National Review offers its summer reading list here and here. All great books, to be sure, but for those of you who just want a book for escape and enjoyment, and don’t feel a compelling need to learn something, here’s an alternate list of beach reads this summer:
1. Sh*t my Dad Says by Justin Halpern. A little coarse, but hysterically funny. A father’s life lessons to his son conveyed in a somewhat profane manner. Sort of a Tuesdays with Morrie meets Andrew Dice Clay. A two-hour or so read and I assure you that you’ll howl with laughter.
2. For baseball nerds, Fantasyland by Sam Walker. Non-fiction. A journalist is invited to join a rotisserie baseball league of elite sportswriters, and he’s determined to A. not get consumed by it and B. through the use of stats alone, win it. I won’t tell you which, if either of these things, he failed at. An interesting look inside a fantasy sports league, and though some of you-you know who you are-look down your nose at such leagues, this is a great account. And for stats geeks, a great look at how imperfect a science it is when it comes to baseball.
3. The Race by David North Patterson. A fictional account of a candidate running for the nomination of his party for president. This candidate is single, white, Republican, having a relationship with an African-American actress, and carrying around a secret from his fighter pilot days. Many resemblances to actual people, (the author’s credits include interviews with Newt and Mark Sanford) and a twist of an ending. Despite the implausibility of such a candidate existing, it's an enjoyable read.
4. Another great baseball book from one of the game’s best analysts, Tim Kurkjian: Is this a Great Game or What? A chatty commentary on a variety of baseball issues including scouting, stats, and the elements of player fear in the game from someone who’s covered baseball for two plus decades and who believes firmly in its superiority to other sports.
5. The Help by Kathrynn Stockett. You could make the argument that this could fall under the heading of ‘chick book,’ but it’s such a great read it should appeal to everyone. Set in Mississippi in the early ‘60s, a recent college graduate, Skeeter, takes a look at the world around her (white families with unappreciated and long-suffering black maids) and decides to write a book from the perspective of ‘the help,’ using personal interviews with them. The help initially resists for fear of reprisal, but eventually they tell their tales (in secrecy) to Miss Skeeter, who is no crusader but initially is very much a part of that pampered white world. Absolutely one of the best books I’ve read in the last few years.
6. This is an NR-recommended book I’d put on mine as well: That’s No Angry Mob, That’s My Mom by radio-show host Michael Graham. Amusing account of some real people behind the Tea Party movement, and other related observations, written from the perspective of a man whose tennis-shoe clad, church volunteering mother gets involved in her local Tea Party. Reads a lot like another highly enjoyable book, Bernie Goldberg’s ‘A Slobbering Love Affair’ regarding the relationship between the media and Obama.
What are you waiting for…go to the library.