Long, hot summer reads
|By Bill Castanier|
When it comes to great summer reads, one man’s pornography can be a woman’s “Summer of Love.”
That should keep you guessing for a while. Each year around Memorial Day, lists of hot summer reads appear in the media. The list is usually as predictable as a Fourth of July fireworks sale: There is a Danielle Steele, a Norah Roberts, a Lee Child, a John Sanford, for sure a James Patterson (or two) and maybe one or two sleepers, like Jeffrey Zaslow’s “The Girls from Ames” or Doug Stanton’s “Horse Soldiers.”
Elllen Jones, a public relations executive for Delta Dental Insurance in Okemos, was drawn to “Peyton Place” when she found the book hidden away in an old desk of her father’s. She said at age 14, in 1967, she was familiar with the TV show by the same name starring Mia Farrow and Ryan O’Neil. “As I began reading the book, I discovered the back-story, the heart-pounding details of illicit love, betrayal, murder and more. The summer heat had nothing over the steaminess of this story. The summer of 1967 had indeed been the ’Summer of Love,’” Jones said.
Lansing City Councilman Tim Kaltenbach recalled reading “Peyton Place” three times one summer. “It was like pornography,” he said.
Several named illicit reads, like Henry Miller’s “Tropic of Cancer” or Jacqueline Suzann’s “ Valley of the Dolls.”
Gale already knew Harrison’s books were offlimits. She said any books her parents deemed “too mature” sat on a living room bookshelf, where it would be noticed if they were missing. But the manuscript was something else. “After Sue abandoned it, the box of manuscript pages remained unguarded on our kitchen table,” Galer said. “When my mother wasn’t sitting absorbed in the pages, it was almost too easy to sneak small snacks of the novel to take them somewhere private.”
Well, how about “Cowboys Are My Weakness,” by Pam Houston, recommended by another Schulers employee, Holly Frakes? Frakes describes the book as “fun and irreverent stories that are comparable to a bag of Lays potato chips; bet you can’t eat just one of these salty stories.”
Kelly Rossman- McKinney, a local public relations executive, said as a teenage girl she was “mesmerized by “Gone with the Wind.” “I loved Scarlett O’Hara,” she said. “Don’t get wrong, she was a total ‘B,’ much of the time and she was good and bad all mixed together. A great read for a teenage girl.”
Linda Heard, a publicist for Lansing Community College, said she has several books that fit the bill of great summer reads, depending on the different stages of her life. “My first was ‘A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,’ probably because it’s a comingof-age book that I read while I was coming of age,” she said. “I was fascinated by the thoughts and feeling of Francie, also a budding writer, who lived such a different life than I. I have such a vivid picture in my mind of that lonely tree that grew by the sidewalk outside her window.”