This weekend is the Friends of the Houston Public Library's 33rd annual bargain book sale, which means it's a great time to stock up on trashy summer reads just in time for Memorial Day. The sale boasts more than 80,000 books, most at $2 or less. Don't get us wrong. Art Attack loves a good, high-brow novel, but just like beach food, sometimes all you want in the summer is something easily digestible and lacking in any real substance (nutritional or otherwise).
Believe it or not, some of the cheesiest books ever written also have some of the biggest cult followings. Some people might even call them classics. Below are our 20 favorite trashy tomes. Just think of them as B-movies, but for the literate. And if we missed your favorite guilty pleasure, leave it in the comments.
Child Bride: The Untold Story of Priscilla Beaulieu Presley by Suzanne Finstad Forget Cilla's own take on her relationship with The King. If you want salacious details from a variety of sources, look no further than Finstad's account of the controversy and cover-ups surrounding the couple. Bonus points? Finstad, who is a lawyer, also wrote a book on her search for a long-lost heir for Houstonian Howard Hughes.
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card You know those big summer blockbusters that get released every year? OSC is the literary equivalent of Michael Bay. In this book, the military creates a class of superior fighting human, who must be trained with games to fight off evil aliens. Plus you'll get sci-fi nerd cred for reading something with Card's name on the spine.
Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann Addictive and vindictive, if you like the feel of Mad Men you'll love the seedy 1950s world Susann paints in this brainless book that actually turned out to be pretty true to life once the late '50s arrived.
Life by Keith Richards Maybe only salacious for its subject matter, Life has gotten rave reviews from readers and music critics since it came out earlier this year. Read it before Keef dies. Just kidding. Keef will never die. And when you're done with Life follow it up with...
I'm with the Band: Confessions of a Groupie by Pamela Des Barres One of the original 1960s groupies, Pam has been "associated" with the Stones, was a nanny to Frank Zappa's kids and boned Don Johnson. The book, her first of several and the first to crack the groupie code of silence, contains excerpts from her diary and dishes on pretty much every musician you can think of who was famous from 1965 to 1985.
Hollywood Babylon: The Legendary Underground Classic of Hollywood's Darkest and Best Kept Secrets by Kenneth Anger Remember that B-movie analogy we made up there? Here's where it really comes into play. Anger, a child actor who later became an art-film director often cited as an influence of David Lynch and John Waters, wrote this book in 1959 (!) revealing some of the darkest secrets of the Silver Screen's golden years. Half the stories are probably not true -- in fact, it's 100 percent gossip -- but that doesn't make them any less compelling.