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Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's "Learned" Hardcover – Sep 30 2014
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A New York Times Bestseller
#1 National Bestseller
A Globe and Mail Best Book of 2014
“Dunham has become a sort of cover girl for millennial women, but I think pretty much everyone could be well-served by reading these essays. . . . you’ll see how intelligently she approaches topics like creating art, and dating, and mental health. Dunham is incredibly skilled at describing the seemingly mundane details of life—there are passages in the book that literally took my breath away with their observational powers.”
―Huffington Post Canada
"There's something so familiar and honest about [Lena Dunham's] writing. It's as if your best friend is casually telling you about her successes and her failures and what makes her tick. . . . She's able to make us feel a bit less crazy for being authentic. . . . So run, don't walk, to pick up Not That Kind of Girl.” —InStyle Magazine
“Dunham’s memoir serves up laugh-out-loud one-liners and quippy snippets of wisdom gleaned from parents, friends and personal experience (e.g., the least pleasant way to disengage from water skies).”
—Richmond News (British Columbia)
“[One of] the best . . . memoirs of 2014. . . . Dunham’s book tackles life issues every woman can relate to, and includes everything from her first sexual experience to her obsession with death.” —Business Insider
“[Dunham] is a talented writer. Her stories are beautifully crafted, and her voice is very much her own, with acute and sometimes laugh-out-loud-funny observations about the world she lives in.” —Highbrow Magazine
“I can safely say I have never read, watched or listened to anything that resonated with me as a young woman the way Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl did.”
―Women’s Agenda (Australia)
“[Not that Kind of Girl] is enlightening, especially if you want to get inside the reality of being a clever, extremely open, well-to-do miss coming of age in downtown Manhattan. . . . this precocious undisputed talent is known for pushing the envelope.”
—Sarah-Kate Lynch, author of The Wedding Bees
“Precocious yet clumsy, outspoken and inappropriate at times, young and relatable. . . . Dunham is divulging thoughts, feelings, and encounters shared by many young people today. . . . Not That Kind of Girl feels like a collective experience in many ways.”
“In an era where twenty-something women are told how to think, where to work, who to date, and what to wear, it's refreshing that a voice has broken the mold to empower women to do one thing--be yourself, flaws and all. In Not That Kind of Girl, Lena Dunham takes readers on a voyage of self-discovery as she successfully navigates the often-perilous facets of womanhood, from dating and friendships to self-love and careers. Through her series of essays, Dunham shares what she's learned on her path to self-awareness with a refreshing candor and raw honesty that emboldens readers. Her painfully-relatable stories of graduating from one-night stands with toxic men and dead-end jobs with no purpose, to loving relationships and a fulfilling career will leave you laughing, cringing, and sighing ‘me too.’”
“Hilarious, sweet, raw and surprising. . . . It’s Dunham’s knack for the absurd that consistently and delightfully transforms these raw portrayals from coming-of-age stories into history.”
—Sydney Morning Herald
“An uncompromising storyteller, one who isn't afraid to get real even if that makes other people uncomfortable. . . . The best books are the ones that feel like friends. Not That Kind of Girl is that kind of book.”
—Winnipeg Free Press
“Wunderkind Lena Dunham proved she's no slouch as a writer.”
“[Dunham] shares so much of herself on her show that it's easy to assume you know her personally. . . . This honest and emotional collection of essays will make you once again feel like maybe you really are best friends. It'll also make you cry.” —Cosmopolitan “Dunham’s writing is beautiful and vulgar. . . . [Her] strength lies in essays that find a bridge between the personal and the universal. . . . Stunning.” —Toronto Star
“Dunham’s essays demonstrate her wonderfully flawed, quite romantic humanity. With unfiltered frankness, poetic exposition and great humour she tells us what she’s learnt and the mistakes she made. . . . Dunham is with a little subtlety placing herself in the canon of modern feminism. And she’s right to do so.”
