Summertime and the reading's easy

Every year, even before the seasons change, my mind starts to wander. The first warm breeze that blows through, the first big tree that grows lush with new leaves — with every hint of summer I get the urge to drop what I’m doing and get lost in a book.

You’d think winter — what, with its weather the perfect excuse for staying in, cuddling up with a blanket and hot beverage and hibernating for a few hours — would be the time of year most associated with reading voraciously, but that’s not so.

I remember, when I was younger, cracking open the spine of a hardbound school copy of “To Kill A Mockingbird.” The world melted away as I sat on the porch digesting that assigned reading, which became one of my all-time favorite books. Then there was the year I took a copy of Judy Blume’s “Summer Sisters” to the beach and read it in an entire sitting, forgoing any breaks to take a dip in the ocean.

Getting lost in a good book this summer? Don't forget the sunscreen!

Getting lost in a good book this summer? Don't forget the sunscreen!

One of my favorite summer reading memories is from the year I stayed on WVU’s campus to work and take a class. Perusing the bookstore one warm, lazy evening, I grabbed a book with a pretty yellow cover, “The Secret Life of Bees.” I read it between answering the phone and fetching mail on campus. It was gorgeous. The book went on to be a best-seller and I spent the rest of the summer trading it amongst my avid reader friends.

But having such random luck at the bookstore is a rarity. More often than not, I go into the summer with a well-researched list of novels that I’m hoping to plow through, fueled by a big cup of sweet tea. And, of course, I base my research on the dozens of categorized lists of summer’s “must-read” books, published by the likes of NPR, the Washington Post and the LA Times.

I love these suggestions! More recently, they appear broken down into categories — thrillers, beach reads, nonfiction, books for traveling, etc. As the lists appear, I bookmark them, referencing them often and compiling lists of which items to hunt for at our local library.

They’re starting to trickle out online. Soon, they’ll be shared in my Facebook news feed. I’m giddy at the prospect of dozens of bibliophile friends then making their own recommendations and (hopefully!) trading especially good novels with me.

There are more than 100 million books in the world. How do you decide which ones to dive into?

How much for that Batsuit in the window?

Ever wonder what happened to Dorothy’s famed ruby slippers? What about everlasting gobstoppers straight from Willy Wonka’s factory? Longing to have own a Batman suit taken right off the Dark Knight’s back?

If so, then Joe Maddalena is your man. Maddalena is the CEO of Profiles in History, the largest Hollywood memorabilia auction house, and star of Syfy’s Hollywood Treasure. The second season premieres Tuesday, May 22, at 10 p.m.

Maddalena and his team search the globe for the rarest in props, costumes, autographs, etc. from almost every film and TV show imaginable. Maddalena’s knowledge of pop culture is daunting. He knows the facts of virtually every movie ever made. Duane and I consider ourselves to pop culture buffs, but we’re complete novices compared to him!

We discovered the show recently while perusing Netflix and were instantly hooked. I’m shocked we didn’t know about it until now. It’s the dream of any Sci-Fi or pop culture collector. It’s also the ultimate fantasy of any geek to find the proverbial memorabilia needle in the haystack, something you pay very little for and learn that it’s worth a fortune.

Some people consigning items to Maddalena have no idea how sacred their items are to movie fans. For instance, one episode features a family who kept an original carpet bag used on screen by Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins in a cardboard box in a damp basement. AND they used it on vacation! I was horrified to say the least.

Considering movie studios used to place very little value on props and costumes and generally tossed them in the dumpster, there are often few surviving pieces of the most classic movies in Hollywood’s history. Another lady who served as the art director on several Tim Burton films including A Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach had several original puppets and props sitting in a ramshackle shed. She earned enough to catch up on house payments and get a fresh start.

Other memorable auctions from season 1 included the Wicked Witch’s hat from The Wizard of Oz, a model airplane and original artwork from the original King Kong, THE Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and preview of the massive auction of Debbie Reynolds collection, including Marilyn Monroe’s famed white dress from Seven Year Itch that blew up in a subway grate and went down in Hollywood history. The prices often skyrocket with collectors clamoring to own a piece of their favorite films and shows.

The teasers for the Season Two premiere include a pair of Judy Garland’s ruby slippers used for close-ups that she clicked, proclaiming “There’s No Place Like Home.” The Lord of the Rings alum Sean Astin will also be sharing his collection.

When we met Mike Lookinland (Bobby Brady) at a convention last year, he told us how almost everything from the original Star Trek sets was thrown away next to the Brady Bunch sound stage. Maybe all of us need to pay close attention to the “junk” in our attics, we may very well have the next Hollywood treasure.