What no one tells you about #KonMari and book regret

  • Sunday, March 10, 2019


... and how much it really hurts

I am suffering from some serious book regret. If you were livid when you heard Marie Kondo purportedly declaring you should “only should have 30 books” (untrue, she never said it), then read on.

Close to a year ago, we had to move — about 2000 km away. We were moving from a two-bedroom house with basement to a one-bedroom apartment.

Moving costs money so everything oversized and heavy had to stay. I was brutal when culling my books and I even ignored the whole “spark joy” feeling. I had my other family members do their own culling - yes, I drank the Konmari Koole Aide and was not going to make that decision for them.

I initially felt great after the purge. High fives all around. I knew I was oh-so-practical. I knew I was saving money.

So we hied off to the new home and before I knew it, I was craving certain books. My lovely short story collections - I looked up some of these books in the local library and surprise surprise, many weren’t there (credit my obscure taste for short stories). The SO asks where I put his copy Cain, and gggrrr ... I tell him that he specifically said it was fine to give away, yes he did, he really did. The other month, I was looking back at old blog posts and realized that I had tossed a whole bunch of vintage Agatha Christies into my donation bin, collected over years of thrift store hauls. Over the months, I have been having these severe moments of regret.

My takeaways from the whole experience?

Take the time to find out which books spark joy in you. Why the hell did I cave in to pressure of practicality, I keep asking myself? Well, we we under a time crunch. If you have the luxury of time, don’t do your book decluttering when you feel you’re under duress.

When in doubt, don’t throw it out. The books you’re lukewarm about, keep them. Then do another culling. Or not. The problem with this whole spark joy business is that on the day I did the cull, I was in different mindset and didn’t have time to process what I was keeping and letting go of.

Don’t let anyone else dictate how you should feel about letting go of a book. ‘Nuff said.

Give yourself permission to keep some sentimental books. Sure these books are replaceable, and maybe even borrowable from the library. But there is something deeply personal about certain books. I loved my short story collections, with many of them being ARCs; I was among the first to read, love and and review them! I loved my vintage Christies; can I ever get back that feeling of holding those ARCs or that initial thrill of spotting them glinting on those shelves?

And with that, I say, be kind to yourself. Decluttering requires a ready mind, and in some cases, a ready wallet. Sometimes that extra few dollars will save you heartache.

Photo by Verne Ho on Unsplash

Fictional true crime done right {Dark Places by Gillian Flynn}


Fictional true crime done right: dark and twisted

About Dark Places by Gillian Flynn: Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice" of Kinnakee, Kansas.” She survived—and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, the Kill Club—a secret secret society obsessed with notorious crimes—locates Libby and pumps her for details. They hope to discover proof that may free Ben. Libby hopes to turn a profit off her tragic history: She’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club—for a fee. As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started—on the run from a killer.

My two cents

I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ. Slit me at my belly and it might slide out, meaty and dark, drop on the floor so you could stomp on it.


Can someone say Truman Capote? Reading Flynn’s Dark Places, I had nostalgic twinges of reading In Cold Blood. I know this is fictional crime, but hey, it felt absolutely horrific, getting into the minds of killer, survivor, witness. I felt myself flailing internally to keep reading. But Flynn had a disturbingly tight hold on me and I soldiered to the end to find out the truth of The Satan Sacrifice Murders.

Libby is messed up. But she has every right to be - she survived the horrific murder of her mother and two sisters by her older brother, Ben, 25 years ago. Cruelly, she was the one who had put her only surviving family member in jail for life. Libby is unable to hold jobs, and was living on funds donated by sympathetic do-gooders. With a failed book deal and funds running dangerously low, Libby milks any possibility of money to survive.

Enter the Kill Club, a group of people morbidly interested in high profile, notorious crimes. Libby is thrust into a precarious dilemma as she realizes that the club believes that Ben is innocent and she is practically accused of providing false testimony. Looking back, she realizes that she was coached in court since age seven, and as alternative theories and evidence are presented to her, Libby starts to question her own memories. The hope that maybe, just maybe, things aren’t what she thought.

