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Review and GIVEAWAY – The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris

Congratulations to #48, Enyl! I’ve emailed you already. I hope you enjoy the book!

The Unnamed
by Joshua Ferris
320 pages
Published January 18, 2010
Fiction, literary

I’m actually kind of saddened to think that I read the best book of 2010 in January.

The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris is about Tim Farnsworth and his wife, Jane. Tim is a lawyer, and Jane is a real estate agent, and when the book opens, they’re very successful and have a 17-year-old daughter. Tim has a strange disease that has re-emerged after being in remission for years.

This disease that Tim has causes him to walk: to walk away from wherever he is, and walk until he’s so exhausted that he lays down to sleep wherever he is. Tim walks and walks, and historically his walking has only lasted a few months, though one time it continued for a year. This time, though, how long will it last? How long can he survive being exposed to the elements, and how long can his marriage be considered a marriage as he takes off without warning and keeps his wife and daughter scared for his safety?

On the surface this is about marriage and love, and how long either can last when put to the test by an unnamed, unknown factor. Something affecting Tim affected the whole family, as Jane observes, “But this misfortune was not his and his alone!” Tim also realizes that with a family, he’s no longer an autonomous being: “He had to recognize that his sickness was not his alone.” How often we think that our actions shouldn’t or won’t or can’t affect others, but they do, particularly family members.

Digging a little deeper, Tim’s disease of having to walk could be representative of anything he desires to walk away from. He’s a high powered attorney with lots of pressure to succeed. How much of that pressure can a person bear before they just want to walk away? And who of us haven’t wanted to (at one time or another) walk away from our families?

This is a haunting and beautiful story. I loved seeing the sacrifices that Tim and Jane made for each other, because it’s in the hard times that those sacrifices actually mean something. I can’t argue that The Unnamed isn’t melancholy or sad, because it is. But I CAN argue that The Unnamed will make you wish all books were written so deftly.

This book is being released today, so please, I BEG YOU, do yourself a favor and go buy this book, check it out from the library, or steal it from the person sitting next to you on the subway. Kidding!

Rating: 100 out of 100

Other reviews:

Lev Grossman at

Giveaway: I’ll be going to see Joshua Ferris when he comes to Kepler’s Books on February 5, 2010. At that time, I will purchase a copy of The Unnamed to give to one person who comments on my blog. To enter to win, please leave a comment telling me whether you like to hike. This contest will close on January 31, 2010 at 11:59pm PST. The book will be shipped out on February 6, 2010, and the winner has the option of having the author personalize the book. Contest is open internationally. Good luck!

Book source: I received this book as a review copy from the publisher.

And one more thing? If you click on one of The Unnamed links and buy something from Amazon, I’ll make a commission! Mwahahahaha!! Maybe with the pennies I make I’ll be able to call someone who cares.

You can thank the FTC for this disclosure!

| Tags: , , 82 comments »

82 Responses to “Review and GIVEAWAY – The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris”

  1. Bluestocking

    Hi Trish,

    No need to enter me in for the book. I reviewed this one last week. The Unnamed. I didn’t find the book to be about marriage and love really. I thought I was really dealing with busy modern life.

  2. Steph

    Trish, I would LOVE to read this one, even if I do not like to hike at all (see what I did there? 😉 ). I ADORED Ferris’s debut novel, Then We Came to the End, but had heard mixed reviews of this one (until yours which is clearly unequivocally positive). I really need to read it though, because Ferris is one of my literary crushes and I believe that he can do no wrong – your review convinces me this must be so!

  3. mindy

    no hiking for me!!! for me a hike is from my front door to the car door thanks for the giveaway

  4. Alicia

    Hiking is my idea of torture….so I don’t like hiking, but maybe one day!

    Please enter me 🙂

  5. Julie

    I love to take walks on flat trails with the kids…that’s about all the hiking I’ll do these days! But I would love to read this book, especially after your fabulous review!

  6. Jenny

    I like to hike as long as I don’t have to run. Running is right out. Please enter me! I’m excited to see Ferris’s new book!

  7. CLM

    I don’t like to hike or even walk (too many years in NYC when I could barely afford the bus/subway) but I am a stressed out lawyer and I’ve noticed I constantly pace at work. Hope I don’t get Tim’s disease!

  8. Carrie K.

    Not a hiker – I’m much too lazy. I like to read in the woods, though, while my family fishes and bikes – does that count? 🙂 Love the new look, by the way!

  9. Sheila DeChantal

    Woo- high ratings so early in the year make this a must read! I do love to hike! I like to do all sorts of outdoorsy things when the weather is warm and Minnesota is green and beautiful 🙂

  10. Mary Ward

    I’m not much of a hiker though my husband is. I love telling him to go and take a hike.

