Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things

The cover of Furiously Happy has intrigued me since it’s first publication. I finally got around to listening to the audio book, and while I finished it, I still don’t really know what I think. It’s kind of funny. It’s kind of inspirational. It’s mostly random and weird.

The first chapter starts out with Jenny Lawson discussing her mental health and her periods of deep depression. After hearing a string of bad news she decides she’s not going to be sad anymore, but “Furiously Happy” instead. She’s going to make herself be happy and when she is happy, be extra happy, to make up for the times when she’s depressed. I thought this was an interesting concept, and as one who feels blue from time to time, I thought I might find something useful from her experiences.

After that first chapter, she doesn’t mention her “Furiously Happy” theory again until 3/4 through the book. Then a little bit at the end. There are however, several chapters on taxidermy animals, which kinda freaks me out.

Even though most chapters had nothing to do with being “Furiously Happy”, I found them enjoyable enough. In the first half. Then things got weird and it seemed like Lawson was grasping at things to include to make it long enough for a book. Very random. I have to admit I skipped two chapters at the end because I just didn’t care what she had to say. I’m still not sure I liked this book, or if I’d recommend it to anyone, but I’m glad I read it so I can stop picking it up every time it comes through the library.

My favorite part is still the cover. However, I like it less now that I know it’s an actual roadkill raccoon and not an illustration.


Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City

I read this about a month ago, but I realized I never reviewed it here.

I think about Evicted a lot now. I think about how easy it is to become homeless and then just how hard it is to work your way back. I think about what would happen if I lost my job. I think about my brother. I think about the people in the library who need help. I think about the people I see who I know need help but don’t ask.

I also think about how the events in Evicted take place in Milwaukee from 2008-2009, my senior year of college. In Milwaukee. And I had no idea how bad it was for the rest of the city. I can’t believe I lived in the city for four years (and 9 years of visiting friends) not realizing just how bad the housing and living situation is for so much of the city. I knew it was one of the most racially segregated cities in the country, and I knew there was homelessness (Marquette University is adjacent to some very low income neighborhoods, as are most Jesuit Universities), but I did not realize a person could pay rent and have $30 left over in the month.

A friend of mine read this and in her Goodreads review says Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City is THE BOOK we should be reading about poverty. Not Hillbilly Elegy. I haven’t read Hillbilly Elegy but I certainly agree that Evicted should be more widely read. It made Obama’s list of favorite books he read in 2017, so hopefully more people will read it and discuss and learn.


Graphic novels are not my forte. However, I read a few this fall, including Wonder Woman, which I already blogged about.

In addition to Wonder Woman I read the first Amulet book, The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi in September. When I worked at the school library in Louisiana back in 2011 and 2012, all the kids read Amulet. I could not keep those in stock or in good condition. However, I personally never had an interest in reading the series.

I have to say, I still don’t really have an interest, but it was a slow evening in September and a kid returned a copy, so I decided I should finally give it a go. The artwork is lovely, but for me, the story is too weird. The world they are in is full of talking robot things and moving houses and eerie landscapes. I guess I see the kid appeal, but it’s not for me.

Last week I read Spinning by Tillie Walden as my book about sports for Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge. Spinning got a lot of buzz, and I have no interest in reading about football or baseball, so it seemed like the perfect solution. Spinning is ostensibly about Walden’s figure skating youth with practices before and after school, but it’s also about depression, sexuality, and being a high schooler. I found the subject interesting, but there were so many random asides and spreads it was hard for me to keep track of the plot. Mostly, I impressed that Walden wrote this at such a young age!



A few weeks ago I was catching up on podcasts while driving to my parents and Jeff and Rebecca from Book Riot talked for a long time about romance authors and the lack of diversity in romance. This piqued my interest, and decided to read one of Beverly Jenkins’ novels. I’m trying to read more diversely in terms of author and protagonist (but mostly #ownvoices), and also genre. I’m doing a lot better with #ownvoices than I am with genre, so this seemed like a perfect opportunity to combine both.

I also decided to use a Jenkins novel for the prompt “a best seller in a genre you don’t normally read.” And let me tell you, it was difficult figuring out which books exactly are best sellers. Everything says, “Beverly Jenkins, USA Today bestselling author,” but I could never find out which books were bestsellers. So, I went with one of the most recent publications: Forbidden.

Forbidden follows Eddy and Rhine (who apparently was briefly introduced in another novel way back in the 80s) in a booming mining town in Nevada post-Civil War. Eddy is determined to make her way to San Francisco and start a restaurant but finds herself alone and close to death in the desert. Rhine is a scion of respectability and money in town, but he harbors a deep secret. Rhine was born a slave, the result of abuse between the slave owner and his mother, and is now passing for White. Rhine rescues Eddy and instantly feels drawn to her, but in order to be with her he must sacrifice all he has worked towards.

While I wasn’t a huge fan of Jenkins’ writing style, I like how seamlessly she weaves history in with the plot. The last few pages are full of notes and bibliography, so she clearly did her research. I’m also ashamed to realize just how little I know of postbellum history, aside from the highlights featured in textbooks.

Through Smart Bitches Trashy Books I found an interview with Jenkins from Jezebel and I thought this bit was most illuminating:

You’ve talked a little bit about what draws you to the nineteenth century—why does the postwar period to the end of the century interest you so much as a writer?

