* Heartburn – Nora Ephron
* Reasons to Stay Alive – Matt Haig
* Heartburn – Nora Ephron
Let’s start by being cliche and saying: life is unpredictable. Like most people, I was viewing January as a fresh start (though my gut always tells me the best “fresh starts” begin spontaneously). Then, of course, life happened. This month, I was tossed a few curveballs and to be completely honest, I couldn’t focus on a page long enough to finish much at all. I flip-flopped between a few different things, managed to finish two (one of which I adored) and am halfway through one I’m really enjoying.
I began Reasons to Stay Alive the day before New Year’s Eve, and then put it down for quite a while. It came highly recommended from a friend, whose love and advocacy for it made me pick it back up a few weeks ago. What some may already know is that I loved Matt Haig’s novel, The Humans that came out a few years ago. The book was about an alien who comes to Earth to inhabit the body of a scientist who discovered something he shouldn’t have; something that would jeopardize the aliens secret ruling of human kind. The alien becomes enamoured by Earth’s inhabitants, and learns that humanity is much more than he ever imagined. Haig spoke openly about how the book is both a fun and tender scifi novel, and a metaphor or how he pulled himself out of a very deep and dark depression and fell back in love with life. Reasons to Stay Alive is a huge expansion on Haig’s story. It’s not a self-help book, or a memoir necessarily, but more a collection of essays that are both personal and educational. As someone who has managed my own anxiety for my entire life, some of the things Haig spoke about were old news to me. And yet, I still learned things, and I honestly think this book is a great push to help end the stigma surrounding mental health. It’s an important book, and a worthwhile one. If you are struggling, it is a hand on your shoulder and a reminder that you are not alone. If you know someone who is struggling, it is a wonderful way to learn. There couldn’t have been a better month to read this either, as Bell’s Lets Talk day was just last week. (And also, if you haven’t read The Humans, please do – it’s wonderful!)
Next, I began Pierce Brown’s Red Rising, which has been on my TBR since it came out. My boss and many of my coworkers are evangelists for this series and so far, I’m loving it, though I’m only about halfway through.
On Friday, after a few tough weeks, I decided to spend the entire weekend doing nothing. I would have some wine, watch as many episodes of Friends as I wanted, and read something comforting. I thought back to the last time I really needed a comfort read, and remembered the afternoon last March where I devoured Nora Ephron’s I Remember Nothing. For me, Nora Ephron is one of the two people I turn to when I need a metaphorical hug (the other is Bridget Jones). Her spunk, her heart, her honesty about the irrational things we sometimes think or want just because we do. Because we are human. So, after work, I trucked to the bookstore to buy myself a copy of Nora’s first novel, a very thinly veiled story about her own life, Heartburn. The book is about a thirty-something writer who, after her first husband has an affair, finds herself remarrying a notorious bachelor. She loves Mark Feldman (the real life Carl Bernstein) tremendously, but is never quite sure she can trust him. And of course, she can’t. While Rachel (cough – Nora – cough) is pregnant with their second child, she discovers that her husband is having a rather public affair with an acquaintance of hers. Despite the situation being pretty bleak, Nora tells it with her signature hilarity, heart, and hope.
A few chapters into the book, I read on Goodreads that Meryl Streep narrated the audiobook. Meryl also played Nora in the film adaptation of the book which came out in the late 80’s. This couldn’t be more perfect. I also happen to love Meryl Streep. That classy, sweet-hearted woman. So, I let Meryl tell me the story instead, as I read along in bed with my physical copy. It was wonderful and exactly what I needed. I laughed, I was touched, I wrote down quotes. In fact, here is my favourite.
It has a happy ending, but that’s because I insist on happy endings; I would insist on happy beginnings, too, but that’s not necessary because all beginnings are intrinsically happy, in my opinion. What about middles, you may ask. Middles are a problem. Middles are perhaps the major problem of contemporary life.
Ah, I do love her. Anyway, it was the perfect book for me to read. Then today, I watched the film, and though I do love Meryl and Jack Nicholson, I found the film lacking in the humour the book had. I loved the attitude with which Meryl read the text that didn’t translate into the film as much. Regardless, it was really neat to see the adaptation so soon after finishing the book. Thankfully, I still have a few more Nora books to read when these days hit.
And really.. that was my month. I’m proud that I only purchased one book this month, and I read it right away! Progress, people! Now, hopefully February has some calmer waters for me, and I will be able to dive into many more wonderful stories. Until then!