Richard Novak is a modern-day Everyman, a middle-aged divorce trading stocks out of his home. He has done such a good job getting his life under control that he needs no one, except his trainer, nutritionist, and housekeeper. He is functionally dead and doesn't even notice until two incidents (an attack of intense pain that lands him in the emergency room and the discovery of an expanding sinkhole outside his house) conspire to hurl him back into the world.
On his way home from the hospital, Richard forms the first of many new relationships: He meets Anhil, the doughnut shop owner, an immigrant who dreams big. He finds a weeping housewife in the produce section of the supermarket, helps save a horse that has fallen into the sinkhole, daringly rescues a woman from the trunk of her kidnapper's car, and, after the sinkhole claims his house and he has to relocate to a Malibu rental, he befriends a reluctant counterculture icon. In the end, Richard is also brought back in closer touch with his family; his aging parents, his brilliant brother, the beloved ex-wife whom he still desires, and finally, before the story's breathtaking finale, with his estranged son Ben.
The promised land of Los Angeles, a surreal city of earthquakes, wildfires, mudslides, and feral Chihuahuas, is also very much a character in This Book Will Save Your Life. A vivid, revealing novel about compassion, transformation, and what can happen if you are willing to lose yourself and open up to the world around you, it should significantly broaden Homes' already substantial audience.
©2006 A.M. Homes; (P)2006 Penguin Audio and BBC Audiobooks America
"I think this brave story of a lost man's reconnection with the world could become a generational touchstone, like Catch-22, The Monkey Wrench Gang, or The Catcher in the Rye." (Stephen King)
"Homes is always riveting, but this juggernaut hits a higher mark with its aerodynamic prose, finely calibrated humor, and spiky characters....A novel of cinematic pizzazz that revitalizes our understanding of love and goodness." (Booklist)
I'll start by clearing a bias. I think that I could listen to Scott Brick read the phone book and his reading was why I got this book.
I starting wondering what the point of this book was and as the book progressed it became very clear. This book is about a journey that starts with a guy that is for all purposes dead, taking up our air and space. He has money and heath, but is dead.
A health scare starts a sequence of events that leads him on a strange journey that is entertaining and enlightening.
Get this book if you are willing to use the lessons to look inward, this is a well disguised self help book; or just want an entertaining story!
This could be one of the best books I've ever read. I laughed at and with the hero so many times. I cried with him as well. The ending is refreshing. The writing is well done and I will gladly read (listen) more of his/her books.
Say something about yourself!
this story was amazing.. i listened to it twice.. she is a great story teller. the flow of the moments in this story were nice and easy the characters were fun and the ending was perfect.. i sat in my car for the last fifteen minutes of this. i couldnt turn away.. GET IT.
I have no idea why this book is titled as it is--I believe the boredom I endured could easily have stopped my heart, not saved my life. The main character is a spineless weasel who walked out on his family and somehow thinks he can erase all this by giving random people gifts and attention which he should have been giving his deserted son. Why his son should ever forgive him, as he does, is also beyond me. Virtually nothing happens to hold your interest. This might have been good as a short story/character sketch, but is awful as a novel.
I believe the narration makes it worse. I don't think, for all his faults, that the main character is a whiner, but he is narrated in the most annoyingly whiny way which eliminates any sentiment you might have for him. This was definitely an Audible "low" for me, nothing at all like the publisher's description of exciting events.
There was a time when publishers actually worked with authors to craft the best possible product. No longer. Big name authors churn them out and publishers package them as is. Sad. A.M. Homes has written an important novel--the kind we desperately need right now. Unfortunately, she weighted it down with a few too many wrong turns, flabby over-writing and several goofy miscalculations. If only a real publisher had bothered to help her cut 50-60 pages from the novel and tune it up some, it would have been a keeper.
I heard an excerpt of this book in the May 9 Ear to the Ground show. When the excerpt ended I was totally hooked and had to download the book. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience getting to know the characters. And when the book ended, I was left with the exact same feeling - I wanted more!
Say something about yourself!
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.
...if you have time and money enough to lavish both on strangers, friends and family, and you'll do any New Age thing anybody suggests.
But it's an entertaining story. I came to care about the man whose life needed to be saved, and I enjoyed it all the way to the end.
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