I Know What I'm Doing and Other Lies I Tell Myself
by Jen Kirkman
In I Know What I’m Doing—and Other Lies I Tell Myself, Jen offers up all the gory details of a life permanently in progress. She reassures you that it’s okay to not have life completely figured out, even when you reach middle age (and find your first gray pubic hair!). She talks about making unusual or unpopular life decisions (such as cultivating a “friend with benefits” or not going home for the holidays) because you don’t necessarily want for yourself what everyone else seems to think you should. It’s about renting when everyone says you should own, dating around when everyone thinks you should settle down, and traveling alone when everyone pities you for going to Paris without a man. From marriage to divorce and sex to mental health, I Know What I’m Doing—and Other Lies I Tell Myself is about embracing the fact that life is a bit of a sh*t show and it’s definitely more than okay to stay true to yourself. -- amazon.com
Unique topic and time span
One of the bigger themes in "I Know What I'm Doing" is divorce and Jen embracing her life as a forty something divorcee. Much of the book focuses on this in one way or another - how the divorce came to be, moving to her new condo, her first relationships post divorce, etc. Most of the other comedian memoir-y reads aren't as focused, and I enjoyed that the timeline and topic in " I Know What I'm Doing" did not seem to jump much. While I'm not sure how many actual years ensued between the beginning and end of the book, I really liked that there wasn't a chapter about Kirkman's life now, a chapter about her youth, college, etc. It was a solid chunk of time, with some reflections on the past sprinkled in. I think this left the book feeling more familiar and it was also more interesting for me as a reader.
Obviously - this book is funny. Some of my favorite segments from " I Know What I'm Doing" were: Jen's active imaginings of her possible health crisis and resulting love story, her anxiety about her anxiety on airplanes ( god how I hate flying), her frustrations with unhelpful telephone answering services, and all of the times she discussed struggling with grey hairs and the many other blessings that come with being an "older woman". I loved so many of the comedic moments in this book, and found myself not only laughing but also nodding my head in agreement. It is such a wonderful feeling to have someone explain, in a much funnier way that you ever could, how you feel about something. It's the best kind of therapy.
Things I Struggled With
Frequently in Jen's book, and in her comedy, she discusses her marriage and her decision to not have children. I enjoy listening to her talk about this, and find it funny. At the same time, I also felt like I was sitting at the wrong table several times reading this book. While I can appreciate the comedy, no one enjoys feeling judged or like their decisions are viewed as "less than". As someone who is married, has a 19 month old son, and plans to have more children - I just don't think I'm the ideal audience for this book. I know that Jen Kirkman felt judged by others for her decisions to get divorced and for not having children - she even recounts several interactions with doctors that were more than uncomfortable, so I was definitely put off to feel some judgement coming my way. As funny as I found the parts of the book I related to, I think a woman, likely over thirty, who is divorced or without children or a combination there of, would enjoy this book on a completely different level than I could.
Have you read "I Know What I'm Doing"? Let me know what you thought about the book below! What is your favorite Jen Kirkman stand up bit, or are you just as big a fan of Drunk History? Thinking about reading this book? Click here to find the book at your local library, or click below to view the book on Amazon!
Many thanks to the publisher, Simon & Schuster, for allowing me to read this book prior to publication. As a "girl about library", where books are always free, you can be sure that all opinions expressed are my own. Happy reading!