NonFiction Friday: Factfulness: Ten Reasons We Are Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling

factfulnessThis is, quite simply, the best and most uplifting book of nonfiction I have ever read.

Before reading this book I made the mistake of reading the news on a daily basis and I knew, in my heart, that everything was terrible. I could feel the terribleness of our tragic world in my bones. Around the world, people are worried about war, disease and the environment. Food shortages and genetically modified supplies haunt my dreams. Equality for all seems like a far-off goal. Let me add to that that I am an American. As an American, my country is deeply divided and, whatever your politics may be, people have become comfortable with name calling and outright lying. The drama is at an all-time high and nothing is getting accomplished. It’s all terrible. Worse, I cannot find facts on anything and so I worry about everything. 

One night, I awoke with a start, heart pounding. I reached for my middle-of-the-night buddy, my faithful Kindle. I searched for something to read and found Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling with Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling Rönnlund. I remember thinking, “I would like to be both full of facts and wrong about the world.” I plunged into this book and I cannot stop thinking (and talking about it.)

It turns out, I’m not “wrong” about the world so much as I was using old information. I was letting the news convince me that there was nothing but horrors around every corner. And, I couldn’t distinguish between facts and overly dramatic editorials. If you want a quick look at how the facts can make you feel better and simultaneously change the way you see the world, watch this twenty minute Ted Talk given by Hans Rosling.

He refers to his questions a number of times in this video. At the beginning of the book there is a test to see how much you know about the world. I scored….poorly. A few things I knew had changed from my childhood, but I was shocked, shocked, by how quickly the world has changed when I wasn’t looking. It was like I met the world as an adorable toddler during my early educational experience, I went on with my life and now, twenty years later, I am all “Look how big you’ve gotten!” When I wasn’t looking whole countries went from mud-soaked poverty to looking like my hometown.

But, perhaps, you are not an American. Many Americans are well aware of how little we know about the world. Perhaps you are a well-educated world traveler and aren’t surprised at all by how everything is going. But, you find yourself still scared about the state of things. That might be because it is easy to find bad things happening in the world, good things are difficult to find. For example, 40 million commercial airplanes took off and landed safely in 2016 and ten crashed. Each crash was covered extensively. This gives the perception that air travel is not safe when, in fact, 2016 was the safest year on record to fly (this is also the last year of available statistics for the book so, don’t panic). We see this pattern repeated ad nauseam. Bad news gets people attention.

So we have copious amount of bad news. Some of us are using old information. Then there is the feeling that when there is more to do, we cannot talk about the successes we can see. We have dramatic instincts and we combine that with an overly dramatic worldview. It is no wonder we are sure we are all doomed.

To combat this, Factfulness has ten rules of thumb all designed to get our brains used to analyzing data and learning new things about our world everyday. The environment needs work, some people will always need help, and we can always do better. But, honestly, its not as bad as I thought it was.

I still read the news everyday. But I look for the facts. I watch for gaps, straight lines that are just assumed, and resist that feeling of urgency without knowledge. And I look for what isn’t being reported because that is where the good news is hiding.

Tell me, please!

Have you ever had a book radically change the way you look at the world?

all ages · nonfiction

NonFiction Friday: Stories for Boys Who Dare to be Different by Ben Brooks

The world has changed since I was a girl. I used to believe that our society placed too much pressure on girls and not enough on boys. When I was younger I felt like I had to be strong in a dress and pretty in pants. I had to follow all of the rules or ruin my reputation but boys could do whatever they wanted. This pressure didn’t originate with my parents, it just felt like a tangible reality to me. As a grew I saw that wasn’t always true. It wasn’t all boys that were free. It was just the sporty, rich, white kids who grew up fairly free of society’s constant micro-corrections.

I still argue that our society places too much pressure on girls. New books and movies are coming out all of the time that feature the myriad of different ways to be a “girl.” I think we have all seen this book prominently displayed.


