Book Review: “Fight Club”

If you’ve seen the movie “Fight Club” and/or read the book, please feel free to compare and comment. Even if you haven’t, let me know what you think.

I love the movie, even though it’s out of my usual genres. It’s the only Brad Pitt movie I like. Edward Norton is a major babe and a great actor.

The first rule of Fight Club? Don’t talk about Fight Club.

Fight Club

Title and why I picked this book:

“Fight Club” by Chuck Palahniuk

I’ve seen the movie countless times. I may have seen it more than once in a day. Maybe. I didn’t think of reading the book until a former friend told me how good it was.

Who do I think this book is intended for?

That’s a hard one. I guess anyone who likes reading books about against-the-grain thinking because this is definitely it. If you ask a couple of my friends and my dad, it could also be for anyone who wants to read a truly messed up love story. This idea is debatable.

If you’ve seen the movie and want to know if it follows the book, this is obviously a must-read.

What did I like about this book?

The detail. Chuck Palahniuk doesn’t spare much from the reader in the story. He describes the actions of the characters like the reader was right next to him.

I also liked that it’s short. I wonder how such a short book (208 pages) became a 2 hour, 31-minute movie.

What didn’t I like about the book?

That’s another hard one. I enjoyed this novel start to finish. Maybe it’s because I saw the movie first? Is it the flow of the story? It could be a combination.

Plot:

This novel has an anonymous narrator, who lives a stressful life due to his job. He travels a lot as a recall specialist and has a bad case of insomnia, to say the least. His therapist recommends that he attends a support group for men with testicular cancer because his stress levels are about the same as men with that illness.

He finds that sharing his issues helps even though he obviously does not have cancer, but while attending those groups, he meets Maria, another person who is there minus the illness. They end up arguing and decide to attend separate groups to avoid seeing each other. At some point, the narrator meets up with Tyler Durden.

The Narrator loses his house to an explosion (with a really sketchy explanation) and he ends up staying with Tyler. The two men develop the Fight Club as a way of dealing with life’s issues, with 8 rules. The first rule is the one most commonly remembered by those who have read the book and/or seen the movie- “You don’t talk about Fight Club”.

Throughout the story, the Narrator and Tyler expand the Fight Club wherever they can. They create “Project Mayhem”, which is basically playing pranks on Corporate America whenever and wherever they can. It’s the Narrator’s way of getting back at the people who made him so miserable.

The story does have many confusing pieces and plot twists- are Tyler and the Narrator the same person? Is Tyler just a separate personality? What is really behind Project Mayhem? It’s a book that draws you in from pretty much page one and keeps you intrigued until the end.

I highly recommend the movie in addition to the novel. It’s worth the time and it helps put the book into perspective.

Quote that I liked:

“Without pain, without sacrifice, we would have nothing.”

Everyone goes through something that changes them, and it’s usually not pretty. Those events teach us things that we wouldn’t have known otherwise- this might be about ourselves or the world around us. Sacrifice and pain aren’t great but we are usually better and stronger for them.

That’s it for this month! Have you read a book, seen the movie and couldn’t decide which was better? That’s how I feel about “Fight Club”.

Book Review: “The Bell Jar”

Thanks for coming back for another book review!

Title and why I chose this book:

“The Bell Jar”

I’m not sure why I chose this book. I read it years ago in college and decided to give it a re-read. Obviously, I have changed since I was in college, so I saw things differently this time around.

Who do I think this book is intended for?

I’m not really sure. Esther was a young woman trying to find herself, which is something many people go through. Maybe someone who has already gone through that? I wouldn’t want to read this if I were currently struggling with life because of how her mental state takes a turn.

Bell Jar

What did I like about this book?

I did like that Sylvia Plath was accurate with the language of the time in which the novel was written. Some writers aren’t great with that.

What didn’t I like about the book?

The novel kind of dragged on. I lost interest about halfway and had to stop for a day or so. I also got a bit busy and didn’t have time to read another book in time for the review date.

I did pick up and finish the book. I’m glad that Esther did make one big decision about her life (no spoilers) but I didn’t like seeing things go downhill for her in the end.

Plot:

As I mentioned before, Esther is a young woman trying to figure herself and her life out. This is hard for many of us. She was faking her way through all of it until her boss, Jay Cee, called her out on it.

She becomes fascinated with losing her virginity after her longtime boyfriend loses him to another woman. This was a crushing blow to her and she sets out to have sex with various men that she meets but isn’t successful. The boyfriend ends up in a TB sanitorium.

It’s almost like she just gets tired of trying to live up to what everyone expects. She cancels her summer school classes -“I listened to the zombie’s voice leave a message that miss Esther Greenwood was canceling all arrangements to come to summer school” after not getting into a writing class.

Her boyfriend writes her a letter inviting her for a visit, he’s falling for a nurse, but if she sees him he might change his mind. She writes back that she was done with him. A good way to stand up for yourself, right? Esther was not having his crap. She was relieved that she wouldn’t have to marry him.

Esther eventually gets referred to a psychiatrist by a family member after not being able to read, write clearly or sleep. This had gone on for some time and her mother had gotten concerned.

She is placed in a mental health facility and receives ECT. She didn’t really understand why and thought she did something terrible to get that kind of treatment.

How does Esther’s story end? Does she get back together with her boyfriend? You’ll have to read to find out.

Quote that I liked:

“I couldn’t see the point of getting up. I had nothing to look forward to”

If you’ve ever been depressed, you can relate to this. I’ve had some very bad days in which I didn’t want to get out of bed. I just lay in bed until I had to get my kids from school. It’s a terrible place to be.

I didn’t really like this but I could identify with it very well.

Thanks for reading this month’s review. Come back at the end of July for another one!

