August 26, 2009

Filed under: Great Reads — jenny @ 9:35 am

I’ve written a lot here about traditional summer pleasures–ice cream, vacations–(and I haven’t even gotten to The Best Beach Ever yet, or swim lessons), but today I want to focus on one thing that really makes summer fun for me.

A great book.

You could call them beach reads, I suppose, although I’m just as content to devour them in a shadowy nook as on the sand. I’ve discovered three I want to share.

You have seen James Siegel’s work if you watched a movie with Clive Owens and Jennifer Aniston a few years back called Derailed. I read Mr. Siegel’s paperback DETOUR a few weeks ago and was immediately hurled into a world of international adoption, guerilla warfare, and the love between a couple and their child. Something about the prose reminds me of early Stephen King, and I am always looking for books that live up to the King’s level. Mr. Siegel isn’t derivative at all, but he gets that blend of tiny detail that brings a character to life, combined with plot intensity, which in my experience few authors achieve.

I read Gillian Flynn’s first novel of literary suspense last year, and now I am reading DARK PLACES. I think it’s even better. It retains Ms. Flynn’s characteristic (can something be characteristic by a writer’s second book?) sense of brooding, smoky atmosphere but widens the scope to a family through the generations. This is an especial feat because most of that family is dead. And now I won’t say anything more–just read it!

Finally, I have to give a shout out to Lee Child. I am still catching up with Mr. Child’s series, which saves me buying hardcovers for a little while longer. This summer I read THE HARD WAY and BAD LUCK AND TROUBLE. I’ve said this in other places: I have no idea why I adore this hard, techno, macho series.

But I do. Every book rings absolutely true, and even though Mr. Child’s characters are in some ways as stripped down as the late, great Michael Crichton’s, they have more humanity. Despite the techno/macho stuff, I feel something when I read a Reacher thriller.

I think what I primarily feel is that now I could go out there and kick some serious butt. I mean, really. Jack Reacher can protect anyone against anything. I borrow some of that strength for the time I’m in Reacher’s world.

So what are your summertime pleasures? Any great books to share?

Or maybe we should all just get out there and read–summertime only lasts so long.

But who am I kidding? I read just as much in fall, winter, and spring too.

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