This is a great book. But, my concern is that this book and all of the other inspirational books for girls are still leaving out a major component of equality: boys. All of these books let girls know that it is ok to be different – to be more than “pretty.” Meanwhile, for most of child hood boys had two choices: sporty and not-sporty (also known as “cool” and “not cool”).

It still happens. Just take a five to fourteen-year-old boy anywhere with you. The first thing well-intentioned strangers want to know is, “do you plan any sports?” I know they are just trying to make a connection with the kid, but it is always awkward when the response is, “no, no sports for me.” The whole conversation falls to a deafening silence.

storiesforboysThis is why I was enormously pleased to find Stories for Boys Who Dare to be Different, True Tales of Amazing Boys Who Changed The World Without Killing Dragons by Ben Brooks. This books features thirty-seven examples of individuals who don’t fit most pre-determined “manly man” roles. Furthermore, many of them, like Percy Shelly and Daniel Anthony, make a clear connection between how allowing boys to embrace their differences directly supports equality and opportunities for women.

This struck me as wonderful. I believe the more we encourage people to be themselves the more comfortable they are with differences in others. If we can support variety in boys maybe they in turn will naturally accept diversity around them. If boys can be chefs and computer geniuses then women can be CEOs and teachers and everything in between. There is no “normal” way to be successful that is predetermined by your gender.

This lovely illustrated book for middle grade students also features: transgendered people, people with disabilities, kings, nature enthusiasts, NASA astronauts, artists and many more. The people chosen come from all around the world, are all different ages, and represent many people of color. It starts with a boy and shows how their unique perspective changed the world. Each mini-biography is only a page long and is accompanied by an illustration making it easy to read solo or fun to read together.

The more we tell all children that it is a good thing to be themselves, the more we foster that thought across the generations and throughout our society. It isn’t up to just the girls to explore the uniqueness of ourselves or break the mold – many boys have similar struggles. That is why I highly encourage both of these books to be read by both genders. Boys needs to know that strong is pretty just as much as girls need to see how wonderfully diverse boys can be.

Tell me, please!

Have you read either of these books?


nonfiction · Uncategorized

Non-Fiction Friday: May 17, 2019 Dot Journaling, A Practical Guide by Rachel Wilkerson Miller

I have always been a paper person. Writing lists and keeping a physical calendar is the only method that keeps me organized. While my digital calendar is wonderfully sharable and does a fabulous job of checking for conflicts, I cannot seem to retain the information I put into it. I hate putting to do lists on there and wandering around with my phone out all of the time. Don’t get my started on how frustrating it is when you finish on an electronic to-do list and it just disappears. Crossing things off is the only reason to make a list in the first place! I just can’t let go of my pen and paper. Also, I j’adore office supplies.

When I first saw The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carrol I thought, “I love this idea.” An analog method for a digital world? Yes please! I immediately bought a notebook and special pens and tried it.

Except it was too complicated. Why do I have to number all the pages? Why am I constantly re-writing things? These analog repetitions are exactly the wonders that my phone does for me. The symbols made no sense to me. Then the gorgeous Instagram and Pinterest pages started to appear. My bullet journal looked nothing like either of these two extremes! So, I quit.

But I still wanted to be a bullet journal person. Desperately. This weekend I spotted Dot Journaling, A Practical Guide by Rachel Wilkerson Miller. The sub-title was “How to Start and Keep the Planner, To-to-list, and Diary That’ll Actually Help You Get Your Life Together.” More importantly, the intro identified the author as a fellow bullet journal wanna be who became confused and overwhelmed by the actual process. She writes for Buzzfeed and has a great little blurb about starting a bullet journal here.

dotjournalingDot Journal is the ideal starting point for people who, like me, love the pen and paper method but do not have the time, energy, or inclination to spend an hour a day copying and recopying to-do lists and calendar items. Dot Journaling also gives clear instructions on how to set-up the journal, something I still couldn’t figure out even after watching the youtube video by Ryder Carrol.

