Soon, I will have all my books back...
The BR Pile
Frederick Forsyth, The Day of the Jackal
A friend once called me an “eighteenth-century structure freak.” It is, regrettably, a fairly accurate description. Maybe that’s why DotJ absolutely sent me. OMG, the structure. At first, I was wondering why the in-depth background of what seemed to be tertiary characters, thinking I’d give it one more chapter before I got bogged down to the point of somnolence. And then I saw what Forsyth was doing, building the connections the way a detective does—and the way a villain plans an assassination—moving from the known to the unknown. It was one of those ideal situations where you’re marveling at the craftsmanship (not only the writing, but the tradecraft) at the same time you can’t put the book down. I picked the book up because I’m catching up on my classic thrillers and figured that if the movie is as good as it is, the novel must be even better. I was right.
Jeff Gordinier, X Saves the World: How Generation X Got the Shaft but Can Still Keep Everything from Sucking
I was a little skeptical of this at first; I’d really responded to Gordinier’s YouTube video describing the book (how typically Generation X), but as a Gen Xer myself, I bridled at the thought of being examined and pigeonholed (how typically Generation X). The book is really more of a celebration of how “Generation X is doing the quiet work of keeping the world from sucking.” Snuggled uneasily between the nostalgic-to-the-point-of-dogmatism Boomers and the group-‘n’-greed-oriented Millennials, Gordinier’s point is that a comparatively small demographic born between 1960 and 1979 has been unfairly categorized as coffee-sucking slackers while at the same time reshaping the way America (and maybe the world) lives, thinks, and does business. It’s not a full-on sociological or ethnological study, but it works as an introduction to the Gen-X mindset and as a manifesto for a generation who are anti-manifesto. It was, like its subject, iconoclastic, micro, skeptical, poetical, technical, hip, and ultimately, optimistic. I had fun reading it, felt smug about recognizing the music, media, and movie references, and found myself thinking, “yeah, man, it’s about time!”
Charlaine Harris, From Dead to Worse
One of the things I love most about Charlaine’s supernatural books is the complexity and honesty she brings to her world-building. The alien, often violent, world of vampires, shapeshifters, fae, and other supernaturals is not made easier with the transition into the legal, commercial, and emotional environments of mere mortals. Then there’s the tightrope Sookie Stackhouse has to walk between these two worlds, given her unique talents, prized by the supes, feared or misunderstood by humans. Add to those the stresses of rebuilding all these communities in the Gulf post-Katrina, and it’s no surprise that the eighth book in the series is packed with action, emotion, and, well, philosophy. How do you make decisions when the rules with which you’re used to dealing don’t exist in the cultures asking for your help? As a reader, I always appreciate that Charlaine avoids taking things to the maudlin or histrionic, and just when you think things are going to get out of hand, Sookie’s moral compass and sense of humor keep things real. That’s my definition of a real hero.