I like to read fiction with plots that drive foreward with cinematic pacing. Not sure why. (But it porbably has something to do with having studied filmmaking back in school.) However, I've delved into some historic non-fiction and biography a tad. But I usually end up back at fiction.
Tim's Staff Picks:
Title: I Am Pilgrim
Comments: Now THIS is a spy thriller! From an author who clearly knows how to pace a story--Hayes is a screenwriter dating back to 1981's action film The Road Warrior--this debut novel is more literary than your average popcorn blockbuster beach-read. With a delightful balance of introspection without authorly wordiness, and action that doesn't jump the shark, this story starts out strong and only builds from there. As you read on, the vignettes of flashbacks that both inform the present plot and deepen our protagonist's history slowly fall away until you're left with only the uncertain future, into which you must daringly charge against all odds with Pilgrim to stop something horrible from happening, or die trying. I simply cannot wait for Hayes' next book, The Year of the Locust - it's been nearly 4 years in the making.
Title: On Tyranny
What can history show us about current affairs? Quite a lot. This focussed look at how tyranny of all types arose in the 1900’s gives us an opportunity to place a context around our own political events in the U.S. today.
Somehow it lowers the blood pressure a little to have a volatile situation discussed in such calm, knowledgeable tones. What I love about Snyder’s conclusions here is his use of historic precedence, like a math formula simply spitting out a known result.
Snyder is not preachy. He’s not a doomsday screamer, but rather a quiet-talker relaying the confident knowledge of others who have come before us. He reminds us of the many writings of those from the past century who lived through similar, and far worse, times.
Title: I Am Not a Chair!
Sometimes it's hard to explain exactly why you like something. I picked this up and just started laughing as I merely flipped through it the first time.
It's the personality in Giraffe's face that gets me! With illustrations like this the characters are really alive, and you feel as happy as Giraffe does to make new friends, as annoyed as Giraffe is to be sat upon (repeatedly!), and determined along with Giraffe to speak up. (My favorite expression might just be Giraffe's nonplussed face of silent suffering as a bird stand.) This book's ironic wit is top-notch. The humor ends up being something beautiful. And as fun as the frustration is, the relief - and the twist ending - are totally worth it.