Here is how Goodreads describes the book.


Organize your life, record what matters, and get stuff done!

What the heck is a dot journal? It’s a planner, to-do list, anddiary for every aspect of your life: work, home, relationships, hobbies, everything.

Early adopter Rachel Wilkerson Miller explains how to make a dot journal work for you—whether you find the picture-perfect examples on Pinterest inspiring or, well, intimidating. You decide how simple or elaborate your journal will be, and what goes in there:

– Lists of your to-dos, to-don’ts, and more
– Symbols that will make those lists efficient and effective
– Spreads to plan your day, week, month, or year
– Trackers for your habits and goals (think health, money, travel)
– Accoutrements such as washi tape, book darts, and more!

Dot Journaling is only about 200 pages but still manages to give you an overview of the basics, tips, and tricks, and the details you need on how to use the “special pages.” The special pages are the ones I love – the financial planner, the book reading list and the habit trackers! This is the stuff that feeds my Instagram. The book even includes how to cope with a page that the antithesis of Insta-worthy (glue them together and pretend it never happens is my favorite).  With photos and short explanations of yearly, monthly and daily spreads as well as cute and simple examples of for special uses for your journal this book finally accomplished what countless other sources couldn’t: helping me understand this blended use journaling.

I read this book at the beginning of this week. I suppressed my first desire, to buy a brand new journal, and instead unearthed a previously purchased journal with a grand total of 15 pages used. One of the points the author makes it that it doesn’t need to be perfect. This is revolutionary to me. I need to get over the idea that every page will be a work of art. Sometimes I just need to embrace that “good enough is good enough” and let go of perfectionism. I’m honestly surprised that I was able to force myself to start in the middle of the month – it wasn’t even a Monday!

Let me tell you, the combination of to-do list, diary, and calendar make for a complete look at how my day went. Adding a short little note to each day turns what is an ordinary calendar into a keep-sake diary without the pressure of coming up with a long pontification of my typical Tuesday. No more will I look back and wonder why I got nothing accomplished all day. I’ll know I was sick because I wrote it down! And the joy of all those crossed off to-dos…

After reading Atomic Habits by James Clear I wanted to increase my positive habits and decreased my negatives ones. I also want to use Gretchen Rubin’s time tracking system to see how much time I actually have in a day. And, you know what, life is short and I don’t want to look back and wonder, “What did I accomplish?” This journaling is perfect for all of these needs. Realizing that has been like that first day of spring after a long winter. I feel powerful, organized, and positive about myself and my future. Ah, the power of paper.

Tell me, please!

Do you keep a journal? Have you tried bullet journaling? Any tips?



NonFiction Friday: Springfield Confidential by Mike Reiss

springfieldconfidentialI grew up in one of the many Springfields scattered across the United States. Nearly all Springfield natives get asked the same questions immediately after naming their hometown, “Oh, like The Simpsons?” And we try to explain that no Springfield is the Springfield. Then the conversation continues until we are forced to identify the part of The Simpsons that is our Springfield. It is a testament to the joy and hilarity of the show that any Springfield kid still loves it and, in our heart, we are a little proud to have the connection.

When I saw Springfield Confidential, Jokes, Secrets and Outright Lies from a Lifetime Writing for The Simpsons by Mike Reiss I knew I had to read it. I love good natured backstage information about popular shows, especially one I grew up watching. And this book did not disappoint!

Mike Reiss is talented and funny and this book was well organized, easy to read and full of anecdotes for major fans and general comsumers fans alike. Even if you have never watched a single episode of The Simpsons you have probably seen Mike’s work as a television writer and script doctor (Despicable Me and more!). He is also a children’s book author, a four time Emmy award winner, and a former President of the Harvard Lampoon. He has all the qualifications of a comic and the rare gift of delivery as well.