There was so much going on and it’s not a typical time that we know about, regardless of what race we are, and I think the more we know about each other the better off we’d all be. And it also has its parallels with the twentieth and the twenty-first century. Because right after the Civil War you had those great gains with Reconstruction—this huge amount of Black men in Congress and representatives through the states, you had the lieutenant governor in Louisiana, you had Black folks in positions of power and businesses and colleges going up. And then when Reconstruction died in 1876, everything started to unravel. You had the rise of the Klan and you had the Redemption period. And lynchings and blood and death and destruction. And folks said we’ve got to leave the South. They moved into places like Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Colorado, California. Which is where I set my very first book, Night Song, in one of those Black townships in Kansas.

In the ‘70s you had African Americans retaking their places in Congress and in the Senate and in local elections. So there’s a parallel in us rising and then the ‘90s and stuff started to sort of peter out again. It’s an up and down cycle. Great things happening in both centuries, both bittersweet.

Overall, I really enjoyed the experience reading Forbidden and am definitely going to check out another of Jenkins’ books.

Little Boxes

I heard about Little Boxes: Twleve Writers on Television edited by Caroline Casey on Book Riot’s All the Books podcast and it sounded really interesting. It’s a collection of essays about television and how the shows we watched as children influenced us and our childhoods. I have to admit, All the Books made it sound much more interesting than it actually was, at least for me. And I had the song “Little Boxes” stuck in my head the whole time. Of the book, I thought only two essays were really strong. The one on The Cosby Show and the one about Daria.

It probably doesn’t help that the TV shows people wrote about were mostly before my time. In the introduction it states that all writers grew up in the time before Internet as we know it today, and when classic black and white shows were still playing on reruns and Nick at Night. Given that introduction I thought I’d know all the shows (I watched a lot of I Love Lucy and Bewitched and The Munsters on Nick at Night), but I only watched two of the shows, and was familiar with one other– Anne of Green Gables and Daria were the shows I watched and Dawson’s Creek is the one I’m familiar with. Other shows touched on are Blossom, Twin Peaks, Cosby Show, and then some I’d never heard of before (mostly 1990 and earlier).

One thing I did learn, is just how different shows are today on Netflix or on DVD because when originally aired, they weren’t anticipating re-watches and DVD releases, so many shows had great music, which is then changed to canned music or cheaper music when re-released. Now I wonder what music was originally on some of my favorite shows (Friends and Sex and the City) specifically, since they originally aired pre-home video release of TV shows. Also, Friends has some pretty awful transition music, so I’d love to think it was better originally.

Also, fun fact. This book is published by a small press in Minnesota. I think it’s pretty exciting the book made it to a (relatively) popular book podcast.

Airplane Reads

My husband and I flew out east for a wedding/leaf peeping trip (what a weird phrase, by the way) last weekend and I devoured two different YA books. YA books are the best for flying, I’ve found. At least the fluffy ones.

On the plane ride out I read The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith. A year or so ago I read This is What Happy Looks Like so I knew what I was getting into with Love at First Sight. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight is the story of Hadley and Oliver, who meet by chance (Hadley missed her flight and was put on Oliver’s) at an airport and find themselves sitting next to each other on the trip from New York to London. As the title suggests, they fall in love. It’s a very sweet story, and exactly what I was looking for, so I forgave the too-quickly-wrapped-up-ending. The sweet love story and the angsty family drama play off each other nicely and I imagine would have been very appealing to teen me (it certainly appealed to adult me, so I have to assume).

On the plane ride back, I read Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson and even downloaded the sequel, Rebel Magisters on overdrive during our layover. Rebel Mechanics introduces us to an alternate universe. What if the British ruling class were magic, and that’s why they controlled the colonies? If that happened the American Revolution would not have turned out the way we know it today. What if, the Industrial Revolution occurred because the non-magical people were finding ways to build machinery that would give them the same sort of power as the Magisters (the magical people)?

I don’t think I’ve ever officially read a Steampunk novel before and I loved the concept! The writing and the characters certainly left something to be desired. Which is unfortunate. Rebel Mechanics is a very clean and chaste YA novel. Not that all romances need bosom heaving, but this one seemed particularly full of romantic tension and I kept waiting for characters to make moves, and it was very frustrating. Kiss! Declare your feelings! At least hug. It doesn’t help that the characters themselves reminded me a lot of those found in The Pink Carnation series, which is for adults and therefore the romance has more adult content. So with that comparison in mind, I kept waiting for things to happen (that never did).

My guess is that Rebel Mechanics did not perform well sales wise, as according to Goodreads, the sequel was self-published. And you can tell. Although that didn’t stop me from reading the two books in two days.

I originally checked out The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight and Rebel Mechanics for the “book with a red spine” category on the PopSugar Reading Challenge. In the end, I used The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight for the “book involving travel” category, Rebel Mechanics for the “book with a red spine category” and Rebel Magisters for “a steampunk novel.”  

I believe I originally had Rich People Problems as my “book involving travel,” but The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight seemed more fitting. I like to play around with the categories as I read and fill in the slots. So many can fit for so many different categories!

I Hate Everyone But You

I have many thoughts on I Hate Everyone But You by Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin, so let’s see if I can make sense of them.

Told in a series of texts and emails it was hard to distinguish characters at first. Once I got over that I got sucked in to the story. On the one hand, nobody is a particularly likable person and the love interests are pretty terrible. However, at 18 you aren’t always a very nice person and we all make questionable romantic choices at first. Both Gen and Ava are relatable in their own way (one has anxiety and some other mental health concerns, while the other is discovering her sexuality and the queer community) and the novel addresses issues that many teens are facing/will face as they mature in a way I don’t think many other novels address.

The only downside (or I suppose you could say it’s a positive) is that without chapters there’s no good stopping point. Because of this I ended reading the whole thing in one day.

Gaby and Allison also have a pretty popular YouTube channel, which I tried watching after reading, and I have to say, I like the book a lot more.