Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Friday, May 18, 2007

Re-educate yourself on Summer Reading with some Old School Beach Books

Like Jane Austen's own Emma Woodhouse,I get very fond of making reading lists for myself but don't always follow thru on them. I am working on Robin Brande's 50 Book Reading Challenge but that's a year long project that lets me write down my selections after they're read,not before(a distinct difference,in my opinion).

Nonetheless,I am attempting to organize my reading for the summer and have decided to add some fun by including what I call Old School Beach Books to the mix(I love creating little catagories for these lists). You remember what those are,I'm sure. The kind of glossy covered paperback that would just slip right into a straw bag,next to the suntan lotion and extra pair of shades. Sometimes,it would be a hardcover that not only was current but gave you some more blockage from the sun's harmful rays.

I have only three on that list,mainly due to one of them being over a thousand pages long(challenging,but then again,it is a reread). One of these books is new to me,the other two are repeats but one of them is a rediscovery. Enough of the "re" words,let's get on with it,shall we?


I found an old hardcover copy of Grace Metalious' scandalous novel in a thrift store recently(the jacket was a mess,but I managed to salvage it)and felt that it was the one for me. PP has been reprinted several times over,but I like trying it out for the first time in it's original form. This story of small town secrets and lies is the great grandma of Jacqueline Susann,Harper Valley PTA and today's Desparate Housewives.

You know how people always talk about how morals back in the day were better than they are now? Just read the books of the time period,particularly the popular ones,and you'll see the real deal,folks. Usually,the only difference between then and now is that some things weren't talked about in public. Plenty of action behind closed doors,yeah baby,yeah!

I just hope that Peyton Place lives up to the hype;I'm not expecting Pulitzer Prize material here,just some fun and interesting characters. I've even added the film version to my Netflix list for a compare and contrast. Speaking of film and book versions to equally enjoy.....


I not only have an old mass market edition of VOTD,I also have ancient paperback copies of The Love Machine and Once is Not Enough(haven't read the other two yet but they're too good in a bad way to get rid of or upgrade with reprints). I got them all at the same funky old secondhand shop that was like a junk store library. The woman who ran the place had a bit of a hippie vibe(very friendly and seemed to be in her own groove)and she had a ton of great knickknacks and books all shoved together in this crowded but never really cramped space. Too bad that that store is no longer,it was a real treasure trove.

VOTD still holds up as a good Hollywood Insider type of book,and now that I have the movie version on DVD,it's an even greater excuse to dive back into the pages. Also, would the likes of Neely,Anne and Jennifer be able to hold their own against the likes of Lindsay Lohan,Britney Spears and Angelina Jolie,or kick their butts? Food for thought,people!


Here's the deal with Maia; many years ago,I saw this gorgeous paperback in a rack at one of the local drugstores and was drawn to it like a bee to honey. Turns out that the book is just as seductive as the artwork. Alas,during one of my many much needed for space purges to my home library,Maia had to be sent to the Land of Donations to make way for other volumes of lore. There was,however,still a place in my heart for this weighty tome of delights and behold,the literary fates took pity upon me.

I went to a church rummage sale,during it's usual spring cleaning time,and found a hardcover edition of Maia,which I snatched up quick before some stingy old lady could nickel and dime her way into getting it(I'm all for bargaining,but at a church rummage sale? Come on,now,seriously! You have to have limits there.)

So,what is Maia all about? First off,yes,this is written by the same Richard Adams who wrote Watership Down(the book is sort of a prequel to Shardik,which I didn't read) and there are no talking bunnies in it. Maia is a simple country girl,living in a mythical Ye Olde type of country,who is sold into slavery after her mom sees her getting way too helpful with her stepfather's fishing business. She becomes a "bed girl" to a rich lord who makes Jabba the Hutt look like a Before picture in a Jenny Craig ad,along with Occula,a savvy and streetsmart gal who is more than what she seems to be.

There's some political intrigue and some hidden agendas revealed but this is pretty much the kind of book that would've made a great epic soap opera,back when Hollywood was cranking out the likes of Cleopatra and The Ten Commandments. Of course,there's alot of sex(both straight and gay)that would've irked the censors but Maia is a good natured girl at heart and a compelling heroine,which smoothes over some of those steamy spots of bother. It's a huge book and one that should be a blast to revisit.

So,if you're hard up for any good books to take with you on vacation,or just to tide you over until the new TV season starts,go back to the old school and see what guilty pleasures you can find. Feel free to share your choices here,it's all good. Reading is fundamental and should be fun as well.


Robin Brande said...

Lady T, I truly LOVE this idea! You've inspired me to reread Judith Krantz'sScruples. The best beach book from my earlier days. We'll see if it still holds up. If so, then on to Sidney Sheldon!

lady t said...

Cool picks,Robin. I've never Krantz or Sheldon,so you have to let me know how your rereads go.