I make no bones about reading. Other than writing and laughing, it’s my favorite thing to do. I’m always amazed how many people don’t read. If you haven’t the time to sit and kick your feet up, you could listen to a book on tape like my pals Amy and David. In any event, I’m not here to lecture, but merely stimulate, stir and suggest.
1) Why Sinatra Matters…Pete Hamill You needn’t be a Sinatra fan to appreciate this quaint boozy tale since it regales old New York, opening with Frank holding court at the legendary P.J. Clarke’s Saloon, Pete taking notes.
2) A Marriage Made in Heaven…Erma Bombeck Queen of quirky essays, if you want something light to keep you company on a cool summer night, Erma’s your girl.
3) How I Got To Be Perfect…Jean Kerr Jean preceded Erma who was her favorite writer as well as one of mine. Her pieces drip with such silly innocence even a Catholic nun would giggle.
4) The Truth About Hillary…Edward Klein One can’t help wondering what Mrs. Clinton did to piss off old Eddie for him to pen such a selection of Hillarisms that will put chills down your spine starting with her nickname, The Big Girl, when she was first lady.
5) Rewrites…Neil Simon Any lover of theater and its history this memoir’s for you taking you through all of his plays from The Odd Couple to Laughter on the 23rd Floor. Notables like Bob Fosse, Walter Matthau and Maureen Stapleton to name a few jump off the page not to mention Simon’s personal history wrapped in gentle poignancy.
6) Robert F. Kennedy; a memoir…Jack Newfield If you had any doubt RFK would have been a great president this book begs to differ. Newfield, a respected journalist, was an intimate friend from the very beginning till June, 1968 when Bobby was no more. A riveting read whether you’re a Kennedy fan or not.
7) The Little Prince…Antoine de Saint Exupery You want to swoon and smile, reflect and remember what it feels like to have a child’s imagination, run to get a copy. The illustrations alone are worth the trip.
8) Joe and Marilyn…C. David Heymann Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe had to be one of the most romantic, tempestuous couples of all time. Who knew they were about to get remarried when she overdosed in August, 1962 at the age of 36, her funeral held on the day they were to wed. Sad, but a glorious reminder love, till death due us part and in some cases even after, has the last say.
9) Kitchen Confidential…Anthony Bourdain You want to hear what goes on in a first-class kitchen as well as every dive along the way, then this candid, sassy, funny book’s for you. Written in 2000, he still apologizes for its content, but KC put this now famous TV chef (Parts Unknown) on the map. Whatever you do, don’t ever order fish at any restaurant on a Monday.
10) Operating Instructions…Anne Lamott One of my favorite writers, her story is about giving birth when she least expected to be expecting. Another author who weaves woe into mirth having you on the floor wanting to send a baby gift even though her son Sam is now well into his 20s.
11) Some Assembly Required…Anne and Sam Lamott The sequel in a sense to OI when Sam becomes an unexpected father and Anne a granny. It was the first book of hers I ever read making me an eternal disciple.
12) A Walk In The Woods…Bill Bryson His recap of hiking along the Appalachian Trail with a funny pal of his. You feel like you’re there, happy you’re not when a few things go wrong.
13) Julie and Julia…Julie Powell If you liked the Nora Ephron film by the same name, you’ll love who inspired it. JP writes so sweetly on the subject of cooking herself through Julia Child’s famous cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, blogging the experience through the course of a year. I recommend this in particular to those royal she-bloggers out there.
14) On Writing…Stephen King A bible for any scribe and pencil pusher seasoned or otherwise. I keep my copy by the bed for a quick spur as well as a reminder to keep it real.
15) Bird By Bird…Anne Lamott A sister read to Steve’s. There’s something about tips from a writer who’s ridden the rails before you that blink true. I once heard it described as, aspiring to inspire.
Summer is a great time for classics you never had a chance to read or long to reread. My particular favorites:
A Moveable Feast…Ernest Hemingway
Out of Africa…Isak Dinesen
Pride and Prejudice…Jane Austen
The Great Gatsby…F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Hunchback of Notre Dame…Victor Hugo
To Kill A Mockingbird…Harper Lee
The Pursuit of Love
Love in a Cold Climate…back to back.
And for you history lovers, The Big Oyster…Mark Kurlansky Did you know up till the early 1900s, New York Harbor had so many oysters some the size of catcher’s mitts, even the poorest of families could have them every night for dinner?
Meet You In Hell…Les Standiford The message Henry Clay Frick sent Andrew Carnegie who, on his death bed, wanted to finally make amends to the man who helped him build his steel empire.
Hallowed Ground…James McPherson His walking tour of The Gettysburg Battlefield he takes his students on every year making you want to hop a bus and tag along.
Mornings On Horseback…David McCullough The early life of Theodore Roosevelt written so beautifully you’ll become even against your will, an immediate, avid Teddy fan. The title alone makes you want to peruse it or at least go for a carriage ride.
Lucy…Ellen Feldman. Lucy Mercer, the great love of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s life though forced to part after being discovered by Eleanor, was at his side in 1945, when he died suddenly in Warm Springs, Georgia of a cerebral hemorrhage. What was their romance like in the beginning? Feldman spins a sweet, compelling tale you can’t help but to appreciate.
One last suggestion. Model Behavior: Friends For Life…Susannah Bianchi If you’d really like to know why she’s so nuts, here’s your chance. LOL
I chose books that were pretty short and easy to digest. You’ll find no Tolstoy here, although who knows, War and Peace might be just what the doctor ordered, along with a Black Russian or two…on the rocks.