—The Times (UK)
“Having a young, inspiring role model bare all to help other young women to avoid the same pitfalls and teach them that it’s fine to make mistakes can only be a good thing. . . . Not That Kind of Girl is funny, empowering and as good a millennial guide for navigating and laughing at your foggy adolescence and murky twenties as there can be: I only wish it had been around earlier.”
—The Sunday Times (UK)
“It’s as funny, filthy and open as the TV show that made her a household name. . . . What is most appealing about Dunham and her book [is] not just her honesty, but her nonjudgmental attitude.”
—The Sunday Times (UK) “Eloquent and often hilarious.”
“We are comforted, we are charmed, we leave more empowered than we came. . . . Lena Dunham is passionate, talented, hardworking. . . . A force to be reckoned with.”
“Dunham has a knack for minute observations and wanton exaggerations about everyday experience and a breezy-yet-droll delivery that could easily be compared to David Sedaris or Jon Ronson. . . . This book is funny. Not woman-funny. Not man-funny. Human-funny. And really, as we stumble through life trying to make sense of ourselves and each other, all with our metaphorical skirts tucked into our metaphorical tights, that’s all we could ask.”
“Raw and devastatingly real. It’s hard not to wish for more of those stories . . . ones that tell us more about how she became someone singular; a young woman whose work and words have put her at the center of a major pop culture conversation.”
“Girls viewers have seen all sides of the show’s creator and star, Lena Dunham. Or so they think. While the actress’s life experiences have always informed her work, here she trades character Hannah’s voice for her own more self-aware voice. But fans needn’t fret: as they’d expect, this collection of essays—part memoir, part advice tome—is candid and humorous. And it’s heartfelt, too.” —Hello! Canada“The sharp observation and distinctive voice she honed in Girls and in her 2010 movie, Tiny Furniture, are translated to the page. . . . She is, by turns, acerbic and vulnerable; self-absorbed and searching; boldly in your face and painfully anxious. . . . The gifted Ms. Dunham not only writes with observant precision, but also brings a measure of perspective, nostalgia and an older person’s sort of wisdom to her portrait of her (not all that much) younger self and her world. . . . By simply telling her own story in all its specificity and sometimes embarrassing detail, she has written a book that’s as acute and heartfelt as it is funny.”
— Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“Very funny, occasionally painful and frequently inspires snorts of oh-no-she-didn’t disbelief. Unlike the television show, there is no thin veil of fiction here, there is none of the ‘privilege checking’ that a hit sitcom demands. This is Dunham’s life, from childhood to now. . . . It is honest to the point of making you squirm, often admiringly. . . . It’s like Judy Blume but with rough sex and prescription drugs.”
—The Independent (UK)
“A lovely, touching, surprisingly sentimental portrait of a woman who, despite repeatedly baring her body and soul to audiences, remains a bit of an enigma: A young woman, who sets the agenda, defies classification and seems utterly at home in her own skin. . . . Her power is in her willingness to carve a path not yet taken.”
“Dunham has crafted warm, intelligent writing that is both deeply personal and engaging. . . . We are forever in search of someone who will speak not only to us but for us. . . . Not That Kind of Girl is from that kind of girl: gutsy, audacious, willing to stand up and shout. And that is why Dunham is not only a voice who deserves to be heard but also one who will inspire other important voices to tell their stories too.”
—Roxane Gay, TIME
“Dunham tells her readers so much that it seems silly to hope for more. But because this very inviting voice has spilled intimacies on every page, I want her to keep talking.”
—The Washington Post
“Dunham opens her memoir by reminding readers of the audacity inherent in believing one’s own story is worth telling—especially if one happens to be a woman—and her commitment to this belief is an invisible footnote on every page of her adroit, funny first book. Dunham . . . plunges to deep-sea depths of young womanhood with this collection of keenly felt childhood memories and adult ruminations that often seem told expressly to you, the reader she sometimes addresses. . . . But most arresting are her achingly self-aware and mirthful portrayals of the particular and peculiar sadnesses of growing up, the recurring realization that the many milestones one is led to believe will usher in the next step to adulthood with a distinct ‘ping’ rarely make a sound at all until one writes about them.”
