Too Hot to Think

Each year, as the mercury spikes and America heads to the beach, something happens. Our collective zest for substantive, intellectual fiction and non-fiction temporarily subsides. We shelve our Ulys

Aug 3, 2000 at 2:06 pm

Each year, as the mercury spikes and America heads to the beach, something happens. Our collective zest for substantive, intellectual fiction and non-fiction temporarily subsides. We shelve our Ulysses. Set aside Gravity's Rainbow. Take a respite from The Republic. And until the heat subsides, we belly up to the Sundae Bar of publishing and gorge ourselves on the soft serve and jimmies commonly known as summer books.

Generally speaking, a book qualifies as good summer reading if it: a) is linear; b) contains no subtext; and c) reads even better after three gin and tonics. But don't think summer books are formulaic or predictable. No way. If there was a simple blueprint for writing summer best-sellers, everyone would be doing it instead of the same 10 or 12 authors over and over again.

(The most obvious example of mold-breaking summer lit is last year's must-read for young and old, Harry Potter and the Sensational Sizzling Dish, the story of a teen-age wizard-in-training who, having already surpassed David Copperfield at magic, figures he deserves to date a hotter-than-Claudia Schiffer supermodel and transports himself backstage at the annual Victoria's Secret lingerie show to check his choices.)

And this year? The summer list is long, feather-light and birdbath deep. In other words: How's a reader to choose? Allow me to help with these personal hot weather picks.

The Greatest Generation Is Really Starting to Get on My Nerves by Tom Brokaw

It's been nearly two years since his best-selling book about the Depression-surviving, World War II-winning generation debuted. Roughly a year since his second. He does a feature on them almost every night on his newscasts. His touching accounts (and their success) begat more; competing newscasts, movies and, yes, even the best-seller list soon became crowded with countless stories about these brave men and women. Now, the anchorman cries, "Uncle," then makes a heartfelt appeal, begging America's most wrinkled citizens to please shut up and stop flogging us with their "past glory."

A Day Farther From Innocence by Danielle Steel

After the sudden death of her husband, a mother of five children must cope with changes in her life. Like living life on the run from five children.

Prove It's Not You by N.E. Wunneldue

While investigating a present-day kidnapping, FBI Special Agent Strafe DeMasses stumbles on information that leads him to the mastermind behind the 1932 abduction of the Lindbergh baby. But his case is in danger of unraveling when he learns his suspect, Richard Jewell, wasn't even alive at the time of the crime.

Ten Things About Playing Golf I Could Explain and Explain and Explain to You a Million Times and You'd Still Never Shoot Par by Tiger Woods

An unusually candid primer written for the weekend golfer.

The Exorbitant Counsel by John Grisham

The cost of being successfully defended against murder charges drives the defendant to commit a series of bank robberies.

Star Trek: The Next Generation, Monogram of the Gods by Noah Peele

In a desperate race against time, Capt. Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise scour the universe in search of Q's second initial. Meanwhile, the Borg Collective, having been converted into luxury condominiums, is attacked by Cardassians when the Ferengi President of the Condo Board refuses their request to more closely monitor the chlorine level in the swimming pool.

Shooting the Gargoyle by Stephen King

In a departure from his grisly thrillers, the author publishes a book of photographic self-portraits.

AntiChrist, ShmantiChrist by God Almighty

An On High response to the popular "Left Behind" series of "Christian Lit" novels set in a not-too-distant-future, post-Rapture world. Written in a Q&A format even the most fundamental fundamentalist could understand, Mr. Almighty addresses many of the assumptions perpetuated in the books, including the advent of an AntiChrist (the title derives from his answer). And in response to the idea that Armageddon is coming at which time only "true Christians" shall escape through "deliverance unto Heaven," the Author says only, "Get over thineselves."

There's Blood on My Dream by Mary Higgins Clark

The gruesome murder of Hollywood's most powerful movie mogul threatens to leave a generation of aspiring young starlets un-shtupped.

Whoever Moved My Cheese Is Going to Die by George W. Bush

The Texas governor and presidential candidate expounds upon the newest offense for which one can be executed in his home state. ©