For further reading on ECT: A Brief Look at ECT

Have your taste in books changed over time, even when you re-read a book?

Book Review: “Valley Of the Dolls”

For this month’s book review, I chose a book that was a little different.

“Valley of The Dolls” is one of my favorite books, and I have loved it since the first time I read it. I don’t know how many times I have read it. The “dolls” that the book refers to is not the kind of doll your children may play with.

These dolls are pills, and there is a variety of them mentioned. In this book, which is set in the 1940s-60s, they are mainly sleeping pills, with some diet pills mentioned. I don’t think any of the pills mentioned exist today, but I’m going to assume that some of them are the basis of some of the pills that exist now.

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The book is based on the lives of three young women living in New York City- Anne, Neely, and Jennifer. They meet while trying to make a life in the city coming from three very different backgrounds. Sometimes they clash, at other times they do very well together.

They fall in love, experience heartbreak and one becomes a famous movie star and singer. One reaches her dreams of being a model and actress, and the other is happy as a secretary then falls into modeling for a makeup line.

Neely is the somewhat troubled one of the three. While chasing her dreams, she becomes addicted to pills and begins drinking heavily. She eventually ends up having to step back from the world to take care of herself, but not because she wants to.

She also became very depressed and attempted suicide more than once. She had a hard time dealing with the pressures of stardom and her chaotic life.

Jennifer goes to Europe and back, but doesn’t find true happiness until it’s almost too late. She didn’t want to live for her body, but it is all she knows. She marries twice and almost a third to someone who truly loves her, which is all she wanted before the unforeseen occurs.

Anne finds the love of her life in Lyon Burke, the friend of her boss. She refuses to give up on him, no matter what. This love remains even after he leaves her not once, but twice. Everyone thinks she is mad for not letting go, even when she has a relationship with another man. Does Lyon ever come back for her? You’ll have to read to find out.

This book does have a sequel, set much later in everyone’s lives, and includes Anne and Neely’s children. This is called “Shadow of the Dolls”. I’ve read this, and it’s interesting. I didn’t include my thoughts on it for this review, but I definitely recommend reading it.

Jacqueline Susann died in 1974 and Rae Lawrence wrote this sequel based on the outline she left behind. The storyline flows well from book to book, even though there is a very large time gap between them.

If you need a novel to keep you well entertained, this is definitely one to go for.

Picture courtesy of Pinterest

Book Review: “Sharp Objects”

This month’s book review is another Gillian Flynn novel. My review for “Gone Girl” is here

Title and why I chose this book:

I chose a second Gillian Flynn novel because it’s May, Jake’s birth month. He loved to read, and we spent hours talking about books. We loved “Gone Girl” and planned to see “Dark Places” in theatres, but we didn’t get to. “Sharp Objects” made it to HBO after he died, and I haven’t seen it yet. I really love her writing. I read “Gone Girl” first and read the others sometime later.

Who do I think this book is intended for?

If you’re already a Gillian Flynn fan, you will like this one. If you aren’t, this is a good one to start with. I happen to enjoy psychological thrillers. It isn’t terribly long and drawn out- 272 pages is just right.

What did I like about this book?

Gillian Flynn is one of my favorite authors- she writes wonderfully. I like that it’s short but still gets the story told and nothing is left out. Sometimes shorter books cut things and you’re left with loose ends. I’m a voracious reader and it’s one of my biggest peeves. She ends the story before it gets too drawn out. I didn’t expect the story to end the way it does, but I think that was the idea.

What I didn’t like:

I didn’t like Camille’s mom, character-wise, she was a horrible person, but besides that, I don’t have anything bad to say about the book.

Sharp Objects book cover

Plot:

The story opens with Camille going to her hometown to cover a story about the murders of two young girls. She isn’t happy about this because she has a difficult relationship with her mother and stepfather. Camille also has a younger half-sister, Amma, that she barely knows, partially due to the fact she’s almost twice her age.

The police are not exactly helpful when Camille asks questions to assist in the article. Neither are the families, which presents major issues with her writing. She also has to face some of her own personal issues, such as the death of her younger sister years ago, the excessive babying of Amma by her mother (suspected Munchausen’s by proxy) and her own battle with self-injury as a teen- cutting words into her skin, signs of which she still bears.

Camille’s mother feeds 13-year-old Amma with a spoon, allows (if not pushes) her to play with a very expensive dollhouse, and insists that she is sick when she really isn’t. Amma shows her true, slightly rebellious side when her mother isn’t around, including some drinking and drug use and bullying other girls.

While trying to make sense of things, Camille finds information about what may have led to the death of her sister, Marian. A nurse had written notes about her, stating that she didn’t think she was sick at all, the mother was only interested in her when she was sick or crying and even suggested that both girls be removed from the home. What happened after?

Things take an interesting turn when Camille meets one of the policemen in the case that she was sent to write about and both she and Amma end up in danger. Does her mother help or hurt her? Who really killed the little girls? It may not be who everyone thinks it is.

Quote that I liked:

“Problems always start long before you really, really see them”

This is true in a lot of situations. I didn’t see how bad my drinking was for a long time. I can’t nail down an exact day, but I knew at one point it wasn’t the healthiest thing to do. I didn’t care, however, I just kept doing it. Drinking helped me cope with my life falling apart.

I didn’t realize the damage that was going on inside my body until the phone call I had with my doctor that made me re-think my drinking. I saw then that this was a major problem and that my life would only get worse if I didn’t stop. That’s when I decided to stop drinking and I have been sober since 1/1/2017.

Thanks for reading this month’s book review. Check in next month for another one!

Have you not seen a problem until it was almost too late? Are you a fan of the psychological thriller genre? What is your favorite genre? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

Pic courtesy of Google