Summer Guide: Books

"Isn't that the one that blinded you?" Sebastiane asked.

"Yes, and I know page 86 by heart. I read it every night while I'm waiting for my Ambien high to kick in."

Sebastiane squinted. "Were you on Ambien when you read the little-person sex scene? Because, you know, that wasn't in the play. I kept waiting for the pygmy nudity. Even the flying monkeys kept their clothes on."


Summer Must-Reads

Three essential books for summer if you would like to more than crack a smile:
• Notes from the Underwire by Quinn Cummings. A solid collection of essays from a tired mom and former child star, Quinn Cummings, who launches into one parenting disaster after another with cynicism, wit, and confirmation that I made the right decision by remaining childless.

• If You Were Here by Jen Lancaster. Delightful, funny romp about what happens when an urban couple who don't own a hammer convince themselves that by watching HGTV, they can work miracles in the upscale money pit they foolishly buy in suburban Chicago.

• You Don't Sweat Much for a Fat Girl by Celia Rivenbark. Life in the South with more than a bit of bite. Rivenbark's humor is like the salt on the margarita glass; it's sometimes surprising, but it's always the best part. Fantastic beach read.

Laurie Notaro's new collection of essays, It Looked Different on the Model, is scheduled for release on July 26. She will be reading from the book and signing copies at Barnes & Noble Desert Ridge (21001 N. Tatum Blvd. Suite 42; 480-538-8520) on July 26, and Changing Hands Bookstore (6428 South McClintock Drive,Tempe; 480-730-0205) on July 29. Call for times or check

"I'm so glad I didn't read that page in the sun!" I informed her. "But that scene is as real as the coffee scar on my neck."

"That's a scar?" she questioned. "Because I had a different take on that all together."

"Are you going to read the Tina Fey book? Because I think you should read it and then tell me all it," I advised. "And Abandon, by Meg Cabot? That sounds so good. I think you should read that, too. It's about a dark angels and dead girls. And Geraldine Brooks has a new book out. Who doesn't love Geraldine Brooks? You should read that. It's called Caleb's Crossing. And Ann Patchett! I love her. Get her book, please. Please read her book. State of Wonder. There are cannibals in it! Cannibals!! Will you promise to read all of those? And then will you tell me all about them?"

Sebastiane sighed. "I'll try," she agreed. "But I think maybe you need to skip the chips and dip, stay inside, and read all of the things on the summer reading list that you supposedly don't have."

I shook my head. "I can't," I admitted. "I have a book due in September."

"Oh," my wise friend said. "I see. So the stuff about snacks, the fear about book blindness, the grease on an iPad were all lies? Well, except the iPhone part, it really is disgusting. You could send Morse code with that thing, it's so shiny. Those were all lies you were telling yourself?"

"No. Those were all lies I was telling you," I clarified. "But yes. Did you hear anything of what I said? Dark angels? Dead girls? Cannibals? This summer is contaminated with fascinating books! If I start reading any of them, I won't stop. I can't stop. And then I won't make my deadline. And then I'll have to get a job. And I don't like jobs."

"In that case, I have an idea," Sebastiane said. "Let's get a bib, some chips and dip, go sit outside and make your reading list for September."

"Deal," I said.

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