Book: A Guide for the Perplexed
Author: Dara Horn
Published: 2013 (W.W. Norton and Company)
See? It's totally possible to write a thriller that involves kidnapping, a computer genius, terrorists, and Single-White-Female-ing shenanigans without indulging in any melodramatics.
What you need: rounded characters that come to their obsessions honestly, through believable childhood traumas and rivalries that scare them into protecting what they most want out of life; a parallel that involves a religious scholar digging among ancient ephemera and document his agonizing over what to keep; have that morph into the main character's computer program that could actually work and looks very practical on the surface and then show how something that tries to be helpful can add fuel to obsessive behavior.
It's really good, you guys. It explores doorways both literal and, like, emotional, and also did you know that synagogues each have a special room where the congregation stores documents that are too worn out to use but contain the name of God so they don't throw them out? Yeah.
Bookshelf! I am on a roll with picking good books out of the pile lately. And I can totally see visible progress in the to-read pile. Sticking to it has actually been a lot easier than I thought it would be; yay, self-imposed willpower. Although I'm totally already planning my next ambush.