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

66%

41 Critic Reviews

This surely won’t be the last we see of Dunham, but we can only hope her next foray into literature will be a more streamlined and honest effort.
-Toronto Star

Synopsis

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Includes two new essays!

NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY MICHIKO KAKUTANI, THE NEW YORK TIMES • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY BUZZFEED, THE GLOBE AND MAIL, AND LIBRARY JOURNAL

For readers of Nora Ephron, Tina Fey, and David Sedaris, this hilarious, wise, and fiercely candid collection of personal essays establishes Lena Dunham—the acclaimed creator, producer, and star of HBO’s Girls—as one of the most original young talents writing today.
 
In Not That Kind of Girl, Dunham illuminates the experiences that are part of making one’s way in the world: falling in love, feeling alone, being ten pounds overweight despite eating only health food, having to prove yourself in a room full of men twice your age, finding true love, and most of all, having the guts to believe that your story is one that deserves to be told.
 
“Take My Virginity (No Really, Take It)” is the account of Dunham’s first time, and how her expectations of sex didn’t quite live up to the actual event (“No floodgate had been opened, no vault of true womanhood unlocked”); “Girls & Jerks” explores her former attraction to less-than-nice guys—guys who had perfected the “dynamic of disrespect” she found so intriguing; “Is This Even Real?” is a meditation on her lifelong obsession with death and dying—what she calls her “genetically predestined morbidity.” And in “I Didn’t F*** Them, but They Yelled at Me,” she imagines the tell-all she will write when she is eighty and past caring, able to reflect honestly on the sexism and condescension she has encountered in Hollywood, where women are “treated like the paper thingies that protect glasses in hotel bathrooms—necessary but infinitely disposable.”
 
Exuberant, moving, and keenly observed, Not That Kind of Girl is a series of dispatches from the frontlines of the struggle that is growing up. “I’m already predicting my future shame at thinking I had anything to offer you,” Dunham writes. “But if I can 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 will have been worthwhile.”

Praise for Not That Kind of Girl
 
“The gifted Ms. Dunham not only writes with observant precision, but also brings a measure of perspective, nostalgia and an older person’s sort of wisdom to her portrait of her (not all that much) younger self and her world. . . . As acute and heartfelt as it is funny.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
 
“It’s not Lena Dunham’s candor that makes me gasp. Rather, it’s her writing—which is full of surprises where you least expect them. A fine, subversive book.”—David Sedaris
 
“This book should be required reading for anyone who thinks they understand the experience of being a young woman in our culture. I thought I knew the author rather well, and I found many (not altogether welcome) surprises.”—Carroll Dunham
 
“Witty, illuminating, maddening, bracingly bleak . . . [Dunham] is a genuine artist, and a disturber of the order.”—The Atlantic


From the Trade Paperback edition.
 

About Lena Dunham

See more books from this Author
LENA DUNHAM is the creator and star of the critically-acclaimed HBO series Girls, for which she also serves as executive producer, writer and director. She has been nominated for 8 Emmy awards and has won 2 Golden Globes, including Best Actress, for her work on Girls. Lena has also written and directed two feature length films (including 2011's Tiny Furniture), created two web series, and is a frequent contributor to the The New Yorker. Lena graduated from Oberlin College in 2008.
Author Residence: Brooklyn, NY
Author Hometown: New York, NY
 
Published January 1, 2015 by HarperCollins. 290 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Humor & Entertainment, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Nov 09 2014
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Critic reviews for Not That Kind of Girl
All: 41 | Positive: 25 | Negative: 16

Kirkus

Above average
on Sep 09 2014

The problem isn’t that the author gives us too much information; the problem is that it’s repetitive and often boring, lacking the humor and stylishness of Nora Ephron or Tina Fey...Dunham shows flashes of the humor and sharp eye that make Girls so compelling, but the pleasure of watching the TV show doesn’t translate to the page.