—Booklist, starred review
“[Dunham] has the exceedingly rare ability to be 100 percent herself, 100 percent of the time. . . . This would be a remarkable achievement for anyone, and for someone who is both young and female (conditions that historically have not been the most favorable for marching to the beat of your own drum), the combination of extreme self-reference and extreme lack of vanity feels almost like a supernatural power. . . . Dunham is an extraordinary talent, and her vision . . . is stunningly original.” —Meghan Daum, The New York Times Magazine “A memoir in essays crammed with frightful and delightful detail and Lena-ish quips. It is, says Lena, a sort of guide to getting the best out of life. Reading it is an intense experience—more shocking than I was expecting, sadder and more beautiful—anyway; within a few pages I have become Lena’s nanny, her mum, the older sister she never had but would have loved, and her best sensible friend. I’m charmed, anxious, furious and totally committed. . . . Beautifully written.”
—The Guardian (UK)
“For people who watch Girls . . . it may be difficult at first to divorce Hannah’s voice from Dunham’s written one. . . . Like Hannah, Dunham is flip, recklessly goofy, and prone to saying shocking, self-deprecating things about herself in service of a joke. Unlike Hannah, Dunham is wholly in possession of her faculties and well aware of her place in the world. . . . Funny and incisive.” —The Boston Globe
“A precociously smart and supple writer. . . . A brilliant talent.”
—The Guardian (UK)
“Not That Kind Of Girl is about Lena Dunham, and only Lena Dunham. The answer is . . . to stop listening to the people who have the definition of ‘all’ and want to sell it back to us. I prefer the individual approach: here’s one woman telling us, for better or worse, the stories she wants to tell. That’s the kind of girl Lena Dunham is.”
“Very funny. . . . Her lively, precise writing slips the reader easefully into her states of mind. . . . An exciting novelist.”
—The Telegraph (UK)
“It's . . . brazen willingness to bare all that drives Dunham's work, and readers of this collection of smart, funny and poignant essays will thank her for it. . . . Every piece bears her original humor, but Dunham digs deeper into her arsenal of personal stories and finds extra courage to reveal some tough life experiences. . . . Although she's become known for exposure (often appearing naked on her show), she makes herself more vulnerable in this book than ever before, conveying deep emotion with poetic grace.” —ABC News
“Dunham’s tales of creative origin speak to a generation of young women slouching toward adulthood amid an obliterating sea of possibility, upending our sense of what our bodies should look like, what sex should be like—and what, in an age defined by the funhouse mirror of social media, a woman should aspire to become.”
“[Dunham] offers tales of her own experiences being overlooked and underloved. If that sounds corny or overly earnest, the essays that compose the book are neither. They're dark, discomforting, and very funny. . . . One of the things she grapples with throughout these essays [is] how we become accepted and loved and popular, without casting aside, or trying to hide, the unloved, unpopular people we once were. In fact, Dunham seems to want to revel in the dark spaces—the terrifying and awkward moments in life—which is pretty great.”
“Dunham’s writing is just as smart, honest, sophisticated, dangerous, and charming as her work on Girls. Its essential quality is a kind of joyful super-awareness: of herself, the world, the human. Reading her makes you glad to be in the world, and glad that she’s in it with you.”
“Very few women have become famous for being who they actually are, nuanced and imperfect. When honesty happens, it’s usually couched in self-ridicule or self-help. Dunham doesn’t apologize like that—she simply tells her story as if it might be interesting. Not That Kind of Girl is hilarious, artful, and staggeringly intimate; I read it shivering with recognition.”
“It’s not Lena Dunham’s candor that makes me gasp. Rather, it’s her writing—which is full of surprises where you least expect them. This is a fine, subversive book.”
“Always funny, sometimes wrenching, these essays are a testament to the creative wonder that is Lena Dunham.”
“This book should be required reading for anyone who thinks they understand the experience of being a young woman in our culture. I thought I knew the author rather well, and I found many (not altogether welcome) surprises.”
