Wednesday, July 20, 2005

End summer with a few good books

By Deana Nall
Baytown Sun

Published July 20, 2005

With less than four weeks to go before school starts, you might be wondering what to do with the rest of your summer.

Well, I’m here to help. I know where you are right now. You already drained most of your life savings by taking the kids to Sea-Walt-Schlitter-World in June. Then there was that Astros game in July, where you had to take out another mortgage just to get a large Coke. Now you’ve got 27 days left before the kids go back to school. You don’t need cheap. You need free.

I feel your pain. My husband and I started out the summer ordering appetizers, iced tea and dessert at Johnny Carino’s. Now we’re ordering ice water and napkins. Hey, there are worse ways to get your fiber.

So where can you find a no-cost way to fill the rest of the summer? Personally, I’m a big fan of reading. And thanks to Sterling Municipal Library, you can check out all the books you want at no cost — as long as you get them in on time. Or you can borrow books from other people. Try to borrow books from people who already owe you favors. Then if you lose their books or damage them in some way, the guilt factor will be eliminated, or at least somewhat lessened.

Anyway, to help you through these last 648 hours of summer (but who’s counting?), I’d like to offer you my carefully crafted Summer Reading List.

1) Any biography. I love stories about other peoples’ lives. I could say I like to glean important life lessons from them, but that’s not true. I just like knowing peoples’ personal business. If you want to feel extremely normal and well adjusted, read some movie star auto-biographies. I’ve read Katharine Hepburn’s, Vivien Leigh’s and Ava Gardner’s. Those were some pretty messed-up people. I feel like I needed a shower after that last one. I also once had a goal of reading biographies of every former First Lady. That was before Pat Nixon’s put me to sleep on page three. Barbara Bush’s was great, though. Would you believe that woman is hilarious?

2) “Homegrown Democrat” by Garrison Keillor. Democrats can be funny, too.

3) “The Frantic Woman’s Guide to Life” by Mary Jo Rulnick. This sounded like a good book, but I never found time to read it. I’m not kidding. If you get through it, let me know what you thought.

4) Anne Lamott’s “Traveling Mercies” and Donald Miller’s “Blue Like Jazz.” If you’re sick to death of “just-be-a-Christian-and-your-life-will-be-hunky-dory”-type of Christian literature (like I’ve been for quite some time), I highly recommend these two books, which show a little more realistic perspective.

5) People magazine. You’re at the beach. Want to fry your mind as well as your skin? Pick up a copy of the most popular celebrity gossip rag. Oh, you’re not as above it as you think. If you’re like me and wondering if J.Lo is jealous of Ben Affleck’s marriage to Jennifer Garner, or you’re praying for Britney Spears to get stretch marks, People is for you. Slip it inside a Wall Street Journal if you’re that concerned about image.

Well, there you go. Don’t start calling me Oprah just yet, but my summer reading list should be enough to get you through the remaining 38,880 minutes of summer.

But who’s counting?

Deana Nall’s column appears every Wednesday. Her email address is


  • At Thu Jul 21, 09:47:00 AM, Blogger Blogging by Tina said…

    I have heard of Blue Like Jazz; I would like to read it.

    I too am tired of "just be a Christian and your life will be hunky dory" literature. That's part of my rebellion

  • At Thu Jul 21, 09:47:00 AM, Blogger Blogging by Tina said…

    Sorry, punched publish before I was done . . .

    . . . part of my rebellion against "all things Christian" these days.

  • At Fri Jul 22, 07:32:00 AM, Blogger Jana said…

    Deana - You are so FUNNY. I love reading your columns! By the way, I AM counting down the days of summer. Way too hot and muggy in these parts of the country...

  • At Fri Jul 22, 09:10:00 AM, Blogger ML said…

    I'm trying not to think about the count down until school bells. This has been a pretty relaxing summer. The book list is a good suggestion. I have been wanting to read some religious books that don't make me feel so inadequate that I want to just throw in the towel. Read a few books on alcoholism if you want to feel normal. Talk about needing a bath!...

  • At Wed Jul 27, 01:25:00 PM, Blogger WinniePhew said…

    Great piece but what I really want to know is, "How many seconds are there left in this summer?"

    Winniephew --


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