Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's "Learned"

by Lena Dunham

Other authorsJoana Avillez (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 2014




Random House (2014), Edition: Illustrated, 288 pages


""If I could 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 was worthwhile. I'm already predicting my future shame at thinking I had anything to offer you, but also my future glory in having stopped you from trying an expensive juice cleanse or thinking that it was your fault when the person you are dating suddenly backs away, intimidated by the clarity of your personal mission here on earth. No, I am not a sexpert, a psychologist or a dietician. I am not a mother of three or the owner of a successful hosiery franchise. But I am a girl with a keen interest in having it all, and what follows are hopeful dispatches from the frontlines of that struggle.""--… (more)


(434 ratings; 3.2)

User reviews

LibraryThing member Milda-TX
Entertaining, if you can stomach this self-absorbed, privileged personality. Was looking for more stories of movie/tv business - or of a grown-up Lena. Hoping my daughter will skip the college chapter/essay, because clearly Ms. Dunham is not a role model for earnest students.
LibraryThing member deborahk
There were moments of clever brilliance here, but much of it was filler for a book meant to exploit the writer's current popularity. I'm an admirer of Lena Dunham, but I was unimpressed with her top ten lists - not that funny. I did appreciate the several pages of revealing and thought provoking
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observations and I also liked the illustrations.
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LibraryThing member ijustgetbored
In which I learned that, whatever kind of girl* Dunham is, I'm not.

*I'm not clear what kind of girl she is, but, admittedly, I did end up skimming many of the essays.
LibraryThing member swati.ravi
I found myself liking Lena Dunham immensely. Funny, sharp and conflicted, this is the kind of girl you want to call over for a feminist girls' pajama party. She's really fabulous. More power to her.
LibraryThing member jolenaryan
This is a sophisticated coming of age autobiography for young women. Lena Dunham tells about all of her personal experiences regarding sex, self image and learning to love yourself. The way she captures your attention is comforting and engaging. Definitely a great read of for young high school age
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curricular connections; self esteem building exercises, life skills and therapeutic outlets. Understanding and working through personal struggles. Modern writing.
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LibraryThing member amaryann21
I can't say that I always agree with Lena Dunham, but I agree with her approach to a lot of things. She's incapable of not sharing and uncomfortable with secrets and this is not for attention, it's how she ticks. She knows she doesn't have everything figured out and that is empowering for her,
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rather than holding her back. She's got a lot of fears but she confronts them and sees where the road takes her. And she's damn funny when she does it.

This is not a book for everyone and if you don't like Dunham, you'll probably hate it. I like that she's in her mid-20's and not sure where she goes from here, but she's excited about it. I like that she owns her past and realizes she's made mistakes, will make more, and hasn't learned all her lessons yet. She feels so REAL, and I think that's the biggest thing she's trying to convey. Watching someone embrace their flaws, not glorifying them, just recognizing they're part of being human, is refreshing.
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LibraryThing member Citizenjoyce
Most of this autobiography was depressing as the first season of Girls. Dunham recounts a time when she was 5 years old and accompanied by her little 4 year old friend at one of her father's art exhibits. An older woman asks them what their parents do to punish them if they're bad. The friend says
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that she's given a time out. Dunham says, "my father sticks a fork in my vagina." If you find that humorous, you'll really like the book. Dunham's parents are artists, and I looked up their work. Her father paints mostly pictures of big pink vaginas, most of them not in anatomically correct positions, some hanging down like penises. She says her mother took lots of nude selfies and turned them into art, but the ones I saw were of naked legs with objects instead of bodies. Not quite the same thing. Anyway, perhaps with this kind of background one would expect Dunham to have an accepting view of her body, which she does show in her nonchalance about nudity in movies. However, when it comes to enjoying reciprocal sexual relations she seems every bit as uptight as a teenage fundamentalist getting a purity ring from her daddy at a virginity ball. The reason I finally started liking Girls in the third season, and the reason the book finally became a good read, is that she talks about making it in her work. She is a big success and has finally developed quite a work ethic, but boy, she is not cut out to be anyone's employee. Artist to the core, I'm glad she's finally getting the sex part right.
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LibraryThing member kaylaraeintheway
I wanted to like this book a lot more than I did. I mean, look at that cover! It's so aesthetically pleasing (and I'm all about aesthetically pleasing book covers).

