Monday, 8 October 2012

It's Not Me, It's You - Jon Richardson

I picked up this book on a lark while I was working at HarperCollins. The employee store was amazing and all paperback books were 25 pence. Since I happen to like Jon Richardson as a comic and picking up his book wouldn't put me back much, I picked it up in my mad buying spree. I thought it would be good, silly fun.

The book is a nonfictional look at Jon's life and more specifically, his love life. He has been single for eight years (when the book was written) and by going through a period of three days with him, the reader follows him as he thinks about the way he lives his life and how he feels this impairs his chances of finding happiness. 

What I really liked about this book is that it wasn't anything you expected. It has its funny moments, of course, but for the most part, this is a pretty intense look into the issues someone faces everyday. Jon's intense fear of failure and his need to do things his own way, not to mention his tendency to analyze every possible thing that could go wrong before taking a single chance stand in his way as he struggles to make himself text a girl that gave him her number a few nights before. And as Jon slowly explains the way his mind works, it makes you sympathize and root for him. There were definitely some moments where I could really sympathize with what he was saying and it definitely sheds light on things about my own life that I never really thought about. 

There are a lot of things that I really enjoyed his thoughts on and really made me think. I'm going to give you a few tasters:

"Friendship [is] something that transcend[s] physicality; it [is] almost purer than any love you could feel for a partner. The friends you make as a child who stay with you throughout your life do so not because they find you attractive, or they gain financially from your time together, but because something deep down connects the two of you. Because you have stayed with each other through more than one period of your evolution."

"Dreams are an excuse for unhappiness; they allow us to think we would be happier and healthier if only we had what we were looking for. Once that thing has been found and eternal bliss remains as unattainable as ever, then unhappiness takes on a life all of its own, unconnected to any one possession or person. It is an entity that cannot be controlled, cannot be defeated and comes and goes from your life entirely as it pleases like a drunken guest at a house party, staggering from room to room and bringing with them only chaos."

And my personal favorite:

"It is a source of confusion to me that as a child, say, in your first fifteen years, you learn more than you will ever learn in the same time period for the rest of your life. You learn how to walk and to talk, you learn about illness, death and about not getting your own way. You learn that life is sometimes unfair and that, for no reason at all, bad things happen to good people. You learn that there will come a time when all help ceases and you will be in sole charge of your own happiness and responsible for your own actions. You learn about money and what it is to be without it and you learn (if you are lucky) to ask questions about religion and what might exist beyond the world we know.

Not only this, but you must also get to grips with school, exams, bullying, physical education and physical attraction and the prospect of being poorly suited to success in both, not to mention the constant see-sawing of emotion caused by the hormonal changes going on in your body and doubts about sexuality and the consequences this might have on your future.

All of these issues are to be confronted night after night, staring up at the ceiling on your own with your brain fit to burst, in a single bed. Then suddenly you become an 'adult' and you are told that the inability to find someone with whom you can share a double bed is the single biggest failure you can make in life. Well, bullshit!"

To be quite honest, I kind of love this book. It's definitely not what it's marketed as ("So funny! You'll love it!," etc,) but that just makes it better. It's not a memoir, it's not some trivial joke book, it's a person with things to say and intelligent things, at that. Parts of Jon's book really resonated with me and I think they will with more people than are willing to admit to it. I absolutely loved it and if those quotes above appealed to you, than you'll like it, too.

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