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on Oct 06 2014

While Dunham is eager for that something better, she doesn't want to lose sight of the Mouseburger inside...Not only does this provide her wonderful material, but it's an invigorating, refreshing slap in the face to a world that is so unwelcoming to all the amusing, sweet, smart Mouseburgers out there.

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Sloane Crosley on Oct 09 2014

...in order to enjoy “Not That Kind of Girl,” we must dissolve the “you’re either with us or against us” critical barrier around Dunham. She did not come first, and she will not be last, but she has earned the right to be listened to, to be judged on the quality of her writing, even when what we read sounds familiar.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Michiko Kakutani on Sep 23 2014

...by simply telling her own story in all its specificity and sometimes embarrassing detail, she has written a book that’s as acute and heartfelt as it is funny.

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Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Hadley Freeman on Sep 30 2014

Dunham has now made what are essentially three versions of her autobiography by the age of 28: a film, three seasons of a TV show and a book, and the gruel is running thin. The anecdotes in the book often feel like rejected ideas for Girls episodes...

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Nina Stibbe on Sep 27 2014

...you know it’s going to end badly. You know why, how and probably when. But when a book is this beautifully written and the ending is happy enough, it’s a pleasure to be reminded.

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WSJ online

Below average
Reviewed by JESSICA KASMER-JACOBS on Sep 26 2014

If you've seen "Girls," you can almost imagine how this could be played for laughs—but if you haven't, Ms. Dunham's self-centered (and surely exaggerated) account comes across as callous.

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Examiner

Good
Reviewed by Brooke Wylie on Oct 13 2014

If anything, the material in her first book, Not That Kind of Girl...is full-to-brimming with even more candor than what came before it....Some 246 pages later it is quite clear than Dunham has achieved her aims, perhaps not in the exact manner she suggests, but merely by sharing what she does, the way she does.

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Financial Times

Above average
Reviewed by Sophie Elmhirst on Oct 10 2014

Dunham’s best writing is in the vein of Woody Allen and David Sedaris...Like them, she pans gold from neurotic misfortune...I believe her completely when she says in her introduction that she tells her stories “in order to stay sane” but less when she starts gently instructing the presumed readership of wide-eyed teenage girls.

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Globe and Mail

Above average
Reviewed by Courtney Shea on Sep 30 2014

The extent to which Girls reflects its creator’s own experiences becomes all the more apparent reading Not That Kind of Girl, Dunham’s first book that is part memoir, part advice tome and part personal exercise...

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Toronto Star

Below average
Reviewed by Safa Jinje on Oct 18 2014

This surely won’t be the last we see of Dunham, but we can only hope her next foray into literature will be a more streamlined and honest effort.

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Entertainment Weekly

Good
Reviewed by Leah Greenblatt on Sep 26 2014

It's hard not to wish for more of those stories; not the ones that say ''I'm just like you!'' but ones that tell us more about how she became someone singular: a young woman whose work and words have put her at the center of a major pop culture conversation.

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National Post arts

Above average
Reviewed by Haley Mlotek on Sep 30 2014

Not That Kind Of Girl is a collection of all the things that have made Lena Dunham into “Lena Dunham,”...

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The Washington Post

Above average
Reviewed by Rachel Dry on Sep 24 2014

The book takes an advice tone in moments and then seems to forget that there was advice to dispense. It has an empowerment undercurrent, and I will admit to being a teensy bit empowered...

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The Independent

Above average
Reviewed by HOLLY WILLIAMS on Oct 04 2014

...the book succeeds in redefining a thorny, pernicious pressure on women. “Having it all” need not mean hitting narrow markers of success...

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The Independent

Below average
Reviewed by ALICE JONES on Sep 22 2014

This is personal as political, and frequently fascinating it is too, but not every last detail of a life is worth retelling. At times, the relentless self-analysis becomes exhausting.

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The Telegraph

Good
Reviewed by Iona McLaren on Oct 02 2014

The essays – at best, New Yorker-ish and elegiac – are interspersed with odd little lists that we could really have done without...

