Madeline Link tells you why if you only pick up one book this year, it should be this one.
As I lie in bed and shudder with second-hand embarrassment, it occurrs to me that Lena Dunham might just be the most honest person on Earth. Sure, there has been a litany of honest people in this world, Ghandi, Abraham Lincoln, Oscar the Grouch. But it takes a special kind of person to share “That Time I Was Almost a Lesbian, Then Vomited” with the public sphere. Granted I was a late-comer to the Lena Dunham bandwagon. But I’m here now, desperately recruiting anyone that will listen. So here’s five reasons why everyone should read Not that Kind of Girl, a young woman tells you what she’s “learned”:
1. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to stare into the soul of another human being, this is your moment.
It takes more than just a self-sacrificing attitude to reveal the moments in your life most of us have buried so deep even we struggle to accurately remember the details. It takes bravery. It reminds you to be courageous about the less-fabulous moments that come with learning to be human. When you laugh at Lena, you laugh at yourself. That part of yourself that dies on the inside when you remember the time before you knew how to delete a browser history and Googled “blow-jobs” after hearing it at school and then had to have a talk with your parents about it.
2. It will make you laugh. Out loud.
I challenge you to find any other book with a section dedicated wholly to ’18 Unlikely Things I’ve Said Flirtatiously’, my favourite of which is “Let’s meet for a coffee, yeah. Well, not coffee coffee. Like a different drink, because coffee gave me a colon infection and I had to wear this paper underwear the hospital gave me.” Enough said.
3. The book is a stark reminder that it’s okay to be you. Not the “parent-voice” version of you. The version that sometimes tries too hard to dress like an adult and says offensive things without realising.
Cliché point, but clichés only become clichéd for a reason.
4. Never has there been a more authentic window into the female experience.
It’s real, it’s the kind of book that has you cringing in solidarity. Every bedroom-romp bungle, every moment of self-consciousness, the awkwardness that comes with learning the intricacies of the female body. We’ve all been there, and it’s nice to know you weren’t alone.
5. It’s a book that openly acknowledges it may have nothing to offer you, but offers it unapologetically anyway.
“I’m already predicting my future shame at thinking I had anything to offer you,” Dunham writes. “But if I can take what I’ve learned and make one menial job easier for you, or prevent you from having the kind of sex where you feel you must keep your sneakers on in case you want to run away during the act, then every misstep of mine will have been worthwhile,” she said.
Image: Madeline Link