Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Apocalyptic Headlines and Beach Reading

News of the weird...Anyone who has travelled on I-75 north of Cincinnati has seen what is affectionately known as Big Butter Jesus, a large pale yellow sculpture rising out of a pond and reaching its arms toward heaven. Last night, lightning struck Big Butter Jesus and burnt it to the ground. What does that mean? I don't know, but if you google "Big Butter Jesus," you can see the headline writers are having a field day. Here's a real news link. And here's a link to Heywood Banks' tribute. I warn you, though, if you click on it, you won't be able to get the song out of your head.

On a news video, a distraught bystander called the destruction of Big Butter Jesus a sign the end is near. I had to shake my head. The Gulf is being choked by raw crude, wiping out ecosystems and economies, and she thinks Big Butter Jesus is apocalyptic.

If you're looking for something to get your mind off of apocalyptic headlines, I recommend getting lost in a good book. Before graduation last Saturday, as the faculty waited in the wings, we talked about plans for the summer. One of my colleagues in the English department said, "I'm going to read trashy books with absolutely no literary value."

She said it belligerently with an "I-dare-you-to say-something" edge. I just laughed. Lots of people treat genre fiction as a guilty pleasure. English teachers are particularly secretive about non-literary reading habits. We are the keepers of the flame. We introduce young minds to Homer, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Bronte, Twain, and all the other great authors of The Canon. God forbid we read *gasp* commercial fiction.

The irony of that ivory tower attitude is that Homer, Shakespeare, and Twain all told stories for the masses. To the extent that commercial fiction existed in their day, they were it. I think they would hate the idea of being considered stuffy, literary geniuses read only in the hallowed halls of schools and universities.

It's summer, so let's get out of the hallowed halls and onto the beach. Here's to reading romance and fantasy, murder mysteries and sci-fi, political thrillers and horror without guilt. Since I read genre fiction year-round and completely guilt free, I have some recommendations. All of these books are either paranormal romance or urban fantasy...my genres of choice.

  • The fabulous J. R. Ward released the latest installment in her Black Dagger Brotherhood series this past spring. Lover Mine is John Matthew's story. Loved it.

  • Charlaine Harris' Dead in the Family is the newest Sookie Stackhouse book. Eric's dad and psycho little brother show up in this installment. If you're a True Blood fan and haven't read the books, you should.

  • Laurell K. Hamilton keeps pushing the envelope in her Anita Blake series. If you haven't read any of the other books, don't start with Bullet. It'll freak you out. You need to work up to this one. Jean-Claude...Asher...whoa.

  • Keri Arthur wrapped up her Riley Jenson series with Moon Sworn. Riley has to come to terms with Kye's death, her estranged family, and her relationship with Quinn. I hate that the series is over, but the last book was satisfying.

  • Gail Carriger is a new addition to my must-read list. I reviewed Soulless on the blog a while back. Soulless left me wanting more. Be careful what you wish for because Changeless, the sequel, was crazy-frustrating. The story was fun, but the middle book in a trilogy is always the most frustrating because typically it ends in the most annoying possible point in the story arc, and you have to wait for resolution. Blameless comes out September 1.

  • Karen Marie Moning just rocks. I read Beyond the Highland Mist recently. It's the first book in her Highlander series. Reading this series all out of order didn't interfere with my enjoyment at all. Her Faefever series is to die for.

I have a stack of paperbacks in my to be read pile. When I'm not writing genre fiction, I will have my nose in one of them. I suggest you do the same.

No comments:

Post a Comment