How to choose a good summer read

I'm happy to share with you what I look for in a good summer read, because I am not, as someone's ex-husband described, incurable.

For God's sake, I don't want to be challenged. No 'hard' literature that I have to slog through to discover some deep and twisted meaning. Those books don't belong on the list – I'm sure we can all agree on that!

I like a summer read to be as complex as a white cashmere sweater with a whiskey stain on it:

How did that stain get there?

Will that stain come out?

Does the character have a drinking problem?

If so, then that drinking problem shouldn't cause a major disruption to the flow of the story. An unsettling wedding toast is great. A car accident followed by death has no place in a summer book, unless of course it happened in the distant past to someone close to our cashmere-wearing friend.

Suitable settings include weddings, engagement parties, foreign trips, East Coast boarding schools, clambakes, lobster grills, and other shellfish-centric food parties, where even the anorexic characters can have fun.

Inappropriate environments: rent-controlled apartments, Denny's, freeway underpasses.

I want to be able to understand the novel half-drunk on rosé. The sentences should fly by like a handsome man on a Vespa on the Montauk Highway. Speaking of characters, if one of them is a handsome man on a Vespa on the Montauk Highway, count me in! Give that character my number and tell him to call me.

My ideal summer novel balances subtly on the edge of frivolity. And if I'm not truly moved at least once, I'll toss your novel to one of the non-spark plug stops along the LIRR

The drama has to feel VERY real to the characters, but very silly unlike anything you read in New York's world news section. Time. Speaking of Time, I want you to go to the most emailed section – yes, see the article about how Rossos from the Etna region are becoming popular in farm-to-table restaurants? That most commonly emailed article is something the characters in your novel would send to each other.

Imagine a summer romance is a home: what kind of kitchen would it have? Subway tiles? YES, I will read you. Something about a stove with an electric stove? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Take your ugly stove and sink without splashing water and go into the winter months. I'm looking for the new version of a Nancy Meyers movie, all whitewashed, with most of the action taking place around a beautiful center island.

More useful guidelines:

Descriptions of collarbones in white linen dresses: YES.

Cancer: NO.

Sicily: YES.

Reno, Nevada: NO.

Joints passed between wasps: YES.

Meth smoked by weird uncles: NO.

Dirty Martinis: YES.

A character named Dirty Martini: NO.

A ranch in Montana:

If it is a second home, YES

If not, NO. NO. NO.

Listen, keep it short. Brevity is key. I read this book for a maximum of a day and a half. Anything longer will be dropped in the fall.

When I'm drunk on the beach, half-buried in the sand and getting a nasty sunburn because I forgot to reapply expensive sunscreen, these are the kind of books I want on my face.

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