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The Book of Joe

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  17,476 ratings  ·  1,609 reviews
Right after high school, Joe Goffman left sleepy Bush Falls, Connecticut and never looked back. Then he wrote a novel savaging everything in town, a novel that became a national bestseller and a huge hit movie. Fifteen years later, Joe is struggling to avoid the sophomore slump with his next novel when he gets a call: his father's had a stroke, so it's back to Bush Falls f ...more
ebook, 368 pages
Published March 30th 2004 by Delacorte Press (first published July 17th 2003)
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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Jonathan Ashleigh
This is Where I Leave You is wonderful and if you liked it enough - you will probably read this book (also by Jonathan Tropper), but you probably won't like it as much. I wish it would have stuck with it's original title - Bush Falls. I like that a lot more, as it is the book which the main character writes that makes everybody hate him. I did like this book but only because it was sort of like This Is Where I Leave You. The characters were good but did not have the dimensions I was looking for. ...more
Mar 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thetopfour, fives, reread
An absolutely incredible book. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me think. I read a lot of books, but I rarely respond to them like I did to this. Upon finishing it, I immediately called several of my friends and told them to go get it RIGHT NOW, because it felt like Tropper was writing exactly what we had been through. Tropper writes as though he is in the minds of his readers: you can feel the love, hatred, hurt, joy, confusion. The story might not always be fantastic, but his ability ...more
May 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
"God," I say. "Remember high school?"

“Full of promise, full of dreams, full of shit. Mostly just full of yourself. So full you’re bursting. And then you get out into the world, and people empty you out, little by little, like air from a balloon.”

Jonathon Tropper is my age. I know this because I looked it up somewhere in the midst of listening to this book. I had to look it up and yet I think I knew the answer long before I saw it. How else could it be? How else could he get everything so right?
Aug 09, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to like this book. I had every reason to -- not only was it the only book I had with me on vacation, but it had been recommended by someone whose opinions I trust and the author had been compared to Michael Chabon and Richard Russo, writers I love. But no matter how much I tried, I could not ignore the absolute awfulness of the writing. Tropper piles on adjectives randomly, giving ridiculously elaborate and yet banal descriptions of mundane things like drinking a soda ("long, thirsty si ...more
Sean Kennedy
Mar 01, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 22, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
So the story is this:
Smartass non-athlete kid grows up in a shitty sports town, moves away at 18 and writes a book savaging everyone he grew up with. After 15 years, the now-successful writer has to return to town because his father (who he hated) is sick.

There's potential there. Despite being a blatant rip-off of Elizabethtown (maybe not the best thing to swipe from, BTW), this could work if one could avoid all the typical 'prodigal son' cliches. Such as:

Former jock turns out to be gay.
Former a
Dec 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

A psychiatrist friend once told me that the psyche knows no greater pain than shame, that shame is so painful that, within a nanosecond, it is experienced as anger.

The word "angry" clearly falls short of capturing the intensity of feelings about Jonathan Tropper's Joe Goffman, who had the chutzpah to make the name of his hometown the title of a novel -- one that would become a best-selling book and then a movie. The fact that Joe's work is fiction does not diminish the embarrassment felt by the
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Joe Goffman is a self-described asshole. He’s such an asshole that he wrote a scathing “fictitious” novel about his hometown where he completed lambasted nearly everything and everyone contained there. He never dreamed the book would become not only a national sensation, but also an A-List movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kirsten Dunst. He REALLY never dreamed he’d have to go back to said hometown and face the subjects of his novel. However, when his father suffers a stroke, that’s exactly w ...more
Jennifer Tatroe
Sep 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
Jonathan Tropper's The Book of Joe reminds me a lot of Michael Chabon's early work stirred up with a bit of Nick Hornby. Echoing so much of two of my favorite contemporary male authors, it's no surprise that, by the end, I really fell in love with this book and can't wait to read more from the author who wrote it.

Joe Goffman is a lapsed Jew from a small town in Connecticut. After leaving home as a bitter and estranged teenager, he wrote a scathing (and bestselling) novel about his experiences gr
Dec 23, 2010 marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Granted, I only read about forty pages of this one before deciding it wasn't my thing. But I was struck by how right Jennifer Weiner and Jodi Picoult were when they said that men's fiction that has the plot tropes of "chick lit" is always just called "literary fiction," and I would hold this book up first as an argument for that.

There are points in the first 40 pages when, in my opinion, it approaches saccharine. Despite being a person who cries practically on command at every viewing of Waters
Elyse  Walters
Aug 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved it!

