Every summer I see the stack of brightly colored “Beach Books” or “Summer Reads” piled high and glossy in the bookstore. But I will not be fooled. I know what these books are really about. They aren’t about people I will find interesting, nor are do they feature good story telling. They are usually books designed to sell, designed to entice the buyer with their ease and how cool they will look in a sea-shell themed tote bag. Do not misunderstand me. I dig a nice, easy read from time to time. I will admit freely that I have read, and enjoyed, quite a few teenage vampire romance novels, but I would never say they were good. The quality of writing and the story is just too simple, and when I am facing the white-hot void that is summer I want a book I can invest in. I want a book that will take me through the summer months and whisper to me by the lake, in the grass, or huddled up against the air conditioner nursing a wicked sunburn with aloe (topical treatment) and gin (NOT a topical treatment).
So, I do not want the book about Rebecca and her cross-country journey with her cat Castro (the name is cute and ironic, according to Rebecca). I do not want to read about how much trouble they get into when they get stuck in Kentucky for two weeks waiting for the car part that will fix her broken down red convertible, and how much more interesting things get when Rebecca luckily runs into the town’s single, smoldering mechanic, Ronnie. Ronnie challenges Rebecca’s stereotypical views of not just greasy male mechanics, but of Kentucky. Ronnie is too proud to tell Rebecca that he can’t read, while Rebecca is too proud to tell Ronnie that she has a boyfriend (gasp!) back at home in the city (which is, of course, New York). Castro, meanwhile, seems unaffected through the whole ordeal, but does provide comic relief when necessary in the form of pouncing on Rebecca’s laptop while she is writing a dramatic email to her best friend Joanie. While interesting in a weird, grotesque manipulation of human relationships kind-of-way, the book doesn’t have any meat to it. The characters are boring and the best parts are the clever alliteration of Ronnie and Rebecca’s names, and their hot, hot sexy sex sex scenes.
There isn’t anything wrong with Ronnie and Rebecca, nor is there anything wrong with the person writing Ronnie and Rebecca. Sometimes you just need Ronnie and Rebecca. But if you are like me and want to start a relationship with a book that challenges you and gives you something to think about, there here are some books that I think will assist in the getting on of your summer freak:
Youth In Revolt: The Journals of Nick Twisp – C.D. Payne
This book has a special place in my heart because it got me through my very first, and very lonely, summer out of high school when I had just been dumped by my first boyfriend. In between crying jags, I would pick up this book and Nick Twisp was my weird, greasy, awkward friend who had a way funnier life than me. And so I survived. This book is pretty hefty at almost 500 pages, but it is worth the read. The movie is a good companion to the book as it stays fairly true to the characters and the plot, but the book is just too weird to not read. The Nick Twisp of the book is also a lot more pervy than the Nick Twisp of the movie, which makes everything way better.
All My Friends Are Dead – Avery Monsen and Jory John
All of the characters had friends once, but now they are all dead. That’s the book. I’m not kidding.
Vox – Nicholson Baker
This book, from beginning to end, is a phone conversation between two people who meet on a phone-sex/dating hotline. Nicholson Baker pays great attention to the minutiae of conversations. And the book is kinda sexy too. Vox was also the very first book I read in high school that featured any kind of sexiness on the page, so I really thought I was getting away with something.
The Complete Reprint of Exotique: The First 36 Issues, 1951-1957
Women. Bondage. Stories about women in bondage. Stories about women putting men in bondage. Stories about men cross-dressing in tightly-fitted corsets and spiky high-heels. How do you not want to read that? This book might be hard to find, but just try it. For me? Please? There are pictures, too.
Go! Find some weird books!