Matt was a longtime Gibson’s customer prior to becoming a staff member. He enjoys contemporary classics the most but has an affinity for crime novels and essays as well. Matthew’s favorite books include: Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers, and The Echo Maker by Richard Powers.
Matt's July 2022 pick, 2 of 2
Now, this book is probably not for the philosophy scholar, but it is a wonderful guide for someone who is just trying their best. Michael Schur is a comedy writer for television (best known for The Office, Parks and Recreation, and The Good Place) who happens to have a passion for moral philosophy. In How to Be Perfect Schur effortlessly explains weighty philosophies with amusing anecdotes and funny thought experiments. But what makes this book stick out to me is how Schur applies a wide range of philosophies to problems that occur in our everyday life. He compares how Kant and Thich Nhat Hanh would handle returning a shopping cart to the grocery store and how Aristotle would handle cancel culture. Ultimately, How to Be Perfect, isn't a key to becoming a good person (as the ironic title suggests) but is a lesson on how to think like a good person who is trying to do their best.
P.S. I'd strongly recommend listening to the audio book of How to Be Perfect on Libro.fm because it features the cast of The Good Place.
Matt's July 2022 pick, 1 of 2
The Corrections is often described as a family drama, a social critique, and it is near impossible to find a review where it isn't compared to the likes of another author (Michiko Kakutani's 2001 review of the novel contains three comparative name drops in the first paragraph). Reviewers are usually keen to note the harsh satire and gripping drama in the novel, but seem to miss the touching humanity that, I think, makes the novel so special.
I have only read a few novels that are as personal or intimate as The Corrections. Franzen's characters are riddled with flaws, but ripe with emotion. The Lamberts, the family at the center of the novel, are a motley crew. At the turn of the century, Alfred, the patriarch, is suffering from Parkinson's disease and his wife Enid, seeing that his time left is limited, wants all of her children home for one last Christmas. Their children, meanwhile, have fled their family home in the Midwest for the East Coast. The conflicts and events that bring the grown up Lamberts back to their childhood home is gripping, awkward, and most of all familiar. It's very easy to see reflections of yourself in any of the characters and just as easy to imagine yourself making the same mistakes as them.
Matt's March 2022 pick
I don't think I have loved a book as much as I love To Paradise. To Paradise is a novel made up of three books that couldn't be any less related. The first is set in an alternate version of 1893 America, the second is set in Manhatten (as it is) in 1993, and the third is set in a dystopic 2093. However, the same cast of characters appears in each of the books. The same relationships are formed and the same themes travel across the different narratives, and it is nothing short of phenomenal. There is so much love, passion, and tension between all of the characters and every moment of this novel is gripping and heartbreaking. Here is a quote from the novel that will demonstrate what I mean, "After a while, some part of me realized that the broker had stopped taking notes, that the room was quiet except for my voice, and yet still I talked, even though it felt with every senstence like I was ripping my heart from my chest and then replacing it, again and again -- that terrible, awful pain, that overwhelming joy and sorrow I felt whenever I spoke about Charlie."
After I finished To Paradise I cried. I cried for many reasons, the characters, the worlds in the novels, etc... but mostly I cried because I had finished an astonishingly beautiful book. To Paradise will have a special place in my heart for a very long time.
Matt's February 2022 pick
This is not a conventional work of fiction. It’s not really a novel at all. There is hardly a narrative, and each chapter is its own story. It is probably best described as a collection of anecdotes or allegories all about motion and the human body. Each chapter left me amazed by Tokarczuk’s ability to create such memorable, complex characters in so few words. Flights is a beautifully philosophical book that I plan on rereading many times in the future.