Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Book Review: The Girl on the Train

"I've lost control of everything, even the places in my head," thinks Rachel Watson, as she tries to decipher the events that take place throughout Paula Hawkins' debut thriller. Rachel is the main narrator of three revolving women who take the reader through Paula Hawkins' The Girl on the Train

Not only do the differing narrators offer perspectives on a single event that the reader would not get with traditional storytelling, but the characters themselves are intriguing and interesting in their own right. Rachel, the main narrator, is unreliable and a bit of a drunk who recently went through a messy divorce. She becomes fascinated with a couple that she sees in her old neighborhood each morning when she takes the train into work, and that is where the novel really begins.

The second narrator is Megan, one half of the couple Rachel is fascinated by on her morning commute. Megan's narration delves into her life and how different it is from the way the literal "girl on a train" sees her each morning. The third narrator is Anna, who is Rachel's ex-husband's new wife. She lives in Rachel's old neighborhood, and the three narratives clash and intersect in interesting ways throughout the novel.

Without diving into too many details, the novel centers around Megan's disappearance coupled with Rachel's reaction and subsequent actions surrounding it. Rachel's alcoholic tendencies skew her memories and make her characterization both interesting and intensely frustrating. 

The character's narration of the events can be a bit repetitive at times when the narrator is constantly reminding the reader that she does not remember what happened because of her drinking. Rachel says, "I went from being a drinker to a drunk, and there's nothing more boring than that." This standing in place and lack of progress can be felt by the reader a few times through the novel.

Paula Hawkins' writing style is engrossing and pulls the reader into the story. I read this book on a single plane ride, and was riveted through most of it. The mystery gets deeper and the story casts a wide net by the end of the book, involving many different characters. 

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for something fun and easy to get into for some light reading. I found myself drawn to the story and I did not want to put this book down. However, the memory of reading it has not stuck with me the way so many other books have.

You can check out what other users though on Goodreads here.

Have you read The Girl on the Train? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

7 Things I Have Learned From Reading Books

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Everyone has their own experiences with reading. Their own favorite books, and their own lessons learned. According to my Goodreads account, I've read 111 books since I started keeping track of my reading habits.

Here are a few lesson I've learned from those books:

1. Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the end of the Lane taught me to never judge a book by its cover. "Nobody looks like what they really are on the inside. You don't. I don't. People are much more complicated than that. It's true of everybody." Understanding people is an ongoing process, not something anyone can make a snap judgment about.

2.  I have learned the value of a good friend from Mindy Kaling's Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? She says that, "One friend with whom you have a lot in common is better than three with whom you struggle to find things to talk about." 

3. From the Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera I have learned that I need to find myself in continual growth and practice. The idea that, "There is no perfection only life" is present throughout the book as the characters try and try at finding their perfect selves. 

4. Christopher McDougall's Born to Run taught me that, "You don't have to be fast. But you'd better be fearless. When training for my first marathon I understood that whatever may come, I just had to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

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5. Patience and slowing down are also something I've had to learn. Donna Tartt's The Secret History says that "It is better to know one book intimately than a hundred superficially." Tartt's writing style requires a patient mind and I've learned to slow down and really absorb the books I'm reading and the world around me.

6. From David Sedaris I learned that there is no real growing up. In Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls he says, "As a child I assumed that when I reached adulthood, I would have grown-up thoughts." But there is no magical stage when we all grow up. It happens slowly, it sneaks up on you, and the ways in which we do not grow up at all can take us by surprise.

7. Joan Didion's Slouching Toward Bethlehem taught me to never forget my roots, "We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. We forget the loves and the betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, forget who we were."Understanding where our present state developed form and how we became who we are is as important as moving toward the future.

What lessons have your favorite books taught you? Can you relate to any of mine? Let me know in the comments!