Summer 2001 - Recommended Reading by K.N.S. Maré
“Summer reading” is not an oxymoron. In fact, summer is the best time to read—anything, actually, except maybe calculus textbooks, Living Will prep materials, or Hemlock Society self-help guides.
Profoundly moving and life-altering works of literature might be too hard to deal with when February’s icy rains are pelting windowpanes and brains, freezing them shut.
Read them in the summer.
Some books are so hotly erotic, so steamy with desperate passion and overwhelming sensuality that it would be criminal to squander their pleasures on an ill-timed reading dalliance that occurred after watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. It would be like eating watermelon for New Year’s Day. Uh-uh.
Save them for the summer.
Mass-marketers—those proverbial sellers of sandboxes to Saudi sheiks—push certain genres and titles for summer reading such as:
1) Travel and vacation guides. These should have been read months before you planned on either undertaking, but you would have known that if you were serious about—
2) —Self-improvement. These books cover the vast yet far too often explored worlds of vanity and greed, everything from unwanted body hair to how to commit white-collar fraud. Invariably, they all attempt to address the Cosmic Essay Question of September: How I Spent My Summer Trying to Look Like I Didn’t Have to Work for a Living While Frantically Searching for a / Better Job, Partner, Car, Life, etc.
3) Romance. The consequences of reading romance novels may be included with those for travel and vacation, self-improvement, or outdoor adventure/disaster reading. Many people believe that the only logical and practical outcome of reading romance titles falls under the last but certainly not the least of the over-hyped summer reading concepts—
4) —Home Improvement. Thrills with drills. The latest take on the coolest power rake. Do not underestimate this genre, however, as the success or failure of home improvements determines whether you will be able to enjoy future travel and vacations; to implement self-improvements after you’ve maimed yourself with power tools; to maintain your marriage; or to fling your naked self at the next partner who can both afford and install ceramic tiles.
Don’t listen to these marketers. Listen to me. Who should you trust in these matters, anyway, marketing grads or literature grads? While they were hiding their collective shame in Skinner Boxes and breezing their way through multiple-choice bubble-in exams in college, I was grading 60 writing assignments a week and urging impressionable minds to grasp the competitive edge that memorizing the Prologue to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales would give them in the job market.
Please read my brief critical reviews of the works selected below.
DISCLAIMER: “ I promise that all of my reviews are based on 100% natural readings of the text, and they will never contain full plot summaries or artificial ingredients of any kind. All of my reviews are written to music and usually far too late in the evening for my happiness but there it is, no surprises there. No Republicans were intentionally harmed in the presentation of these reviews.”
© Copyright 2001 by KNS Maré
The Ordinary White Boy, by Brock Clarke; Harcourt, late summer release 2001, hardcover, $ 24.00
Ava’s Man, by Rick Bragg; Knopf, summer 2001, hardcover, $25.00
Antarctica: A Collection of Short Stories by Claire Keegan; Grove/Alantic, hardcover, $24.00
The Dying Animal by Philip Roth; Houghton Mifflin, 2001, hardcover, $ 22.00
Ghost Soldiers: The Forgotten Epic Story of World War II’s Most Dramatic Mission by Hampton Sides; Doubleday 2001, hardcover, $ 24.95
Road Angels by Kent Nerburn Harper/San Francisco 2001, hardcover, $24.00
Shooting The Moon: The True Story of An American Manhunt Unlike Any Other, Ever by David Harris; Little, Brown and Company 2001, hardcover, $26.95
Free Agent Nation: How America’s New Independent Workers Are Transforming the Way We Live by Daniel H. Pink; Time Warner 2001, hardcover $24.95
Ride by Stephen Gammell; Harcourt Brace 2001, hardcover $ 16.00
The Three Pigs by David Wiesner; Clarion Books 2001, hardcover $ 16.00