A reading list for poolside enjoyment

When on vacation I become a book reading fiend. Give me a stack of books, a comfortable chaise, a yummy tropical drink - with a great ocean view - and I'm happy. Recently, while on the island paradise of St. Croix, I read a great selection of books for anyone putting together a take-along library for their spring vacation.

The book I enjoyed reading most of all was Little Chapel on the River : A Pub, a Town and the Search for What Matters Most, by Gwendolyn Bounds. I read this thoroughly enjoyable book, by Wall Street Journal writer Bounds, on the multiple planes while traveling to the Caribbean. Bounds and her partner lived across the street from the World Trade Center and were getting ready to go to work when the planes struck the towers on 9/11. Displaced from their home, a friend takes them to Guinan's, an old Irish bar in the small, upper Hudson River town of Garrison, N.Y. The stories found in that small-town pub make a great read. For additional information check out the writer's personal web site. Bounds also writes about the challenges of small business and entrepreneurship most Tuesdays in the Enterprise column for The Wall Street Journal and the articles can be found at StartupJournal.com.

A book that should be required reading for any designer, advertising or marketing person, or public relations professional is Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcom Gladwell. This book about how we make snap judgments - in our personal interactions and career situations - offers great insight into how we are sometimes manipulated by marketers and others, and how we should often pay much more attention to our first impressions in many decision-making situations.

The most humorous book I read while relaxing poolside was Simon Doonan's Nasty : My Family and Other Glamorous Varmints. Doonan, creative director of Barney's New York, spins hilarious tales of growing up different and flamboyant in the England of the 50's and 60's with a fascination for the "beautiful people" of the time. We all come from interesting families. However, Doonan's relatives do seem to put the "fun" in dysfunctional.

Numerous friends had recommended The Kite Runner, by Khaled Husseini, in the weeks prior to my trip. I've got to admit I wasn't necessarily excited about reading a book set in Afghanistan, after years of hearing about the country on the national news and reading about it almost daily in the local papers. However, this stunning, fascinating, educational and incredibly well-written book should be required reading for all. Husseini presents an amazing literary "picture" of the actual Afghanistan not packaged for presentation by our news agencies. I could not put this book down once I began reading.

The most interesting and different book I read in St. Croix was Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. The book cover, with the upside down die-cut poodle, was something that intrigued me from the first time I saw it in a bookstore window. Told by the autistic 15-year-old narrator, the story begins with the pitchfork murder of a dog and then takes the reader on a wild and entertaining ride.

Murder mysteries or thrillers have always been mindless beach reading necessities for me and I read my fair share on this trip. In the past I've been a big fan of the books of James Patterson. His efforts written with other authors have not been as good. Still I found 3rd Degree and 4th of July to be enjoyable reads which didn't require me to think too much. Others in this genre that I read included Just One Look by Harlan Coben, Lisa Scottoline's Everywhere That Mary Went, The Closers by Michael Connelly, The Broker by John Grisham, and David Baldacci's The Camel Club.

The most disappointing selection in my stack of books was Patricia Cornwell's Predator. The early Kay Scarpetta books were much better and would hold my attention. The later offerings seem to be a little far-fetched and the endings, which are really just lead-ins to the next book, are not as satisfying. This was a book that I had to keep searching for because I would leave it in different places around the beach house, rather than being glued to it until I was done.

The best detective book I read this trip was a golden oldie. John D. MacDonald's Dress Her In Indigo, written in 1969, was an excellent example of the adventures of his Travis McGee character.

Books about food and wine are always staples when I put together a vacation reading collection. A Good Year, a novel by Peter Mayle (the author of A Year in Provence), is the light and entertaining adventure of a recently fired English businessman inheriting a chateau and vineyard in the south of France. It's a great beach read.

Hope you have a great vacation this spring - and happy reading!

© 2005 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

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