This Book Will Save Your Life – or at least stay with you

I read this book ages ago when I was working all summer at a concert hall in Brighton. It was my job to take tickets and for the hours when I wasn’t doing that (which was all the long, stretching hours of concerts, evangelical conferences and whatever else) it was my job to sit there and read. It was a hot summer and I was about to go off to uni and I read this book and I just loved it. My mum bought it because it was one of the first Richard and Judy book club titles but she never read it.

I liked the donuts on the cover. I remembered that I liked the feel of the writing too. The thing is, I read so many books that lots of them inevitably slip out of my mind afterwards. But I remembered Richard Novak.  He’s a man who wakes up in middle age to realise he’s been living life in a vacuum. He barely knows his son, his ex-wife is long gone. He hasn’t spoken to his parents for years. He has a nutritionist, a housekeeper but apart from that he is alone. When he finds himself suddenly in pain and is rushed to the hospital, they ask him who he’d like to call and he realises there’s no one on earth he wants to speak to. No one he still has that connection with. This is a book about him putting his life back together from nothing. Finally, Richard starts to interact, to say yes to human contact. The man in the donut shop. The woman crying in the produce aisle of the supermarket. His next door neighbour. The 911 operator. He starts spending his money, spending his time, following the flow of life, doing whatever comes next. He reconnects. He opens Pandora’s box.

There’s just something so feel-good about this book! I never re-read – there are so many new things out there but this book drew me back in and it was just as good the second time. It’s basically a story about a man having a mid-life crisis but there’s something so real at the heart of it. It treads the same ground as a Richard Curtis film, plugs you into an idea of humanity you can believe in. It won’t change your life, not in any kind of profound way, but there’s a warmth in it that will stay with you. From life in a vacuum to horses and helicopters and have-a-go-heroism, A.M. Holmes takes you on a winding and inexplicably wonderful adventure back to life.

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