Six weeks have passed since my last inventory, and now fall twenty nineteen is history. Since my last list, I have normed almost five reads. I started off with Connelly’s finest and I’m now chipping away at my first Baldacci. In between, I breezed past Mitch Albom’s latest, fought with The Subtle Art, and The Rosie Project absolutely gripped me. Here is the reader in full:
- The Poet (Connelly). My fifth Connelly read of the year, many have lauded this as his best ever output. A killer opening line with well-made characters, the suspense keeps you guessing till the end. A Denver reporter investigates a series of double murders that shocks Middle America. When the darkness hits close to home, Jack McEvoy is drawn into a web of deceit and a psychopath on the loose. He does his best to take advantage of this story, and chaperones the FBI for an exclusive scoop. Things may not play out the way he wanted, and he soon realises that he could be next for dinner.
Beautifully written, and a murder mystery par excellence, Connelly’s novel continues to resonate twenty years later. The book is one of Connelly’s first forays outside of Harry Bosch. In doing so, he has created a landscape on par with Bosch, if not better. He has likewise sculpted one of crime fiction’s more memorable heroes.
- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck (Mark Manson). What can I say? Millions of other readers have various opinions about this one. Women don’t get it, while male readers adore it. Some say it’s a Zen rip-off, with the author taking from various trees and appropriating them to suit his purposes. Others see the coarse language as a front for empty talk. I say it’s in the middle of those two, at times an enjoyable read while being hard to follow at other instances. Manson starts his sections with stories – both personal and external ones. I love those accounts, from the Buddha to his rebellious teens, from the Fifth Beatle to William James (the Father of Modern Psychology). However, after starting his chapters with these lovely stories, Manson goes on full-on self-help mode and that’s where we start getting this dense prose. In short, I absolutely adore half of the book but I guess true-blue self-help material is not my cup of tea.
- The Next Person You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom). The long-overdue sequel to The First Five People You Meet in Heaven, this was one of the easiest reads I’ve had in a while. Someone had said that she read it all in a day. I managed to finish in about four days, but I could definitely have completed even sooner. Here we are introduced to Annie, who suffers a tragedy after what was the happiest day of her life. She gets to meet her five people, some strangers, other more familiar. She gleans her mother’s love, the same person she fought with while she was growing up. When she was a girl, a misfortune happened that had long-lasting consequences. She blocked out what happened that day in the fair, but grasps this secret in heaven, where she meets Eddie, the man who saved her.
It is never too late to change, to know the truth, and to care for a loved one. Parts of the book were cheesy. I liked the use of the changing sky in Five People but I thought this was a bit like Photoshopping the background ala Incredible Hulk. The constant change in the heavenly sky was rather unnecessary AND distracting. However, most of the book was very sound and robust and made for an engrossing read. Albom’s writing is divine; I wish all books were this readable.
- The Rosie Project (Graeme Simsion). His latest novel, The Rosie Result, was getting some love, so I decided on perusing the first leg of the tripod. I gathered that it was highly rated, and with good reason. Don Tiller is a genetics professor in Melbourne whose structured life is only supplanted by his lack of a love life. His unromantic life is in stark contrast to that of Gene, his best friend, who has an open relationship and takes full advantage of this arrangement. After several disastrous dates, he decides on writing a questionnaire, a key component of the Wife Project.
Soon, he meets Rosie, an independent, tardy, smoking, drinking ‘barmaid’ who, on the surface, is everything that Don dislikes. However, Rosie’s search for her missing father intrigues him, and soon they are mixing cocktails and flying to the Big Apple, all in the hope of finding Dad. Don’s well-planned routine is soon turned upside down, although he couldn’t remember a more enjoyable time than the present. Don learns that he cannot subsist alone, and that he can meet his perfect match but that won’t make him happy. Chapters are relatively short, with breaks among them. This book elicited a stream of emotions; Don’s uncanny point of view inspired a few laughs. While the author’s perspective of Asperger’s offended some ‘purists’, I thought Simsion handled this the right way. A million and a half readers couldn’t get it wrong.
- The Last Mile (Baldacci). This marks my first venture onto Baldacci-land. He has a resemblance to Grisham, not just physically but also in his fast-paced, action-packed writing style. Like the latter, he was also an erstwhile attorney. In addition, his work is always well-received. This 2017 thriller is the second salvo in the Amos Decker series, which concerns a man who has hyperthymesia. Simply put, Decker has the gift of remembering everything, and sees angles beyond the scope of an average mind. Decker helps the Bureau when things get personal. He is drawn to a case with uncanny similarities to those of his own. More importantly, the accused is a former football player like him. The book’s title comes from the colloquialism among death row inmates of the walk between their cells and their last farewell. Full of suspense and with a powerful cast, this one is turning out to be a real page-turner. Call me a Baldacci convert.
Six weeks, five books, and five different authors. I examined four novels and one self-help book. Even in the thick of my skimming, I’m still discovering new names. Happy reading!