April 17, 2014

The Best Book I Ever Read

In light of the announcement earlier this week that Donna Tartt has been awarded the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, I'd like to pay homage to the best book I ever read, The Goldfinch.

Nashvillians are lucky to have local bookstore, Parnassus Books, owned by author Ann Patchett. Through Parnassus' author events, I've met David Sedaris, Jen Lancaster and yes, Donna Tartt. Back in October, on the book's pub date, Donna Tartt came to Nashville and read a chapter from The Goldfinch. Having read her previous two books, but never meeting her, I was enamored. And I was hooked. I couldn't wait to read The Goldfinch.

Weighing in at 718 pages, I wouldn't classify it as a quick read. It took me about three weeks. I read the book slowly, reading some passages multiple times. The Columbia University School of Journalism, who announces the awards, described The Goldfinch as a "beautifully written coming-of-age novel with exquisitely drawn characters that follows a grieving boy's entanglement with a small famous painting that has eluded destruction, a book that stimulates the mind and touches the heart."

This is the review I left on Goodreads and Amazon:
Hands-down, best book I've ever read. I gave it the maximum allotted five stars, but my heart gives it 100 stars. My poor, poor bleeding heart. It's going to take awhile to shake this one off. Unfortunately, I'm too emotional about it & completely incapable of writing a proper review. Things I can say: Donna Tartt is one of my favorite authors, this book is the best book I've ever read, & I CANNOT stop thinking about it! If you read & liked her earlier book, The Secret History, this is along the same lines. Read this book!
I still have a hard time putting into words how I feel about this book and why I liked it as much as I did. There's some obvious connections with traumatic events, NYC and a boy losing his mother. But beyond that, this book just touched some deep, dark part of my psyche that no other book has done.

It also did something to me that has never happened before, it made me hate all other books (not really). Every book I picked up after finishing The Goldfinch, I put down after a hundred or so pages. They were all sub par in comparison and I couldn't make myself finish them. The streak seems to be over now, but it lasted for a few months.

Another weird thing that happened was an overwhelming desire to immediately reread The Goldfinch. About two weeks after I finished it, I told John that I wanted to read it again and that no other book has ever done this to me. He said that's what good books do. I had no idea. John does tend to reread a lot of books, so I guess now I understand. I have yet to reread The Goldfinch, but I'm sure I will, especially if they're going to end up making it into a movie.

I was talking to someone this week about this book winning the Pulitzer and how much I loved it and she asked what my other top books are.  Off the top of my head, I answered:

To Kill a Mockingbird
The Glass Castle
The Poisonwood Bible
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Happy reading!


Kristine Mylls said...

We're reading this for an upcoming book group. Very excited about it. I'm 50/50 on your other favorites (Loved To Kill a Mockingbird and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - the other two, not so much). I'll let you know!

The Blonde Mule said...

Kristine - I know you're reading Goldfinch now. Stick with it. The middle goes on awhile, but it's worth it in the end.


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