52 Books, 52 Weeks, Week 1: <i>Gone Girl</i>

Simple plot summary: a man's wife disappears on the day of their fifth wedding anniversary. All signs point to him being responsible for her disappearance. Or do they?
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A week ago I came up with this idea for a reading challenge for 2013 -- I'd read the #1 New York Times bestseller each week so I could feel more "with it" book-reading wise. I also started washing the TV show Nashville this week since I'd missed it when it started in September, and people seem to be speaking positively about it. What's the connection? More on that later.

So, I had this idea, and the #1 bestseller on the day I had the idea was Gone Girl, a book I love, and so this reinforced my idea to do it. I wrote about it in the Huffington Post and created a group on Goodreads and, while some people were derisive of my lean towards popularity -- I should only be reading "good" books apparently, or at the very least, obscure ones -- most people who took the time to comment on my post or write me about it were very enthusiastic. The Goodreads group that's reading along already has over 250 members and some lively discussions.

Anyway, Gone Girl. Have I told you how much I love this book? No, well here's a clue: I've read it three times. In the last six months. Yup. I raced through it, started it over again and then re-read it this week. And while I'm obviously not, you know, surprised anymore at the twists that it takes, I still raced through it, I still loved it.

Simple plot summary: a man's wife disappears on the day of their fifth wedding anniversary. All signs point to him being responsible for her disappearance. Or do they?

Honestly, saying anything more gives too much away for those of you who haven't read it. So let me talk a bit about what makes me love it, as a writer.

First off, it made me jealous. Not because of its sales (okay, not only because of its sales), but also because of the quality of the writing, the characterization, the storytelling. It made me want to push myself as a writer, and that's where I class the best books these days.

Also, I generally have a hard time reading books where the main characters are, shall we say politely, not the nicest. Tom Wolfe's Bonfire of the Vanities got flung across the room at one point because I just couldn't take spending any more time with Sherman McCoy and his cronies. Most people who read Gone Girl seem to have some character they hate more than others, and some even seem to hate them all, but what is nearly universal is that Flynn makes you like them anyway. Makes you want to know what happens to them anyway. And therein lies one of the major strengths of the book.

And then there's the plot. It twists and turns and ends in a place I couldn't have guessed and might not have believed if you told me in advance. Not because the ending isn't believable, but because it's unbelievable (man). I know from the blogosphere that some readers didn't like it, but I think Flynn fully justifies her choices and brings you to them with grace and logic.

Conclusion: this book deserves its accolades and sales. If you haven't read it, you should.

So back to Nashville. It's pretty good. And I was watching it when I popped over to check what this week's NYT's bestseller was. It's Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks, a two-year-old book just released in paperback and about to be released as a movie.

I'll admit upfront that I'm not Nicholas Sparks' biggest fan. But millions clearly are, so I'm reserving judgment. At least I haven't had to read Fifty Shades of Grey. Yet.

See y'all next week. And happy reading!

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