Why We Read: To Have Fun

Sometimes I don’t want a deep, thought-provoking read. Sometimes I don’t want to be challenged or need to research historical background. I just want to open the cover and enjoy.

Also, the onset of warmer weather encourages me to pick lighter subject matter. Sweeping epics like All the Light We Cannot See and Station Eleven feel stout, like a hearty bowl of stew. Good for curling up under a blanket on a winter’s day when the sun sets at 4:30. In the summer, I tend to gravitate toward the literary equivalent of flip-flops.

I recently read two books that were just plain fun. Just because these novels are entertaining doesn’t mean they don’t have well-rounded characters and an engaging plot. These books won’t ask a lot of you. They probably won’t change your worldview or evoke sympathy for others’ plights. You might not think about the characters long after you close the cover, but they will put a smile on your face.

16071745Someday, Someday, Maybe, by Lauren Graham

If you want to get yourself geared up for The Gilmore Girls episodes later this year, this will do the trick. Someday, Someday, Maybe feels like Bridget Jones meets The Gilmore Girls. It’s a new adult story of young Franny trying to land her first real gig as an actress in 1995 NYC. (A thinly veiled autobiography of Lauren Graham’s experience?) There’s plenty of witty banter, clever lines, and twenty-something angst.

We know how things are going to turn out for Franny, and in that respect, there isn’t much surprising about the story itself. There are no twists, turns or dark dealings. It’s a straight-forward tale about a time in our lives when we’re unsure of what is supposed to happen next, when all of life feels like a secret and we don’t know quite which way is up.  I listened to this as an audio book, which was the right call. Lauren Graham reads the story, and she’s perfect of course.

13538873Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan

Let me say that I have an unnatural attachment to novels about bookstores and libraries. I enjoyed The Storied Life of AJ Fikry and The Little Paris Bookshop. So I had a feeling I would like Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, but I didn’t know how much!

There is a secret society, high-tech whiz kids, special fonts (yes, I said fonts), and a budding romance. The story is always moving forward, weaving an interesting group of twenty-somethings that circulate around the main character, Clay. I think it’s safe to say that Clay has a lot of “just right” connections—far more than I had at his age—which all fall into place perfectly. He knows how to get his friends on board to help him solve the curious situation he finds himself in since he started working at Mr. Penumbra’s bookstore.

Robin Sloan did a nice job of describing these disparate worlds—the high tech Google cohort and the secret society members who surround themselves in ancient texts clad in flowing black robes. If you pick up a “carbon-based copy” (as Alice in A Window Opens calls paper books), you’re in for a fun treat: the cover glows in the dark!


I’d like to recommend one more read centering around twenty-somethings, though maybe not as light-hearted as the books mentioned above. It’s a short story by yours truly, published this week at The Cortland Review. “A Seductive Shortcut” is a modern retelling of an Aaron Copland composition. It takes place at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, and, yes, an Elvis tribute artist makes an appearance. I hope you enjoy it!

It was two a.m. They’d been up for nearly twenty-four hours. Married for four. Yet they stood at the edge of the lake, unable to tear themselves away and go into the hotel where one of those fancy high roller-rooms was waiting for them. Brian had booked it a few days ago when he’d had an inkling of this plan.

Can you recommend any fun reads?

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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27 comments

  1. I have read your first selection and liked it but not the other two and I bet I would especially like the one that centers around the bookstore. Adding to my to read list which is growing by leaps and bounds! Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Jackie. Congratulations on another publication! 🙂 I have downloaded it and will read it this weekend. As for “fun” books…I’ll take your recommendations. I have been reading some very heavy historical books and need some entertainment. All too often, I rely on TV for that. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Jackie,

    “A Seductive Shortcut” — seductive title! Haven’t read yet but wanted to quickly send Congrats! Also, to say that I’m in the same fun-mindset as your blog post, so thanks for this one. I too have been avoiding the WWII titles & looking for light. Maybe it’s the warm weather/anticipation of summer that seeks light. Anyway, getting ready to work on a blog of a novel I just finished this morning — oh it was a fun trip down memory lane and I loved the Southern voice: ‘LAST TRIP TO GRACELAND” by Kim Wright. Happy Memorial Day!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Jackie,

        What’s the chance I’d be suggesting you’d like LAST TRIP TO GRACELAND and your seductive shortstory features Elvis? The pace of your shortstory terrific. Now, I’m sure you’ll love the novel, including all the Elvis tidbits and the inspiration for the novel. I ought to check out this play GRACELAND, thanks. Had to smile re: your comment about your TBR pile! Crazy, hugh. Crazy good. Lorraine
        

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you for your wonderful comment about my story, Lorraine. I’m glad that you found the pacing to be good. I struggle with that in a short story format. Sometimes the fewer the words, the more difficult it is. 🙂

        I visited Graceland several years ago and my favorite area was the all-white living room. How in the world does one keep that clean?!? 🙂

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  4. I love any book about a library or bookstore. Indeed, all people who love to read seem to love libraries and bookstores. It’s surprising that more writers don’t write books that take place in bookstores considering their target demographic.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jackie, your story is so good, I wish it could have gone on longer. Are you still writing a novel?
    Really hope so.
    As for fun reads, I liked Where’d You Go, Bernadette and The Rosie Project. I mostly like literary fiction, but I need a break once in a while too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Excellent recommendations for summer reading, Carole! I really enjoyed both of them. I still think about the scenes with Bernadette in Antarctica.

      Thanks so much for your kind words about my story. I am plugging away on my novel. Every now and then I take a break to work on short stories so I feel I’ve accomplished something. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Glad to hear your thoughts on Lauren Graham’s book. I JUST added it to my Amazon cart last week. She recently announced she’s publishing a memoir too. Now I have three things to look forward to: Her books AND the Gilmore Girls re-launch. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You’re so right, it’s important to read for fun too! I recently had minor surgery (all is fine) and just could not concentrate on anything deep. I read some good memoirs (John Lithgow’s and Oliver Sacks) as they were perfect entertainment and if I was too tired to follow everything that was ok too, haha!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Sarah. I hope you enjoy Lauren Graham’s book — a great summer read! I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts after you’ve read it. FYI — She also has a memoir due out soon.

      Like

  8. Thanks for the recommendations, Jackie. I gravitate toward heavier reads and appreciate your nudge to include fun reads in my book rotation. Cheers to your recent publication! Can’t wait to check it out. Hope you had a great holiday weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

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