Every Book Its Reader

I hate when a book comes highly recommended and I just can’t get into it.  I recently started reading Gone Girl, a book that got great reviews from critics, family, and friends, but I just couldn’t get into it.  I talked to some friends about it, who once again gave it great reviews, but after giving it a second try I decided to call it a day for the time being.  I think a big part of the problem is that it just isn’t what I feel like reading right now.  I lean towards two extremes when I read: nonfiction or literary fiction that I need to think about a lot, or escapist novels that draw me in so completely that my bus sometimes goes right past me when I’m reading at the bus stop (this happens more often than I’d like to admit!).  This book fell somewhere in the middle of those extremes, with characters that I didn’t like (which is the point, I think) and who I couldn’t relate to at all, and I decided that this book just isn’t for me right now.

The many, many people who recommended this book told me that it was a psychological mystery, the type of book that you stay up too late reading because you can’t wait to find out whodunit- exactly the type of book I love!  I’ll give this book another shot in the future when I might be more up for plowing through its beginning.  In the meantime, I may give some of the books on the Gone Girl Read-Alikes booklist a shot.  For those who, like me, just weren’t able to get into this book, here are a few I would recommend instead:

He’s Gone: I just finished this book, and it’s actually the novel that brought me to finally read Gone Girl.  It’s the story of a woman who wakes up to discover that her husband is missing without a trace.  She has troubling gaps in her memory from the night before, but remembers fighting with her husband at a party they attended, and the novel is her first person account of what may have happened to her husband.  I don’t often enjoy books that are told in the first person, but I found this one to be compelling.  The questionable reliability of the narrator only added to the suspense.

The Killer Inside Me: Want disturbing crime fiction?  This goes down as one of the most disturbing books I’ve ever read.  Less of a whodunit and more of a who-will-find-out-I-did-it, this is another story told in the first person, but in this case the narrator is the killer.  There isn’t much more to say about this book except that it is truly chilling, and for some time after reading it you may start to suspect that everyone around you is a potential sociopath.

The Cry of the Owl: I think this probably holds the number 2 spot for me in terms of chilling psychological thrillers.  People either love this novel or think it’s one of Highsmith’s worst; I obviously fall into the former camp. I think what makes this book so creepy is how mundane and ordinary everything is, and the plot sneaks up on you in ways you don’t expect.  If this book isn’t available for you right away, you could read any Highsmith novel to get your dose of sinister for the day.



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13 responses to “Every Book Its Reader

  1. Mike

    Our book club here in Northern California read “Gone Girl” about three months ago. Of the 14 members who attended, seven hated it (I was in that group) and seven loved it. Go figure.

  2. I really liked the book, but I was hooked on her writing after Sharp Objects (which I thought was a far better book). I get what you are saying about moods though, sometimes there is a writer I love that I just cannot get into because I am just not in the mood for that genre. I am still gonna recommend Sharp Objects though – it was squirmy in how unsettling it was. ;)

  3. I really disliked Gone Girl too and was not able to finish it. So I understand and sympathize with your thoughts. I will try some of your other recommendations!

  4. lizzy

    Try Tell No One by Harlan Coben. I remember reading it aloud to my mother–the last mystery we shared together.

  5. I hear you. Years ago, when The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje first came out, I could NOT get into it at all. Even years later, I tried again and still no luck. I do believe that there are books that are right for a person at a certain time in their life but I also believe that there are just some books out there not meant for everyone! :)

    • I agree with that statement a friend gave me a novel many moons ago. I can not remember the title now, but it took me three years to read it. It was my when I have nothing else to read book.

  6. And speaking of psychological suspense, I enjoyed Kate Brennan’s memoir of being stalked, In His Sights: A True Story of Love and Obsession. Chilling.

  7. MirLee

    Fifty Shades of Grey is that one for me. I struggled through all three books. I thought they were a poorly written snorefest.

  8. I didn’t like Gone Girl at all. The ending was absurd to me and too much of the book read like a teenage girl’s diary. You are right in that some books draw us in from the start, others just don’t click. I tend to read the classics these days and find them to be very satisfying. Who can beat writers like Lovecraft, AC Doyle, de Maupassant, Chekhov, Henry James, etc. I’m reading Wilkie Collin’s The Woman in White and loving it. Your blog is a good one!

  9. I have been trying to wait for it to lower price for my kindle but I guess I am gonna pass on it. I liked her earlier one so I thought I would give it a try. I am an voracious reader. I have so many books that my husband bought me a kindle just so we could move around the house. I love the thrillers and the more strange the better. People often wonder how I read the stuff I do and I tell them real life scares me. If anything like what I read comes along I will be prepared. It is an escape. I just got a copy of the Catcher in the Rye ( I know it is a bit overdue) but I didn’t get the chance to read it in school. The only thing I hate is modern romance. I am glad I found out about this Gone Girl because now I can take it off my trade lists and want lists. I can add something else.

  10. Pingback: Intense, Amazing & Chilling Thriller - "Cold Killing" by Luke Delaney

  11. Audrey

    I just finished Highsmith’s “Strangers on a Train.” Her characters, although often flawed, are certainly memorable. She is one of the best in building suspense…until you want to scream!


  12. Hi Irene, I just finished Engleby by Sebastian Faulks, one of the best books I’ve ever read

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