Mike walks us through the early days of The Simpsons, how it came to be on the fledgling Fox channel, and how it has successfully maintained the popularity required to be on the air for thirty years. I may have picked the book up for the annecdotes and behind the scenes scoops but I found myself blown away by the amount of manpower that goes into a single episode! If you have ever wanted to write for television, especially illustrated television, make sure and look at Mike’s 23-step, 9 month process that is used for each of the twenty-two episodes. It sounds like a Herculean feat to me!

And, while the book’s main focus might be The Simpsons, the book is at least half a story of what it is like to work as a writer in Hollywood. I was fascinated to see Mike’s attempts (successful and failed alike) to become and stay a working writer. Mike also took two years off of The Simpson’s and tried to retire. During that time he worked as a script doctor, a children’s book illustrator and travelled extensively. In the end, though, he found himself right back with his Simpson’s crew.

If you are pondering a career writing for television I highly recommend this book. Likewise, if you are a Simpson’s fan, you will enjoy all the funny and interesting bits of trivia Mike discloses here. Either way, this was a fast and fun read.

Just in case you were wondering, my Springfield has the nuclear power plan directly on the man made lake. As a kid I was never allowed to swim in that water. Also, it is the home of Abraham Lincoln so we also claim (probably erroneously) that Homer’s Dad is named for our Abe.

Tell me, please!

How weird is it that The Simpson’s has been on for 30 years?!


Nonfiction Friday, February 1, 2019: Ikigai by Ken Mogi

The self-help section of a bookstore can be overwhelming. Occasionally, I will just bring a whole shelf home from the library and flick through them looking for something inspirational. I am always looking for something that feels realistic but doesn’t overwhelm me.  Ikigai really caught my eye. According to the jacket description Ikigai is a Japanese idea commonly understood as “your reason to get up in the morning.” I was curious as to whether this would support my some of my New Year’s goals.

ikigaiAwakening Your Ikigai, How the Japenese Wake Up to Joy and Purpose Every Day by Ken Mogi is a basic primer in what is Ikigai and how to cultivate it in your own life. Even my elementary understanding of the history of the Japanese people would lead one to believe that joy is a struggle for them to find. After all, Japan has experienced all the disasters Mother Nature has to offer and has repeatedly been ravaged by war. How could a culture with so much tragedy and one which prizes homogeny experience daily joy? After all, Americans are raised on the idea that individuality and success pave the road to happiness. It turns out, Ikigai is not far from my Mother’s own advice. Joy comes from within.

According to author Ken Mogi, Ikigai is the discovering, defining, and appreciating of life’s pleasures that have meaning for you. You can do this through the five pillars of Ikigai: starting small, releasing oneself, finding harmony and sustainability, finding joy in small things, and being in the here and now. Mr. Mogi explains that Japanese tea ceremony and Sumo wrestling as activities which contain all five pillars but emphasizes that anything that grows your Ikigai is going to result in a happier and more fulfilled life. He cites Jiro Ono making sushi and Hayao Miyazaki’s movies as examples of Ikigai in action. And he addresses the Japanese culture of conformity by explaining that our private joy does not need to be worn on the outside but rather can be kept close to our hearts.

I know people have used the idea of hygee to decorate their homes. It just did not resonate with me. That is just far too many candles and cozy blankets for my sanity. And, I know people adore KonMari method which empathizes minimalism and a tidy home as the path to happiness. But, while I could see what Marie Kondo was trying to accomplish, I don’t have that level of interest in tidiness to see it through. I felt like Goldilocks, this one was too cozy and this one was too cold.

However, Ikigai resonated with me as a way to find my own unique path to joy. A just right for me approach if you will. And, the most poignant part of the book for me was the selection which discusses “focusing illusion” or the grass-is-greener mentality. Ken Mogi emphasizes that happiness is accepting yourself today and finding joy in your path for tomorrow rather than believing happiness will happen when something occurs or if a goal is met.

