Weekly Reads Wednesday

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:

   and this one…

By the end of the book, I was quoting Richard and the screenwriter turned philosopher living next door. My favorite quotes from the book are:

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. 

 2. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn 4.5 stars  

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

 On my TBR shelf for the rest of June (and beyond?):

 Fiction

  • 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

Non-Fiction

  • 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:

  1. The woman who stole my life by Marian Keyes   
  2. Summer Secrets by Jane Green  
  3. 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?

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9 Comments Add yours

  1. ashley says:

    I’m searching for a new book! I liked Gone Girl, though I haven’t seen the movie. I read the book after knowing a bit about the premise, but it was still really good! The last book I read and really enjoyed was Wild. The book was fantastic, though I wasn’t a huge fan of the movie.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Run Wright says:

      You night remember I had to stop reading Wild a few weeks ago – too much for me. For your next read, I’d recommend Liane Moriarty’s The Husband’s Secret or Big Little Lies or Matt Greene’s Ostrich. I am also about to finally start Girl on the Train. I’ve heard mixed reviews though

      Like

  2. I loved The Girl on the Train, Gone Girl, and Summer Secrets. I am currently reading Eight Hundred Grapes.

    Creative post!

    Here is MY BOOKISH/NOT SO BOOKISH POST

    Like

  3. It’s been a while since I read Gone Girl and, you know, I have no recollection of it being that long – ha! Guess that’s a sign that I was totally enthralled; I loved it! I really enjoyed both Girl on the Train and Eight Hundred Grapes; I hope you do, as well. I’m also really looking forward to Summer Secrets; I think it’s next up on my list, so I’ll keep you posted!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Run Wright says:

      Great. We’ll have lots to discuss 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I would love to read that first book. Thank you for the review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Run Wright says:

      Like most characters, it takes a while to get to know Richard in This Book Will Save Your Life, but when you do, it’s so worth it.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Kay R. says:

    Gone Girl – that book is something else haha so was the movie!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Run Wright says:

      Now that was a good movie adaptation. Uncompromising.

      Like

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