Wednesday Book Review: Very Good Lives by J.K. Rowling

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

Trigger Warnings: Mentions rape once, give no details.

Regardless of how you feel about J.K. Rowling, which in my case varies daily, sometimes you can find nuggets of gold in her writing. While I don’t agree with her on a fundamental level, I will tend to still read her books if I can find them used or at the library. My thoughts are, she’s already made enough money to never need again, so if I can find something of use in her words I will. So when I found this short book at my local library I decided to go ahead and give it a shot. I am so glad that I did.

Very Good Lives by J.K. Rowling is another short read I’ve decided to review for you guys. (For those of who have ADHD short reads are sometimes the best.) This book is a speech Rowling delivered to a Harvard Graduating class, which was then published to help raise money for her charity Lumos. I love reading inspiring speeches and this one touched on a few amazing topics that I think everyone should hear.

First J.K. Rowling talks about the lesson of failure and how it can teach you about yourself. Seven years after her own graduation she was a jobless, single mother, doing the best she could to keep from being homeless. Her marriage had exploded and she was living a life of poverty that she had never understood before. 

“I was the biggest failure I knew.”

But from this failure, she found hope in herself. She realized just how strong-willed she was and how many friends she actually had. During this time, she also decided that she would finally become the famous author we know today.

The next lesson she teaches us is the importance of imagination. Not in the sense of creating a world of wizards, but of imagination that comes in the form of empathy. Before Harry Potter, she worked for a company called Amnesty International.

“Amnesty mobilizes thousands of people who have never been tortured or imprisoned for their beliefs to act on behalf of those who have.”

During her time with Amnesty, she witnessed hundreds of cases of torture, kidnapping, and rape. She saw the darkest part of humanity, but she also saw the brightest. She realized that humans have this amazing gift, this power to imagine someone else’s pain, even though they had never been through the same pain themselves.

I love the passion in her speech and the power behind her words. I’m so glad that they decided to publish this and that I got the chance to read it! I found this book inspiring and plan to read it again the next time I feel like a failure.

Wednesday Book Review: Unfu*k Yourself By Gary John Bishop

Hey guys, I’m back with Wednesday Book Reviews! I took a little bit of time off because I was still getting used to this new medication and I wanted to give myself some time to adjust. I’m finally stable enough that I can actually get some writing done and I’m so excited! So here we go, my review of Unfu*k Yourself by Gary John Bishop.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

Book Triggers: None

Unfu*k Yourself is a self-help book that is made to help you “Get out of your head and into your life.” Warning, this book is not for every. Gary himself even warns that “If you’re easily offended, stop reading now”. He very brutally and honestly tells you to accept the fact that you are not a victim of circumstance, but your mindset. As much as my past wants me to argue with this, he may be right. My sister and I had the same childhood, deal with some same issues, and have the same problems with our parents. I can’t talk to my mom without having a breakdown and she calls her almost weekly. The only difference between us is the mindset we had growing up.

My first impression of this book was that I wasn’t going to like it. That it was going to sound like everyone else in my life that doesn’t understand mental illness. That he was gonna say “Just be happy” and move on. I was wrong. While this book is about getting over yourself Gary knows that it’s not always the easiest thing to do. He often says that sometimes his advice is easier said than done and that you have to start small at first. “try breaking the task down into smaller declarations of willingness to ‘stand up,’ ‘get out of bed,’ ‘open my email,’ etc.” 

The first question Gary asks you is, are you willing? Are you willing to change your life? Are you willing to be stuck at this same dead-end job? Are you willing to be in this toxic relationship? According to this book, our life is the way it is because we are willing to live with it, and that’s okay. I love that while he’s trying to push you to change, he also understands that sometimes you just aren’t willing to. He knows that our mental illness and outside influences get in the way of us living the life we want. All he expects of you in this book is to admit what control of your life you do have and do your best to grab the wheel.

Next, he reminds us that our life is the way it is because of our mindset. We are made to win, but we don’t always win the prize we want. If we think we are bad at relationships and we are unworthy of love, our mind will cause us to act in ways to prove that to be true. The same can be said for our careers, our finances, our health, etc. We can change the prize by changing the way we think.

Unf*ck Yourself has to be one of the most honest self-help books I’ve read in a long time. It made me uncomfortable, angry and motivated all at once. Many times throughout this book I wanted to argue with him. I wanted to tell him he was wrong and I can’t help the way that I am, but I realized he was right. “By defending your circumstances as they are right now, you are actually making a case for being where you are. Give it up.”

Gary doesn’t expect you to get past your issues overnight. He just tells you that if you don’t try it will never change, and he’s not wrong. The progress I’ve made in my healing is purely because I decided I didn’t like the way I was acting, where my life was, and who I was around. The only way you can get better is by deciding you’re ready to take the steps to get better. This book is a brutal reminder of that.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who is in the middle of their healing journey. This is not a book for those who are still in denial or just not really ready for change. This book is not about being positive every day, it’s about accepting that life sucks and doing what you need to do regardless. So buy this book, read it until you throw it across the room, then pick it up and read it again.