Every once in a while I feel like I need to list the things I've been reading. The problem is that by the time I think to actually list them, I've read enough books to write my own novel. I usually have no purpose in choosing a book; it's what ever I get my hands on at that time. This summer I've read four books byBarbara Kingsolver, The Sookie Stackhouse series, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, a collection of short stories by Peter S. Beagle, and something else, but it escapes my brain at this moment.
Yesterday, I finished How To Be Good by Nick Hornby. I picked this up at a thrift store forever ago and then forgot about it. I've never read Nick Hornby, but I really loved the movie About a Boy (which was based on his book). So, why not give it a go? The story is about a woman who considers herself a good person. She's a doctor; she saves peoples lives. But she finds herself sitting in her car one evening telling her husband over the phone (as he's home feeding their children) that she thinks she may want a divorce and that what she's not telling him is that she's about to have an affair. Then her husband undergoes some sort of spiritual conversion and changes from the angry sarcastic shit he used to be to a pious sanctimonious shit, wanting them to open their home up to the homeless and give all of their things and money away to save the world.
The book is a comedy and I did think it was very funny. But there was more to it then that. The woman doesn't end up divorcing her husband, but is left with putting up with him and his guru, GoodNews, and their schemes to get the neighbors to take in homeless people and the book they're writing together on "how to be good". When she finally puts her foot down and says enough is enough, her husband doesn't understand. Why wouldn't you want to help the homeless? And this is where we get to the meat of the story.
The truth is that both of them feel dead inside. He's just continuing with all of this because he knows that he's being irritating. She gives so much of herself to the patients she sees every day that she barely has anything left over for her children, let alone her husband. He asks her then "what's the point?" and she doesn't have an answer. Because, really the point can't be summed up into that one sentence. It's in the way they fit together while sleeping in the bed. The moments they share as a family. It's those special moments, that maybe don't happen very often, but often enough to keep you going. Being good is not about feeding and housing the homeless. It's nice, but it's not what defines you as a good person and that's really what this book was about (to me anyway).
Now I'm reading Choke by Chuck Palahniuk, whom Chris and I lovingly call Chuck Fight Club because we can't pronounce his last name. Maybe I'll let you know what I thought, but most likely by the time I remember, I'll be on to the next.