This short book has really inspired me to accept who I am and be happy with that person. That doesn’t mean I need to live in stasis. Rather, developing my Ikigai will help me grow into the best version of myself.

Tell me, please!

Have you ever read a self-help book that really resonated with you?


Conan Doyle for the Defense

I will readily admit that while I adore all things Sherlock Holmes, I am more in love with the character and the idea of Sherlock than I am the stories by Arthur Conan Doyle. Still, when I saw Conan Doyle for the Defense being highlighted during this year’s NonFiction November I was so excited. A nonfiction story of how the creator of the world’s most famous detective interceded on behalf of wrongly convicted individuals….perfect.

conandoyleUnfortunately, this book has me feeling as though I just finished a Sherlock story. I feel as though I am in love with the idea of the book and certainly the hundreds of details I learned but it was, like Conan Doyle’s writing, a little boring to actually read. While this is a positive review (as all are on SilverButtonBooks) this little note needed to be said from the beginning.

One of the struggles the book tries to overcome is the sheer amount of knowledge that you must have in order to comprehend how important Conan Doyle’s intervention was at the time. Author Margarit Fox tries to explain the historic problems with the criminal justice system in Scotland. She also highlights the erroneous and unethical police work of the time. And, she includes the background, training, and ethical rules of the great Dr. Arthur Conan Doyle. Furthermore, Ms. Fox weaves into the book societal issues including, immigration, selectively prevailing Victorian attitudes, and changing views towards Jewish people. Finally, there are a great number of letters written back and forth between the prisoner and his family that are important to read but come abruptly into and out of the narrative. The book could have been broken down into several separate books or edited in a way that more gracefully highlights the pertinent facts but it did not. Still, with all of this, I challenge you to read this book and not be blown away by the experiences of all involved.

Like most stories of wrongly convicted men, this book left me indignant as to the treatment of Oscar Slater, a German Jewish immigrant who is imprisoned for nearly twenty years for a murder he did not commit. I was also surprised by the lack of appeals courts in Scotland during that time, a fact I had never really given much thought. And, of course, the unethical police work was simply shocking. From the very first clue, Oscar should have been taken off the list of suspects. Add to the the prevailing ideals of the day and the prejudices against both immigrants and Jewish people and it is no wonder that Oscar was arrested. How could an immigrant living with a woman of dubious morals who makes money as a card shark expect to receive a fair and impartial trial?

And into all of this mess wades Arthur Conan Doyle. Newly married to his second wife, this was not Conan Doyle’s first foray into righting the wrongs of the criminal justice system but it would be his longest and his most important. His steadfast morals combined with his eye for detail honed through years living inside of Sherlock’s head brought him at the right time to correct this enormous wrong. Still, it wasn’t quick work and Conan Doyle fought, on and off, for years for justice for Oscar.

This book has left me wanting to know so much more about Arthur Conan Doyle and the man on which he based Sherlock, Dr. Bell. Conan Doyle for the Defense also gave me so much new information about a time period I thought I understood. Some times, the best thing a nonfiction book can do is feed your curiosity. This book does that and more even though it was certainly not the easiest book to read.

Tell me, please!

Have you ever loved a character or information from a book even though you didn’t completely enjoy reading the book?


NonFiction Friday: Atomic Habits by James Clear

When I started graduate school I put on unwanted weight for the first time in my life. I didn’t own a scale and I lived in an apartment with no full length mirror. As such, I didn’t even realize the weight was there until the fateful day I went swim suit shopping. This is the major downside to always buying clothes that are comfortable, they fail to send you early warning signs before you try on a bikini. I needed to work out but I didn’t know how to start or what to do. I joined a gym and I figured that going and doing something – anything – was better than sitting in my comfy clothes feeling gross about my health. Little did I know that I was employing what James Clear has labelled an, “atomic habit.” I made it a habit of showing up at the gym four to five times a week until I felt great about my fitness level for the first time in my life.

atomichabitsJames Clear began by writing articles on his website in 2012. He had been experimenting with habits for years and started publicly sharing his ideas and in a little over a year found himself with 100,000 subscribers (color me jealous). After reading his simple strategies for changing your life one habit at a time I can see why he has become the habit guru he is today. If I had an extra $300 I would be tempted to enroll in his Habits Academy.

