On the Beach - Nevil Shute

Don’t let the cheesy art on this book’s cover fool you—On the Beach is a carefully crafted work by a master writer. This was my gateway book into the marvelous works of Nevil Shute, the British engineer who discovered he had a talent for writing, built his own plane and flew to Australia, where he wrote most of his novels. Written in 1957, On the Beach imagines a world after the major superpowers unleash their nuclear weapons on each other. The fallout is sweeping around the globe and the lone survivors are in Australia. Global destruction is hard to comprehend, so Shute makes things personal by focusing his tale on a few individuals: a young couple and their new baby who’ll never see the flowers bloom in the garden that they’re planting; an American submarine captain so grief-stricken for his lost family back in the States that he’s in total denial; a young woman who’ll never marry and have the family she’s always wanted, but who’s willing to be the life of the party until the bitter end; and a racecar driver who has stockpiled gasoline for his last, great race. The ending to the book is no surprise, but when it comes, the way these wonderful people approach their own mortality is refreshing, and though you’ll finish it in tears, you’ll be grateful for the peace they find in the end.

On the Beach (Vintage International) By Nevil Shute Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307473998
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - February 9th, 2010

Alas, Babylon - Pat Frank

In 1959, just two years after Nevil Shute published his masterwork On the Beach, an American writer named Pat Frank put his own spin on the post-apocalyptic novel with Alas, Babylon: After America and Russia clobber each other with nuclear weapons, only pockets of survivors can be found around the country. One such pocket exists in the fictional town of Fort Repose in Central Florida, where Randy Bragg (former playboy and general lay-about) discovers a sense of purpose he never had before when he is thrust into a leadership role. When the bombs drop, what’s left of the country is plunged into preindustrial life. Without electricity, clean running water, a reliable food supply, there is always work to be done. With a house full of people to care for, armed highwaymen roaming the streets, and his brother missing in action, Randy can no longer loaf. Luckily, he has the help of the plucky town librarian (“Children have nothing to do but read now!” she says cheerfully, and readership soars), the neighborhood gossip, his resourceful sister–in-law and her two children, his clever girlfriend and the local doctor all on his side. You’ll find yourself cheering for Randy, hoping against hope for his missing brother and loving every minute of this thought-provoking adventure.

Alas, Babylon (Perennial Classics) By Pat Frank Cover Image
ISBN: 9780060741877
Availability: Backordered
Published: Harper Perennial Modern Classics - July 5th, 2005

The Thirty-Nine Steps - John Buchan

Pop Quiz: As Richard Hannay runs for his life through the hills and dales of England, he is running because he is (a) a murderer, (b) a car thief, (c) a liar and identity-stealing impostor, or (d) a misunderstood patriot trying to help his country. You'll find evidence for many of these options in John Buchan's thrilling novel The Thirty-Nine Steps as you encounter a vast international conspiracy intent on starting World War I, intrigue, assassination, and the verdant English countryside that is home to both loyal citizens and scurrilous spies alike. The Thirty-Nine Steps is a gripping read, a book that will leave you ready for more adventures with its intrepid hero, Richard Hannay.