Summer Reading

Charles A. Lindbergh with The Spirit of St. Louis airplane, 5-20-27, just before taking off from Roosevelt Field, Long Island, N.Y., for his historic flight to Paris, becoming the first person to fly alone across the Atlantic Ocean.
AP (file)
This column was written by CBS News Early Show Co-Anchor Harry Smith.

I don't know what it is with me and fiction. I used to love novels. But, more and more, I prefer non-fiction to the made-up stuff.

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Is that a function of age - is it cynicism? Does it mean I'm so out of touch with my imagination that I simply cannot or will not hang on to the plausible long enough for it to stick with me through four or five hundred pages? Or is it because non-fiction, particularly history, is so riveting?

There are exceptions. Phillip Roth's "The Plot Against America" is stunning. Set during World War II, Roth makes Charles Lindbergh president. He wins the Republican nomination with the help of the America-firsters, and beats Roosevelt in the election.

Lindbergh fled to England after his baby was kidnapped and murdered. He was invited to Nazi Germany and came back impressed. "The Plot Against America" craftily weaves fact and fiction into a frightening tale of what might have been had the United States decided to sit out the war because its president did not see the Nazis as enemies.

On a lighter note, I picked up Carl Hiassen's latest novel, "Skinny Dip." It's out in paperback now and perfect for the beach or the back porch. It's a little racy but Hiassen - longtime columnist for the Miami Herald - has an encyclopedic knowledge of all that is wrong with South Florida.

From the despoiling of the everglades to crooked politicians and money-grubbing developers, Hiassen's stories are always hilarious, wittily woven and a breeze to read.

Oprah, watch out: I'm starting a book club.

Harry's daily commentary can be heard on manyCBS Radio News affiliates across the country.

By Harry Smith