Category Archives: Book I’ll Forget I Read

The Last Thing He Told Me: A Forgettable Title, for a Memorable Book

It is an extremely good feeling when a person you love loves a book that you love. Orders of magnitude better feeling when a person you love who does not normally (ever) read books (1) reads a book and (2) loves a book and (3) that book turns out to be one you don’t mind/enjoy (I want so much to go so far as to say love, but… #integrity).

I get that this is what it means to share passions and that this is so much of what does underpin close relationships – I do. But so many of my recent friend additions have been ones where the first point of connection is being Adults With Small Dependents And Too Many Responsibilities, and not The! Joy! Of! Reading! (though to the credit of K. and K. this *is one of our shared connections, and I’m grateful for it).

Enter Laura Dave’s The Last Thing He Told Me. Our ill-named book club (famous for never picking, never-mind reading a book) decided we’d had enough mockery, and so we’d read a book. Problem: C. who refuses to read (anything? that can’t be true. But made up things where you might feel something). So we gave her the power to choose the book, and she did. And she loved it! (though, she – like me – couldn’t remember the name of it two weeks after reading it, so maybe something to take back to the focus group: get a better title).

I won’t tell you it’s the best book you’ve ever read, but it is a romp. The sort of thing you can immediately see being turned into a miniseries (oh wait, it has been already?) starring someone and someone and extra tall wine glasses. It follows Hannah and her step-daughter Bailey in the days after Hannah’s husband/Bailey’s father, Owen, goes missing – oh he leaves behind some notes, some cash, and is wanted in connection with a collapsing ponzi scheme (though maybe all ponzi schemes are collapsing? anyway).

While tripping along the thriller-suspense-can’t-put-it-down-just-one-more-chapter-I-swear lane, the book stumbles into some interesting thematic questions about what it means to be a parent – like literally in the sense of the limits of biology, but of course more in the sense of what responsibilities, what sacrifices, what ways of thinking-being are required. It makes a reasonably good case that ‘parent’ is to be – the verb, I mean – and has almost nothing to do with the noun.

And if you’re not into books with parenting themes there’s still lots of quasi-car chase scenes to keep you entertained, and modestly interesting other threads about identity and starting over. Perfect book for a beach or airplane.

But mostly? It’s a lot of fun. And so much more fun when your not-a-book-club people read it with you. Thanks, C.


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Filed under Book Club, Book I'll Forget I Read, Fiction, Mystery

It Ends With Us: So… Colleen Hoover

My teenage niece suggested I read Colleen Hoover. I hadn’t heard of her, and read so much less than I want to, and thought “I will stay relevant! I will read Colleen Hoover to stay connected with the teens!” Apparently I will also stay connected to millions on millions of other people who do not live under a rock and have heard of Colleen Hoover. An article from Slate promised me that her books sold better than the Bible in 2022, a fact which I didn’t find that impressive because I thought most Bibles were free.

Onwards: I didn’t really like It Ends With Us, but I did read it in three days.

I am so glad so many people are reading. Might I suggest your next book be… something else.

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Filed under Bestseller, Book I'll Forget I Read, Fiction

The White Hotel: In which ChatGPT writes my review and/or This Book Is Extremely Weird

What a strange, strange book. I must have started – and stopped – D.M. Thomas’s The White Hotel (first published in 1981, so don’t worry if you haven’t heard of it) fifteen times. Why did I persist you ask? Because m. named it as one of her favourite books, and loaned me a copy with Please Return underlined and so I thought, okay, okay. I’ll try again.

And why did I keep giving up? The intensely erotic (pornographic?) opening sections (say the first 100 pages) was A Lot to get through and I kept thinking is the whole book this… smut? (lol – it’s not smut. But also so much fisting and adults breastfeeding). Anyway, I kept reminding myself this is meant to be read by Freud (as Freud, our opening character has sent this account of his patient, Anna G, to a friend) and so keep it together, Erin.

Does it improve? I don’t know. The elaborate sex scenes diminish in the later sections that are narrated from the perspective of the patient – actually Lisa – a kinda mediocre singer and her prophetic visions. It ends – somehow – in the mass murder of Jews at Babi Yar with Lisa/Anna in attendance. And then maybe Palestine. With some letters to Freud in-between. And a confirmation that Lisa/Anna is an extremely unreliable narrator being interpreted by… Freud.

It is A Lot. And unlike anything I’ve read before. I am very certain ChatGPT could not dream this one up, and so cause for some hope for the future of the novel. Though Freud interpreting The White Hotel would be neat.

And so I leave you with this:

Erin to ChatGPT: “write me a review of The White Hotel in the style of Freud”

ChatGPT : “As a psychoanalyst, I find “The White Hotel” by D.M. Thomas to be a fascinating exploration of the human psyche. The novel tells the story of Lisa, a patient of mine, as she recounts her past experiences and memories to me. Through her recollections, we are able to delve deep into the workings of her mind and uncover the complex and often disturbing elements of her psyche.

The novel also explores the relationship between Lisa and myself, and how this relationship is both therapeutic and destructive. The author masterfully portrays the transference process, and how it can be both beneficial and detrimental to the treatment.

The writing style of the novel is unique and poetic, which adds to the intensity and emotional impact of the story. The novel is not only intellectually stimulating, but it also evokes a wide range of emotions in the reader, from empathy to horror, as it delves into the dark and disturbing aspects of the human mind.

Overall, I highly recommend “The White Hotel” to anyone interested in the workings of the human mind and the complex relationship between patient and therapist. It is a novel that will stay with the reader long after it is finished, as it forces us to confront our own inner demons and the fragility of the human mind.”

Like I said. Extremely weird.

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Filed under Book I'll Forget I Read, Fiction, Prize Winner

Ask Again, Yes: In which I read some things and then forgot them

I’ve read at least three novels since posting last, but can I remember what they are? I cannot. Gone are the days of coming back to a post three weeks later with a somewhat clear memory of what I read, let alone the title. Ah well. In this case I finished the book last week and the kids are still sleeping (at 7:09am!) so I’ll get this out to you without more meandering.

Mary Beth Keane’s Ask Again, Yes is a warm fuzzy sort of socks and blanket book. Following Peter and Kate across their soul-mate lives together, the book (tries to) explores how people enter relationships not as individuals but within constellations of relationships, and that any romance is both between two individuals and those intersecting networks of people. In this case, the families of Peter and Kate have an incredibly fraught relationship after a “explosive event” (so says the book jacket) that changes the trajectory of the families and the individuals within. Whether the two can – or should – find one another again is the subject of much of the middle half of the book.

The other set of questions – beyond that of how and whether a loving relationship is possible amid family drama – is around if and how people can change because of or despite their childhood, and – strangely? – the role of the medical or penal systems in enabling and limiting this change. I say strangely as the book doesn’t seem conscious of the ways doctors, hospitals, rehab centers, courts, police and prisons are represented as uncomplicated in their ability to help. It’s worth saying – if it’s also obvious – that these systems are… not uncomplicated in their ability to help.


And then the last thing to say is that the book seems unable to let anyone suffer without that suffering meaning something, having that suffering both eventually resolve and in the resolution imparting something decent on the suffers. It is maddening, even while it is… cozy. What a triumph of escapism to imagine that All of This could eventually lead to something… better. Something… meaningful. So maybe not fiction after all, so much as cozy fantasy.

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Filed under Book I'll Forget I Read, Fiction