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A little light fall reading for adults

To those readers who e-mailed last June asking me to write about the school system's summer reading list for high schoolers: I'm sorry. I blew it.

It's not that I didn't appreciate the idea or agree with your assessment - namely, that the selections hovered somewhere between lightweight and bizarre. It's just that, suddenly, the point became moot. School was back in session, all reading lists passe. I'm not sure how that happened.

I mean, one day I'm driving to a family Memorial Day gathering, and the next I'm at the elementary school pasting a bright-orange "visitor" sticker on my shirt so I can take my fifth-grader his lunchbox without anybody thinking I'm some kind of deviant. At least, anybody who hasn't read my column.

Maybe next June I'll write about the 2006 list, although I doubt that will be necessary. I'm sure this spring the county's language arts administrators will select books that are interesting, challenging, relevant and morally unambiguous, not to mention full of nice pictures.

In the meantime, now that cool weather has arrived, how about a fall reading list for adults? What better way to spend a crisp autumn day than curled up in front of the fireplace with a good book? Of course, with today's natural gas prices, the fireplace won't actually be on. But you can still curl up in front of it.

Personally, my favorite literary genre is historical fiction, which has the advantage of being both historical, meaning it's based on actual events, and fiction, meaning it's entirely made up. This differs from regular history in that - uh, actually, I'm not sure how it differs from regular history.

In any case, there are many excellent reads in this genre, including that most famous of local novels, "Gone With the Wind," which I believe is about UGA's chances of winning an SEC championship without D.J. Shockley.

However, let me call your attention to another, lesser-known writer, the late Kenneth Roberts - in my opinion simply the finest historical novelist in, well, history. Since he writes mostly about the Northeast, Roberts might not appeal to the more narrow-minded and provincial among us. But I'm sure Tech fans can find other things to read, such as the backs of cereal boxes and "Dukes of Hazzard" movie posters.

Most, though, will be fascinated by Roberts' treatment of the events leading up to and following the American Revolution. For starters, try "Lydia Bailey," which depicts the Barbary Coast crisis in a way that will resonate with modern readers. That was, after all, our first encounter with Islamic terrorists.

Unfortunately, that's all I have room for this week. I plan to add to the list periodically, so be sure to check this space every Sunday. In the future, I'll discuss some of my other favorite literary genres, including science fiction, detective fiction and diet fiction.

E-mail Rob Jenkins at rjenkinsgdp@yahoo.com.