But, alas, I found myself disliking this book for pretty much the same reasons why I dislike Dunham's HBO show Girls: she's incredibly
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self-centered, views the world only through her specific experiences and gets upset when things are not as she would like them, and lives in a weird nightmare land of a privileged New York upbringing combined with a therapist and self-diagnosed neuroses. Honestly, I'm wondering why I ever thought I would enjoy this collection of essays and lists in the first place...

I'm sounding pretty harsh. I did enjoy the cute little illustrations throughout the book. I laughed at a few places, mostly during her aforementioned lists. Her final essay on a guide to running away for a 27 year old resonated a bit with me...but most of the time I just found myself rolling my eyes at what she had to say about topics such as sex, medical disorders, college life, and being an adult. I applaud Dunham for being able to turn her little bubble into a profitable form of self-reflection and confirmation, but it is unfortunately all too laughably immature and annoying for my taste. As a woman fast approaching my mid-20's, I'm appalled that someone who has had so much opportunity to experience life and the world and who has had so much success is stuck in her teens/early 20's. I just...ugh. The more I type, the more annoyed/angry I get. So I'll just leave it at that.

The aesthetically pleasing cover is incentive enough for me to keep this the used bookstore it goes!
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LibraryThing member JudithDCollins
Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's 'Learned by Lena Dunham is a brutally honest account of one woman’s reflection with humor and insight.

I listened to the audiobook, narrated by the author, for a day’s entertainment while running errands, jogging, and driving.

Even though
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I am an older generation, sometimes it feels as though Dunham brings kind of a mature and older perspective from her experiences in life. Her writing is sassy, honest, funny, artful, creative, shocking, and hilarious at times as you will laugh out loud.

Her experiences can range from painful mistakes, flaws, sarcastic, cynical, to smiles. I commend her for her boldness and bravery in writing her story, as she is not shy about airing her laundry for everyone- and plenty of gals could take a page out of her book, and learn from experience.

She is all over the board, which makes the audiobook fun, flitting from one thing to another as if she were with a group of friends, which was kind of refreshing.

Even if you are not in the age group, it is still an entertaining look for those who want to understand the complexities of this generation.

I was a huge fan of Carrie Bradshaw; however think Lena is more real and brutally honest which may make some more uncomfortable, but she says what she thinks so you have to admire her.
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LibraryThing member EmKel753
Writer and director of the wildly popular HBO series Girls, Lena Dunham reveals, with brutal honesty and candor, stories from her childhood which have helped her become the woman she is.
LibraryThing member laurustina
I'm wavering on this one. Parts of it deserved a 5 but other bits were less inspiring. Like everything else Lena Dunham writes, it's funny, wrenching and raw. The little indulgences (unsent letters and such) aren't bad, but the narrative time-traveling is at times jarring. Still, it's Lena, with
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all her faults and charms, saying the shit we never dared to.
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LibraryThing member St.CroixSue
Lena Dunham is the creator, executive producer, writer, director, and actress of the HBO series Girls and this is a book of her personal essays on life, sexuality, dating, obsessions, anxiety and just about everything in between. It is creative, observant, and deeply funny while at the same time
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deeply sad. She is a creative force whether you appreciate her subject matter or not.
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LibraryThing member sj1335
I've never watched her show on HBO but I will be, that's for sure!
I absolutely loved her essays and great wit, she is very honest in regards to her flaws and phobias that we all had issues with. I really enjoyed this book and hope she'll find time to write more
LibraryThing member klack128
Oh Lena Dunham....why can't I decide how I feel about you?! I really struggle with admiring her audacity and really just thinking she's kind of insane. This book did little to make that struggle lessen any.

