Happy Monday you all! If you’re in the United States, I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving last week. At the beginning of November, I decided to start a book club. I love to read for fun and I hope starting this book club will be a reminder for me (and you!) to make time for the things we love.
This month’s (which also happens to be the FIRST) Unofficial Book Club pick was Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson. If you were able to read this with me, you were probably thinking to yourself, “What the bleep am I reading?! Is this real life?!” Don’t worry, I thought the same thing – but in the best way possible.
If you don’t know much about Jenny Lawson, she is a long time blogger and has been writing regularly on her site The Bloggess since 2007. She details most of her daily life and relationships in a witty and sarcastic light and is able to poke fun at herself (A LOT). She regularly covers things like cat pictures and what it means to be the pope of what she calls the church of bloggessianism, but she also occasionally shares some more serious and personal insights on the craziness of the world.
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time, and I ended up liking it much more than I originally anticipated. I usually go for more serious books; whether fiction or non-fiction but once I started it had me cracking up even before the first page. Each chapter was more ridiculous than the last.
Just a word to the wise, reading this book in public may get you some crazy glances if when you burst out laughing to yourself. I’ve been traveling quite a bit lately for work and reading next to a complete stranger on a plane may not have been the best idea. I’m sure at some point that person next to me was slightly terrified because it appeared I was hysterically laughing like a maniac for no reason.
I think choosing this book for the first selection of the book club was perfect timing. A few days ago I wrote a post called Confessions of a Newbie Blogger and talked a little bit about how I was still struggling to find my own writing voice on the blog. Reading this book has shown me that being yourself will bring your personality into whatever you’re working on – even if (and especially if) it is wildly inappropriate. Sharing your own personal experiences and your unique perspective can give insight into your world and will highlight differences between you and other bloggers.
In a Nutshell
“This book is totally true, except for the parts that aren’t.”
Right off the bat, Lawson gives the caveat that maybe not every single word in the book is true, but I think as a reader many of us can relate to that. I’m sure all of us are guilty of exaggerating parts of a story to make it more interesting (and I secretly want to believe that everything in the book is true).
Regardless, Lawson starts the story out with her childhood. Growing up on the outskirts of a small town in Texas, her father was a taxidermist and they almost always had odd animals running around the house. Early on in the book she talks about her dad bringing home a litter of raccoons. Yes, a litter of raccoons. And if that’s not enough her mom decided to make handmade tiny “jams” for the raccoons and even after they grew up they decided to keep one as a pet and name it Rambo.
From there, Lawson then goes on to talk about her time as a misfit in high school, giving one chapter the alternative title of “High School is Life’s Way of Giving You a Record Low to Judge the Rest of Your Life By.” Being what she calls the only goth in her high school, she claims to have been met with a lot of confusion from her classmates. Despite her dark look and anti-social persona, she confesses to being just as awkward as I think the majority of us are in high school.
In her own words…
My Classmates refused to take me seriously, so I decided to pierce my own nose using a fishhook, but it hurt too much to get it all the way through so I gave up and then it got infected. So instead I wore a clip-on earring.
In my nose.
It was larger than my nostril and I almost suffocated.
I honestly don’t think you could make this stuff up. And what I love about the book is that when the stories start to get so far out there, Lawson shows up with photographic evidence to stifle any doubt.
How was I able to relate to the story?
From the surface, it may not appear that I have much in common with Lawson.
My childhood was a complete 180 from the one she describes. I grew up in the suburban Midwest and my dad was not an animal person at all. He didn’t wake us up in the middle of the night with a squirrel puppet (see pages 23-29 for more detail) and we never had to worry about him bringing home an animal with rabies.
A few other differences:
I wasn’t a goth in high school
I can’t say that I’ve ever muttered the words “one time I got stabbed in the face by a serial killer” while at a dinner party
I don’t collect tiny animals that have been (ethically) taxidermied (spell check is telling me that taxidermied is not a real word but I’m going to roll with it anyways)
Even though Lawson’s life as documented in her book seems completely outrageous in comparison to mine, I still think there is a lot that I can relate to.
I think the majority of us go through a period in our life when we try as hard as possible to blend in with crowd. We think our parents sole purpose in life is to mortify us in front of our peers and think our differences are something to be ashamed of.
I think this is a normal cycle for everyone to go through, at least I know that I personally have experienced this. I was a tomboy in high school and cared more about sports than boys. I remember feeling embarrassed because I always got the highest scores in geometry class and would throw the curve off for everyone else (I know everyone hates that person) and a lot of times I would rather stay home on the couch in my sweatpants than put myself in a potential socially awkward situation.
Even though she talks about most things in her book in a comical light, I have a lot of respect for the more serious topics that she covers – her anxiety disorder, her miscarriage and her experiences as a wife and mother. Overall, reading about Lawson’s transformation from a misfit to one of the most successful bloggers out there and a New York Times Bestseller was hugely inspiring.
I happily followed Lawson into the many rabbit holes and tangents she went on throughout the book and was hooked through the last page. Her detailed account about just surviving day-to-day life rings very true with me. I think we are all guilty of sometimes trying to make it appear like we have our shit together, when really we are having a giant meltdown on the inside. This book made me feel like I wasn’t alone in feeling like that so if you weren’t able to read the book with me this month, I hope I’ve convinced you to pick it up down the road.
I’ll leave you with a few encouraging words from Lawson herself:
I try to be appreciative of what I have instead of bitter about what I’ve lost. I try to accept this disease with grace and patiently wait for the day when they find a cure.
And for when I get my monkey butler.
What was your favorite part of the story? Were you able to relate to anything that Lawson went through? Have you ever felt like a misfit, but later seen it as a positive experience?
I’ve been slacking and haven’t figured out what book I’m reading next but will share that as soon I know. Have a great week everyone! love, adrienne