About the Author
Lena Dunham is the creator of the critically acclaimed HBO series Girls, for which she also serves as executive producer, writer, and director. She has been nominated for eight Emmy awards and has won two Golden Globes, including Best Actress, for her work on Girls. She was the first woman to win the Directors Guild of America award for directorial achievement in comedy. Dunham has also written and directed two feature-length films (including Tiny Furniture in 2011) and is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker. She lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
Joana Avillez is an illustrator and the author of Life Dressing, a tale of two women who live to dress and dress to live. Her artwork has been featured in The New York Times, New York, and The Wall Street Journal. More of her illustrations can be seen at joanaavillez.com.
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Top Customer Reviews
Some might say this book epitomizes the millennial experience in some ways. She manages to turn events that are really not all that note worthy into elaborate psychological traumas. It's not to say that her experiences aren't legitimate in the sense that they may have scarred her. Do I want to read about it or do I care? No. It felt like I was reading a teenager's journal. Funny at times, but mostly boring. If I knew the other people she was talking about it may have been more interesting, but she makes no effort to expand on characters other than herself.
I'm even counting the one where she had sex outside with a guy she met hours earlier. So shocking, right? And I suppose the fact that a celebrity is writing a book about having done this is supposed to be revolutionary in and of itself.
I do think it's pretty cool that we live in a time where certain women can write about personal experiences like this and still be employed in the public sphere. Why shouldn't they be is the obvious answer to that statement. But it kind of does feel like she's just spilling anything she can think of that might be somewhat shocking then standing by expectantly waiting for a reaction.
I strongly doubt it's possible to be any more fascinated by Lena Dunham than she is with herself. All that being said she is smart, funny and talented. It's just that her perspective is so self focused that it's hard to get a sense of how she moves about in the world. I'd love to read something she'd write ten years from now. I would also love to see her apply her talents to a subject other than herself.Read more ›
I enjoyed reading this, but if someone is looking to "learn" from it, it probably wouldn't be worthwhile. It's more just a fun little read.
It makes me sad that she is considered to be a feminist and spokesperson for her generation. I'm not even that old and I cringe at the idea that her narcissism and empty headedness is somehow desirable.
Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham
I learned of Lena Dunham due to the controversy surrounding her book. Controversy is a good thing, it got me interested in her show and her book. The show “Girls” is not my kind of thing so after three episodes I stopped watching. The book, which was given to me as a gift, I have enjoyed. It has taken me five months to finish it. I would come across something and have to think on it for a very long time. This book is an interesting piece of ramblings put together. To put my thoughts together for it, I thought I would share some of the pieces that had me reflecting for a while before I could move on.
“When I’m playing a character, I am never allowed to explicitly state the takeaway message of the scenes I’m performing – after all, part of the dramatic conflict is that the person I’m portraying doesn’t really know it yet. So let me do it here: I thought I was smart enough, practical enough, to separate what Joaquin said I was from what I knew I was. The way I saw it, I was fully capable of being treated with indifference that bordered on disdain while maintaining a strong sense of self-respect. I obeyed his commands, sure that I could fulfill this role while still protecting the sacred place inside of me that knew I deserved more. Different. Better.
But that isn’t how it works. When someone shows you how little you mean to them and you keep coming back for more, before you know it you start to mean less to yourself.”
I can do related to this sense of playing a character. It’s very much like my Living a Fraudulent Life post, I lived lies until I believed those lies and now is the slow healing from the damage my lies caused.
“I began to sob.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I expected this to be a bit more entertaining. It was still worth a read.Published 4 months ago by Tracy
Funny and an easy read. I read it in 2 days in Cuba last year on vacationPublished 5 months ago by Christina Walton
Fun witty book. Biography style of funny and weird moments in Lena Dunhams life. Arrived in good time and perfect condition.Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
I'd like to give this ZERO stars! I read 2-3 books a week and I never "quit" a book - no matter what. After plowing through a third of this, I DID quit! Awful ...Published 6 months ago by Barb