Weekly book column: anti-Valentine’s Day

Photo credit: Kiv Bui

Whether people celebrate Valentine’s Day or not, they are still bombarded with heart-shaped everything, teddy bears and romantic gestures almost everywhere they go.

For those who have had enough heart-shaped everything to last them throughout the year, they may decide to stay home on Valentine’s Day. However, that doesn’t mean they have to be alone – they could be kept company by some books that turn the romance trope completely on its head.

One book which does just that is “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn. Having been turned into a movie starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in 2014, this book sends the reader on a roller coaster of emotions. The personalities of the characters constantly change, leaving the reader to interpret which personality is the real one.

The book centers around Nick and Amy Dunne’s relationship. The first third of the book is told in Nick’s point of view, though Amy’s point of view is shown through diary passages. After this part of the book, both characters get the chance to narrate in present time.

Having both lost their jobs in New York, Nick and Amy move to Missouri to take care of Nick’s sick mother. Then, on their wedding anniversary, Amy mysteriously disappears. When the police find out Amy was pregnant when she disappeared, the police begin to suspect that Nick murdered her. However, with two completely unreliable narrators telling the reader what happened, everything is not what it seems.

“Gone Girl” can be found on Amazon for $9.49 in paperback and for $9.99 for Kindle.

Another book which does away with the romance trope is “House of Leaves” by Mark Z. Danielewski. The uncommon page layouts, odd writing style and multiple narrators make this book especially extraordinary.

Johnny Truant, the main character and yet another unreliable narrator, is searching for a new apartment when his friend tells him about the apartment of a dead man, Zampanò, who used to live in his building.

When Johnny goes to Zampanò’s apartment, he finds a manuscript based on Zampanò’s analysis about a documentary film which doesn’t exist, “The Navidson Record.”

The rest of the book weaves together Zampanò’s analysis of “The Navidson Record,” Johnny’s ongoing life, and the letters Johnny’s mother writes while she is in a psychiatric hospital.

The entirety of the book reads oddly since there are ample footnotes, some pages with few words printed on them and different fonts to represent different characters’ voices.

While the book may initially read as a horror story, Danielewski has said that the book is, in fact, a love story.

“House of Leaves” can be found on Amazon for $12.49 in paperback.