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text 2018-11-24 01:54
24 Festive Tasks: Veterans' Day/Armistice Day, Task #2
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman

Task 2:  Make an offer of peace (letter, gift, whatever) to a book character who has particularly annoyed you this year. 

 

I wasn't sure I'd be able to do this one because unless prompted about specific characters or even books, I have a terrible time with recall.  But as I was perusing my shelves to see if any covers triggered a response I came across Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman  and suddenly I was in the game again.

 

So, here it goes:

 

Dear Eleanor,

I'm sure it's no secret to you that you annoyed me from cover to cover; I certainly didn't keep my mutterings to myself, nor did I curb their volume.  In spite of my lack of patience with you and your inconsistencies (while proclaiming all the while that you are a utterly consistent person), and in spite of your profoundly naive and delusional view of life in the face of an urban childhood, I did admire your ability to (eventually) pull yourself up by your own bootstraps and calmly face what needed to be done.  Once you let go of your denial and delusions, you didn't muck about, you didn't cling, you didn't regress.  I admired your perseverance in the face of extraordinary circumstances.  I sincerely hope your life outside the pages of this book are blessed and you have a long, steady, healthy (dry) life ahead of you.    

Sincerely, me.

 

 

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review 2018-11-12 15:17
5/5: Eleanor and Park, Rainbow Rowell
Eleanor & Park - Rainbow Rowell

Park doesn’t think much of Eleanor when he first sees her on the school bus. And Eleanor doesn’t think much of Park when she’s forced to sit next to him either…

Wow. That was something else.

Where to start with E&P? I’d start with the ending, but to do so would feel like a major spoiler, and it’s not something I want to spoil for anyone, even by dropping it under the safety of hidden text. Just read the book for yourself, then we’ll talk about the ending.

I wanted to talk about the ending so much when I finished it, I wanted to bother my book-buddy friend on a Sunday night when she probably had better things to do. I would have asked my wife about it, but she’d have to read it first, and I didn’t want to wait that long.

But enough ending-related vagueness. What can I tell you about this book?

The simplicity of the writing pulls you in and along for the ride. The sentence structure is simple, almost an elementary level. But those simple sentences have complex themes poured into them. It’s like minimalism for writing; all the power is underneath the words. It drags you down the page and pulls you through the book.

There are no easy answers to the questions asked around the edges of this story. Eleanor is pushed into hard and uncomfortable shapes by the world she lives in. She cares deeply for her brothers and sisters, but finds she can’t drown with them and she can only save herself when the waters close over her head. Park, by comparison, seems to have life easy, but there are undercurrents to his life that make his footing less secure than it seems.

I liked the additional complexity of having it set in 1986 as well. Eleanor can’t simply reach into a back pocket and call 911, any more than she can call Park. He’s only a few blocks away, but it might as well be miles.

And how lost Park is without Eleanor, the music gone from his life both metaphorically and literally. The songs he’s never going to be able to listen to again. Ah, man.

I loved the way this book made me remember how it all felt. It mirrors our “first times” so perfectly and makes us ache for everything to be new again, for the first touch of a hand in ours.

(Falling asleep listening to your love on the phone, the conversations about nothing that mean everything. The first time you ever made someone a mix tape. Yeah, I’m that old I can remember doing those: The careful selection and editing, the struggle to get everything to fit onto a 90 minute space. Trying to squeeze your personality down to thirty songs. Even though I didn’t get there until I met my wife - my own Eleanor in style and bearing if not by name - until ten years later than Park, I still went through it all.)

I was almost blubbering and had to stop sometimes when I was reading this, because it’s so fragile, what Eleanor and Park have.

I felt like I would break it by looking at it for too long, and that would make my heart ache for its lost beauty.

It's wonderful to watch these two fall for the first time, as we have all fallen. And in watching, we remember when they were us.

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text 2018-09-15 21:10
Reading progress update: I've read 233 out of 233 pages.
Seven Dead (British Library Crime Classics) - Martin Edwards,Eleanor Farjeon

wow. I’m in love with this book. I had finished my shark novel, which was very entertaining, and then proceeded to this neglected - previously neglected, thank goodness! - book by previously neglected J. Jefferson Farjeon. I just kept reading, from late morning into early afternoon, and then suddenly I was done. Seven Dead, and a few hours later I know why.

 

the book is fun in the early stages, but it was hard to tell if Farjeon could deliver something spectacular until getting deep into it. as the pieces fell into place, and the whole dreadful series of events extending from a first-time house-breaker finding seven dead bodies in the drawing room of a gloomy mansion - events extending, of course, both forwards and backwards from corpse discovery - unfolded with each exciting page, I realized I had just experienced maybe my absolute favorite British Library Crime Classic so far. can’t guarantee this will feel like a bloomin’ masterpiece to everyone who gives it a whirl, but I have no choice but to say “don’t ignore this one, don’t forget about this one”. let me finish by saying that, by the end, the book had a heavy emotional impact on my heart, as I thought about what had really happened to those seven doomed people, and why. almost shed a tear - not lying - and certainly had a lump in my throat.

 

a morning and an afternoon later, and I have a new/old whodunit to cherish, amongst my favourites.

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text 2018-08-30 01:08
Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery
Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery - Russell Freedman

I only picked up this book because it's on a list I'm trying to complete. I am not a fan of the Roosevelts, and I'm not a fan of this book. I'm sorry, but it's disingenuous at the least to write a book about Eleanor Roosevelt that covers her life during WWII but makes zero mention of Japanese internment. I read ~75 pages to get a feel for the tone, skimmed ahead to see how WWII was dealt with and then nope-ed out of the rest of the book. 

 

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review 2018-08-22 17:49
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman

“If someone asks you how you are, you are meant to say FINE. You are not meant to say that you cried yourself to sleep last night because you hadn't spoken to another person for two consecutive days. FINE is what you say.”

 

*** ABOUT THE BOOK ***

 

Title:  Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

Author: Gail Honeyman

Genre: Contemporary

 

Goodreads Amazon

 
 
*** BOOK BLURB ***
 
No one’s ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine.

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.

But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

Soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the smart, warm, and uplifting story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . .

The only way to survive is to open your heart.
 
 
*** REVIEW ***
 
Oh my... This is the kind of book that makes my heart soar. Eleanor Olephant is more than fine, she's amazing!
 
It is such a rich, awkward but interesting and twisty book. It just phenomenal. One of the best examples of character building I've read in years. Quirky characters with a soul.
 
From the very beginning it intrigued me. It felt like I was observing a behavior of some newly found specimen previously unknown to me. And all that observation paid off. I was totally invested in Eleanor's life just after a few chapters.

It might be strange, but even during the hard times I felt no pity for her, only sympathy, because of her admirable courage. Eleanor isn't conventional character, she's a true oddball. But that is her charm.
 
This book took me on a real emotional roller coaster: I laughed out loud, I had to stop more than once to think about my own life and actions, I even shed a tear.
 
Unquestionably the best book I read this year.
 
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