Friday, April 29, 2016

How to Weep in Public: Feeble Offerings on Depression from Someone Who Knows by Jacqueline Novak

I was too offended by much of the rudeness and lewdness in How to Weep in Public: Feeble Offerings on Depression from Someone Who Knows.  I read up to page 101 before becoming so bothered I couldn’t bring myself to continue.  I had hoped to be entertained by Jacqueline Novak’s take on the misery of depression, but the vulgar language and excessive sexual references made me feel annoyed and irritated instead of amused. 

I get that she’s a popular mainstream, not-at-all-religious comedian and the shock factor is what gets to some people, but I wasn’t feeling it.  I’m sure that watching several of Christian comedian and musician Tim Hawkins’ hilarious Youtube videos this week also influenced my visceral dislike for Novak’s approach.     

I’ll admit a few of the items on her Top lists included made me smile, but I never found myself actually laughing (which to me is the mark of a book that is truly funny).  At least, she was brutally honest in the Introduction:
“What This Book Will Not Provide:
  •        Useful exercises
  •        Insights of lasting value
  •        Relief from depression
  •        Help of any kind” (p. 9)

I get that this is humor and a parody, but skimming quickly through the rest of the book only to discover that my favorite flavor of Ben and Jerry’s has been discontinued was more than I could handle.  One of the primary ways I’ve experienced significant relief from depression has been to make some rather drastic changes to my diet, so I rarely eat dairy products, chocolate, or lots of processed sugar these days, but knowing that I won’t get to so much as glance at my former ice cream fix on the frozen foods aisle seems cruel.

If I were knee-deep in self-help books and languishing in the lingo of depression but had never sat with someone who was feeling suicidal to keep them from ending their lives or considered the possibility of my own early demise, I might feel differently.  

I wouldn’t recommend this book for those who are suffering from severe depression or in the midst of caring for someone who does.  I personally have found books on the topic by Henri Nouwen, Kathryn J. Hermes, FSP, Joyce Rupp, and Nick Vujicic significantly more interesting, encouraging, practical, and enjoyable to read.  (Nouwen is a priest, the next two are consecrated women religious, and the last one is an upbeat, humorous gentleman author and speaker who was born without arms or legs).  Their faith-based approaches resonate with me and left me with three of the four anecdotes that Novak’s book lacked: "useful exercises, insights of lasting value, and help..."

I received a free copy of How To Weep in Public from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.  Got a blog?  Like reading and reviewing books, check out their program here. 
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