Despite its overblown title, This Book Will Save Your Life
does have an empowering message. Richard Novak is a Los Angeles
commodities trader who buys and sells at his home computer—cut off from
everyone except his housecleaner, trainer, and nutritionist. Then he
experiences excruciating, mysterious pain that lands him in the ER. It
seems to jolt him into a realization of his aloneness and open him up
to people and possibilities. He befriends an immigrant donut maker, a
wife and mother who bemoans her taken-for-granted life, and a writer
who was the voice of his generation. Richard even jumps into a hero’s
role in dangerous situations, rescuing a kidnapped woman locked in a
trunk and helping to rescue a horse trapped in a sinkhole. As Richard
gets involved outside himself, healing happens (maybe his pain was
psychological), including in the most important connection: with his
17-year-old son, visiting from New York.
Part of the charm of This Book Will Save Your Life is how amusing the events are, even though they stretch credibility. Readers might ask whether people with more ordinary experiences (and less money to dole out than Richard has) could so readily change their lives. However, if this book is taken as a fable, its message is what counts: If you open your eyes to what’s going on around you, feel compassionate, and try to help, good things will follow.
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