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Brain on Fire, Gone Girl, Dark Places

I’ve had fierce writer’s block the past few months, but instead of writing about that, I’m going to write about the books I’ve been reading.

First of all, if you’ve read Gone Girl, hated the way it ended but thought the writing was great, then you should read Dark Places. In my opinion, Dark Places was the better of the two books and I’m looking forward to reading Sharp Objects. I went to see Gone Girl at the theater Saturday night. Having read the book, I was skeptical about the way it would be adapted but I thought it was well-cast. Love him or hate him, Ben Affleck made a great Nick Dunne. Rosamund Pike was despicable and I’m left wondering whether her depiction of Amy Dunne is more likely than Annabelle to give me nightmares. I went to see the movie with my friends Michelle (who had read the book) and Mike (who hadn’t). We all came out of the movie theater on the same wavelength: Almost all of the characters in the movie are pretty much awful – and we hated the movie. But then again, that’s how I felt at the end of the book, which is why I recommend Dark Places as your next Gillian Flynn read. However, I’ve never been good at movie reviews or else I would’ve made a career out of it. If you’ve read the book & went to see the movie, you should read this review.

Gillian Flynn adapted her own novel into a screenplay and, perhaps because she spent ten years at Entertainment Weekly presumably chopping thousands of words of precious copy into mini-blurbs fit for print, she seems to have had little trouble excising only the most vital organs from the body of her 400-plus page bestseller.

There’s been a little buzz about the movie being misogynist—criticisms that were also leveled at the book—but I did not find that to be the case. Yes, most of the female characters are deplorable for various crimes typically coded as feminine: for being shallow, fickle, attention-hungry, dumb, gullible, controlling. But it’s not like the male characters are a pack of winners, either. Almost everyone in the movie is a straight-up terrible person, the only possible exception being Margo, Nick’s sister.

Speaking of books, I finally got around to reading Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan. It’s the true story of a journalist whose body attacked her brain and she tells the powerful true story of her descent into madness. I finished it in a day and firmly believe that it’s a book that everyone should read. We’re all familiar of the stigma of mental illness and how little we truly understand about our bodies and minds, despite all of the medical advances we’ve made in the last few decades. The book also does an amazing job of displaying the impact our loved ones have on us, as well as the affect mental illness can have on those closest to us. It’s an incredible story about fear, perseverance, and faith.

I would soon learn firsthand that this kind of illness often ebbs and flows, leaving the sufferer convinced that the worst is over, even when it’s only retreating for a moment before pouncing again.

In addition to these books, I’ve also re-read The Giver, finally read Ender’s Game and began reading And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini.

What have you been reading lately?