Book Review: Not That Kind Of Girl by Lena Dunham

Published: September 30, 2014.

“Honest, funny and very, very intimate.”


What Is ‘Not That Kind Of Girl’ About?

Lena Dunham, acclaimed writer-director-star of HBO and Sky Atlantic’s Girls and the award-winning movie ‘Tiny Furniture’, displays her unique powers of observation, wisdom and humour in an exceptional collection of essays.
The full title is: ‘Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s Learned’.

Why Did I Read ‘Not That Kind Of Girl’?

Linking back to a previous post on writers that have inspired me – click here for that – Lena Dunham is an extremely honest, raw and very talented writer. I’m a big fan of Girls and wanted to read her book based on that alone.
Also as part of my plan to read/listen to great writers so that I improve, Lena Dunham stands out as a very truthful and current writer who tells funny stories about everyday events, sex and relationships. If reading this rubs on any of those qualities it wouldn’t be a bad thing.

What I Liked About ‘Not That Kind Of Girl’

Lena has a very honest and open way about her and this tradition continues throughout this book.
She is very intimate with her tales of falling in love as well as the lessons she learnt from each relationship.
It was no surprise that she described sex with graphic detail but laughs and awkwardness aside among the stories and humour is a dark and hazy recollection that she was once raped (or at the least taken advantage of when drunk), this was not only shocking but brave.
Lena also talks about her body and about weight loss. She recalls her time as a vegan, vegetarian and carnivore. There’s a whole segment on her body where she recounts a journal entry illustrating how seriously she took to logging her calorie intake. In doing, so it highlights how unhealthy and intense it was – literally recording two raspberries, a couple of almonds, celery sticks… It also shows in her notes how unwell she was feeling and how unaware she was at the time. It’s powerful stuff and quite a clever way of delivering a message without beating it over your head in a lecture.
There’s a touching section about Lena’s sister Grace, about her upbringing, stories of their sisterly love and her coming out as gay. Lena also writes affectionately of her love for New York.
There’s an interesting stint that recalls her time at a creative writing school and, to my surprise, she doesn’t have a lot of good things to say. Reading this, I’m left wondering how much of ‘Hannah’ is ‘Lena’.
There also an interesting part about her therapy and how she went about treating her obsessive compulsive disorder – yet more ties with her character ‘Hannah’.

What I Didn’t Like About ‘Not That Kind Of Girl’

Half way in I realised that this isn’t the sort of book I would normally read. That isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy parts of it, but there wasn’t a great deal about the time she spent learning to write or her journey making Girls – it’s more a series of confessions about her take on love, her body, her family, her compulsive disorder and early experiences of work.
There’s an interesting part of this book surrounding Lena’s observations of Hollywood – specifically targetting the men that have tried to use her in some way, whether that be obusing her sexually or professionally. She decided not to name and shame anyone, which was disappointing – but understandable.

Good Or Bad?

Was it any good? Yes. Worth a read and certainly well written.
Would I recommend it? Depends if you’re interested in reading about sexual experiences and find humour in awkwardness. It’s tone definitely aligns with Girls, so if you like that you should love this.
Would I read it again? Probably not. I was hoping to glean more on her approach to writing and there isn’t a great deal to find on that subject in this book.

Here are some other reviews:
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
On Writing (A Memoir Of The Craft) by Stephen King
The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins
The Big Short by Michael Lewis
The Martian by Andy Weir

What’s on the list?
The Lafayette Campaign by Andrew Updegrove
The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr
The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan
The Hidden Legacy by GJ Minett

Any suggestions?

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David P. Philip

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