  11. Bonnie M.

    I love to hike! I haven’t been hiking in a very long time but I have fond memories of school trips that involved hiking across a beautiful hill and forest.

  12. Beth F

    I love hiking and walking! The longest I was out backpacking was 3 weeks in Baja California. Anyway, I would love to win this book.

    I LOVE your new look. Woo, hoo and good job.

  13. Amanda

    I have never been hiking, but I don’t think I would like it. I’ve always lived in flat areas of the country.
    amandarwest at gmaildotcom

  14. Christina

    Hiking the part of the reason why I love living where I do (southwest Montana just outside of Yellowstone). I love the serenity that surrounds you while hiking — the rustle of the tree leaves, the chirping of birds, and (occasionally) the crunch of the snow as you break through it. Hiking is one of my favorite things to do in the winter besides skiing, and in summer it is only third to biking and whitewater rafting.

    And The Unnamed sounds like a fabulous book.

  15. Wendy

    I don’t like to hike, but I wish I did. We live in Colorado, so I have gone, but it just wasn’t my thing. Please enter me. 🙂

  16. Michelle

    I would definitely be interested in reading any book that you rated 100/100 🙂

    I love the IDEA of hiking, but I would really need to get into better shape first. I’d probably be ready to give up the ghost after 45 minutes or so!

    Also, what would I ever do if I came across a BEAR?


  17. Sasha

    Oooh, enter me please. I’ve seen reviews of this everywhere, and there’s just that tingle in my gut that tells me it’ll be good for me too!

    So. Hiking. I live a sedentary lifestyle, and the idea of, well, movement, effectively plasters me more firmly to my bed/couch. Which is sad, because my boyfriend is a mountain man through and through. Boo, haha.

  18. Jen - Devourer of Books

    I know how you feel with the whole ‘best book of 2010 in January,’ I’ve already read 2 I think are in strong contention for the end of the year list. Maybe this means that 2010 will just be chock full of some new really high quality literature.

    I do like to hike, but it always causes me to find that I’m not in as good of shape as I thought I was, which sort of sucks, because I can never go as far as I think I will be able to.

  19. Kelly

    I like to hike, as long as I don’t have to work up a sweat. Or breathe hard.

    Trish, love the new look to the site!

  20. Word Lily

    I like the idea of hiking more than I like actual hiking. This sounds like a very intriguing book.

    Oh! And I love the new look!

  21. Rachel

    I do love to hike, but don’t get to go nearly as much as I’d like to. I live in pretty flat country so it’s a trip to do any actual real hiking.

    I’m so excited for this book! Definitely enter me 🙂

  22. Becca

    Hiking…hmmm, I love walking outdoors, but I haven’t really gone hiking. I’d love to try it though – would also love to read this book 🙂

  23. Jackie (Farm Lane Books)

    Did you read Then We Came to the End? I didn’t like that book at all and couldn’t even finish it. Several people have told me that this is very different in style and is much better, but I’m not sure….

  24. Jenny

    Oooh… I’ve heard so many good things about this book! Sort of like The Help last year though…. most agree it was one of the best of the year but it came out early too.

    I’d enter the drawing but I’m definitely going to buy this one for my Nook!

  25. Jason

    I love to hike. We go to the Boundary Waters in Northern MN all the time. I love it


  26. Veronica

    Just wanted to let you know that I just LOVE the new look. 🙂

  27. Nicole C.

    Yes, I really like hiking!

  28. Lori L

    I like walking and do so daily (usually with dogs). Hiking… not so much.
    I’d love to win a copy of this book!

  29. Kiki

    Love your new look–I logged on yesterday and it was undergoing maintenance–now I know why! Super dute!

  30. Darcy B

    Wow sounds like a great read—I would love a chance to read it!! Happy New Year– and thanks for the chance to win.

  31. melanie

    I’d been waiting to hear about this one from a trusted source. You’re it! Thanks.

  32. Michelle

    Yes! Please enter me, I’d love to read this book. I think I like the IDEA of hiking, but not so much the actual activity. Maybe when the kids are older I’ll think differently. I used to enjoy it when I was younger – there was an almost mountain just outside the city we lived in and my family used to hike up it on weekends. I wonder if I enjoyed the family aspect of it rather than the actual hiking?

  33. Michelle

    Yes! Please enter me, I’d love to read this book. I think I like the IDEA of hiking, but not so much the actual activity. Maybe when the kids are older I’ll think differently. I used to enjoy it when I was younger – there was an almost mountain just outside the city we lived in and my family used to hike up it on weekends. I wonder if I enjoyed the family aspect of it rather than the actual hiking?

    (I’m getting some sort of error warning, so I do apologise if this comment posts twice)

  34. Kelly

    FYI, I got an error like Michelle, but my comment still posted.

