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After spending several years in social services, Nicole has finally followed her lifelong dream of being a full-time writer. In addition to her work for The Hudsucker, Nicole is also a staff writer for Womanista. An avid comic book fan, BBQ aficionado, professional makeup artist and first-time mom, Nicole can be found exploring Kansas City rich history when she's not blogging about suburban life at Suburban Flamingo.

Book Review: Learning Nothing From Lena Dunham’s ‘Not That Kind of Girl’

Back in 2012 Lena Dunham received a $3.7 million dollar advance from Random House to write a book of advice for young women.  The amount was staggering for a young woman who had never written a book before and was best known for her debut film, Tiny Furniture, and her controversial HBO series, Girls. Many felt the amount was extreme and unwarranted. The book, patterned off of Helen Gurley Brown’s iconic Having It All, was released last month allowing the world to find out for itself.


Image Credit: NPR

If one can base an advance on the skill of the writer then Lena Dunham was absolutely worth the money. Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned”, a collection of autobiographical essays, is very well-written. Dunham puts together flawless sentences and she can storytell with great skill and interest. Her words glide across the page and pull you along the stories she tells quickly and without too much transition between them. You don’t get lost in trying to understand what she has to say. Her words are clear.

Something else is clear in her book, however, and that is that Lena Dunham is self-obsessed, superficial, and very deliberately weird. This is the book of a woman who manufactures her quirks and is deeply lost in her own privilege. These deep shortcomings show within the very first pages of her book in which she talks about sex, sharing a bed with someone in lieu of sex, and just how edgy she is for leaving New York to go to school in Ohio. Her entire book is completely without advice or even insight. There is no nugget of wisdom in the weird stories she tells (many of which don’t seem real or even like good fiction.) The stories are just a book length version of overshare and not of the good kind. She even includes a 10-page chapter that is a verbatim copy of her food diary. Dunham just artfully vomits out a lot of words that are fun to hang out with, but have zero value unless you are playing a drinking game about how many times she can mention her vagina.

I don’t recommend playing such a drinking game. You will probably die of alcohol poisoning before the midpoint of the book. Please don’t die for this book. This book is barely worth the money you paid for it. It’s definitely not worth your life or most of the time devoted to it.

In a nutshell this book is just a deftly-crafted paper version of Dunham herself: an intelligent, immature caricature of a human with faux quirkiness designed for shock and profit. It was a shrewd business move on Dunham’s part, but despite the book being her telling you “what she’s learned” there is nothing to be learned here. Except, of course, that Lena Dunham has nothing to say.

Lena Dunham’s memoir, Not That Kind of Girl is in stores now.

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3 Comments on “Book Review: Learning Nothing From Lena Dunham’s ‘Not That Kind of Girl’”

  1. Caila November 3, 2014 at 1:57 pm #

    I was pretty excited to read this, but I was really disappointed. There was nothing insightful or even that interesting. I found the chapters that were just lists of random stuff (“15 Things I Learned From my Mother” or something similar) especially useless.

  2. Lyla Michaels November 3, 2014 at 6:18 pm #

    Reblogged this on Conversations I Wish I Had and commented:
    I’m a bit bummed by this… A part of me however can’t help but wonder (and apprehend) that Dunham could be the voice of this generation- that is, in self-obsession and superficiality…

  3. antheaelisabeth November 23, 2014 at 3:51 am #

    I was very disturbed by what Lena said about her sister. Not only does what she talked about sound like an inappropriate thing to do, Lena is angry that not everyone is reacting to her book with a chorus of admiration. If you put your work out there, you need to be prepared for criticism.

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