Lazy eyes

So what better way to while away the carefree days of our precious few warm months than digging into a nice summer read?

Whether you’re planning on leafing through The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman 1955-1967 by Hunter S. Thompson, enriching yourself with Mansfield Park by Jane Austen or embarking on some poignant self-analysis through Slut!: Growing Up Female with a Bad Reputation by Leora Tanenbaum, one things is sure — metro Detroiters love to read.

The Helen Fielding novels, which chronicle the neurotic travails of a British singleton in Bridget Jones’s Diary and the sequel, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, are perhaps a good choice for a woman on a crash bikini diet. Bridget spends the majority of the novels obsessing over her caloric intake.

Electrical CAD designer Sarah Klamer vowed to use her summer readings to implement a little self-improvement. “I love to read cookbooks, to get familiar with new recipes,” said Klamer. “I also plan on reading a bunch of books I bought about fitness and health and stuff — it motivates me to get off my ass and do something. I wish I was more deep.”

But who wants to be deep when the sun is shining? Generally, summer reading picks tend to be light and breezy — “junk-food literature,” formulaic yet absorbing detective novels, hokey romances purchased at the drugstore — no one seems to want to tackle Kafka on the beach. Except for Ann Arborite Issac Barman; check out some of the heavy weight on his “to read” list for the season: Lolita by Vladamir Nabokov; Ulysses by James Joyce; Paradise Lost by John Milton; and Marquis de Sade’s 120 Days of Sodom. But all is not deep; he added V.C. Andrews and Anne Rice to the list to lighten things up a bit.

“Yes, that is a lot of reading,” shrugged Barman, “but I’m an English teacher/writer, so that’s what I do for fun.”

On the opposite end of the cultural spectrum, account executive Jackie Scottman of Sterling Heights rejoices in curling up with a tawdry, steamy romance in the true spirit of escapism.

“If I’m going suntanning or lying in my hammock, my favorite thing to read is a really good bodice-ripper, like the latest Danielle Steel,” said Scottman. “It’s an excuse to just totally indulge and lose myself for a day.”

“Trash can be fun,” added health care worker Amanda Holm, “but classics are good too, as long as they’re more action-oriented: 1984 is good summer reading, but The Age of Innocence — not so much.”

Student and die-hard bibliophile Kate Sassak, however, disagrees: “I think summer is a great time to read about society junkies, when you can sit around and feel sultry and romantic.” Sassak also passed on a list of 100 Great 20th Century Works of Fiction by Women Authors, generated by the online journal Feminista! ( The list was created in responses to the estrogen-lacking list of 100 20th century English-language novels supplied by the Modern Library. “I think it’s great that they provided an alternative list instead of just whining,” said Sassak. Both lists provide some outstanding titles if you’re still looking to compile your “to read” list for the upcoming months.

Detroiter Karen Shiply added that audio books are a great way to satisfy your inner bookworm if you’re pressed for time during the summer.

“I have a long commute to my cottage up North, so books on tape are fantastic for the drive,” said Shiply. “But one time there was a very explicit love scene in one of the books I was listening to, and I nearly drove off the road!”

Yet another hazard to add to the long list of driver distractions.

Click here to view a list of suggested summer reading.

Sarah Klein is reading American Tabloid by James Ellroy.

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