Monday, June 25, 2012

More good old books to enjoy

The previous post about Going Down with Janis got me thinking about some more oldy-but-goody books that are well worth reading this summer. Here is a list of other books that are at least thirty years old which are well worth a summer read. (Note: the dates are the years of original publication; some of these books were reissued years later. If you look for these books online, search by title and author and pay no attention to the year.)

1. Valley of the Dolls, Jacqueline Susann (1966) – This is not the original potboiler (I think that title goes to Peyton Place), but it stands on the mountaintop (not the valley) of just-for-fun adult reads. (Don’t forget to watch the movie before summer’s end, too!)

2. Hell’s Angels, Hunter S. Thompson (1967) – This is as close to the Hell’s Angels as most of us – the folks with common sense, that is – will want to get.

3. Airport, Arthur Hailey (1968) – This is the kind of book you don’t see any more – human drama blended with education. Read Airport, and you will not only read a meaty story with adultery, hijacking, and lingering guilt, but a behind-the-scenes look at a metropolitan airport (the way it was in 1968). I like this kind of book – I’m currently reading Frank G. Slaughter’s Doctors’ Wives in my bathroom.

4. Coffee, Tea, or Me, Trudy Baker and Rachel Jones (1969) – The heyday of airplane travel, when all of the flight attendants were cute girls and you actually looked forward to getting on that plane. Even the revelations in the 2003 reissue do not subtract from the magic of the narrative. You haven’t lived until you’ve read the list of what men of various nationalities are (supposedly) like.

5. Portnoy’s Complaint, Phillip Roth (1969) – This is considered a literary novel, and it almost doesn’t belong on this list – except for the laugh-out-loud moments such as the discovery of the other use for liver.

6. The World of Star Trek, David Gerrold (1973) – You don’t need to be a Trekker to get something out of this book – namely, greater understanding of what makes a great television show (hint: it’s the writing) and how even this classic could have been better (hint: less danger, more decisions).

7. Judy, Gerold Frank (1975) – This is one of the handful of Garland biographies which does not play a one-note “poor, poor pitiful Judy” song. Seriously, if you want to read a downer this summer, pick George Orwell’s 1984.

8. (The People’s Almanac Presents) The Book of Lists, Irving Wallace, Amy Wallace, David Wallechinksky (1977) – Yes, this book has been reincarnated over the years, but you must read the original, if only to feel like a naughty twelve-year-old again when you see the “Top Ten Sexual Positions” list (“doggie-style”, huh huh huh huh).

9. Hollywood is a Four-Letter Town, Made in Hollywood, James Bacon (1977, 1978) – A tiptoe through the oversaturated garden of delights that was “old” Hollywood, courtesy of an Los Angeles Herald-Examiner columnist (remember that paper?) It’s…well, it’s like TMZ on paper, minus all of those people who you never freaking heard of.

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