Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Book Ideas for Non-Readers?

I wasn't exactly sure what to title this post, but I came across two entertaining books that I think would make great gifts this holiday season. I definitely consider myself a reader, and I enjoyed both of them. However, as I read both of these books, I realized that they would make great stocking stuffers for people who might not be quite as enthusiastic about books as I am. While the two books are very different -- one is humorous and the other is more literary, they are both relatively quick (and fun) reads.

Summary: A story collection that proves less is more.

The stories in this collection run the gamut from playful to tragic, conservative to experimental, but they all have one thing in common: they are no more than 25 words long. Robert Swartwood was inspired by Ernest Hemingway's possibly apocryphal six-word story—"For Sale: baby shoes, never worn"—to foster the writing of these incredibly short-short stories. He termed them "hint fiction" because the few chosen words suggest a larger, more complex chain of events. Spare and evocative, these stories prove that a brilliantly honed narrative can be as startling and powerful as a story of traditional length. The 125 gemlike stories in this collection come from such best-selling and award-winning authors as Joyce Carol Oates, Ha Jin, Peter Straub, and James Frey, as well as emerging writers. -- W.W. Norton

I first became interested in HINT FICTION: AN ANTHOLOGY OF STORIES IN 25 WORDS OR FEWER edited by Robert Swartwood when my friends at Aaron's Books were hosting an event with the author. Unfortunately, I couldn't make it and I was very bummed. It's not often that I have the opportunity to meet a local writer. So I did the next best thing... I read the book and I really enjoyed it!

For those of you not familiar with the concept of HINT FICTION, it is a collection of stories which are written in 25 words or less. Coming from someone who can't stop talking or typing, I'm in awe that authors can successfully convey story ideas in so few words. I was pleasantly surprised by this book and the depth of so many of the stories. Some actually made me reflect on the characters, some hit me like a punch to the gut, and others left me wanting more. I honestly didn't expect these few words to have such a powerful effect on me.

I was also extremely impressed with some of the authors who contributed to this anthology. I'm sure you will recognize some of them -- Joyce Carol Oates, James Frey, Peter Straub, and Marcus Sakey to name just a few. In addition, there are many lesser known-to-me writers, and I loved that many of them are local to me! In the back of the book, Mr. Swartwood included a brief bio of each author and I appreciated reading through all of them and discovering some of their works. I found it interesting that many of my favorite stories were written by authors that I didn't know.

I definitely recommend HINT FICTION to readers and non-readers alike. I think people who read a lot will appreciate the skills of the authors in this collection, and I think non-readers will enjoy reading a very quick story and feeling satisfied.

Summary: One of America's most original and biting comic satirists, Denis Leary turns his irreverent eye and scathing humor on everything you love and cherish-and now he does it with a hilarious, illustrated collection of Tweets! Like a quiver full of arrows, Suck On This Year's barbs will hit you where it hurts-and you'll love it. -- Viking

I'm not sure when I first became familiar with the comedian Denis Leary, but I do know that I find him to be extremely funny. So when I found out that he had a new book out called SUCK ON THIS: LYFAO @ 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS, I pretty much wanted to read it. Of course, it didn't hurt that the book consisted of many of Mr. Leary's witty and insightful comments that he made on Twitter -- you know how I do love tweeting!

I'm not sure this book is for absolutely everyone, but I liked it and found myself laughing a lot. I have to warn you that this is some language that some might find offensive. Believe me when I say that nothing (and no one is) off limits for Mr. Leary. He pokes fun at celebrities, heiresses, politicians, and even the Pope.

There were quite a few tweets that I thought were especially pertinent in today's world. I particularly appreciated his insight into many of the recent studies about human behavior as well as his scathing comments on politics. I won't go so far as to say that I found all of his tweets to be hilarious, but, for the most part, I did appreciate his wit and insight. Mr. Leary has a definitely talent for bringing to light the most absurb things.

This book would make a great stocking stuffer. It's a very quick read since each page has only 140 characters or less. Plus it's filled with lots of color photographs -- some of which are also very funny. I have a feeling that SUCK ON THIS YEAR is a book that my husband might even take the time to read!

Thanks to the publishers for sending me copies of these books.


bermudaonion said...

Great post! Carl isn't much of a reader and I'm always searching for that one book that will suck him in.

Beth Hoffman said...

I am so glad to learn about this book! It sounds like the perfect gift for my husband -- and just in time for Christmas. Thanks, Julie!

marthalama said...

What a great post. I love the idea of this short story collection. And I do love Denis Leary.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Leary just cracks me up. Another book I tell just about everyone to read is The Help. I have a non-reader, ex-military macho man friend, and he read it and loved it. That was the ultimate test.

Rebecca Rasmussen said...

Someone on Facebook started one of these teeny tiny story strands and it was great fun! :)

Veens said...

I never knew about Hint fiction. That is something I want to definitely try!