(Host) The sun is out, the dandelions are out, and now, commentator Jules Older’s annual summer reading list is out.
(Older) So I’m paddling a kayak across May Pond, and this guy comes paddling up beside me and says, “So where’s the summer reading list?” So where’s the summer reading list? I’ve got a stack of decent, worthy books beside my bed, just waiting to be included on the summer reading list. But then… summer. Who wants worthy in summer? Fuggedaboutit. Forget the educational, the historical, the admirable. Here’s the Older guide to summer fun.
And since it is summer, let’s start with dessert. I’ve just read the fourth HARRY POTTER book, THE GOBLET OF FIRE. I am happy to report that Ms. J.K. Rowling is still fresh, still full of fun. What makes her unprecedented American success all the more impressive is how unabashedly English her books are. This one’s full of prefects and prats, of “having him on” and “done a runner.” I was dead chuffed to read it.
Another book that crosses the Atlantic is ALL OUR YESTERDAYS by Robert Parker. It’s a big, sprawling tale that follows an Irish family from the Olde Sod to Boston, from the IRA to the city’s corrupt police force. It’ll keep you turning pages even on sunny days.
Robert Parker is famous for the Spenser series, but Ill bet you’ve never heard of the next writer. He’s Percival Everett, a man of many voices. In his novel WATERSHED, he’s a somber, isolated, Black hydrologist with woman troubles and eventually, FBI troubles. In his comic novel, GOD’S COUNTRY, he’s a 19th century cracker buffoon with a drinking problem, a gambling problem and a major intelligence problem. For summer reading, choose GOD’S COUNTRY. It’s bawdy and funny and dead-serious.
For suspense, go out and get THE BONE COLLECTOR by Jeffery Deaver. Yes, even if you’ve seen the movie. The book is brilliant, grisly, and gripping from beginning to end. Deaver makes more twists than a rat in a maze; he has more surprises than a string of firecrackers. The movie, which wasn’t half bad, is half as good as the book
Still in the crime line, check out THE NIGHT MANAGER by John Le Carr. The great English spy writer has become a great English crime writer. The Night Manager is about as good as crime writing gets, and his reading of it (on Audiobooks) is about as good as the spoken word gets.
Finally, for something smart, ironic and deeply twisted, read IN THE CUT by Susanna Moore. But be warned, it is graphic, explicit and seriously gruesome. And though I avoid books and movies like this (I still won’t see The Silence of the Lambs), Moore’s writing is so brutally honest and skillfully crafted, once you start, there’s no putting it down. What more can you ask of summertime pleasures?
This is Jules Older in Albany, Vermont, the Soul of the Kingdom.