Mr. Clear argues that, “Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.” And by improving yourself just 1% at a time you’re changing yourself on an atomic level. Perhaps the change isn’t detectable but eventually the fruits of your habitual labor will be tangible or visible. He backs up his theories with powerful anecdotes and lays out a clear four step method to either build up a good habit or break down a bad one. I thought the following paragraph summed up his ideology perfectly.

We rarely think about change… (in terms of the smallest action) because everyone is consumed by the end goal. But one push-up is better than not exercising. One minute of guitar practice is better than none at all. One minute of reading is better than never picking up a book. It is better to do less than you hoped than to do nothing at all.

After being inspired by Badass I wanted to work towards my awesome life. Atomic Habits lays down the foundation for me to make small changes that will bring that new amazing life 1% closer everyday. Or, as Mr. Clear says, “Tiny changes. Remarkable results.”

Tell me, please!

Do you think changing your habits can change your life?


Non Fiction Friday: You are a Badass…by Jen Sincero

I love New Year’s Resolutions. Actually, I just love making goals. I also make birthday resolutions and summer resolutions. New Year’s Day is a great time to harness the energy to start working on them. I am usually trying to pick up a new skill or cultivate a habit. But, if you are unhappy with life and want a major change what do you do? I recommend starting that journey by reading You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero.

YoubadassHow many of us are living the life we have always dreamed of living? If you are then thank you for making my blog part of your ideal life! If not, perhaps you are getting in between yourself and happiness. Jen Sincero is a self made life coach and, while I have never had any life coaching, I wish I could hire her. Her positive, no nonsense approach to setting goals, believing in yourself, and expecting good things to come in life is inspirational.

Typically, these types of book start with an author talking about their own personal roadblocks and points are usually given for traumatic / terrifying / mind-blowing awful experiences. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this author just wanted to live a happier life. No trauma required. She was just broke and not living anywhere near her dream. That meant that listening to her transform into a badass was, more than anything else, great fun to listen to. Also, it made me feel like pushing myself and setting higher goals didn’t mean that I was unhappy now, just that I could be even more fulfilled.

The author begins by focusing on self identifying our own preconceived notions about life. I thought this was an ingenious place to start becoming a badass. So many people I know believe that a “good job” is what their parents had – even though they know full well that their parents were never happy. Or, they have ideas about relationships or money that are subconsciously are keeping them from living that awesome life. The idea that the journey to self-reinvention has to start with self awareness seems to obvious after reading the book but I never really reflected on this before.

I borrowed the audiobook version of this book and the author narrates it herself. While I really enjoyed listening to her, I need to get a physical copy of the book. I want to live that awesome life and to do so I need to revisit some of the ideas in this book! There is one thing she ingrained into me: You start with you. Embrace your badassery. Then live that awesome life!

Tell me, please!

What would be your ideal job?



National Trivia Day!

I received the cutest calendar for Christmas that tells me something I can celebrate everyday of the year. Yesterday was Women Rock and so I attended a showing of Georgia O’Keefe’s paintings, photography, and fashion. Today is National Trivia Day! My Dad got me hooked on trivia as a kid and I love it. I didn’t realize how many trivia books I owned until I went looking to celebrate toady. Here are a few of my favorites.

