Sum­mer is one time of year where I often wake up in the morn­ing and just want to read and drink deli­cious iced tea all day (or how about some­thing a lit­tle stronger?). Oth­er times of year I enjoy this include spring, fall, and win­ter, but it is real­ly best in sum­mer. There is noth­ing like pick­ing up a book in the morn­ing and not putting it down again until you have fin­ished. This is not a list of short books, it is a list of books that are so good they demand to be fin­ished in one day. Most of the­se books will lead you to oth­er books as well. This is also a good oppor­tu­ni­ty to try some­thing you may not nor­mal­ly read. You may actu­al­ly like ghost sto­ries, and if you don’t it’s only one day.

Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon

Michael Chabon’s first nov­el, which he began writ­ing when he was an under­grad at Pitt, is a com­ing of age sto­ry, set in 1980’s Pitts­burgh. For me, it was like a man­u­al for brav­ing the angst, thrills, luna­cy, and sor­row of young adult­hood.  An indis­putably tal­ent­ed writer, Chabon brings new focus to com­mon YA themes, such as break­ing away from fam­i­ly, explor­ing sex­u­al­i­ty, and fac­ing the future. This was my Catcher in the Rye. (Don’t you hate it when peo­ple say that!?)

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Young Adult books are easy picks for one-day reads, but not all of them can be ful­ly enjoyed by adults. A Wrin­kle in Time is the ice cream of books: It doesn’t take any effort to con­sume it, but the pay­off is huge. This was a book for peo­ple who like to think their way out of prob­lems, rather than just hulk-smash­ing all obsta­cles out of the way. The sto­ry is poet­ic, the main char­ac­ters are the right kind of eccen­tric, and it starts off by say­ing “It was a dark and stormy night”. If you prefer your fan­ta­sy fic­tion with a healthy dose of physics and math and guid­ed by a strong moral com­pass, then this is the book for you.

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

Ladies – this is a great sum­mer read, you won’t be able to put it down! It’s the sto­ry of a young girl, Lily, who leaves her abu­sive father and sets off on her own search­ing for answers about her deceased moth­er. She is tak­en in by a fam­i­ly of three black sis­ters liv­ing in the deep south dur­ing a time of seri­ous racial unrest. Lily is put to work in their hon­ey house for the sum­mer and begins a won­der­ful jour­ney of self dis­cov­ery in wom­en, fam­i­ly, love and trust. I swear you can actu­al­ly smell the hon­ey from the bees and feel the swel­ter­ing heat of the south in sum­mer! I ran out and got The Mer­maid Chair (by Sue Monk Kidd) the very day I fin­ished this – I couldn’t get enough! The Mer­maid Chair was great, but not as affec­tive and haunt­ing as The Secret Life of BeesLOVED IT!

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

Although I’m typ­i­cal­ly not much for short sto­ries, the plea­sure in the­se (as in Bradbury’s oth­er stel­lar short sto­ry col­lec­tion, The Illus­trat­ed Man) is that they are inter­con­nect­ed by both a com­mon the­me and shared emo­tion­al sub­text, mak­ing them more of a new kind of nov­el, rather than just sto­ries. Ray Brad­bury is my sci­ence fic­tion BF, (no offence, Robert Hein­lein, I <3 you, too) because he writes SF as a poet would, not so much con­cerned with the sci­ence, as the hopes and dreams of human­i­ty and beyond. Fun Fact: The sto­ry Mars is Heav­en, plays a key roll in my favorite Stephen King book, Bag of Bones. While you are read­ing, read that too.

The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons

I picked up this book, because Stephen King rec­om­mends it as one of his favorite haunt­ed house nov­els (His oth­er favorite is The Haunt­ing of Hill House, by Shirley Jack­son. Read that too, but The House Next Door is bet­ter). After read­ing it, you can cer­tain­ly see why. Our nar­ra­tor, Colquitt and her hus­band Wal­ter live an idyl­lic sub­ur­ban life, until the emp­ty lot next to their house is bought by a young cou­ple and built upon, by a genius, wun­derkind, archi­tect. Stuff hap­pens, lets just say that. The most bril­liant exam­ple of sun­l­it hor­ror, I have ever read, this book is just as much about the human con­di­tion, what makes us tick, and what can break us, as it is about hor­ror. Although, it’s hor­ri­ble. In a good way. I have rec­om­mend­ed this book to many friends, who have all loved it, except for one, who said she had to stop read­ing because it was too creepy. Be warned.

