I recently moved and was overwhelmed by the number of books I had to pack. Most were old favorites and collectables I couldn’t part with, along with many books I hadn’t read yet. The ones I could do without went to the humane society for their annual fundraiser. My summer reading stack is now a mix of something new and some faves that are still fun to peruse. Here’s a sampling.
“Dead Last” by James W. Hall – Hall is one of my favorite writers and his thrillers set in southern Florida always hook me. Since I spend a lot of time there and use the Keys as the backdrop for most of my stories, I enjoy the atmosphere he creates. His plots are always engaging and fast paced, which doesn’t hurt.
“Somebody Owes Me Money” by Donald E. Westlake—This is a re-issue of a book Westlake released over 40 years ago, one of his offbeat crime tales with a comic twist. The title alone gets my vote for one of the best attention-grabbers ever.
“Next Song I Sing” by Donna McDonald—This is the first book I’ve read by this author, whom I met recently at a RomCon. In the interest of full disclosure, it was included in a goody bag (translation: free) but once I began reading it I found it hard to put down. Finally, someone besides me has written a contemporary romance for the over-40 crowd!
“What Makes Sammy Run?” by Budd Schulberg—I wanted to read this controversial novel because I’ve always liked Schulberg’s film scripts (“On the Waterfront,” “The Harder They Fall,” etc.). As I read this story about a sleazy Hollywood producer who will screw over anyone and everyone to get to the top, I couldn’t help thinking how many Sammy Glicks I know personally. Scary thought.
“Dirty Money” by Richard Stark—Another crime thriller from Westlake, writing as his alter ego. It’s about a career criminal trying to get the money he was cheated out of after a heist…I think. It’s tough and atmospheric with an anti-hero you end up rooting for, so who cares about the plot?
“The Garner Files: A memoir” by James Garner—Jim Garner has long been one of my favorite actors. From “Maverick” to “The Great Escape” to “The Rockford Files,” Garner was one of the most affable personalities in Hollywood. Reading his memoir, one sees that it wasn’t really an act—as long as you didn’t get on his bad side. This is one of the few memoirs I’ve read where the hero gives all of the credit to the supporting cast. According to Garner, his TV shows and films weren’t successful because of him, but because of his co-stars and the people working behind the scenes. A refreshing change, and some truly funny anecdotes. Highly recommended.
“The Erection Set” by Mickey Spillane—The one guilty pleasure on my list, and a blast from the politically incorrect past. Spillane wrote this in the early ‘70’s and though the story is dated, it still holds your interest. He had always pushed the boundaries regarding sex, but the free-spirited attitude of the era made it fashionable. Fortunately the dirty parts (as they used to call them) don’t get in the way of a pretty good story, involving revenge and industrial espionage. Read it if you dare.
“The Bourne Supremacy” by Robert Ludlum—Only because I want to know if the books are as exciting as the movies.
“The KISS Guide to the Kama Sutra” – Who says you can’t mix in some research with pleasure reading?
“Sinatra: The Song is You” by Will Friedwald—A little backstage history to read while listening to Ol’ Blue Eyes during the celebration of his centennial year. The book is full of interesting stories about those historic recording sessions, and manages to shine a different light on the personality behind them.
“The Power of Positive Thinking” by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale--I ran across this one when I was packing up my late mother’s house last year and have finally gotten around to reading it. The underlying message hasn’t changed since Peale began preaching it in the 1950’s—with a positive attitude you can accomplish just about anything in life. In times like these, a little of that thinking can go a long way.
And for the purists in the crowd…
“To Have and Have Not” by Ernest Hemingway—The film version may be fondly remembered as the first on-screen pairing of Bogart and Bacall, but Hemingway claimed it was the worst book he ever wrote. I decided to find out for myself. I’ll let you know.
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Tim Smith is an award-winning, bestselling author whose books range from romantic mystery/thrillers to contemporary erotic romance. His website is www.timsmithauthor.com.