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As stated in our last post - Mysteries That Saved My Sanity - 2022 life has taken on a challenging bent for me, challenges which are briefly outlined in that post, so I won't repeat them here. And, when due to these items, I can't quite summon the energy for the great books we review, Netflix comedy specials (hello Taylor Tomlinson, Michael Che, John Mulaney and others) have come into play.
How does this train of thought help book lovers? Please stay with me here ... these shows made me very, very open to Kari Meutcchof's (of the Yankee Bookshop) recommendation to read anything by Jenny Lawson during Episode Five of Shelf Help. Shelf Help being our new podcast developed with and starring the fabulous owners of three indie bookstores - Yankee Bookshop, Still North Books & Bar, and the Norwich Bookstore - where we answer questions from listeners about what books they need to read next.
So today, the Book Jam reviews one of Kari's Episode Five recommendations and one other book we somehow found along the way. Both brilliantly manage to be laugh-out-loud funny and deal frankly with important topics (e.g., BLM, depression). We hope they help you laugh and think too. ~ Lisa Christie
Broken (in the best possible way) by Jenny Lawson (2021). In honor of May's National Mental Health Month, Shelf Help's Episode Five featured books highlighting mental health issues. In Episode Five, Yankee's Kari Meutcchof mentioned Broken (in the best possible way) and described it so well it stuck with me. Thus, weeks later, on a recent road trip to help my parents move into assisted living, I listened, laughed, cried, and then laughed until I cried as Lawson narrated her thoughts about life in general, and then very specifically spoke honestly and descriptively about her mental illness (i.e., anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts) in a way only my good friend Kate manages in my real life through her work with Wafflenugget. Lawson's chapter on the difficulties navigating health insurance is so astute we passed it along to professors from the Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science because laughter is the best medicine, or at least gets your attention in new ways, and it might help these doctors help us. Normally, I would recommend starting with Lawson's first memoir so you know her life from the beginning; however, I believe Broken stands alone and can help us all deal with how the world feels right now. Thus, new fans can start with Broken, and existing fans discovering Broken will be thrilled to find Lawson navigating in blunt detail what her depression feels like and how her life has been upended over and over again as she survives, thrives, and embraces being broken. Both existing and new fans will be thrilled with Victor's continued support and humorous asides as Lawson navigates her difficulties head on (may we all be blessed enough to find our Victors). Broken offers laughter, hope, honesty, and very realistic relationship advice when we may all need it most. Please pick this up to read, or better yet, listen as she narrates her own thoughts so you can feel what it must be like to be in her very complicated head. (And thank you Lisa Cadow for in your day job; serving as a therapist to so many people in need of help is inspiring.) ~ Lisa Christie
Please Don't Sit On My Bed in Your Outside Clothes by Phoebe Robinson (2022). In her latest memoir, Robinson, of 2 Dope Queens, shares humorous stories and heartrending tales, some of which may inspire rage and possibly action. She tackles white guilt, white activists, allyship, and what it’s like to be a woman who doesn’t want kids when all straight, cis women are supposed to. She, in a very different way than Jenny Lawson (as described above), discusses how taking care of one’s mental health, which she clearly labels as currently being marketed as “self-care", requires a LOT of disposable money. I hope someone with an ability to affect change is listening to these astute women. Great to read it or listen to as Robinson narrates it herself. ~ Lisa Christie