Why I liked this:

It’s got the Flynn trademark all over it. This is dark, twisted and sickening. It’s about a violent and gory massacre. It’s about perverse minds. It feels gritty, trashy, seedy, dirty, crude. And I feel the same way, a dirtiness on me that I don’t want. But, why oh why, does it all come together so well that you can’t put it down despite wanting to turn away and read something sunnier? Again I say it: Flynn is a brilliant and provocative storyteller.

Libby and the cast of characters. Flynn does it again with aplomb by giving us the flawed Libby as the centre of the story. Flynn never fails to deliver on interesting characters: Libby is severely damaged, troubled, selfish, crude, unlikable; she is not someone I’d care to know in real life. But she is relatable and realistic. The trauma she experienced as a child understandably has warped her in serious ways but I love her for her can-do survivor spirit.

The other characters are also flawed, unlikable and realistic. I was torn in believing Ben to be innocent but as the story moved along, his darkness slowly came through. Patty’s fierce sense of family resonated with me and her desperation for keeping her family financially afloat lends a rather odd mundanity to the massacre. The two sisters, while children, were painted as less than innocent. One standout character to me that links Libby to her family to the present is her aunt Diane. As the host characters walk through these pages, more and more you come to realize that people are inherently perverse, and that’s just the fact of the matter.

Multiple viewpoints and impeccable pacing. Propelling the storytelling is that this is told from different points of view as well as being paced for revelations to come to light at just the right time. This deftly voices out Libby (present day), Libby’s older brother Ben (1985) and their mother, Patty (1985). The massacre that transpired on that fateful day in 1985 becomes a pivot point for Ben and Patty to provide their own accounts, their sometimes chilling state of mind in their motivations.

Uh oh’s

If you’ve read Flynn, you already know that this is not a book for everyone because of its dark themes. It has graphic violence and gore, perverted sex, and depicts molestation and abuse.

Verdict

I’ve now read the Flynn trilogy of dark, twisted goodness. Seriously, if this review of Dark Places doesn’t convince you that she is worth your while, check out my reviews of Gone Girl and Sharp Objects.

With true crime a hugely popular genre in film and books, I’ve no doubt this one will grab the attention of fans.

#BookmarkMonday, origami and evolution

Bookmark Monday now has its own account on Instagram! Quick, go follow along! I’ll post your bookmarks!

I am also posting a new bookmark of my own ... a cute little origami terrier. I had some leftover Japanese wrapper and made this little cutie out of it! Want to make your own? Here are the instructions, easy peasy!

I’ve started reading Why Evolution is True by Jerry A. Coyne. This is now being read in many schools and universities, and it provides irrefutable scientific evidence of evolutionary biology. So far, it is compelling and fascinating reading. Why wasn’t my biology this interesting in uni? I have started/stopped with this because two of is were reading this ... now it’s my turn!

Do you like origami? How about non-fiction?



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Be careful, it cuts deep {Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn}


Be careful, it cuts deep

About Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn: Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, reporter Camille Preaker faces a troubling assignment: she must return to her tiny hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. For years, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed in her old bedroom in her family's Victorian mansion, Camille finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. Dogged by her own demons, she must unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past if she wants to get the story—and survive this homecoming.

My two cents

You all know how much I love Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. I was able to borrow a copy off a fellow-Flynn fan and I dove into this amazing debut novel. I couldn’t help but race through it because I found it a compelling and provocative yet highly disturbing read.

This is a chilling tale about reporter, Camille Preaker, who is assigned to report on a series of child murders in - of all places - her hometown. In the course of investigating for her story, she must dig deep and reconnect with family, friends, neighbours, and people of her past. The truth leads her to a disturbing conclusion.

Here’s why I liked it:

It hits you viscerally. This is another brilliant psychological study by Flynn and Camille as the heroine of the story comes with some very serious baggage. There a full sections that made me seriously queasy at times ... but that just goes to show how seriously damaged Camille is. It is hard to read about some of the things that Camille inflicts on herself, physically and mentally. It made me feel scared to discover her scary skeletons in her closet. And yet, surprisingly, instead of being turned off, I felt for her.