On the one hand, I really do applaud Dunham's honesty. She truly embraces who she is--flaws
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and all-- and there are moments in this autobiography where she really exposes her vulnerability. This really makes her seem more human and relatable than she so often does. The section where she discusses being raped felt very honest, even more so because she seemed unable to just come out and say what happened to her. Yes, she did this artfully, but it also seemed like a way to still somehow lessen what happened--almost as though she were still trying to make excuses for something inexcusable that was done to her.

She is very open, also, about her struggles with anxiety and mental illness, which I appreciated. She discussed her experiences with therapy, and the ways in which her anxiety set her apart from her peers from a very early age.

While all of this is noteworthy and admirale, though, there are times when it also seems that Dunham is completely oblivious to the life of privilege that she has always led. To hear her talk, it seems that she is shocked to discover a world outside Manhattan. Anything that is not New York may as well not exist, and those of us who did not grow up in that magical world must not know what it is to truly live. Okay, so maybe that's a bit harsh--but her love of her hometown does seem to exceed typical hometown pride

There are also other moments in the book where she does not seem to realize that what she's describing is not anything like most people's typical experiences growing up. At least, they're nothing like mine. There's the much-maligned section about her vying for her sister's affection. Did I think that was super weird? Absolutely. Do I think she sexually molested her sister? No. I really just think she doesn't realize that that behavior is not the kind most children exhibit.

The autobiography was refreshing in the sense that it did make me realize that Lena herself is not ENTIRELY her character on Girls, although her experiences have definitely colored Hannah's. I was afraid that I would read "Not That Kind of Girl" and realize that Lena IS Hannah, which may have killed my faith in humanity.

I don't know that I learned much from Dunham's lessons, but I did enjoy her tale, even as it made me squirm at times and be VERY glad it wasn't my own.
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LibraryThing member monamie
This book is a spectacular and engaging book by a young woman who is smart, creative, charming, honest, raw, funny, and complicated. It is a book that does what art should do: it makes you feel. It makes you feel understanding and empathy, it makes you feel understood and "normal" because someone
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else feels all the weird things you feel that you're not "supposed" to feel. It makes you feel uncomfortable and challenged, it makes you feel inspired and curious. This book is a book all young women should read, a book I wish I had to read as a young woman.

"When you run away, the point is not to escape. You aren't actually trying to disappear. You just want to attract your mother. The great fantasy is that she's somewhere, watching, like the mother in Runaway Bunny who becomes the tree, then becomes the lake, then becomes the moon. Your mother becomes the mini backpack and becomes the loaf of bread and becomes the Devon Sawa poster above it where you go to sulk after it's all over. She knows. She knows."
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LibraryThing member sublunarie
I am going to desperately try to write a short review without filling it with responses to other people’s reviews. Here we go.

Not That Kind of Girl is a flighty, off-the-cuff collection of short stories compiled to make a train-of-thought style memoir-ish collection. It is similar in structure to
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Tina Fey’s “Bossypants" and Mindy Kaling’s "Is Everybody Hanging Out Without Me?" (and probably tons more, but those are two that I’ve read and that come to mind).

Dunham is not trying to change the world with this book, and she is purposely being self-indulgent. This is a memoir. One of the top-most adjectives to define a memoir is “self-indulgence”. Her experiences and reflections are her own, and there really is very little room to identify or relate to her stories. I am no longer in my 20s, I was not raised in New York City by well-off and artsy parents, and my rural mid-western upbringing could not be farther from Dunham’s experiences. But I still enjoyed reading them, and I still appreciate her sharing them.

What I most enjoyed was when the author shares her experiences with OCD and dissociative disorder. She manages to tell stories about how she has dealt with these things in her life without asking for pity and also letting us know it’s okay to laugh about her experiences, because sometimes these things cause people to do really weird shit.

