It is no secret that I love reading. In fact, my husband of 20 years still loves to tell the story of a date where he took me to a baseball game… and I brought a book to read. Is that really such a crime? Apparently to baseball lovers who aren’t voracious readers it is. Oh well. Guess I’m guilty as charged.
Some time ago, I shared a reading list as a thank-you gift to encourage my newsletter subscribers to respond to a poll. I was blown away by how many people took the poll. Either they really had stuff to tell me, or they really wanted that reading list. I suspect it’s the latter. Which makes me smile. I like being in the company of other readers.
So with that in mind, I have decided to share some of my favorite reads, book report style, here on the blog. (Yes, I’m one of those insufferable nerds who loved book reports in grade school – it was like a two-fer-one: I got to read a book AND then write about it. What could be more awesome? hah!)
The first book I’ve decided to share is How to Weep in Public: Feeble Offerings on Depression from One Who Knows, by Jacqueline Novak. I was fortunate to be offered a preview copy but the real reason I jumped on this book is that it was written by a comedian and it’s about depression.
As a person who has been diagnosed with depression but who loves to laugh, I figured this was a sure thing. I like memoir-style books written by funny people and this one didn’t disappoint.
There were many passages where I laughed out loud. Like in that “it’s funny because it’s true” kind of way.
It was a fairly quick read (for me at least… I may or may not have taken a questionable speed reading course in college). And it was truly entertaining.
I read several other reviews that referred to it as a “how-to guide.” I’m not exactly sure I would call it that. I mean, there are certainly phrases like “if you _____, then _____.” But it’s all pretty tongue in cheek. The book is written with a good dose of hyperbole.
“Most people can’t stand to let things be awful, so they instigate some drama. They fuck someone’s aunt, withhold someone’s pension, or refuse to validate your parking ticket, based entirely on the fact that they dislike your ascot.
But you? You may be slumped on your carpet, but for that, my friend, you are a radical. You have dared to hit pause, and now you are just sitting there inside the pause, floating in space like Neil Armstrong. In your own weak way, you are one of the heroic explorers of our time.”
The thing is, depression sucks, and it’s hard, and it’s not something that you cure overnight. Honestly, you never really cure it. You just learn to manage it.
Reading the book made me feel like I wasn’t alone. But more importantly, I think it gives people who don’t suffer from depression, but who are willing to read a funny book, a lighthearted opportunity to understand the ridiculousness of depression. Because, really, depressed people are well aware of how utterly ridiculous our misery looks from the outside.
“If we depressos are going to use our skills for the greater good, we must be unwavering in our nonefforts. With nondepressed people, you see them all the time drumming up the energy to please people…
Our supposedly childish reactions to being asked to do something – panicking, running away, shutting down – are in fact our greatest strength. We are uniquely qualified to stand up against the stresses put upon us by those more capable. I think we alone could dismantle the tax system.”
So I did like the book, but I will admit I didn’t love it. Unfortunately, there were parts that felt like they weren’t well edited. No reflection on Jacqueline Novak at all. The publisher is traditionally responsible for helping writers deal with some of their dangly bits by providing a good editor. But I think sometimes they fall short.
Don’t get me wrong, the book was highly readable. It just wasn’t sewn up tight in that “OH. MY. GAWD. That was a life changing book!” way. Particularly in the later chapters, it feels like the editor pooped out or something. Maybe they were depressed and ran away.
For that reason I give it a B minus.
(the FTC required fine print: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. Also, the links in this post are affiliate links.)