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Hammock Time

An end-of-summer reading list

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

I’ve spent much of the past three months working on various house and yard projects and gazing longingly at the hammock in the backyard from afar. With the countdown to the end of summer nearly upon us, I’m planning to put down the paintbrushes and yard implements and re-read a few books from the comfort of the outdoor hangout. I looked to a “Best Beach Books Ever” poll NPR listed a few years back for inspiration on my yesteryear quest, and found a few gems.

Since acquiring a Kindle, I’ve taken the opportunity to revisit nearly every Stephen King novel I’ve devoured over the course of my life (which includes pretty much everything King’s committed to paper). But when I saw NPR’s list—which includes both high-falutin’ literature like Pride and Prejudice as well as a few sexy and steamy romps, like Terry McMillan’s How Stella Got Her Groove Back—I realized I haven’t gone back to The Stand. And while reading a postapocalyptic novel may not seem like the most relaxing way to enjoy the waning days of summer, I can’t think of a better way to pass the time. While I’m chilling on my hammock reading about Captain Trips—the strain of influenza that kills more than 99 percent of the world’s population in King’s seminal tome set in the summer of 1990—and the nefarious and heroic characters that struggle for survival after mankind’s near-death experience, I’ll feel superior in knowing that I’m still alive and that it’s all make-believe. Or is it?

Fear is also at the heart of the second book on my reading list—Peter Benchley’s Jaws. I didn’t read the book until years after seeing Steven Spielberg’s film adaptation—which can be seen Sat., Sept. 3 at Mount Vernon’s Lincoln Theatre—and thus when I think about the terrifying tale, all my brain conjures is an image of a severed leg settling slowly on the ocean floor and the character of Quint getting chomped in half by the great white shark at the heart of the story (thanks a lot, neural matter). I’m hoping that by rereading the book, I’ll get better acquainted with the cast of characters struggling to subdue their terror in the fictional resort town of Amity, Long Island after a ginormous shark starts to munch its denizens with the alacrity of a stoner taking down a bag of Doritos. After all, in addition to the goings-on of an angry fish, the townfolk still have to find time to do things like commit adultery and hush up the horror.

Finally, I’m looking forward to getting back to the basics of the beach read with Judy Blume and her book Summer Sisters. While I found out a whole lot about periods and fat shaming and teenage angst from Blume during my formative years, I was already a full-fledged adult (or trying to be) when I read this 1998 story about two longtime friends, Caitlin and Vix, whose bond is threatened when they fight for the same fella. While it’s a coming-of-age novel—as many of Blume’s offerings are—the amount of sex in the book gives it an NC-17 rating. The drama comes to a head when Caitlin disappears in a boating accident, but I can’t really remember what happens after that. Guess it’s time to head to the hammock to find out.

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