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Booklist Online

Good
Reviewed by Annie Bostrom on Sep 18 2014

Drawings by illustrator Joana Avillez, Dunham’s lifelong friend, contribute to the charming, confessional reading.

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The Boston Globe

Below average
Reviewed by Eugenia Williamson on Sep 30 2014

Dunham is at her best when she writes about her younger self...The book is less successful in portions where Dunham tries to impart the wisdom of her limited years...

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San Francisco Chronicle

Above average
Reviewed by Allyson McCabe on Oct 29 2014

Relentless self-examination satisfies the reader because Dunham isn’t just a privileged and well-compensated celebrity. She’s also talented, smart and funny...Dunham gives us permission to examine our own flaws, and perhaps even value them as a source of strength and perseverance.

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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Above average
Reviewed by Siobhan Vivian on Oct 19 2014

And as she continues working and capturing life through her specific lens, she’ll have more stories to tell and thicker skin with which to tell them...Ms. Dunham is refreshingly unapologetic about her mistakes and also where she is headed in her career. That’s a lesson many of us can learn from.

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Denver Post

Above average
Reviewed by The Associated Press on Oct 05 2014

Fans of the show will love the book, which has the same sensibility, presenting complicated people in authentic situations who speak to her generation...While much of the advice is aimed at millennials, she has the wisdom and depth of an old soul.

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Newsday

Below average
Reviewed by Marion Winik on Oct 03 2014

Dunham's no-holds-barred shtick feels less original in print than it does on TV -- perhaps it is the absence of her specific face and body that makes these essays about bad sex, weight-loss regimens and mental health lapses feel a bit familiar.

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The National

Below average
Reviewed by LUCY SCHOLES on Oct 04 2014

As much as I was entertained by Dunham’s (for the most part) bright and breezy style, not to mention charmed by her warts-and-all oversharing, there’s not much to “learn” in Not That Kind of Girl that the likes of Nora Ephron...or even Caitlin Moran haven’t already taught us.

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Chron.com

Good
Reviewed by Maggie Galehouse on Sep 29 2014

“Not That Kind of Girl” is funny, engaging and dishy — part Nora Ephron, part Cosmopolitan magazine, part “The Diary of Anne Frank.” A winning trifecta.

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NY Daily News

Below average
Reviewed by Arielle Landau on Oct 15 2014

The truth is, "Not That Kind of Girl" has no logical progression: Now Lena Dunham is 9 now she's 19 now she's 14 now she's 8. There's no narrative...Dunham's anxiety-ridden chapters blur together. Even the lists and the-most-painful-email-ever seem like filler...the truth is: I didn't like it.

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The Australian

Above average
Reviewed by Bethanie Blanchard on Dec 13 2014

Yet the self written in Not That Kind of Girl is Dunham as Unthreatening Girl Just Like You, and the book centres too strongly on her childhood and high school years. There is little of the adult woman brave and talented and audacious enough to land a TV pilot...The strongest chapters deal with Dunham’s success, or her early strides towards it.

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The Hollywood Reporter

Above average
Reviewed by Jessie Katz on Oct 07 2014

There are some truly important aspirations contained within the pages of this book: to help us acknowledge our most selfish insecurities; to make us question if we’ve respected ourselves enough, and if we’ve demanded enough respect from our partners.

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Elle

Above average
Reviewed by Virginia Vitzthum on Sep 30 2014

The two most impressive essays spiral artfully around a "date" rape in college. She writes of the "encounter" lightly in the first essay alongside other bad-sex anecdotes and opens the second by declaring herself an "unreliable narrator."

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Vox Magazine

Above average
Reviewed by Hilary Weaver on Oct 10 2014

“Not that Kind of Girl” is all Lena, all the time, but she’s a narrative voice who’s worth tucking into your carry-on or for whom you would risk spilling your drink while trying to balance both book and tray table.