  35. nomadreader

    If by hike you mean walk around in cities and concrete jungles, yes. If by hike you mean be around trees and nature, then no. I do enjoy books about hiking, however (A Change in Altitude by Anita Shreve and A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, most notably), and these books often make me think I would like to hike, and then I do, and I remember I don’t like it.

    Jealous you’re seeing him!

  36. Lu

    I have not been hiking since I was a very little girl, but I do remember enjoying myself. Not necessarily because I liked hiking, but because I discovered cool things in the river, like pretty rocks. I’d love to win this book, it looks great. Either way it will be going on my TBR 😀

  37. Daniel

    Not a hiker, but I would love to get my hands on the new Joshua Ferris. I was a big evangelist for his last book, lending the hardcover to anyone I could find and I’m really looking forward to this one.

    Thanks for writing here. This was a great find.


  38. kathl

    This sounds very intriguing with a unique premise. I’m adding it to my TBR list and hoping to get it from my library soon!

  39. Sandra K321

    When I was in college I used to hike a lot. Every summer a group of my friends would hike a new section of the Appalachian trail for a week. Now I think I might be a bit afraid to sleep out in the woods with some of the crazies we have these days. Please include me in your drawing.

  40. Kathy

    I’m dying to read this book after seeing you and Rebecca tweet about it! No need to enter me.

  41. Julie

    This book sounds so good! I love to hike! My favorite hikes were an active volcano in Guatemala called Pecaya and any hiking in Tucson, AZ. I live in flat Chicago, so I have to get the hiking in while on vacation!

  42. Amy Reads Good Books

    Great review! I’m an avid hiker too. I used to love the Billy Goat Trail at Great Falls when I lived in DC. Now, I live near a little state park, Charleston Falls, that I go to at least once a week.

  43. Patty

    I hike up my low rise jeans and my granny undies on a daiy basis. B.C. (before children), I hiked up a portion of the Appalachian Trail, a one time event. Both are scenic in their own way, depending on whom is doing the viewing. Only the latter gave me shin splints.

  44. Zack

    I love to hike! I saw someone said they like hiking in Tucson which was cool because that’s where I live and about the best thing about living here! Next weekend I’m going out with some friends to do Douglas Springs and then a few weeks later we’re gonna head out over to Madera Canyon!!

    I’ve never hear of Joshus Ferris before but as a chronic sleep walker there’s something about this book that sounds incredibly interesting to me!!

    Please enter me into the contest, and regardless of whether I win or lose thanks for the review, I will move this book to the top of my TBR list!

  45. Helen

    I hike all the time! I’m lucky to be within walking distance of Griffith Park in Los Angeles. Thanks for the giveaway! Helen

  46. Caroline

    I’m not a big hiking fan – I prefer sitting and reading! Thanks for the giveaway.

  47. christa @ mental foodie

    For the fresh air! Thanks for entering me.

  48. enyl

    When I was an assistant Girl Scout Troop Leader hiking and camping was a lot of fun.

  49. Cynthia V

    I wish I liked hiking! I would love to win this book, this would be a new author for me. It sounds like I’ve been missing out.


  50. diana

    love to hike but with my dog…he makes it look so easy and i figure if he can do it…so can i!

  51. Virginia C

    Hello! I live in the beautiful mountains of Southwestern Virginia, a perfect place to hike. There is a state park just 10 minutes from my house. Your review made me want to read this book! Please enter my name in the drawing. I am a follower & subscriber.

  52. Stephanie

    I would love a copy of this book–I have heard such good things. I hate hiking, or pretty much anything outdoorsy!

  53. Lauren O'Brien

    I like to hike because it gives me chance to watch my dogs having fun. Thanks for doing this giveaway, very nice! Have heard so many great comments on this book on Twitter, I will be reading it regardless! Thanks!

  54. Carina

    This sounds really interesting. The description of his ailment reminded me of Forrest Gump, actually – how people walk and walk and don’t know why, and then just suddenly stop. I’m adding this to my TBR pile.

  55. nikki

    Sounds like a great book! I’d love to enter the contest.

    Do I like to hike? No. But I wish I liked it….

  56. Ivy

    I hiked when I was much younger…like in camp. I would love to go on a hiking trip with a crew of fun-adventure minded folks!

  57. Mia J.

    I like to hike with my family. We have a lot of hiking trails and paths close to our home so we hike often.

  58. Amy

    I’m anxious for you to be proven wrong and NOT have read the best book of 2010 in January! I like to boulder-hike and forest hike and yes, take a hike every so often too. smiles, Amy

  59. Kelly

    Do I like to hike? To be honest, I don’t love it. I don’t mind easy hikes on historic trails, but I’m not exactly a nature girl. Just give me enough history to keep me going to the next sign, and I’m okay, though! 😉

  60. Alyce

    I love hiking! It’s one of the few activities that is easy for our whole family to do (as long as we don’t choose hikes that are too difficult for the little ones).

