Book Review: This Is Where I Leave You + Eleanor & Park

September 10, 2014

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Have you ever read a book, loved it, and then had a friend hate it? Or worse, have you ever read a book, loved it, and then read a scathing review that makes you reconsider your basic human intelligence and emotional depth?

It’s like a punch to the stomach. It’s also good to get a little perspective.

The other day I finished a book, loved it, and immediately texted a friend who said, “Are you kidding? That book was a piece of trash! Do you hate women?” Okay, she didn’t actually say that. In fact, all of her critiques were fair, valid, and most importantly–hilarious. It made me rethink the book and my response to it, which is always a good thing.

Like any book hoarder, people are always asking me, “What should I read? What novel mightn’t I order? What can you specifically recommend to me according to my personal reading history and unique taste?”

It is hard to recommended books to people. Everyone has different standards they use to measure a book’s worth, different ways they receive a story. Here are two books I read last week and really enjoyed. Both are simultaneously loved and hated, torn apart and highly praised on Goodreads and Amazon. Of course they have their faults (formulaic plots and flawed characters), but I was entertained, charmed, and most importantly–kept awake by both stories.

At this point in my life, if the book keeps me awake–I consider it a good one.

Have you read these books? Tell me your thoughts (I can take it). Have you ever read a book everyone else despised?

Happy reading.

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1. This Is Where I Leave You

this is where I leave you

If You’re Looking For: Comedy, dysfunction, dark humor, inappropriate giggling

If You Like: Running With Scissors, Death At A Funeral

My Review: This is one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. There were times I thought, “Well, he obviously wanted this to be a movie…” and “Stop objectifying women, you Hollywood clown!” But I also laughed enough to make me text a half dozen friends and say, “You really need to read this.” Bottom line: The main character (Judd) is a misogynistic juvenile, but the punchlines are worth the read.

Their Review: “The novel is artful and brilliant, filled with colorful narratives and witty dialogue. … [Tropper] can find the funny in any situation.” –Associated Press

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2. Eleanor & Park
Eleanor and Park

If You’re Looking For: Coming-of-age love stories, to feel feelings

If You Like: Age Of Miracles, The Fault In Our StarsWe Were Liars

My Review: This book shot me straight through my sappy, sentimental, young adult fiction heart. I couldn’t get enough of Eleanor’s dry perseverance and Park’s quirky, heartfelt love. Heavy with sadness and light with love, the writing is clean and well presented despite some dark themes. Bottom line: Dynamic characters with a well driven plot makes this teen romance fit for adults too.

Their Review: “I’ve often said that nobody should write for teens who doesn’t remember what it was like to be one. Rainbow Rowell remembers, and has captured it beautifully in this book.” –Some lady on Goodreads

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26 thoughts on “Book Review: This Is Where I Leave You + Eleanor & Park

  1. Katie MacDonald

    I ALWAYS tense up when people ask me for book recommendations. Recommending a book you absolutely love to a friend who ends up hating it is one of the worst things. It always make me questions how can we even be friends?!?! These two are on my must reads.

    Reply
  2. ashortblonde

    I’ve been recommended Eleanor & Park but haven’t read it yet. I had a similar experience when someone gave me their copy of The Book Thief and I just couldn’t get in to it and felt like there was something wrong with me!

    Reply
  3. Dara

    I’m an extremely picky reader. I don’t know why, but I am. I always give books 50-100 pages before I throw in the towel. I love Goodreads because I only really go for books that have at least 3.5 stars.

    Anyway I tend to be in the “I don’t like the book every one loves” group but I still try. I’m not a huge fan of Rainbow Rowell–I really didn’t like her book Fangirl at all–but another bookish friend gave it 5 stars. It just wasn’t my taste. I’m a pretty hardcore HF nut and many people don’t like historicals because they can read like info dumps at points. It’s interesting what people like though and I am always willing to give a book a try.

    P.S. I LOVED We Were Liars despite the fact it’s normally not what I read.

    Reply
  4. Kate Shu

    I’m in the middle of This is Where I Leave You (so funny when you’re reading the same thing as someone) so I skipped your review for now but saw that you probably liked it and then others didn’t. Hate that. Just happened with The Goldfinch- I was hurrying through it bc it was due at the library but just wanted it to go on forever. And almost everyone hated that it’s so long. Ah well. Love your review for E&P- some lady on goodreads.

    Reply
      1. Kate Shu

        Finished. I loved it! Yes- misogynist fo sho- but just enjoyed it anyway. Also, I lol’d at “mightn’t”. Haha. Loving The Rosie Project right now. Then E&P maybe. I love a good book streak!

        Reply
  5. Elizabeth

    Your review of “This is Where I Leave You” reminded me so much of Jenny Lawson’s “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened”– that darkness but total LOL-ness. Have you read it? I’ve never laughed so much during a book.

    I adored “Eleanor & Park”. That lady on Goodreads is so right.

    Reply
  6. Fran

    Kind of like that time I was like, “read The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris!” and then I read the Goodreads reviews and people spoke of it with the hatred of fire and brimstone. Then I was like, “nvm don’t listen to me I didn’t even finish college.”

    Reply
  7. Abby

    You mean grabbing a random book off the library shelf before your 3 year old gets kicked out for singing too loudly isn’t the way everyone chooses what to read? Abb

    Reply
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