Book Review: Gone Girl

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is damn good. It’s a thrilling mystery novel that goes back and forth between a husband and wife relaying the events surrounding her disappearance.

Loved it. I especially like the strong female character Amy. She’s one of those geniuses who’s too smart for her own good. Smart, neurotic, driven.

Here’s my favorite passage from Amy:

I was told love should be unconditional. That’s the rule, everyone says so. But if love has no boundaries, no limits, no conditions, why should anyone try to do the right thing ever? If I know I am loved no matter what, where is the challenge? I am supposed to love Nick despite all his shortcomings. And Nick is supposed to love me despite my quirks. But clearly, neither of us does. It makes me think that everyone is very wrong, that love should have many conditions. Love should require both partners to be their very best at all times. Unconditional love is an undisciplined love, and as we all have seen, undisciplined love is disastrous.

I appreciate her unconventional, but important message. For example, just because women are married shouldn’t give them free license to eat a bunch of twinkies and hoho’s. Yet you see this happening all the time. You have to care about your appearance. You want to be confident and sexy, not just for your husband, but for yourself too. Marriage should be a commitment to be your best self in honor of your spouse, but the way most people think of it, it’s like, this is what you’re stuck with!

Anyhow, I found that message to be refreshing and different. I liked the main character Amy, but I also liked how the chapters flip-flopped between Amy and her husband Nick trying to one-up each other. Drama!

Click on the image of the book to buy it on Amazon.

Book Reviews: 3 for the Price of 1

No, I have not stopped reading. I still read a ton, but didn’t feel the urgent need to review my last 3 books since I can’t say I wholeheartedly recommend them.

In_the_garden_of_beastsIn the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson

This is the true story of William Dodd, an American Professor at the University of Chicago (shout out to my alma mater!) and chair of the history department, who becomes the ambassador to Germany during Hitler’s reign. He moves to Berlin with his wife, his grown son, and his daughter Martha in her mid-twenties who is a big time slut. Not sure how she got away with all of her affairs, being the daughter of a government official.

Larsen is a genius because he makes nonfiction read like thrilling fiction. The author scoured diaries, research papers, memoirs, letters, articles, you name it, to write his book. In fact, the last 50 pages is a list of his references and sources.

I enjoyed the beginning, then I got half-way through it and couldn’t pick it back up. I was also annoyed. The politicians knew what what was happening, but chose to ignore it. It was one big spooked society with no one brave enough to speak up.

Daughter_of_FortuneDaughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende

This wasn’t bad. I liked some parts of it, other parts not so much. It’s about an orphan raised in Valparaiso Chile by a well-off family. She falls in love, gets pregnant, then boards a ship bound for San Francisco in search for her lover. Since Oprah picked this as one of her book club selections, you know there’s some kind of deeper meaning here. That deeper meaning centers around independence and female power bullshit. Call me a cynic, but I personally don’t feel you need to travel half-way across the world and put your life at risk to “find yourself” and have true meaning in life. Remaining where you are, being loyal to your family, taking care of your responsibilities (instead of putting yourself in a situation where your baby dies) sounds more like a true feminist to me!

bbornonbluedayBorn on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant by Daniel Tammet

This guy is so genius that I can’t relate. Here’s an excerpt: When multiplying, I see the two numbers as distinct shapes. The image changes and a third emerges—the correct answer. The process takes a matter of seconds and happens spontaneously. It’s like doing math without having to think.

His stories just aren’t exciting and it’s one long detailed account of his life. I gave up after the first couple chapters, which I have to admit, I skimmed.

Book Review: My Sister’s Keeper

For a book that’s 423 pages long, Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper was a quick read. At the heart of the story is a 13-year-old girl Anna who was born because her parents wanted to genetically engineer the perfect match for her cancer-ridden sister. What’s at stake is Anna’s autonomy as she hires a lawyer to disentangle her from being her sister’s medical guinea pig. Told through 6 narrators, Anna herself, her lawyer Campbell, her mother Sara, her father Brian, her brother Jesse, and Julia her guardian ad litem appointed by the court, this is a complicated philosophical debate with no right or wrong answers. I was captivated by this book. After I finished it, it made me want to work in a hospital. For others, I can see people wanting to be a lawyer or guardian of the court. Highly recommend this intriguing and very unsettling book. The surprise ending had me bawling.

Book Review: Wench

Dolen Perkins-Valdez’s book centers on women referred to as ‘wenches,’ slaves who are also mistresses to their masters. The main character Lizzie lives a comfortable life on the plantation of a lenient master. She lives in the main home, bears the master his two only children, and can read. She spends her summers at a resort where Southern men vacation with their black mistresses. Over several summers, she develops close friendships with three other women. Set before the Civil War in the slave-free state of Ohio, this is the story of the complicated relationships between owners and slaves, mistresses and wives, slave owners and abolitionists; and the divisive struggle for freedom. I highly recommend this book, it’s a unique historical perspective that’s beautifully told.

Book Review: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

This was a book club pick: Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail.” I rarely read autobiographies or biographies in general, but this one is stand-out. It beats Jeannette Walls’s “The Glass Castle” and Gabrielle Hamilton’s “Blood, Bones & Butter” which I both enjoyed. The reason “Wild” is so good is because of the writing. Cheryl Strayed is a damn good writer. Carefully-crafted, insightful, it’s some of the best writing I’ve read in a while. I dog-earned so many pages where I thought she did a phenomenal job of capturing the experience, the emotion, and what she was learning from it. It’s the story of her at 26 years old in personal turmoil, coping with her mother’s death, a divorce, and drug abuse. She decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail and details how the experience changes her life.

I’m always on the hunt for good books to read, but tired of searching for Pulitzer prize winners or Amazon’s Best Sellers. My friend TB sent me a comprehensive guide that she gets from her alma mater. Works for me. When in doubt, ask the teachers! I also get recs from a writer who I’ve taken writing classes from. She’s kept a reading list of every single book she’s ever read since she was a kid. It’s truly remarkable. I was inspired to get a journal this year for myself. Her booklist is also up on her website http://www.laurafraser.com/booklists/.

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