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Hart Beat

No classic 'top 10' reads here

Like most companies we have an in-house newsletter and its editor is always looking for ideas to include in the monthly company gossip sheet.

It normally contains the usual items about top salesmen, insurance and retirement fund updates, as well as short briefs on company newspapers earning community and journalistic honors.

This past month our newsletter editor finally asked a question I thought I'd like to respond to. She asked for our reading lists. I go through reading materials like a house on fire. Apparently, so do a few of my co-workers. It turns out four of us are all reading a series by the same author.

Now, I'm not saying the material we are reading is great literature. It's not even close to such works as Great Expectations or Treasure Island.

While my current favorite author is on a number of best-selling lists for her genre, I really can't call her books classical material. In fact, I'm quite sure she will never have her books included on those snobby "The 100 Greatest Books Ever Written" list or even "The 10 Books Every Adult Should Read" list.

It's for sure, Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series will never need to be a study guide, like the infamous Cliff Notes or Illustrated Comics. But that might be fun.

Nevertheless, I recommend this series as out-loud, funny reading material. New Jersey mystery author Janet Evanovich really stands out from the crowd. Her books are pure, unabashed fluff, but they are fun and of her 14 or so books, I've already read 10 and am anxious to read the next one in the series.

I like her stories because of her wacky and true-to-life sense of humor. As I talk about reading her mystery series, I've discovered there are pockets of Janet fans all around me. There are fans in my acting group and here at the Daily Sun News.

I bet you can't say that about those classic books.

Since learning of fellow fans, I've been busy sharing my favorite chapters and characters with fellow fans, while we all wait with bated breath to read the next in her series about the hapless lingerie buyer turned less successful bounty hunter.

Unlike the "must read" books we all read in high school, Evanovich's books don't require a Cliff Notes study guide to understand her characters or the plot lines, which is great. As I've gotten older, my attention span has greatly shortened since the days when I was forced to struggle through the likes of Moby Dick or War and Peace.

But just so you don't think I only ready fluffy, waste of time novels, I do on occasion read something harder. Many of us are taking time to squeeze in a real book of literature in between reading our fluff books. But I sure wish someone would come up with a Cliff Note guide for Margaret Atwood's books. I've had trouble reading all of her books, as well as deciphering the plot lines.

For those of you who prefer to have substantial literature resting next to your easy chair in case your old high school English teacher shows up for a surprise visit, the Cliff Notes people have done you a great favor.

They have developed a list of novels we adults should read, and they have put the Cliff Notes for the novels on the Internet.

So which books are on their illustrious list? The list includes Hamlet, War and Peace, Walden, A Tale of Two Cities, The Sun Also Rises, The Sound and the Fury, Moby Dick, Beloved, The Iliad and Atlas Shrugged.

I've only read about six of them, but I think I saw the movies for the other four. So that must count for being literate, right?

If I remember correctly, most of those had really sad endings. You sure can't say that about Evanovich's books. I always prefer a happy ending. I'm betting my fellow employees do as well.

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