Summer Reading 

Whether you're a beach bum or a book bum, here are some hot summer picks to thrill you, uplift you, scare you and teach you to fish.

Chick Lit

If you'd rather drink gasoline than lie on the beach, you might enjoy chick lit that takes a major detour from the beaten path. "Manstealing for Fat Girls" (Soft Skull Press, $13) by Michelle Embree will bring back all of the high school teenage angst you so narrowly escaped. You'll feel like the most gorgeous, popular kid in school as you lie on your couch wearing black long johns and eating Cheetos. "Queen of the Oddballs: And Other True Stories From a Life Unaccording to Plan" (Harper Collins, $13.95) by Hillary Carlip will convince you that you're not the only one having less than fun in the sun. These quirky stories are guaranteed to make you feel better-looking and smarter in 10 pages flat.


If your spiritual life lies somewhere between the garbage can and the recycling bin, you may want to take some time out to read some of this summer's hottest how-to-change-your-life-without-getting-plastic-surgery books. Just prop up "The Joy of Doing Things Badly: A Girl's Guide to Love, Life and Foolish Bravery" (Broadway Books, $17.95) by Veronica Chambers on your yoga mat and get into a nice, comfortable downward-facing dog position. If you haven't forsaken your belief in God after 10 minutes, it's time to start reading. Of course, if you are too lazy to actively seek a spiritual life, you may want to pick up Daniel Gilbert's "Stumbling on Happiness" (Knopf, $24.95) and see how to take it easy and let the journey find you.


If you're either procrastinating about taking your annual fishing trip or are looking for a great excuse to go fishing more often, there is no shortage of fishy books out this summer. The University of Virginia Press has been working overtime to appease the fishing fanatic in all of us. James Barilla's "West With the Rise: Fly-fishing Across America" (University Press of Virginia, $27.95) and "Fishing the Greenbrier Valley: An Angler's Guide" (University Press of Virginia, $12.95) by Mike W. Smith don't have to swim too far upstream to find their way into your tackle box. S


Can't decide between couture and culture? Craving both fast food and brain food? Find a little bit of everything between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 24, at the first Willow Lawn Book Fair. Food, entertainment, music and lots of fun stuff for kids will augment a day of book swapping, selling and signing -- along with "speed dating with authors" at the Barksdale Theatre.

This unusual author presentation is not a new reality show, but it could put a different spin on Richmond's passion for literature. For 40 bucks, book lovers can buy the opportunity to "date" their favorite local authors for 15 minutes a pop. With host Jason Tesauro (of "The Modern Lover" fame), authors include Anne Thomas Soffee, Caroline Kettlewell, Susann Cokal, David Robbins and eight other about-town writers. The book fair is free, but call 282-5198 to reserve a dating ticket. For more information, visit

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