Company by Max Barry &
Apathy by Paul Neilan 

This is the per­fect pair to read in tandem, so allow two days.  Jones, the hero of Com­pa­ny, is just that, a hero. We fol­low him from his first day at the mys­te­ri­ous Zephyr Hold­ings, start­ing with the “dough­nut cri­sis that rocked the world”, and through all kinds of cor­po­rate cul­ture strate­gies designed to turn this (rel­a­tive­ly) fresh faced go-get­ter, into just anoth­er brick in the wall. Why would a com­pa­ny want to suck the souls from their employ­ees? The answer sur­prised and pleased me! You will root for Jones all the way.
On the oth­er hand, Shane, the “hero” of Apa­thy, is the most unlik­able, hor­ri­ble per­son, may­be ever. The fact that he has the most mind numb­ing cor­po­rate job you could imag­ine, will not arouse your sym­pa­thy for this HUGE LOSER, because his every prob­lem is caused by his own huge loser ways. And, Shane steals salt shak­ers, lots of them. And a char­ac­ter has a B&D rela­tion­ship with a guinea pig. And all afflic­tions pos­si­ble, includ­ing deaf­ness and the men­tal­ly chal­lenged, are HARDCORE mocked. And there is a mur­der mys­tery. Apa­thy is quite sim­ply the fun­ni­est book I have ever read. It may not be for every­one, but if you read it and like it, come sit by me. We should hang out more. So, there you have it, two minor mas­ter­pieces of cor­po­rate satire, for your sum­mer read­ing plea­sure.

Horns by Joe Hill

Even though this is NOT anoth­er tandem review, it is worth not­ing that I read this book the day after I fin­ished The Pas­sage, by Justin Cron­in, an odyssey of a book, whose post-apoc­a­lyp­tic, dystopi­an ways kept me up for many a night. Not a review for that book, but go read it right now! BUT, I DIGRESS.… Horns, on the oth­er hand, is a dit­ty of a book by Joe Hill (Stephen King’s son, BTW) that was the per­fect refresh­er after the 784 pages of The Pas­sage. The pro­tag­o­nist, Ignatius Per­rish, awak­ens, after a drunk­en night of doing awful things he cant quite remem­ber (been there) with a hang­over to end all hang­overs, and a pair of horns grow­ing out of his tem­ples. And, dev­il­ish pow­ers to match. This book pos­es the ques­tion, what if a basi­cal­ly good guy, who has had some bad luck, was grant­ed the pow­er of evil? A very inter­est­ing char­ac­ter study, by a guy who can real­ly write. Also, read Joe Hill’s oth­er book, Heart Shaped Box. Just say­in’.

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie

I think of Agatha Christie as a quin­tes­sen­tial one day read, and Death on the Nile is my favorite.
Exotic locale? Check. Love? Check. Mur­der and plen­ty of it? Check. You sus­pect every­one, and will nev­er guess the cul­prit? Dou­ble check! Read­ing any Agatha Christie makes me want to drink lit­er­al­ly gal­lons of hot, strong, sweet tea. You have per­mis­sion to switch to iced tea for sum­mer read­ing.

The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander

This was my favorite book as a kid, and I have re-read it many times since then. In my opin­ion this is the best of the children’s fan­ta­sy series. This book owes a lot to Tolkien, but what fan­ta­sy book doesn’t? They both share a foun­da­tion in Welsh mythol­o­gy, so the con­nec­tion goes beyond swords and dark lords. I like heroes who make dumb mis­takes, learn from them, and even­tu­al­ly suc­ceed, and the hero of Lloyd Alexander’s Pry­dain Series, Taran, cer­tain­ly fits that descrip­tion. He starts as a down­right dufus. Nev­er­the­less, you root for him through­out the series as he gath­ers skills and meets friends of all kinds, includ­ing my favorite, Gurgi, who is sort of like Gol­lum mixed with a loy­al pooch. A dirty one. You may be remind­ed of Tolkien at first (and is that such a bad thing?) but Pry­dain is a land all its own, and at its core, the Pry­dain series is all about grow­ing up, for all the char­ac­ters in the books. If you like the first one, there are four more, all of which are one-day reads, and the final book is the best one.

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So, what do you think?