When I want a book with heart that I can count on being hilarious--
an author I turn to is "Jonathan Tropper".

After having read the most awful book of my life recently ---(a book which actually made me angry on so many levels--a book which calls itself "NOTHING"), --- I wanted a moving, funny, compulsively readable book ----
"The Book of Joe" was the perfect fit ----ending 2012 ---starting 2013!

Nov 21, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: small town new englanders, people who like to overexamine relationships
So, I really, really enjoyed this book. It's about a man who, upon realizing he is inhabiting an empty, souless life and hearing about his estranged father's life-threatening stroke, returns to his small hometown in Connecticut. There are some really predictable things that happen from here, but the study of human relationships, the resiliency of the human heart, and final note of home on which the novel ends really did it for me. There was big emotion packed into this book, and it dealt with so ...more
Jul 14, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2008
When his father suffers a stroke, Joe Guffman returns to the hometown he left behind 17 years before to confront his past and ponder his future. The biggest complication--Joe wrote a fictional book based on his life growing up in the town that didn't exactly sit well with some of those who depicted in his novel.

Upon his return, Joe is involved in a bar fight, has a drink thrown in his face and finds copies of his book thrown onto the front lawn. But Joe is having other issues--his second book is
Sep 12, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
First off, this was a difficult book to rate. On the plus side, it made me laugh; it made me cry. I was caught up in the character's lives and cared about them. The author has a winning and simple way with prose. The negatives are what made me downrate it so much. Aside from the main character's intense self-pity that we're hammered over the head with, I had trouble suspending my disbelief for his best friend, Wayne, who deserved a much fresher and more thoughtful approach. Wayne is one of two g ...more
Feb 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
BEWARE: This book was originally published under the title of Bush Falls.

He's a prodigy of alienation. Now a successful writer, having written a book about his home town, Bush Falls, that savaged the place, Joe receives a call from his sister-in-law that his father has had a stroke (he was at the top of the key, had just released the ball, and came down unconscious. Basketball aficionados present noted the ball swished.) Joe's brother, Brad, ex-sports star, and their father never had much time f
Jun 17, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just love Jonathan Tropper ... something about his writing and characters just speaks to me. Although this particular novel wasn't quite as good as This Is Where I Leave You, it's a really good novel that was a joy to read. I laughed, I cried and everything in between. Tropper just has a way of making you FEEL as you read - the good, the bad and the ugly. This book definitely reminded me of the TV show October Road (which was one of my favs before it was cancelled way too early).

I wouldn't say
Remarkable. I laughed, I cried, I shrieked, I cringed, I pondered... and then I laughed some more!!! Witty & beautifully crafted, this book inspires tolerance, openness, vulnerability, resilience, & an affection for human idiosyncrasies & imperfections. Thank you, Jonathan Tropper, for taking me on such a glorious journey!!!

"I find that most people worth knowing are f*cked up in some way or another.”

"We make mistakes. They don't make us. If they did, we'd all be royally f*cked, especially a coup
Jun 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Really good book.
After a horrible senior year in high school, Joe moves away from his home town. Once Joe is on his own he rights a sort of tell all book about his home town, and his home town is not happy. Actually, a lot of people hate him in his home town. His mother passes away, but his father, brother, high school sweet heart, and his old best friend are home waiting for him when he returns.
I read somewhere that this book is being made into a movie. I have never seen the T.V. show, but Octo
Oct 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my third JT novel and like the others, it drew me in from the beginning and kept me interested until the end. The story Is entertaining, packed with emotion, interesting characters and wit. I truly enjoy Jonathan Tropper's writing style and highly recommend this sentimental page-turner.
I've been reading a lot of YA/NA novels lately so I decided to go for an adult one this day. So I picked this up. Little did I know that it was like a YA/NA novel inside an adult novel.

I like Jonathan Tropper's This Is Where I Leave You. Despite its many vulgar words, it's a good one. Yes, many vulgar words, sexual content. A lot of profanities. So I wasn't surprised when The Book of Joe also contains those things. Honestly speaking, I found a LOT of similarities between the two.

But the thing
Larry H
Sometimes it's not that you can't go home again, it's that you shouldn't. Take Joe Goffman, for example. He left his hometown of Bush Falls shortly after high school and then years later wrote a fictionalized account of life there which left his former friends and neighbors feeling a little, well, angry. The book became a bestseller and was adapted into a movie, so the whole world got to see what Joe had to say.

