Not that I'm bitter, but the most successful contemporary books are not always the best contemporary books, and this explains why most midlist authors believe there is no God.
Selling by the thousands every day, however, are those volumes focused on seventeen-year-old narrators whose most profound accomplishment is that they shoplifted, stole antidepressants from their mother's stash, and had sex in an empty apartment all at the same time. Like who hasn't? And these books treat shape-shifting vampires as if they are any different from the guys we dated from 1978-1986. Even the hair is the same. Please.
Naturally there are gorgeously written, heartbreakingly witty, and stunningly original works as well. We just never hear about them because the senior publicist assigned to the project ("senior" in such a case means "senior in high school") forgot to get the press releases out since she was working on another title, one she thought would be the new "PREP." C'est la Publishing Vie! The authors of the obscure spellbinding works, therefore, can be found selling individual copies out of the trunks of their cars at state fairs or class reunions.
But since it is just after Memorial Day, the same forces that tell us it is now okay to wear white pants tell us that we must begin making summer reading lists. And since I've started reviewing books for local radio and television stations and have discovered that more than 213,763 new books are currently published ever fifteen minutes in America, I have also decided to make a list.
My summer reading list is going to be a little different.
Because these kinds of books also sell by the bagful and therefore don't need my help, what follows is a sampling of titles I will NOT be dragging to the beach with me this year. Enjoy!
Diet Book: Just Lick It! How to Order Everything You Love to Eat but Never Gain Weight!
Have other diets left you so hungry that you bite at people's shins as they walk by? Penned by the best-selling author of Ladies, Lard, and The Lord: The Surprisingly Spiritual Connection between God and Gastrointestinal Cleansing, this new work will have you dropping pounds AND getting dates with men who otherwise would have never looked at you had you not been working hard on the asparagus!
Non-Fiction/How-To: The Smug Mothering Guide
The theoretical and political assumptions that inform a sophisticated woman's sense of her life once she enters into Motherhood are explored sensitively and extensively in chapters such as "Have You Knit Their Sandals Yet?" and ""Why Being A Rich White Woman Who Makes Zero Use of Her Extensive Education Is Okay Because I Make My Child's Granola From Scratch." Chapters on the wisdom of choosing principles from Sun Tzu's The Art of War when applying to Dalton, Lawrenceville, or Brearley make this a must-read. Audiobook, narrated by Gwyneth Paltrow, available.
Blockbuster: Heresy of The Pharaoh's Tomb Pope Tarot
Former FBI agent and recently ordained Jesuit Seamus Evans ("Father Green Eyes") teams up with former undercover C.I.A. asset Yassir Thassmababbe to handle an unearthed cache of treasures from the tomb of pharaoh, Karmamn Ghia, the only Egyptian ruler to govern solely through the use of restraining orders. Soon to be a major motion picture starring Kevin Spacey and Miley Cyrus.
Literary Fiction: Good Walls
I used to work with tone-deaf kids and I got a real kick out of them, with their bad humming and all. But I also got a little too much inside their heads and some of their heads were scary places to be especially when you have perfect pitch, which I do. I couldn't handle it and I didn't want to do it at the expense of myself, you know? I wanted to get my own act together and I figured that it was like putting on your oxygen before you help others. You don't want to die first, right? Nobody does. So I do dry walls right now. I'm enjoying working with people. Parts of this novel were first published in Glimmer Train under the title "An Indelicate Spackling"
Memoir: How to Lower Your Expectations and Achieve Happiness By Conan O'Brien
Actually, this last one is a book I might just read.