This is about the dark side of family. Everyone admits how messed up families can be, but usually we say this with some fondness. Camille’s dysfunctional family takes this to the extreme. As the story unravels, Camille’s childhood is revealed to be a disturbingly unhealthy relationship with her very cold, proper mother, an oddity of a stepfather, and a teenage half sister. Her hometown also has a strange eeriness which is hard to shake off. Camille hadn’t escaped unscathed, and as she finds herself thrust into her old life, she is thrust into this unhealthiness once again. While she copes in new ways, she also finds herself sliding into her old ways. Moreover, she finds herself commiserating with the plight of her half-sister and she feels an obligation to help her in some way.

It’s an actual mystery. I love me my whodunits and Agatha Christie. Camille follows the tradition of mystery solving. While I think I had figured it out, I was often led astray. The best part: I was horrified by the ending.

Be warned: this is deeply disturbing on many fronts.The story is disturbing; the topics of abuse, self-harm, sex, and murder are disturbing; the characters are messed up in every way; and the general feeling I had throughout the book was of creepiness. There is something uncannily scary about reading this book - Flynn doesn’t shy away from the gory and graphic details, or the unhealthy, messed up thoughts of the characters. The result: a read that left me mentally exhausted and frankly, wanting to shake off this darkness. Honestly, it is a hard read to shake off.

Verdict

I highly recommend this to fans of Gillian Flynn and those who love dark twisted psychological tales, dark mysteries, and provocative reading. Stay away if you cannot handle disturbing details of abuse or self-harm.

Is seeing believing? {The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn @ajfinnbooks}


Unputdownable peeping Tom tale

About The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn: It isn't paranoia if it's really happening . . . Anna Fox lives alone--a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her days drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors. Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn't, her world begins to crumble--and its shocking secrets are laid bare. What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one--and nothing--is what it seems. Twisty and powerful, ingenious and moving, The Woman in the Window is a smart, sophisticated novel of psychological suspense that recalls the best of Hitchcock--an unforgettable thriller that Gillian Flynn calls "amazing."

My two cents

Sidenote: It’s been a long time (unbelievably over a year, almost two!) since I last posted a book review, so getting back into my blog has me wondering how I’ll fare this time around. I’ve pared the reading ao much that I’ve been down to about 20 books a year, with quite a few being rereads.

I got a hold of this particular novel because my colleague and I were discussing just how mindf*ckingly brilliant Gillian Flynn is! As this one is in the same genre as Flynn, and Flynn herself recommended it, I needed to see if her glowing review of “amazing” was true. Here’s why I enjoyed it:

It’s a slow burn. This starts off with the simple introduction of Dr. Anna Fox, a well known child psychologist and now recluse. As the pages turn, Anna’s story and circumstances become more and more apparent. She suffers from agoraphobia because of a yet-unknown-reason to the reader. She hasn’t stepped out of the house in close to a year.

She passes her days watching black and white films, drinking her favourite wine, and popping her plethora of drugs (note: note to be taken with alcohol), and logging online and giving advice to other recluses. Oh, and people watching.

Anna takes a particular interest her new neighbours across the park. One day, she believes she witnesses a murder. But no one believes her.

It’s a pyschological thriller that left me second guessing myself. After the murder, I was wholly on Anna’s side. The many, many pages before had made me “friends” with Anna. I knew her. I knew her family. I knew she wasn’t the type to imagine things. I was certain she was sane; she was just sad and traumatized. Wasn’t she?

As more layers were peeled back and revelations made, I hemmed and hawed. I seesawed from believing her, to writing her off as a drunk, overly drugged, and watching too much film noir. She was becoming paranoid, delusional, and was hallucinating.

Would you be like me, so easily gullible to Anna’s charms? Or will you be objective and see all the red herrings? Did the murder happen or not? You’ll have to find out!

Love the film noir twist.Throughout there are references to Anna’s favourite black and white films. It’s obvious that the author is a film noir aficionado. The references were quite lost on me but they lent interesting backdrops to Anna’s story. When I Googled the book, I was’t surprised to see that there was an old film with the same title. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woman_in_the_Window

It’s dark yet relatable. If you’re wondering, this is not as dark, graphic or disturbing as Gillian Flynn’s work. Everything is purely psychological which makes Anna’s story much more relatable to the everyday Joe. There is no violence or sexual perversions that seems to be hallmarks of Flynn’s work.

Verdict

In an homage to film noir, I found this psychological thriller hard to put down! I love it when a book exceeds expectations. Highly recommend!
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© guiltless readingMaira Gall