Joe returns to Bush Falls 15 years later, after his father has a stroke. Needless to
Kamryn Koble
Jan 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: made-me-cry
The Book of Joe by Jonathan Tropper is The Perks of Being a Wallflower plus Winger for adults. It's the type of hilarious that earns actual laughs rather than exhales, it's the type of insightful that makes you want to look at the people in your life differently. It's profound because it's about life rather than made-up magic and romantic ideals.

Joe Goffman wrote a best-selling book absolutely slandering his hometown. Upon his return, he has to face everyone and their dog who was made into a d
Jul 20, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The Book of Joe" reminded me much of my own life as it has progressed from high school to present (I am 42 at this writing). The plot centers on a novelist (with only one book, although it's a successful Peyton Place-esque novel based on his former home town) and his return back to his home town after his father suffers a near-fatal stroke. While I'm not a writer, I found myself identifying with much Tropper had to say about the protagonist's not being able to fit in with the mainstream, which ...more
Feb 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle-shelf
I love this book. The writing is outstanding.

Joe has so many issues:
Mommy issues. His mother killed herself when he was a child.
Daddy issues. His father always favored his older, athletic brother.
Commitment issues. He hasn't grown up - at 34 - and he isn't over his High School girlfriend.

And he wrote a book about everyone in his hometown and it wasn't very nice.

Joe has one more problem: His father has had a stroke and he has to go back home and face the music.
Mar 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mr. Tropper has delivered a delightful, beautiful and inspirational commentary on human nature. Getting out of our heads, being of service and present for our fellows is the real joy in life - making amends and ridding our minds of regret is priceless - Self-awareness and sincerity are key!
The Book of Joe has it all - inspirational, touching, humorous and so easy to identify with on multiple levels.

Narrator Scott Brick is always wonderful and absolute joy! #Superman!! Much thanks
Jan 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: loved-it
It's been a long time since I read a book that I couldn't put down. This is one of those books, where it doesn't leave your head and you find yourself back in Bush Falls, wondering what kind of trouble Joe is going to get into now, even when you're at Casa Grande in Arizona. It's sweet and funny and engaging and just a pleasure to read.
Oct 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kept me up crying in my bed reading until 1am. Woke up my husband, who was terrified re: my crying. This hasn't happened since out honeymoon in Paris, where I stayed up until 3 finishing and sobbing to The Time Traveller's Wife and Matt awoke so confused as to why his new bride was crying in Paris.

This book was nothing like that book except in the fact that I liked it and it made me cry.
Debra Wisinger
I really like this authors writing style. He’s very clever and insightful whether he’s describing something tragic or funny he makes you smile because he’s able to put into words what you think! Sometimes he spends a bit too much time in his 18 year old mind but I guess that’s part of the story line so I’ll give him a pass! I enjoyed it!
Dani Peloquin
Apr 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Book of Joe is described by one reviewer as "a coming of year 34 year old tale" and I have to agree. However, this is not a bad thing! The story is about a man named Joe who writes a scathing book about the town in which he was raised. In his novel, he addresses how poorly everyone treated him and his friends. He also chronicles how the basketball team and its coach run the town while preaching conformity and intolerance. When Joe's father falls into a coma during a basketball alumni game, J ...more
Todd Carper
Jun 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Jonathan Tropper is my new favorite author. I have also read "This is Where I Leave You" and I thought it was outstanding and "The Book of Joe" is even better. It is basically a coming of age story of a 34 year old man. Tropper really does a good job of writing stories that seem true to the male psyche. I have read a lot of reviews on this book and they are almost all positive, but they miss the biggest point of the book. It is a hilarious book with some heart breaking moments that will lead you ...more
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Jonathan Tropper is the author of Everything Changes, The Book of Joe , which was a Booksense selection, and Plan B. He lives with his wife, Elizabeth, and their children in Westchester, New York, where he teaches writing at Manhattanville College. How To Talk To A Widower was optioned by Paramount Pictures, and Everything Changes and The Book of Joe are also in development as feature films.


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The tears threaten to return, so I willfully banish all thoughts from my head and take a few more deep breaths. I'm suddenly dizzy from the panic attack I've just suffered, and I close my eyes, resting my head against the warm leather of my steering wheel. Loneliness doesn't exist on any single plane of consciousness. It's generally a low throb, barely audible, like the hum of a Mercedes engine in park, but every so often the demands of the highway call for a burst of acceleration, and the hum becomes a thunderous, elemental roar, and once again you're reminded of what this baby's carrying under the hood.”
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