Vintage Reads #7: Summer Reading List

I will be going on a 2 and a half week vacation in a couple days, and I just picked out some books to read poolside.  I've never taken a vacation for two consecutive weeks; at least not in the past fifteen years.  So, I'm really looking forward to having the time to relax and read. I'll have a laptop with me, so I can still post on Retrospace - but it will be in a Margarita fueled haze, so forgive me if I sound incoherent in the next few weeks.  Plus, I'll be in close quarters with my kids day and night, so there may be an added element of stress and tension in my writing.

Enough, about me and my freaking awesome vacation.... back to the books. When I returned home with a sack full of trashy paperbacks, my wife commented on my decline in taste over the past few years. You see, I was quite the book snob once upon a time. I never read anything but "quality literature" for years and years: Kafka, Steinbeck, Hawthorne, etc. What the hell happened to me? Here's a few of the books to read this vacation (plus The Minnesota Connection shown above) ...

(click on images to enlarge)

How did I go from reading James Joyce to a paperback which reads "Half child, half woman... all bitch!" I think the best way I can describe it is to compare it to someone who loves quality beer. For years, he only will drink the finest brew and looks down at domestic brands like Miller and Budweiser..... till one day, he orders a glass of top quality ale at the local brewery. He receives it in a glass, and drinks it down, relishing every sip, commenting on the outstanding taste. Surely, only the choicest hops and barley were used in the preparation of this incredible glass of beer!

Then, the bartender apologizes for switching his order with another customer. He was actually drinking effing PBR! He'd been singing the praises and treasuring every swallow of Pabst Blue Ribbon!

Okay, the analogy took longer than I thought, but you get my point. Take away the label, the cover, the preconceived judgments, and you're left with just words on a page.  In the end, it's just a matter of personal taste.


  1. Here, here, Gilligan! We should never feel like we should be ashamed or embarrassed by what we like. To each their own, enjoy what you enjoy. Would suck if everyone was all the same, right?

    And have an AWESOME vacation!

  2. Yes have a great 2 weeks off. I haven't seen 2 solid weeks off since my twins were born 8 years ago (and I get 4 weeks a year). Unfortunately I have to scatter mine to coincide with school holidays etc. Enjoy it.

  3. No offense here, but from your analogy between literature and beer, your taste in literature seems to be only slightly less developed than your taste in beer. (I'm inferring that the authors and beers you listed are both the same dreck)

    Words on a page don't constitute literature any more than do hops in a beer. Both of them will give you the runs if you don't realize what you are consuming.

    My point... Don't assume you have expanded your knowledge because you have immersed yourself in the dirtiest mud hole in the neighborhood.

    I would suggest you read Atlas Shrugged on your vacation, again, if you already have. If you haven't, I'm sure you never will. In any even, enjoy your vacation, and your children.

  4. I completely understand. I've done my time reading the classics and enjoying them. But there's just something about trashy novels that I love. Maybe it's knowing that so many people (eric?) consider them taboo. Jackie Susan eat your heart out!

  5. Eric - "Don't assume you have expanded your knowledge because you have immersed yourself in the dirtiest mud hole in the neighborhood."

    I guess the inverse is also true - don't assume you've expanded your knowledge in the classy part of town either.

    I'd argue it's the wise man who can learn from both.

  6. If you didn't get your hands dirty with this stuff you wouldn't have such an interesting blog.

  7. I'm with Gilligan; first and foremost, books should be read for pleasure, and the pleasure of reading a murder mystery or an adventure story is no "better" or "worse" than the pleasure of reading some work of literature that has the imprimatur of academics and critics. Secondly, you can learn a lot by reading popular fiction, about the time and culture in which it was written, for example. And somebody like Elmore Leonard is a skilled craftsman from whom other writers, like Gilligan, can learn technique.

    I just reread Edgar Rice Burroughs's Fighting Man of Mars and I enjoyed myself just as much as I did when I read Swann's Way for the third time.

    It is interesting that Eric mentions Ayn Rand, because I think Rand respected popular fiction; she certainly liked Mickey Spillane's violent detective stories, books which suffered the disdain of most critics.

    Have a great vacation, Gilligan.

  8. Thank you, mporcius! I was trying to find a way to politely, eloquently take on the condescending comment Eric posted, and you went it did it for us all.


  9. AnonymousJune 07, 2010

    That Don Martin book is pure class. Who can forget Kaptain Klutz or the Rise and Fall of Biff Boffo?

    For my own light summer reading, I bought the novelizations for Squirm and Escape From New York. I'm still looking for the Grizzly novelization.

    Have a great vacation Gilligan!

  10. Yes, "Thank you Mask Man." - Lenny Bruce

  11. Two questions:

    1) Where do you find these cool books?

    2) Do they ever live up to the cover?

  12. phillyradiogeek-

    1) Absolutely not Books A Million or Barnes & Noble... preferably some seedy looking place with wall to wall paperbacks.

    2) Never.