Compliments are harder than criticism so I struggle with rating books I really like. I can be very critical of books I love because they draw me into an imaginary world, an existence so beautiful it can only disappoint when I leave it. But when I’ve recovered from a story, I dole out my stars like this:
- 5 stars to books that I couldn’t find any fault in
- 4 to a great book with a few faults
- 3 if it was okay
- 2 means I started skimming at some point but I kept reading
- 1 star means I would avoid the author at a cocktail party because I couldn’t find anything good to say, or that in a pinch, I would complement the choice of picture for the front cover.
Since my last recap, I’ve read:
1. This Book Will Save Your Life by A.M. Homes 4 stars
Richard Novak hasn’t committed a crime but he’s put himself under house arrest – he sits at his computer for days at a time, talking to no one – not his cleaning lady who vacuums around him like he is furniture, not his brother, not his teenage son living in New York, and especially not his ex-wife who never has time to talk anyway. And then IT happens. A pain he can’t explain or ignore. And just the number of calls he has to make to get the ambulance to pick him up tells him he’s out of touch with the world. So Richard starts living again. This time, he’s living like a superhero, saving everyone even if he has no idea how to save himself. Will it be enough?
The premise of the book is a strange one for me – a female writer describing, unaffectedly, a man’s life and expounding on father-son, brotherly and male-friend relationships. But it’s done in a clever 3rd person narrative so it seems even voyeuristic at times. And somewhere in the middle of the book, the writing touched me to my core.
Passages like this one:
whether you know it or not, you carry the past with you everywhere - it's better to know.
you don't become a different person - you just learn to live with yourself - that's the hardest part.
Amy is the “gone” girl. On her 5th anniversary, while Nick, her husband, is contemplating leaving her, she disappears. In their bedroom, is a clue for a scavenger hunt. It’s her tradition. Every year, Amy leads him on a treasure hunt to find his gift. This time, the clues all lead to evidence that Nick has killed her. But he hasn’t, has he? He’s been planning to leave her. He’s thought of her dead when she taunted him. He’s imagined killing her when she tormented him. But he hasn’t killed her, no matter what the evidence suggests, no matter if even his twin sister no longer believes him.
Because when a woman, especially a pregnant woman, disappears, the husband is always suspect. No matter how perfect the husband appears at first. And Nick is nowhere close to perfect. It’s only a matter of time before they try him for her murder. The only way he can get out of this is if finds Amy. And Amy is GONE. Has been gone for a weeks.
The narrative switches between two very distinct voices – Nick, the pragmatic, former journalist, calm and stoic like he’s investigating just another news story; and Amy, through her diary, revealing the story of how she came to be the “gone girl” in the first place.
The writing is beautiful. Suspenseful when it needs to be, succinct where necessary, even if the book goes on for 558 pages.
The movie version, with Ben Affleck as Nick, was really good. The book is better. The movie didn’t have all the details the book did, but movies are a really different kind of product. The book gave more, explained more, showed the real Amy. And even if you (me) thought you (I) knew how it would end because you’d (I’d) watched the movie first, the book still has surprises.
Some memorable quotes:
Amy: Every day I must try and every day is a chance to be less than perfect. It's an exhausting way to live.
Nick: I often don't say things out loud, even when I should. I contain and compartmentalize to a disturbing degree: in my belly-basement are hundreds of bottles of rage, despair, fear but you'd never guess from looking at me.
One thing I think the book missed was a moment of clarity for the demented father, a moment where we know exactly what he is thinking, the feeling behind the insults he spews at everyone. He was a horrid character but knowing that Amy visited him, I wanted more words from him than just his random bursts of anger.
3. Thrive by Arianna Huffington (reviewed here) 4 stars
- Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave
- The Sweetheart Deal by Polly Dugan
- Girl on the train by Paula Hawkins
- I Take You by Eliza Kennedy
- The Truth about Leadership by James Kouzes
- The Organized Mind by Daniel Levitin
- Lie-spotting: Proven techniques to detect deception by Pamela Meyer
- Headstrong: 52 women who changed Science and the world by Rachel Swaby
The top 3 new releases I am looking forward to seeing later this summer:
- The woman who stole my life by Marian Keyes
- Summer Secrets by Jane Green
- The French Beauty Solution by Mathilde Thomas
What’s your reading snapshot? Why’s the best thing you’ve read lately? What are you reading now? What’s next?
Shared with – Bookishly Boisterous, Centerpiece Wednesday, Wow Us Wednesday, Before and After Wednesday, Bloom Designs, Empty Your Archive, Creative Muster, Project Parade, Inspired2, Whimsy Wednesday, Write or Die Wednesday, WIAW, Wordless Wednesday, Thumbs Up Tuesday, Top Ten Tuesday