worth reading – I finally got a look at the final list of 100 best beach books picked by NPR listeners. Whereas it’s a list of very good books all worth reading, many of which I have already read or intend to before I die, but as beach book fodder the list is loaded with much hooey. Don’t get me wrong, if you haven’t noticed by now I love NPR is practically the only radio station i listen to, but seriously i don’t think this ‘contest’ to have the general NPR listening public create a list of summer reading accomplished it’s intended goal. I am not saying many of these books don’t qualify for a list of ‘beach reading’, but many of them don’t – most at the head of the list in fact.
1. The Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling
2. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
3. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
4. Bridget Jones’s Diary, by Helen Fielding
5. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
6. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, by Rebecca Wells
7. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
8. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
9. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, by Fannie Flagg
10. The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver
Harry Potter is indeed enjoyable and worth reading..but Harry Potter at the beach? no, no, no… the Harry Potter series should be read under the covers with a flashlight or in the case of an adult reading, it should be read in while sitting in a car in the driveway using the receipt as a book mark. Who among us saves a HP until summertime? Mockingbird, Austen, Fitzgerald? what kind of beaches are these people visiting? These are ‘great’ books, not summer trash/guilt pleasures. Summer reading books are the ice cream sundaes of the book world, where ‘great books’ are the Sunday dinner. Honestly, I am prejudiced and tend to rank chick books like Ya-Ya sisterhood and Bridget Jones as trashy reading, whereas there are many out there who read genre as their normal bill of fare. For those who don’t read much fiction or who read literary novels, consuming such enjoyable lightweight fare like Bridget Jones and Fried Green Tomatoes is EXACTLY what is recommended for summer reading.
If I were to cobble together a list of summer trash the 1st thing I would do is disqualify anything that shows up your standard school reading list. And then anything else that you feel guilty for not having read already. I mean who the hell reads ‘Catcher in the Rye’ for shits and giggles? Alice in Wonderland? Huck Finn? if you haven’t read these by the time you pass puberty, you need to go back and start again. Seriously . . . summer’s the time you read the Black Stallion canon, the Time Travel Trio, V.C Andrews and the Twilight series.
I am pleased with the number of ‘fat’ books on the list, summer’s the BEST time to finish a fat book, in our highly caffeinated and over scheduled life I think we lean towards books we can probably finish. If it weren’t for the seemingly lower demands of a summer schedule I can never finish a thousand page novel before I have to squeeze in something else. Not as many thrillers on the list as one would have guessed, but that can probably be ascribed to their transient nature, what one decades finds thrilling another finds antiquated.
Enough bitching, if we get anything read in the summer it’s a good thing, and perhaps i have different point of view, I did spend a decade or two in retail catering to the summer’s biblio tourists looking for something to read. A great deal of satisfaction came from putting a copy of Neville’s the Eight, Wm Martins Back Bay, Carr’s the Alienist in their hand and having them come back for more. What the hell, I say read whatever you want, but it’s always much more fun to read stuff you wouldn’t be caught dead reading, or may even be bad for you and makes you feel the slightest bit naughty