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Sparse movie and TV offerings leave entertainment fans idle

Rebecca Ascher-Walsh offers a shocking alternative — 10 fun books to read

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Sparse movie and TV offerings leave entertainment fans idle

So you didn’t make it onto ”Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” you’ve accepted that even if you see it four times, you still won’t be able to figure out the last scene of ”Blair Witch,” and you’d rather clean your closets than read about Princess Di’s bipolar disorder.

What to do? This week, despondent over my lack of entertainment choices, I decided to start rereading some of my favorite summer books. While I’m all for curling up with ”Anna Karenina” on a gloomy February day, I defined ”summer” reading as books that 1) were paperbacks and 2) could be read in a few sittings for maximum, compact enjoyment. If you haven’t read the books below, you can click on the titles to buy ’em.

1. ”The Talented Mr. Ripley,” by Patricia Highsmith Quick! Before the movie comes out! While ”English Patient” director Anthony Minghella will no doubt do Highsmith’s thriller proud, the novel about deceit and murder is too delicious to miss.

2. ”The Reader,” by Bernhard Schlink A spooky little novel, translated from the German, about a man who discovers the woman he had an affair with when he was an adolescent was involved in the Holocaust.

3. ”Asylum,” by Patrick McGrath You get lunatics, lovers, and lyrical language all together in this tale of the relationship between a mental patient and the wife of the institution’s superintendent.

4. ”Girls,” by Frederick Busch Part suspense story, part examination of a marriage, the plot hinges on a small-town policeman’s search for a missing girl in the aftermath of his own daughter’s death.

5. ”Wide Sargasso Sea,” by Jean Rhys In this prequel to ”Jane Eyre,” Rhys imagines the traumatic childhood that led the wife from the Caribbean to the attic in the English countryside.

6. ”House of the Spirits,” by Isabel Allende Even if you’ve never been drawn to magical realism, this saga about a South-American family shouldn’t be missed (the movie, on the other hand, should be).

7. ”Light Years,” by James Salter Nothing much happens in this novel about the relationship between a married couple, but Salter’s writing is so exquisite you’ll find yourself rereading paragraphs.

8. ”Intensity,” by Dean Kootnz This story of a woman being stalked by a crazy killer is so scary you’ll have to go for walks in between chapters to get your wits about you.

9. ”Regeneration,” by Pat Barker A haunting story about a soldier in World War I who’s institutionalized after he refuses to fight. It’s a little strange, but totally riveting, and the best part is, there are two sequels if you love this one.

10. ”The Passion,” by Jeanette Winterson A weird but mesmerizing love story set in Venice.