This is a bit awkward.
You see, usually I wax poetic, espousing pleasurable tomes I’ve enjoyed, hoping that others will savor them as did I. In a veritable love feast of title pushing I attempt to lead the unwashed masses to that promised land of good literature and superior taste.
Alas, today’s topic is one of dubious merit, perhaps even a cornucopia of ennui. For today I will speak not of tales that tickled my fancy, but of books I borrowed but did not read!
It’s not that I’m checking out undesirable books, rather I’m borrowing too many desirable ones. At any given time I have far more books than I can possibly read, so they sit untouched, out of the reach of others. This then is my shameful reading disorder.
On the bright side, I can recommend these neglected titles to you. So, here are some books that sound wonderful. I sincerely hope to read them some day. You might even want to borrow one yourself, assuming that I haven’t checked all the copies out. Again.
Bar None by Tim Lebbon
Dystopia always makes for a pleasant read, and this tale starts six months after the end of the world (an intriguing statement in itself). A stranger arrives at a Welsh manor and convinces the few survivors living there to journey to Bar None, conceivably the last bar in existence. While many apocalyptic tales are filled with fervent attempts to save the earth, this journey to a pub provides a refreshing change of pace.
Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris
This story is told from the point of view of a collective “we” with employees of a Chicago advertising firm acting as a unified narrator. Layoffs run rampant in a cubicle-laden ad firm and the remaining employees fall into a frenzy of self-preservation. Office drones battle for abandoned equipment, criticize coworkers via email, and let emotions run amok while the company spirals ever downward. As a former denizen of the dot-com jungle, I find an eerily familiar miasma rising from the plot of this cautionary tale.
Hell by Robert Olen Butler
What do Richard M. Nixon, Humphrey Bogart and J. Edgar Hoover have in common? They all reside in Hell, each one given a punishment specific to his shortcomings. It is here in the fiery pit that we find Hatcher McCord, a TV anchorman who discovers that Satan cannot read his mind. This provides him with free will of a sort. Amidst a panoply of shenanigans, McCord attempts to reach Heaven, and along the way examines the meaning of life/afterlife.
Wigfield by Amy Sedaris
There is an idealized small-town America described in books and films, a nostalgic place that warms our hearts and pulls at our tear ducts, a city that never really existed. Wigfield would be the polar opposite of this ideal, a pathetic amalgamation of strip clubs and auto parts stores populated by sociopaths. When the government decides to demolish a dam in order to protect the salmon, Wigfield faces imminent destruction. The town hires a pompous, untalented journalist to paint an idyllic picture of Wigfield. The book he writes, however, does not lift up the town so much as expose its shortcomings. The result is biting satire and unflinching social criticism.
Daniel O’Thunder by Ian Weir
Mid-19th century London is not a happy place for many people, what with poverty, filth and evil pervading the landscape. Daniel O’Thunder, ex-soldier, ex-pugilist, alcoholic, and recently converted evangelist challenges the Devil to a boxing match in order to somehow remove the malaise surrounding England’s greatest city. A variety of narrators tell the tale of Daniel’s return to boxing and his growing sway over London’s suffering citizenry. Fans of page turners are certain to enjoy this Dickensian tale.