I started off this year with a list full of goals and a heart full of optimism and confidence that I could do what it takes to actually make those goals a reality, but as January turned to February, and then February to March, I figuratively let my eyes drift from the metaphorical prize and some of the goals I had set forth on New Year’s Day, were no longer a priority, like reading. I love to read, and anyone who has followed the blog for an extended period of time knows that because there are times when I’ve written multiple book reviews in a week, or consistently written about the latest book I’ve read on a certain day of the week, like Book Review Friday, but inevitably, after these periods of intense reading where books consume most of my free time, there comes a cooling off phase wherein I go a month or two without finishing a single book. It’s not that I get bored of reading, but it is a kind of solitary activity that can be isolating. While watching television together or playing a game can bring two people closer together in laughter and fun, the same cannot be said for reading a book because unless it’s a solo act that can only capture the attention and imagination of the reader, so it’s not the most ideal way to spend an evening with my wife, so the key is finding a balance. Instead of going to the extremes, reading maniacally through January and February, then not picking up a book in the month of March, it’s time I find a way to continue reading so that I can meet my goal of finishing a book per week this year, but also have time to do some other things that I enjoy doing, so that I don’t have to give up one thing for the other.
I tried to get back on track last weekend and finish a book that has been sitting in the same place for more than a month, completely unmoved since the last time I sat it down in February. On Saturday afternoon, while I was watching and getting bored with the NBA Playoffs, I decided my time might be better spent finishing the book, so that’s exactly what I did. Written by Jonathan Tropper, “This is Where I Leave You” is the story of a guy named Judd Foxmann, who after his father’s death travels back to his family home to sit Shiva with the rest of his family, which was his father’s dying wish. Some families love to spend time with their families and go to family reunions, but the Foxmann’s are not one of these family. The four siblings ascend on their childhood home each with their own baggage that has broken them in the years since they last lived here together, and it’s a constant struggle to get past some of the tensions that are always looming in order to respectfully mourn the death of their father.
There are moments that will make you laugh out loud, and moments that may have you crying, but through this emotional rollercoaster of a book, you will come to love the Foxmann’s, or at the very least, relate to their struggles. I read Jonathan Tropper for the first time earlier in the year when I read the “Book of Joe” and declared him one of my favorite new authors, and having just finished my second book by him, that sentiment still rings true. I love how one page can have you laugh out loud and the next page can have you deep in thought because of a brilliant line sitting at the end of a random paragraph. I have one more book sitting on my bookshelf with plans to order his others very soon. If you’re unfamiliar with Tropper, I would suggest checking him out, and “This is Where I Leave You” is a great place to start.