually believe everything that's in this novel, and to me, it doesn't even matter.

For a biography, it's definitely an action-packed read and really interesting. In most biographies the authors lose themselves in boring details so much that you just want to skip forward to the interesting bits. In I AM OZZY, you'll regret skimming pages, because you'll most likely miss something huge.




Overall: Do I Recommend?

You don't have to be a fan of Black Sabbath to enjoy this, but it helps. Some parts, especially the forming of the band and his background connections to Led Zeppelin, The Beatles etc. are probably more interesting to fans of the music of the 60s. 

However, Osborne managed to write a hilarious, authentic and interesting novel that doesn't even feel like biography. I rooted for him to finally make it big and he definitely won my heart through this novel. I can only recommend to give it a try.


"They've said some crazy things about me over the years. I mean, okay: 'He bit the head off a bat.' Yes. 'He bit the head off a dove.' Yes. But then you hear things like, 'Ozzy went to the show last night, but he wouldn't perform until he'd killed fifteen puppies . . .' Now me, kill fifteen puppies? I love puppies. I've got eighteen of the f**king things at home. I've killed a few cows in my time, mind you. And the chickens. I shot the chickens in my house that night.

It haunts me, all this crazy stuff. Every day of my life has been an event. I took lethal combinations of booze and drugs for thirty f**king years. I survived a direct hit by a plane, suicidal overdoses, STDs. I've been accused of attempted murder. Then I almost died while riding over a bump on a quad bike at f**king two miles per hour.

People ask me how come I'm still alive, and I don't know what to say. When I was growing up, if you'd have put me up against a wall with the other kids from my street and asked me which one of us was gonna make it to the age of sixty, which one of us would end up with five kids and four grandkids and houses in Buckinghamshire and Beverly Hills, I wouldn't have put money on me, no f**king way. But here I am: ready to tell my story, in my own words, for the first time.

A lot of it ain't gonna be pretty. I've done some bad things in my time. I've always been drawn to the dark side, me. But I ain't the devil. I'm just John Osbourne: a working-class kid from Aston, who quit his job in the factory and went looking for a good time

Do You Listen to Black Sabbath or Have Seen the Osbourne's Reality Show?

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