Tag Archives: brain on fire

All the Books

I’m almost at my 40 book goal for the year, which seems nuts. I didn’t think I was going to make it. I’m at 38 right now and still going strong so that goal is gonna be mine, all mine! I don’t want to overwhelm you with my thoughts on ALL THE BOOKS, but here’s another five I read this year (my last books post is here).

The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

The synopsis is long so I won’t post it but you can read it here, and I’ll leave this quote here because I think it gives you a good idea of what you’re in for:

“Truthfully, I don’t think murder is necessarily as bad as people make it out to be. Everyone dies. What difference does it make if a few bad apples get pushed along a little sooner than God intended? And your wife, for example, seems like the kind worth killing.”

Ohh, what a great book! I really enjoyed it. Definitely the best psychological thriller I’ve read this year, and I can see it sticking with me for a long time. I went into it blind, though still I guess with a subconscious idea of what it was going to be about, but it was not at all what I expected and was full of surprises. Basically the premise is that there are a certain type of people in the world who are okay to kill because they’re not good people. Obviously I am not saying that I share this point of view, but it was different from the usual narrative and I appreciated that. It got me thinking and questioning things that I had never really given thought to before. The writing style was also really good, which is always a plus. I’m not going to say much more about the story because I think it’s best if you go into the book blind like I did, but I definitely recommend.

Finding Aubrey by Sophie Kinsella

Synopsis:

Audrey can’t leave the house. she can’t even take off her dark glasses inside the house.

Then her brother’s friend Linus stumbles into her life. With his friendly, orange-slice smile and his funny notes, he starts to entice Audrey out again – well, Starbucks is a start. And with Linus at her side, Audrey feels like she can do the things she’d thought were too scary. Suddenly, finding her way back to the real world seems achievable.

I’m not a big Sophie Kinsella fan, usually because I find her characters to be so incredibly frustrating and make the most self-sabotaging decisions that I just don’t care to read about them or the consequences (mostly her Shopaholic protagonist). But this book was refreshingly different. It was surprisingly adorable, funny, heartwarming and serious all at the same time. I found her depiction of a teenage girl living with social anxiety while she struggled to find herself realistic, and seeing how her family members dealt with it also rang true. I liked it, it was cute and a quick read with a good message.

Brain On Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan

Synopsis:

When twenty-four-year-old Susannah Cahalan woke up alone in a hospital room, strapped to her bed and unable to move or speak, she had no memory of how she’d gotten there. Days earlier, she had been on the threshold of a new, adult life: at the beginning of her first serious relationship and a promising career at a major New York newspaper. Now she was labeled violent, psychotic, a flight risk. What happened?

In a swift and breathtaking narrative, Cahalan tells the astonishing true story of her descent into madness, her family’s inspiring faith in her, and the lifesaving diagnosis that nearly didn’t happen.

This was extremely interesting, and also terrifying. I could not help but put myself in Susannah’s situation, and thinking about my brain suddenly turning on me and making me feel increasingly paranoid, forgetful and oversensitive to light, sound, etc. (and other alarming things) was very scary. I did not even know that was possible! Also terrifying was how close her symptoms were to just being brushed off and misdiagnosed as a sudden mental illness like schizophrenia (treatable with medication but in her case that wouldn’t have made a difference).

I will say though, that the book was very heavy on information and less of an emotional story and I was looking for more of a personal connection with Susannah. I’m surprised that didn’t come across since she was telling her own story. Some of the science descriptions went over my head as well, but overall I enjoyed it. I listened to this as an audiobook, which was read by the author, and that may have added a little something for me. It’s going to be a movie so I had to read it before it came out!

A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams

Again a very long synopsis but you can read it here.

Ugh, this book was not for me. I love a good historical fiction and this started out very promising but it just got so melodramatic and over the top and cheesy. Sometimes I don’t mind that but the story just wasn’t juicy enough. So cutesy and twee. I found myself rolling my eyes all the way through. I’m also not usually the type to figure out the twists before they happen, but this one was not a surprise to me.

The reviews are really good overall though, so maybe I’m in the minority. One thing I did love was the setting of the Rhode Island coastline. And the cover, that drew me in when I was looking for a light summer read.

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Synopsis:

On November 15, 1959, in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, four members of the Clutter family were savagely murdered by blasts from a shotgun held a few inches from their faces. There was no apparent motive for the crime, and there were almost no clues.

As Truman Capote reconstructs the murder and the investigation that led to the capture, trial, and execution of the killers, he generates both mesmerizing suspense and astonishing empathy. In Cold Blood is a work that transcends its moment, yielding poignant insights into the nature of American violence.

Loved this. I’m not sure why it took me so long to read it. I’ve had this on my to-read list since I worked at Chapters over 10 years ago! It was My Favorite Murder (yes, I am a Murderino and actually saw them live in Toronto!) that spurred my interest again in picking it up.

Capote is truly a talented writer. I was so impressed with how he told this story so impartially. He was so good at relaying facts and details from all sides and he really gave you a complete picture of everyone involved, from the Clutter family, to the murderers and their families, to the investigators, to the lawyers, to the neighbours and people who lived in their community. His telling of the Clutters and their daily routine leading up to their murder was especially heartbreaking — I could get a sense of who each of them were and could picture them clear in my mind as real people. And reading from Dick and Perry’s (the murderers) perspectives was so interesting and disturbing because the entire time you’re asking yourself, why, WHY, what caused you to be this evil? And how can you sometimes seem normal? It was weird. But a really good true crime read. Highly recommend.

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