50875087 Trivia Questions and Answers by Marsha Kranes, Fred Worth and Steve Tamerius is where my trivia collection began. My Dad gave me his copy and I brought it on a long road trip with my best friend as a way to keep ourselves entertained. We took turns asking each other questions and laughing at how much we didn’t know. It is a big wide world of information out there people! I have owned this book from long before you could just say, “Hey Siri / Alexa / Cortana…” and I still flip through it for fun.


orderofthingsThe Order of Things is not a pure trivia book but it is one of my favorites to spark an interest in new subject matters. It lists, in order, all of the things in the world and until you look through it you won’t believe how deeply our world is interconnected.




Daily Dose of Knowledge and The Handy History Answer Book are both trivia books around my pet subject. I love anything historical and have used both of these books sporatically to foster a lifetime of learning about history.

condensedI love mental floss so when I saw this irreverent guide I had to have it. The Condensed Knowledge reads like mental floss, full of information and ripe with humor. The perfect combination!





thirtyThirty Days Has September, Cool Ways to Remember Stuff by Chris Stevens is the absolute best book for taking all that trivia and putting it together in ways that help you memorize it and seamlessly regurgitate it. If you ever have to cram for a pub trivia night this is the book for you.






commonCommon Phrases and Where They Come From by John Mordock and Myron Korach is the trivia book for etymology enthusiasts.  If you have ever wondered why we say things like “on the fence” this book is for you. A warning: this is the kind of trivia that helps you find friends for life or enemies in the office. Use sparingly.






2548 best thingsAnd, this one is not really trivia, but The 2,548 Best Things Anybody Ever Said is more like trivia-eque quoting at its best. I have always wanted to be savvy enough with quotes to use another person’s words to capture my own ideas. Since this quote book is divided up into subject matter it is perfect for me. Now, when I need something to say about marriage or taxes I have a selection to choose from!





good job brainGood Job, Brain! is from a popular pub quiz podcast (unbeknownst to me until I saw this book!) and I grabbed it during my quick trip to the library yesterday. I already love the Q and A style of the book and I plan to find a willing victim to play trivia with me sometime this weekend.



Happy National Trivia Day!!

Tell me, please.

Do you enjoy trivia?

Audio Book · funny · nonfiction

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

One of my longstanding personal quotes is, “Laugh or Cry, you choose!” I say this to myself when I become overwhelmed and I try to reflect on the humor in the situation. But, I know that mental health is no joke and it can rob people of the ability to control this choice. So what do you do if your life is deeply affected by mental health? Jenny Lawson (aka The Bloggess) forced herself to be “furiously happy” to balance those times her mental illness makes her unfathomably sad. She invited us on her journey in accepting her mental health and the hilarity of it all in her new book Furiously Happya Funny Book about Horrible Things.

furiouslyhappyI have never read Jenny Lawson’s blog, I didn’t follow her on Twitter and, honestly, she wasn’t on my radar at all.  But, someone highlighted her book on WWW Wednesday and I dutifully added it to my to-be-read pile. Mostly, I fell in love with the hilarious taxidermy raccoon (Rory) on the cover of the book. When the audiobook caught my eye I downloaded it simply because I needed something to listen to during my commute and it was immediately available. All of these cosmic connections resulted in my listening to and falling deeply in love with Jenny Lawson. (I hereby promise I will not stalk you Jenny, tell Victor not to worry).

Now see how I have referred to this total stranger by her first name? And, I write as though I know her husband? This is the talent of a well-written memoirist. They make the reader feel like they have a new friend, one they know and understand on a deeper level. But what elevates this memoir to a whole new level is that my new friend Jenny managed to weave awareness and understanding of mental illness through her book so seamlessly. After listening to her read her own story I feel like I have a much better understanding of mental illness, taxidermy, depression, the perils of traveling through Australia, and the power of acceptance in equal measure.

Jenny’s decision to live Furiously Happy has changed her life. Perhaps her book will alter yours. All I know is that I would really like to thank her for explaining the nuances of mental health to me. And I would really like to hold Rory for a bit. Please?!?

Tell me, please!

What books do you recommend for understanding mental illness?