I went camping this weekend (and what an utterly marvelous weekend it was for camping -- picture-perfect weather). Camping, like any form of vacation, calls for particularly light reading. It also calls for reading that can hold up to a bit of physical abuse, as the Big Room isn't kind on books.

So, I looked through Anne's shelves for appropriate reading, and threw a couple of likely candidates into the book bag that we took with us. (As an aside, you know you're a readerly couple when you go camping for a weekend and have to bring a bag containing nothing but books.)

The first book I read was Paul Reiser's Couplehood , which isn't so much a book as a transcription of a stand-up routine. I'm always kind of ambivalent about this kind of literary endeavor: it seems disingenuous to pretend that the putative celebrity author actually wrote the book, that Paul Reiser was sitting down at his Selectric every day pounding out another chapter. I find ghost-written books distasteful on principle.

But then, even if he didn't exactly write it, he didn't exactly not write it, either. I mean, with most celebrity-authored books, the ghost-writer needs to take a few inchoate ideas and thoughts and arrange them into a book; but the nature of humor precludes that. If you're going to do humor, you need to come up with not only the jokes, but a lot of the exact wording, too. So, it may be that the ghost-writer really was more of a transcriber (as he's tastefully described in the Acknowledgements page).

At any rate, my principled stands against ghost-writing aside, the book was... well, have you seen the TV Show Mad About You? If you like that, you'll like this. If not, no.

After finishing Reiser's book in short order, I turned my attention to Ellis Peter's A Morbid Taste For Bones (having no idea that Chad would also read it over the weekend and thus make me look like a copycat). This is apparently the first book in the Brother Cadfael series of period mysteries. As you'd guess from the name of the series, the book focuses on the sleuthing skills of a (rather worldly, actually) Benedictine monk -- in this case, trying to solve a murder in a Welsh village.

The first five pages were pretty sloggable, as Peters simply gave paragraph-length capsule descriptions of every character in the book; but the pace picked up once things started to happen, and the book soon picked up an undeniable momentum.

This is excellent light reading. It's got vivid characters, solid plotting, impelling pace, and concrete setting. It's good, it's different, and it's interesting. This series is definitely on my list of books to look out for.


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