I’m not sure I’ve ever described a book with this term, but I feel like this would definitely be a good “beach read”. (I don’t go to the beach and beaches and oceans terrify me in general, so I just read it at work.) It’s short, engaging without being over-bearing, interesting and sometimes funny. The only complaint I have is that Dunham writes in a way that shows she has no idea of her privilege and she never once stops to consider that her upbringing/life isn’t an average one. At the same time, I’m not sure if this book is the right place to do that.
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LibraryThing member Xleptodactylous
White girl wrote a book.
LibraryThing member rglossne
I listened to Lena Dunham read this on audio. I laughed a lot and was happy I am not her mother.
LibraryThing member alanna1122
It took me three months to read this book.

I think the first third is really tough going. The anecdotes are not that entertaining and there is just so much navel gazing - I found it really hard to get through. Around the halfway point I found it a quick read. The stories were good and I found myself
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happy to pick it up. Towards the end I really liked the essays on camp - but sort of loathed the ones on death. Maybe that is just a personal thing - but I just found them really plodding and just too much.

I read the whole thing, so it definitely wasn't all bad. I just had expected it to be zippier.
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LibraryThing member v_allery
I enjoyed Not That Kind of Girl a lot - so much I pretty much read it in one sitting. I read 2/3 of the book and was thinking to myself that I cannot relate to anything whatsoever (not the sexcapades, fear of sleeping alone, being assured by a bag full of medicine), but in Part 5, when Lena Dunham
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talks about her childhood memories of being afraid of death and hypochondria, I felt like I could have written a lot of those things. Same with the part about fitness and health or the lack of it, really. She does talk about a lot of life's challenges and problems in a very easy manner, like they are not a big deal, which I like, otherwise the book would have been quite depressing. I would not categorize it as "humour", though. It is at times so cynical and ironic that it seems almost sad, but in a understandable, relatable, been-there-done-that kind of way.

Cannot say I took a lot from the book, which is why I rated it 3/5.
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LibraryThing member Kiddboyblue
Probably my least favorite memoir I've read in awhile. It felt very scattered and off balance. There was no rhyme or reason to much of her story. Just disconnected stories from her life that sometimes were kind of funny, but mostly I just sort of thought....OK.
There was virtually nothing about how
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"Girls" came about and also none of the humor or wit that I see in the writing of that show.
This one was a pretty big let down for me.
After finishing this I'm still not sure what kind of girl Lena Dunham isn't.
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LibraryThing member katesene
Dunham is the voice of her generation.
LibraryThing member wagner.sarah35
I'm not certain what the male opinion of this book would be, but I can say that as a young woman, Lena Dunham's book truly resonated with me. My experiences have been different from hers, but so much of what she speaks about is true of an entire generation and the world in which we inhabit today.
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Being a college graduate but not having a "real" job, struggles with dieting and losing weight, and figuring out sex and relationships. These are not unique struggles, but Lena Dunham explores them in a honest, sometimes humorous style, that is easy to relate to. I would highly recommend this book to any young woman of my generation.
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LibraryThing member dele2451
If a book can make you grimace and laugh and think about the world just a little differently (sometimes all on the same page), I believe it is worth reading. Lena Dunham has given us such a book. I've never even seen her show "Girls", but I'm going to check that out next.
LibraryThing member justacatandabook
Full disclosure about my review of this book: I have always just liked Lena Dunham and harbored secret fantasies of us becoming friends. I'm sure this influenced my review somewhat. I'll admit that I would have liked to have read a bit more about how she got into the business, versus just random
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thoughts, but I also recognize that wasn't really the purpose of this particular book.

I also had to remind myself that Lena comes from the oversharing generation. There is a lot in this book that could potentially make you cringe, but if you know her work on Girls or anything else, it won't really come as a surprise. Overall, I found her writing style easy to read, and interesting, if not particularly amazing. I also enjoyed the chance to see any parallels between her life and Girls.

If this hadn't been an ebook I borrowed from the library, I definitely would have dog-eared some of the pages where she talks about how a woman deserves to be treated. There's certainly a lot to be learned from many of her pages, and I found a lot of what she said to be fascinating, if not disturbing, at times.

It was an easy, quick read and gave me some good insight into her life. (And I still want to be friends with her. And Lamby.)
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8.51 inches


081299499X / 9780812994995


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