If You Read Only 10 Trashy Novels This Summer

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ILLUSTRATION FOR TIME BY GREG CLARKE

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FREE SAMPLE "I've always thought that dating a really good-looking guy would be like buying a white couch: it might be nice to have, but you'd waste all that time worrying about it."

IT'S LIKE A highlights reel from Sex and the City. It's that funny.

BLING
By Erica Kennedy

GENRE Romance — the hip-hop remix

THE SETUP Pretty songbird Mimi is plucked from an Ohio-based go-nowhere girl group by Lamont Jackson, music impresario extraordinaire. Lamont, who's filthy rich and something of a control freak, grooms Mimi for pop stardom — this book is makeover heaven — and introduces her to life in the cutthroat, Cristal-quaffing world of Manhattan's high-rolling hip-hoperati. Mimi starts out a hick but learns fast. Kennedy knows whereof she writes: she used to roll with Russell Simmons' posse, so she's been in all those clubs that would never let you in.

FREE SAMPLE "When EnVee fell to the floor an inch away from the steel spike of Vanessa's Choo, it was an opportunity Vanessa couldn't resist."

IT'S LIKE A novelization of Beyonce: Behind the Music, written by Jacqueline Susann.

THE GHOST WRITER
By John Harwood

GENRE Ghost story

THE SETUP Gerard is a timid librarian whose only real friend is his pen pal, a beautiful Englishwoman named Alice, who is, sadly, confined to a wheelchair after a horrific car accident. They've been sending passionate (and frankly kind of sexy) letters to each other since they were 13, but they've never actually met. In fact, Alice refuses to let Gerard come to visit her. Does she have some connection to Gerard's creepy, semi-insane mom, who's also English? And to those Victorian horror tales that Gerard keeps stumbling across? What's she hiding, anyway? The answers are yes, yes, and wait and see.

FREE SAMPLE "At the inquest, a cabman told the coroner that he had seen a gentleman racing, hatless, across Battersea Bridge, from which, about half-way over, he had vaulted into the river. The tide was running strongly, and by the time the witness had reached the edge of the embankment, there was nothing to be seen."

IT'S LIKE A.S. Byatt's Possession. But without all that distracting poetry.

EIGHTBALL #23
By Daniel Clowes

GENRE Graphic novel

THE SETUP If you think Peter Parker is alienated and nerdy, check out Andy, a feckless, aimless orphan whose father left him an unusual legacy: superstrength and a ray gun that instantly annihilates its victims. Eightball positively crackles with self-loathing and pop-culture smarts and crawls with the kind of weirdo loners Clowes portrayed so well in Ghost World. Every frame is like a melancholy miniature Daumier, rendered in pulpy primary colors. If you're wondering what all the fuss is about comic books — sorry, graphic novels — check out Clowes. Nobody does them better.

FREE SAMPLE "Sure, you've got some powers, but that's nothing without motivation. Look at the Hulk — his wife died, or something."

IT'S LIKE Holden Caulfield with his phaser set on kill. Phonies beware.

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