Aah, stranded. On an island. Alone. Sounds like the makings of a good horror flick, or, in my case, the epitome of my fantasy existence. You see, as a self-proclaimed loner, yet guilt-ridden workaholic, I would need the seclusion of a small body of land surrounded by water to finally run out of things to clean or organize and move on with the day’s business of relaxation. But what would I do with so much time on my sedentary hands? I would read. What would I read? Not sure, since most books I am into these days deal with green eggs and ham. So why not ask a literary maverick of sorts, somebody whose very vein of existence lies in the phrases and nuances of great books that haunt you through the night and tease you through the day?
Someone who knows the loss one feels upon leaving a cherished book where every moment is brutally long until, at last, your eyes on those words do meet again. There are few authors out there who not only claim fame to their own body of well-written work, but who also happen to call the Father of Terror (Stephen King), “dad.”
We had the pleasure of speaking with Owen King, author and son of Stephen King, about some of his favorite summer memories. We were curious about what he is reading this summer and what book suggestions he had for tweens, teens and adults. We asked for a list that would tickle the deep recesses of our dark humor, expand our literary lingo, make our hearts pang for love and leave us peeking around the corner for the terrible possibilities of the unknown. He gave us a stellar list that we hope encourages you to spend some time with a book that might just change your life. We will catch up with Owen again this fall when his brilliant collaboration with his father, Sleeping Beauties, comes out in paperback. Until then, enjoy the rest of this fantastic Sarasota summer. The beaches are calling, what book will you be bringing? Let us know what you are reading by commenting below.
Ten Books to Read in the Summer, by Owen King for The Sarasota Post
“Many of my best summer memories involve baseball, and my favorite childhood summer was unquestionably 1989. That was the summer I was twelve. It was also the moment in my life I was probably at the (modest) peak of my athletic abilities. My Little League team won the Maine State Championship and we went on to play in the Little League World Series. It seemed like the season was never going to end – which is the dream: for baseball season to just continue indefinitely. One book I would have appreciated enormously in those days is Summerland by Michael Chabon. It’s about magic and baseball, so it checks the two most important boxes. I love it now and I would have loved it even more then. I think your tween would especially appreciate this novel. You go ahead and read it, too.
“Strictly for the adult baseball fan, I recommend Alison Gordon’s Foul Balls! a memoir of her years covering the Blue Jays. This one is, I’m certain, out-of-print, but it’s worth the trouble of ordering it on loan from your library or digging up a used copy. Gordon was a pioneer for female sportswriters and as trenchant and funny an observer of the game as you’ll ever find.
“Now, I don’t deny that there’s (a little) more to life than baseball. There’s also murder and general mayhem. Bill James, who as it happens is better known as a baseball writer, is the author of a fabulous non-fiction study called Popular Crime. This is a big fat book that you can take to the beach and read all day. James’s opinions about justice, violence, and numerous historical crimes of note are compelling, sometimes frustrating, and presented with zest.
“But what if you’re only going to the beach or the pool for two or three hours? In that case, you should read a Ruth Rendell book. The late and much-missed Rendell was also very sharp on murder and general mayhem. Her stand-alone novel A Demon in My View is a splendid and creepy spin on the serial killer genre, but you can’t go wrong with any of them.
“Short stories are another option. Read a story, turn over and tan the other side of yourself; it’s the perfect system. I recommend any edition of the Best American Short Stories series or the Pen/O. Henry Prize Stories series. Absolute delight is ensured if Alice Munro is listed somewhere in the table of contents.
“Rachel Kushner’s The Mars Room is that book that should win all the prizes next fall and winter. That means you want to get ahead of the game and your book club, and read it this summer, even if the subject matter – it’s the story of a woman sentenced to life in prison for killing her stalker – may not fit with the light summer read theme. It’s fully absorbing, and Kushner’s amazing powers of personification are, well, amazing. No one inhabits their characters more convincingly.
“Finally, for those late-arriving, deep black summer nights, how about a couple of scary books: Victor LaValle’s The Ballad of Black Tom is a fresh take on the Cthulu Mythos and Billy O’Callaghan’s The Dead House is a perfect ghost story.
“And that’s your ten! Once you finish those, you can turn on the radio, find the station with the ballgame on, settle back in your lawn chair and enjoy a cold Coke while listening to the Red Sox beat the Rays.”
For more information on Owen King, please visit his website at www.owen-king.com
Photos courtesy of Owen King and I Love Reading Books Facebook page.