Reading Challenge Update #2

One-and-a-half months in on my 2015 Reading Challenge, and I’m feeling pretty good, having already finished three books. And that doesn’t even acknowledge a few others I’ve got on my nightstand and desk at work that I’m working my way through since I started them before the challenge. Hopefully this isn’t like a marathon runner who sets an overly ambitious pace at the beginning of the race and then passes out on mile 20. Not that I’d know the feeling because running is terrible.

Tales of Woodsman PeteFor my second book of the challenge, I tackled “A book in a genre you don’t typically read,” with a graphic novel called “Tales of Woodsman Pete,” by Lilli Carre.

It’s super short, so I finished it with just a couple of quick pre-bed readings. It was quirky and had a folk-art quality to it that I like. And while it was certainly enjoyable, I do wish I had picked a meatier book for my first graphic novel. I don’t feel like I really got a good sense of the genre’s strengths and potential for compelling stories. I’ll probably try another one in the future.

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downloadNext I took the plunge with Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl” for “A book that’s currently on the bestseller list.”

I love mysteries, but had been hesitant about this one because the general aura around it seemed to be pretty gruesome, and I don’t like stories that ruin your life. (I’m looking at you, 21 Grams.)

But I was also super curious about the book and the movie and didn’t want anything spoiled if I did end up reading it.

After talking to a few different people who had read the book, I decided to give it a shot. My hope was that the suspense of the plot and quality of writing would balance out the unpleasantness of the subject matter.

For me, it did. This text I sent Travis pretty much sums up my response to the book:

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I sent that Friday afternoon after finishing part one. I completed the book by Sunday night.

I hate spoilers and will try not to give anything away, but proceed at your own risk if you haven’t read it.

I was hooked from the very first page, which also immediately had me stumped as to what to make of the main character, Nick Dunne. His way of explaining how much he loves (-ed?) his wife is to imagine peeling back her skull and exploring chunks of her brain. You know, real sappy stuff.

While the vitriol the characters express at times is alarming and twisted, I do think parts of the book realistically depict how two people can shift from happily ever after to … less happy in just a few years. Of course ultimately the plot follows a more sensational path that bears no resemblance to average marital strife. But even in that sensational universe, there was only one plot point that seemed out of character to me. (If you’ve read it, I’m thinking of the way things conclude with the money belt in the cabin.)

That’s not to say I didn’t find it unsettling. I did. And it’s certainly not for everyone. But Flynn is a very effective storyteller, and I found myself repulsed by and yet sometimes bizarrely rooting for the two main characters. (Ok, rooting for them against my will. Like, something bad would happen to them, and I’d think, ‘Oh no!’ And then I’d realize I was feeling sympathy for a terrible person. It’s like feeling concern for Frank Underwood. Shudder.)

So to sum up, I enjoyed it, as strange as that seems. It didn’t ruin my life. And I think Ben Affleck is just the most absolute perfect casting for the movie, which I definitely plan on seeing.

Three books down, nine to go.

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One thought on “Reading Challenge Update #2

  1. Kduff says:

    You are so ahead of the game with 3 books in 1 1/2 months! My book club at work co-opted your reading challenge list. Thanks!

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