This book deeply resonated with me, as its main character, Richard Novak, is a good man struggling to learn from his bad mistakes, and to find meaning in the second half of his life. I bought this because I loved the language and storyline in AM Homes' memoir THE MISTRESS'S DAUGHTER. Like her memoir, THIS BOOK WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE is a rich meditation on the human condition.
If you favor thrillers that move quickly, this might not be the best book for you. If, however, you like meditative books along the lines of THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HENRY FRY or 600 HOURS OF EDWARD, you will love the characters in this book and how they bravely struggle forward in the face of the everyday issues that can bring the bbest of us to our knees.
If you are at all studying mindfulness or meditation, Richard's stay at the silent retreat center is a mini-retreat for the reader. There is so much wisdom there, even as the author pokes fun at the world of meditation.
I am a meditator myself so I really enjoyed Richard's silent retreat. I thought it was so interesting how the author was able to portray Richard's day-by-day progress, how he moved from peace to dis-ease to anger and annoyance and ultimately, to self-discovery in a way that made me consider my own issues. I think the most powerful scene occurred when Richard's son, Ben, turns to him for help and Richard is able to respond like a protective papa bear. Or angry lion. I loved watching the relationship between Richard and Ben as it grew and found purchase..
I have listened to many book narrated by the inventive and talented Scott Brick. I suppose the best compliment I could pay him is that in listening to this book, I found I was not really listening to Brick, but rather dissolving into the characters he'd created with his voice, tempo, and accents.
The most memorable character has to be Richard, who learns to find joy and meaning by giving of himself and by letting go and letting life happen. He learns that in helping others, he becomes truer to himself. I loved every character in this book. There is the humble doughnut maker who teaches Richard the art of appreciation. There is the hermit screen writer, who shows that even when you make it to the top of your game, happiness is not necessarily found there. I especially the ironic cameo characters, like the LA interior decorator that dismisses anything anyone else says as if she never heard it. Because really, she can only hear herself. There's the evil government hack who, when Richard opens himself up, turns out to be a kind and compassionate man. Homes has captured the ironies of LA. One particular moment that stands out for me is when a parking attendant asks, "Do you need validation?" Because...hey, we all do. Homes has a lot of brilliant little moments like this.
This book made me pause and think. A lot. I just finished it, but I plan on re-reading/listening right away. There are many good messages in there about how to best live a life of love and purpose.
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