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Hippocampus Magazine

Good
Reviewed by Jules Barrueco on Jan 01 2015

...by revealing all that she’s learned, she makes you feel that, just like her, you too will be okay. Even with all your flaws, all your fears, and all your missteps.

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Alternative Control

Above average
Reviewed by altctrl on Dec 13 2014

All in all, the book is just a little more insight into who the real Lena Dunham is, and while I liked it, it was a very quick read – and there wasn’t much that came as a surprise to anyone who watches the show Girls or follows her on Twitter, both of which I do.

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Booking Mama

Excellent
Reviewed by Julie P. on Oct 28 2014

...I can honestly say that I enjoyed it. However, I don't think it's for everyone...what I'm saying is that I think this book is a must-read for fans of Ms. Dunham's...I very much appreciated how honest Ms. Dunham was -- even it was brutal at times; and I loved she she opened her mind and her heart to her fans.

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Raging Biblioholism

Good
Reviewed by Drew on Dec 04 2014

You’re not reading this book if you don’t have some appreciation for Lena Dunham. I mean, let’s just put that out there, straightaway...This book made me want to be her friend – because somebody like this is a brilliant mind to be with, both as a creator and as a person. Even if you aren’t crazy about the work, Dunham’s got the goods.

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Women 24

Above average
Reviewed by Terri Rens on Dec 14 2014

Not that Kind of Girl is divided into 5 sections - Love & Sex, Body, Friendship, Work and Big Picture - all of them very enlightening. Reading this has been like a conversation with a really cool counter culture kind of cousin or friend who is so okay with being different from everyone else that she makes you feel okay about being different too.

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Just a Lil' Lost...

Above average
Reviewed by .justalillost on Nov 16 2014

One of the most commendable aspects of Not That Kind of Girl is just how frank and open she is at discussing all aspects of her life experiences thus far...There were a lot of, perhaps, shock-value moments in the essays but I guess I wanted more than that – as entertaining to read as some of those stories were.

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http://flavorwire.com

Above average
Reviewed by Elisabeth Donnelly on Sep 29 2014

...it’s a beautiful book-as-object, handsomely designed, with charming illustrations by Joana Avillez, filled with essays about the 28-year-old artist’s life so far, with subjects ranging from childhood to boys to work.

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If You Write It

Below average
Reviewed by Descartes on Oct 15 2014

An actual biography of Lena Dunham might have been interesting, whereas her tales of Summer Camp were not. The bulk of Not That Kind Of Girl details mundane events that could have come from anyone’s life. Minor heartaches, jobs that aren’t that great...Not That Kind of Girl had a few fun moments, but overall I wasn’t too impressed.

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So Many Books, So Little Time

Above average
Reviewed by So Many Books, So Little Time on Oct 15 2014

Instead of a traditional memoir, Not That Kind of Girl is a collection of incredibly personal essays and lists all under topic sections...Dunham is unflinchingly honest in the stories she tells and in the lessons she gives; no stone is unturned when it comes to what she has learnt about sex, her body, feminism, relationships, friendships...

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Daisy Chain Book Reviews

Above average
Reviewed by Daisy Chain Book Reviews on Oct 17 2014

...I wanted to love it, but I didn't. I liked parts of Not That Kind of Girl, but some of this book feels like filler: Lena's food diary, her worst email ever, the emails Lena would have sent if she were an ounce crazier/angry/braver. Also, I wasn't sold on the somewhat scatty, non-linear style of this book. It works in part...

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Off The Tracks

Below average
Reviewed by Simon Sweetman on Oct 08 2014

She’s intelligent, passionate, articulate. I like a lot of the work she’s created across film and TV, I certainly applaud the pluck. And that’s not meant to sound condescending. But her essays fall flat and fail; they alienate and most certainly condescend.

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Reader Rating for Not That Kind of Girl
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Eric Brown 6 Jan 2015

Rated the book as 1 out of 5

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