    I added this book to my wish list based on your recommendation. I love the new look of your blog BTW!

  61. etirv

    I’m so lazy so hiking is not my thing… but who knows, one day…

  62. Stacie

    I do like to hike, but not mountain hiking. I like to do trails here in the midwest. We traveled to Tennessee and went into the Smokey Mtns with our 3 young children and another family. We thought we were doing a 2.5 mile round trip trail but ended up doing a 5 mile round trip trail that was rated as difficult and did not have much fun. I will keep to level trails! 🙂 But, totally want to read this book based on your recommendation!

  63. Liz

    I love hiking and my fave place to hike is the many diff state parks!
    Love the new look here on your blog!

  64. nat @book, line, and sinker

    is this the author who wrote the novel about working in an office and it had yellow stickies all over the cover?! that book made me weep a bit.

    you make this book sound better, though, so i might have to give him another shot!

    as for hiking, i’ve done it (reluctantly) in vermont a few times. i’m not the most outdoorsy girl around…

  65. nat @book, line, and sinker

    ps. love the new layout and header. a bit risque!!! lol.

  66. diane

    I’m a walker not a hiker, but I do like reading outdoorsy type books –Bill Bryson is a good one.

    bostonredsoxfever AT gmail DOT com

  67. pinkilili

    Hi! Ooh sounds like a good read, please enter me 🙂

    Hiking.. I don’t like the stuff you have to do before hiking, like packing, making sure that you have enough to eat and drink and have the right clothes, etc. So usually I’m not so enthusiastic about hiking but once I’m there and after, I feel good! We hike in the summer at a nearby National Park mostly but once hubby, the kids and I did a three day hike in Lapland. It was pure torture because there were so many mosquiteos and bugs which bit us all over!!

  68. Jess - A Book Hoarder

    What a great review!

    I enjoy hiking I just have a problem doing it during the summer. That is when the snakes are out. I would much rather do it in the winter when it is raining.

    Oh, and I love the new look of your blog.

  69. Alita

    This book sounds so good!

    Hiking in a relatively flat area = two thumbs up.

    Hiking anywhere with steep inclines = no thank you.

  70. Sue

    I love to hike! Thanks for the giveaway.

    s.mickelson at gmail dot com

  71. SFP

    I like to hike and wish I got to do more of it. Of course, I’d rather trail ride a horse and I get the chance to do that even less. I need to be more like my daughter who hiked up to Everest Base Camp last month: she decides what she wants to do and then makes it happen.

    Please enter me in the drawing.

  72. Lynne

    I love to hike! What I DON’T like is driving to wherever it is in ORDER to hike 🙂 Too bad I don’t have beautiful, tall mountains out my back door.

    Would love to be included in the drawing for this book!

  73. Florinda

    We have some great hiking trails near where I live, but I haven’t done much hiking for a while – ever since my dog got too old to enjoy doing it with me. But I hope to start it up again one day.

    And I absolutely want to read this book, so please enter me in the giveaway. Thanks, Trish!

  74. Mary

    I love to hike – and I’d love to read The Unnamed!

    Loved (Then We Came to the End)

  75. Esme

    I love hiking-I hiked the narrows in Zion once-which is all through water-it was one of my more memorable hikes.

    I really would enjoy reading The Unnamed. THANK You.

  76. Frankie

    Take off the “h” and add a”B”. I like biking:) I live in a very flat area. I haven’t read this author, so I’ll put him (this book) on my list

  77. Anita Yancey

    No, I’m afraid I don’t like to hike. But I admire other people who do. The book sounds like a good read. Please enter me. Thanks!

  78. Lenore

    Just finished. Whew. Have to sleep on it before I can figure out what I think about it.

    Just sooo envious you are going to see JF !!!!!!

  79. zibilee

    This looks like a great book, and how can I resist when you’ve given it such a high rating? I would love to be entered in your giveaway to win a copy. As for the question, I have never been hiking, so I am not sure if I like it or not. I go walking a lot, but that’s not really hiking, is it? I don’t suppose it is, so I will have to go with no.

  80. Serena (Savvy Verse & Wit)

    Wow, you really made me want to read this book, and regardless of winning, I will probably buy it. . . .next time I’m allowed near a bookstore. LOL

    I love hiking and taking photos while hiking, though I don’t do it too often given the weird work schedule of my husband and the distance between my house and the nearest hiking. But it’s all good. Charlee has even come with me and I usually bring his bowl and his own water; he gets pooped quicker in his old age, but still loves the outdoors.

    Anyway, I digress…good luck to everyone else.

  81. karen k

    i’ve never gone hiking (yet!)…

  82. Marianna

    I love to hike – although I don’t do it much because I’m out of shape. One of my goals for 2010 is to get into better shape so I can spend more time hiking and hopefully one day take up mountain climbing.

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