In the latest issue of the Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, Philippe de Montebello writes about the Met's recent acquisitions, observing that a "museum is never finished, a collection never fully formed."
The same can be said for a book list because "finished" means more than simply "the end." So this week we'll just say we plan to "wrap up"--a diversionary tactic by any definition--the fun books series.
Though fiction picks were the original quest, nonfiction titles did manage to slip through. Ginny Mortorff, who works in telephone sales for Random House, is one of several Brysoniacs who "couldn't resist being part of the fun by sending in my all time favorite because I didn't see Bill Bryson on the list. A Walk in the Woods, In a Sunburned Country, I'm a Stranger Here Myself and The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid are all laugh-out-loud funny."
Heart in the Right Place by Carolyn Jourdan "fits under the 'fun' category, but I tell my staff it's a feel good book," writes Sheryl Cotleur of Book Passage, Corte Madera, Calif. "I laughed dozens of times as she describes the denizens of her small town in Tennessee who come in to see her father, the town's doctor. There is a more touching note to this memoir in the end, but it's quite Bill Bryson-like for much of the way. All in all it's wonderful."
Susan Weis, owner of breathe books, Baltimore, Md., shared a case of fiction reading meets nonfiction experience: "I really enjoyed Enlightenment for Idiots by Anne Cushman--yoga, India, relationships, gurus and book publishing all in one book! And a happy ending. It was well-written and delightful. I recently took a group to India and one of the women traveling with me brought this book along at my recommendation. She so enjoyed reading it as we drove through the mountains of Northern India. If someone can find enlightenment and joy in a 12-hour bus ride, the book must be fun!"
This has been an entertaining fun read ride. Thanks for all your great suggestions. I'll "finish" with some of the spirited recommendations from reader Ellen Stimson, who admits that "thinking about the fun books I always recommend was actually quite a bit of fun." Her suggestions:
- Fun for the middle-aged who may have been a little disappointed somewhere along the way--Texasville by Larry McMurtry. One of the funniest American novels ever and particularly timely since it is written during the oil mess in the '70s when everyone in oil country was going broke. It takes regular old daily pathos and beautifully illustrates the humor that's there all the time.
- Fun for thriller lovers--any of the Gabriel books by Daniel Silva. They are cleverly plotted with likable characters. They move along at a speedy pace and feel exciting the way those Ocean movies do.
- Fun for women of a certain age--any of the Rhoda stories by Ellen Gilchrist. Rhoda Manning and her clan are a lot of clever happy brash women who rule their messy worlds and their macho men with the sugary charms of the South. These ladies are always thinking up something to do, and they remind women that teasing fun out of life is in our genetic code.
- Fun for boys 9-12--the Peter Pan prequels by Dave Barry and Ridley Pierson. They and their parents will appreciate the exciting adventure filled with enough grownup humor to keep everybody happy.
- Fun for young adult women who are always way too serious--the thrillingly trashy Penny Vincenzi trilogy about publishing. They are smart soapy sagas that will thrill your law student daughter the same way silly Aunt Betty's Real Crime! magazines did us.
- Fun for older ladies--Jon Hassler's Dear James; sweet charming gentle kind of fun.
And my last word on fun reads? Well, maybe they're all fun, depending . . .
Can you say "eyes of the beholder," boys and girls?
A beautiful catalogue I received yesterday from Shaman Drum Bookshop, Ann Arbor, Mich., features an introductory note by Raymond McDaniel, who asks, "How long does it take to think a thought? An act of discrete cognition clocks in at just over 300 milliseconds . . . In that brief a period of time, your attention can move anywhere, to anything--given provocation, and occasion. Given ideas to which you can respond, pictures to assemble, people to imagine. Given, say, books--such as those we offer you here."
Sounds like the start of another infinite fun reads list to me.